Singer, arranger, and musical director
December 24, 1973 – August 21, 2020
Deogracias Fortunato de Guzman Cruz (also known as Deo Fortunato Cruz or Deo) was a singer, arranger, conductor, and musical director.
One of the most sought-after tenors in the country for ballads, Cruz had played the piano and sung since he was 7. He studied at the Ateneo de Manila University and the University of the Philippines (UP).
After joining the Ateneo College Glee Club, he became a member of elite choral groups both as a part of the ensemble and as a soloist. These groups included the UP Concert Chorus, UP Madrigal Singers, San Miguel Master Chorale, Ateneo Chamber Singers, Philippine Vocal ensemble, Anima Choir and Strings, Almost 6, and 92AD, which he co-founded.
Cruz was also musical director and resident arranger of the acapella groups 10,000 and The Akafellas, and was responsible for the latter’s signature popcapella sound.
He also conducted a number of corporate, community, and church choirs – JP Morgan Chase Chorale and the Dasmariñas Chamber Singers, among many others.
He was the original soloist for a number of modern classics such National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab’s “Tunay na Ligaya” and “Isang Taong Lumipas,” Trina Belamide’s “To Have and To Hold,” and Von de Guzman’s “Matibay.”
Cruz also participated in international competitions including the 8th International Choir Competition held in Austria, where he was conductor for the Manila Chamber Singers. They won Gold Medal in the Folksong Category, Silver Medal in the Mixed Category, and Special Prize of the City of Bad Ischl – Best Folkloric Program.
In the 2020 lockdown, Deo was part of an online program called Boys Blackout together with his fellow tenors in the Ateneo Chamber Singers group.
His close friend, Filipino songwriter Trina Belamide, described him thus: “Deo was exceptionally talented. He had such a beautiful voice. In every choir he joined, he would be given solos because of the quality of his voice and his skill. He was so reliable as a singer. For live performances, he would not falter. Same with recordings. I would always get him because he [could] sight read and learn fast.”
Cruz saw himself as a lifelong seeker of knowledge, writing on his Acadium profile, “I am an excellent learner, and am someone who is hungry for knowledge,” while on his Twitter bio he described himself as a “musician, lover, friend, and God’s masterpiece.”