18 revelations by the Master Showman
JP Mitog (The Philippine Star) - February 24, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Stars are born, not made. But for Philippine entertainment’s Master Showman German “Kuya Germs” Moreno, spotting star potential is a cinch.

His star-making resumé covers the country’s most celebrated personalities — legends, idols, royalties, overnight sensations — all of whom continue to be movers and shakers in the industry he helped pioneer. Building household names out of neophytes is a way of life for Kuya Germs. And the remarkable thing is: He doesn’t ask for anything in return.

“I consider it na mission ko sa buhay ko, na kahit walang kasulatan, basta makatulong ako, okay lang, Wala naman akong komisyong tinatanggap. Minsan abonado pa nga ako. Sabi ko lang sa ating Panginoon, hangga’t nandito ako at mayroon pang maitutulong, dito muna ako.”

Eighteen years ago, Kuya Germs started Walang Tulugan with the Master Showman, a late-night musical variety show known for its eponymous expression (usually delivered in a higher note).

Together with old-timers John Nite, Shirley Fuentes, and Sharmaine Santiago, and newbies Jake Vargas, Aki Torio, Hiro Peralta, Arkin del Rosario, Ken Chan and Jake Roberto, Kuya Germs keeps his brainchild up and running on a weekly basis, equipped with all-out star wattage.

In celebration of 18 years of late-night TV supremacy, Kuya Germs shares 18 personal tidbits he seldom keeps.

1. He was once a sidewalk vendor, a waiter and a barker.

The Master Showman has always been vocal about his humble beginnings as a janitor and curtain raiser at the old Clover Theater in downtown Manila — a job, which he says, introduced him to the world of showmanship.

“Pero na-experience ko rin maging sidewalk vendor — yung hinahabol ng mga pulis kasi bawal magtinda sa bangketa,” he recalls. “Nag-waiter din ako, tapos nag-tawag ng ‘Quiapo-Divisoria’ bago maging janitor sa teatro. At dahil may live show, naging telonero (curtain raiser) din ako.”

2. He considers his job as janitor an answered prayer.

Kuya Germs says that his stint as a janitor of one of the golden era’s most prestigious vaudeville theaters was a gift from God. “I used to go to Quiapo Church, lumalakad ako ng paluhod sa mahal na Nazareno, na kung maaari bigyan ako ng trabaho. Nagdasal din ako sa Baclaran, sa St. Jude. I even mentioned the word ‘janitor’ na kahit janitor papasukin ko. And it was granted.”

For a high school graduate with modest background, working at Clover Theater was already a privilege. “Ang reason ko lang kung bakit ako nag-trabaho sa theater, ay may sweldo na nga, nakakapanood pa ng libre. Simple lang naman, kuntento na ako ‘dun.”

3. His first stage role was Jesus Christ for a Lenten presentation.

While working as a janitor, a director approached then the young, scrawny German to audition for the role of Jesus Christ in a special Lenten presentation. The role required him to simply lean against a cross with no dialogue.

It was surreal, says Kuya Germs. “Sabi ko, wow, janitor lang ako sa teatro pero nabigyan ako ng ganitong trabaho. Hindi ako makapaniwala.” Following the success of his first stage role, he clinched several other roles, mostly as bit players in big productions and comedy skits.

4. The first talent whose audition he supervised was Eddie Mesa.

An intense combination of passion, talent and hard work catapulted Kuya Germs from a blue-collar profession to a managerial post. “Naging assistant manager ako ng teatro. Natuto ako mag-scout ng talents. The very first talent na in-audition ko is Eddie Mesa, na naging Elvis Presley of the Philippines.”

5. Superstar Nora Aunor gave him the nickname, “Kuya Germs.”

“Si Nora ang nag-bigay niyan,” he says with fondness for his close friend and former co-host. “Si Mareng Susan (Roces) naman, Germy ang tawag sa akin. Shinort-cut, so naging Kuya Germs.”

6. He suggested the title of his breakout film, Payaso.

Award-winning director Celso Ad. Castillo tapped Kuya Germs to play the lead character in the film — a clown sent from heaven to inspire little children. The star-studded movie became an official entry to the 12th Metro Manila Film Festival.

7. He made Guy and Pip and Vi and Bot create magic in one film.

In 1970, he made history when he fashioned the storyline for Sampaguita Pictures’ Young Love, a film that secured celebrity status for what would eventually become the greatest love teams in Philippine cinema — Nora Aunor and Tirso Cruz III and Vilma Santos and Edgar Mortiz. It was the first and only time that the two love teams collaborated in the same film.

8. He has been a loyal Kapuso since 1971.

Kuya Germs has been with GMA Network long enough to crack light-hearted jokes about its acronym. “Minsan sinasabi ko ako may ari ng GMA, German Moreno and Associates,” he quips.

9. His signature suits are a part of showmanship.

Kuya Germs says that each of his flashy suits is memorable and special. He credits music legend Liberace and Las Vegas entertainers for his flamboyance. “Sabi ko, gagawin ko rin ito — kahit na tanghaling tapat,” he jokes. “Kaya ngayon, ganito pa rin ako.”

10. He has a clown collection, but he only collects smiling clowns.

His penchant for clowns started when co-actors and colleagues on the set of Payaso gifted him with clown figurines. Since then, he has collected a wealth of clown memorabilia. “Pero lahat ng clowns ko nakangiti, ayoko ng malungkot.”

11. He plays Candy Crush on sleepless nights.

He admits having intermittent sleep, saying: “Kapag nagigising ako sa kalagitnaan, naglalaro ako ng Candy Crush. Eh sinisigaw ko ba naman lagi, ‘Walang Tulugan!’-ayan, di tuloy ako makatulog,” he teases.

12. He pioneered the Eastwood City Walk of Fame-and shouldered most of its budget.

Kuya Germs wants local showbiz to mirror the highly-celebrated Tinseltown glamour. His dreams for Philippine entertainment extend beyond television and cinema. “Ang gusto ko lang naman ay magkaroon ng isang place for our artists, na maipakita sa ibang bansa na may ganito rin tayo.”

He also financed the Horror Chamber and Paradise of Stars both located at Mowelfund Plaza in Cubao to commemorate the glitter of yesteryear.

13. He must always have soup on the set.

On his food preferences, the Master Showman says: “Di naman ako maselan sa pagkain. ‘Wag lang mawawalan ng sabaw. Gusto ko meron akong hinihigop na hot soup. Yung rice nilalagay ko sa soup, gano’n ginagawa ko lagi.”

14. He would rather contribute ideas at work, than stay at home.

At home, he often marathons his Blu-ray movie collection. Sometimes, he plays tong-its or mah-jong. But Kuya Germs prefers to “move around and go places” (usually strolling around Greenhills) and “contribute ideas” at work.

15. FAMAS named a special award after him.

The Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS), the country’s oldest and most prestigious award-giving body, gives out award in his honor: The German Moreno Youth Achievement Award. “Alam naman natin na ang mga bata nagsisikap. Once they have reached a certain level of popularity, it’s an achievement.”

16. He once fell in love, but got “brokenhearted.”

 After his heartbreak, Kuya Germs admits to never falling in love again.

17. Until he found a bundle of joy in Federico, his son.

The Master Showman considers Federico as a gift from God. “Tumingin sa akin si Federico, at that very moment nagpasalamat ako kay Lord na pinaramdam niya sa akin ang kakaibang kaligayahan... na binigyan ako ng pagkakataon na tawagin akong Papa.”

Federico eventually married Shiela Magdayao, sister of Vina Morales. They have a daughter and three sons. One of them is Luis Gabriel Moreno, a national archery champion.

18.  He considers “recognition” as his most cherished possession.

No amount of material possession can equal his blood, sweat and tears, says Kuya Germs. His most prized possession: His contribution that spans 50 years of service to the entertainment industry. “Binigyan ako ng recognition ng Star Awards, ng FAMAS, na iba pa, na kino-consider kong kayamanan ko. Hindi ‘yan mababayaran ng salapi.”

Still, his best-kept secret: He invests in relationships, a practice that gave birth to his lifelong motto. “Kapag marami kang kaibigan, maraming magmamahal sayo. At kapag maraming nagmamahal sayo, ‘yan yung kayamanan mo.”

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