Kuya Germs: The one & only

Nenet Galang-Pereña - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - My generation remembers German “Kuya Germs” Moreno as part of a comic love triangle, together with Inday Badiday and Ike Lozada, playing kuyas and ate to the big stars of our high school years in the ’70s (Nora Aunor, Tirso Cruz III, Vilma Santos, Edgar Mortiz, et. al.). The two had gone on to their Maker, but Kuya Germs, has continued to be star maker and inveterate impresario, and the grueling pace has taken its toll on his health.

I noticed as much when I interviewed him during the invitational premiere (thanks to direk Maryo delos Reyes) for the GMA teleserye Niño last May. Precarious health notwithstanding, he was very happy in the company of the veteran stars of the youth my husband and I shared, growing up in the simmering ’60s and coming of age in the boiling over ’70s — Gloria Romero, Dante Rivero and Luz Valdez — who came to honor direk Maryo’s latest opus, which, until its final episode recently, made its mark in a genre that had a tendency for inanity and banality.

His role in the primetime soap was Kapitan Pete, ang kapita-pitagang Kapitan, dedicated to his oath as leader of Barangay Pag-Asa and so I asked him what his take was on current Philippine politics. He gave a very safe answer — that the administration is doing its best to haul the country from the series of catastrophes hounding its heels, but he rued the apparent neglect of the movie industry, that for him has seen better times. “But with Erap (Estrada) in (Manila) City Hall, perhaps we can look forward to better things for showbiz,” he beams, his trademark handshake as firm as the gaze he gives to fans who needle him for the ubiquitous photo-op.

“If I had another lifetime to live, I would still choose show business,” he confides. From his humble beginnings as telonero (curtain raiser) of the bodabil stage of post-war era, he steadily rose by dint of persistence, until his biggest break on television in the late ’70s, as host of the Sunday noontime variety show, GMA Supershow. He went on to produce and host That’s Entertainment, a long-running variety show that featured teenyboppers on their way to fame and fortune. Until his recent bout with stroke, he was hosting a late-night show, Walang Tulugan with the Master Showman and anchoring the radio program Master Showman sa Dobol B, which he started in 1977.

Jojo Alejar, a heartthrob protégé from That’s, whose name continues to shine brighter and steadier in the marquee as late-night TV show host, has this fond recollection about his Kuya Germs:

“I remember him as both a doting father and disciplinarian-mentor in our early careers. But being older than most in the pioneering batch of That’s Entertainment, he was more liberal with me, and there were even times he would consult with me on some matters, like the time our show got into trouble with our Muslim brothers. Apparently, a material used by one group for their production number was a sacred song and must be performed in a certain way. The offended party threatened Kuya Germs with physical harm. Praise God, I was close to a political Muslim family and was able to arrange a dialogue where we threshed out the matter. Kuya Germs and I sat down with those concerned and listened to their plaint, admitting that it was an honest mistake and we meant no harm or disrespect. We settled everything amicably and made new friends.”

This writer’s husband, Teddy Pereña, who hosts his own radio program, [email protected], remembers previous advertising associations with Kuya Germs, and pins down what makes him a breed apart in an industry known for ephemeral alliances: “His unwavering loyalty that sustained his showbiz career from Clover (janitor to stage actor) to Sampaguita (from a sidekick of stars to a full-fledged director) to Channel 7 (from a mere radio anchor/ TV host to director and producer) — this is the X-factor that makes him unique in the industry.”

Roger Samano, Television and Production Exponents (TAPE), Inc. executive, who worked with Kuya Germs during their GeeBees Production days for Germspecial’s sales and traffic, agrees wholeheartedly that his sense of utang na loob is behind the longevity of his career. “We admire his big heart, so full of gratitude and grace through the changing tides of fortunes,” he avers.

The comic relief Kuya Germs provides in the myriad of movies and television shows he has starred in, is curated in the collection of clowns he proudly owns, a shrine to where his bliss has taken him.

Send in the Clowns remains his favorite song, a showstopper written by legendary Stephen Sondheim for the 1973 musical, A Little Night Music, an adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s film Smiles of a Summer Night. It is a ballad from Act II in which the character Desirée reflects on the ironies and disappointments of her life. The song is said to be performed in two completely different styles — dramatic and lyric. The dramatic style magnifies feelings of anger and regret, and the lyric style intensifies the sweetness of the melody and the poetry of the lyrics.

German Molina Moreno, in his more than 50 years doing the entertainment circuit, has made both dramatic and lyric performances in the big and small screens, earning awards and recognitions. He has mentored celebrities in sickness and in health, gaining their loyalty and respect, culminating in the tribute show for his golden anniversary at the Resorts World, coinciding with the launching of his coffee table book. He has known sadness and joy in his personal life, seeing the fall from grace of colleagues and losing loved ones to the grim reaper, yet growing in wisdom as he advanced in years.

His favorite song aptly resonates the ebb and flow of the life he has chosen to live, and which his friends and followers are praying he would continue to live far longer, far happier in the best years that they hope are yet to come for this Master Showman.

(As of this writing, Kuya Germs is undergoing therapy following a stroke on Jan. 2 that affected his right arm 100 percent and his right leg 50 percent. He’s recovering.)










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