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Our final conversation with Kuya Germs

Shinji Manlangit (The Philippine Star) - January 15, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – When the news broke that German Moreno passed away last January 8, I did not want to believe it. First, because that tweet was swiftly deleted by the outlet that delivered the news, and second, because Kuya Germs was on live television one week ago, reeling in the promise of a new year with such vigor. He stood there among GMA’s biggest stars (or you know, just the ones who were available), as everyone looked up to see the glorious explosions in the sky.

He was there when bad EDM music boomed from the background at the stroke of midnight, joining in on the selfies with the celebrities onstage and garbed in an all-green suit that glimmered from a distance. His suit was just as beautiful as the fireworks above. He can’t be gone.

I woke up that afternoon of January 8 and saw the deleted tweet again.

The last time I spoke with the Master Showman was hours before they started taping his big 50th anniversary celebration. We spoke briefly about his work, his life, the industry, and his love for clowns. That was 2013.

In the aftermath of his passing, I want nothing more but to speak with him again. I know that’s not possible. I’m watching them release a number of white and blue balloons on television as I write this. It’s been estimated that around 4,000 people went to Loyola Memorial in Markina just to see the Master Showman in his final rest. A long and deep slumber.

In my head, I dream of this: one last conversation with the legend who brought joy into my life for many stoned Saturday nights. In a white room, I sit across him. He’s wearing a white coat covered in silver sequins. We begin to talk.

I forgot to ask you this the last time, but have you ever been bothered by the Germs” moniker? I mean, they bring diseases to people’s lives.

(Laughs) Hindi naman! Alam mo kasi, yang “Germs” na ‘yan, palayaw sa akin ni Ate Guy (Nora Aunor) yan. Before, my good friend Susan Roces, ang tawag niya sa akin “Germy.” Hindi naman ibig sabihin non marami akong germs, ano? Hindi naman lahat ng germs nakakasakit ng tao. Ang germs pati, kahit hindi mo nakikita nakapalibot lang sa atin yan. O, diba? Hindi niyo ako nakikita, pero andiyan lang ako. Gaya ng sabi ko sa iyo before, “Kuya Germs is Kuya Germs.”

You were the premier star maker. Do you feel that you have been equipped with an x-ray vision for star potential?

Hindi naman siguro. Marami akong nakasama na pinangarap ang sumikat pero they did not work hard enough for it. Ang star potential talaga wala lang yan sa galing mo sa pagkanta o sa iyong kagandahan, dapat yan mino-mould at pinagtatrabahuhan. Ako lang, I want to give a chance to those na nakikitaan ko ng effort at dedication na magtagumpay. Dati sinabi nila sa’kin, “Kuya Germs, ba’t mo kinuha yan ang payat-payat niyan?” Ngayon, si Piolo Pascual na yung payatot na ‘yon.

My favorite part of your shows would have to be when you give gift packs to your guests.

Mapagbigay talaga akong tao. Yung mga guests kong ‘yan, hindi ko naman sila binabayaran to be on my shows. Kung may ipo-promote ka, kusa silang lalapit sa akin o kaya naman ay iimbitahan ko tapos papayag naman. “It’s better to give than to receive,” di ba?

Is it true that you don’t ask for commission?

Hindi ko ito ginagawa para yumaman. Mahal ko lang talaga ang showbiz. Nag-simula ako noon na nagtrabaho bilang taga-hila ng kurtina ng teatro kasi libre akong makapanood ng palabas. Mayroon akong hosting gigs dati na hindi ako nagpapabayad, ang sabi ko Pahingi na lang ako ng role sa pelikula mo.” Ibang klaseng ligaya yung magtagumpay ka dahil sa pagpupursigi. Kapag may pursigi, ang yaman will come.

But then show business is still a business and money factors in a lot.

Marami talaga yung nagnanais lang na yumaman pero wala namang naibabalik sa industriya. I guess mapagbigay talaga ako. Yung mga projects ko with Mowelfund at saka yung Walk of Fame sa Eastwood, ginagastusan ko yan. For what? Para maihatid mo ang possibilidad nang pag-alala kahit sa maliit na bagay lang. I would rather be remembered than be rich.

You seem to transcend the network wars. When you were a guest on Gandang Gabi Vice on ABS, you said your birthday wish was to have unity.” One word that has a lot of impact in showbiz if given the chance to happen.

Alam kong hindi posible yan, pero parang in your own little way sana hindi factor ang ratings at earnings sa mga bagay-bagay. Gusto ko lang sana na magkaroon ng respeto at hindi nag-aaway-away ang mga artista at personalidad kahit saang network ka pa mapabilang. Sa panahon ngayon, malaking factor ang social media sa showbiz. Sana ay magamit ito sa tamang paraan. Ma-expose ang mga dapat ma-expose sa industriya para tuwid yung daan sa ating hinaharap.

During your service, Gary V. performed this highly emotional version of Send in the Clowns. That song was said to have an importance to you. For a sad song, why do you seem to love it so much?

Yung kagustuhan ko sa clowns, nagsimula yan sa Payaso. Pero sabi ko talaga, ayaw ko ng mga clowns na umiiyak. Gusto ko laging happy. Yan daw ang dalawang mukha na sumisimbolo sa acting: masaya o malungkot. Yung Send in the Clowns, alam ko na malungkot siya, pero sumasalamin lang ito sa buhay. Ganoon talaga eh, hindi mo mararating ang saya kung hindi ka masasaktan. Kaya sa oras ng kalungkutan, send in the clowns, na di ba?

What are the things that you want to be remembered by?

Bukod sa ma-glitters kong kasuotan at sa Walang Tulugan, wish ko sana maalala nila ako sa bawat pag-ganap ng mga artistang dumaan at napayuhan ko. Sa tinig ni Lea Salonga o sa galit ni Heneral Luna John Arcilla na parehong galing Thursday group sa That’s, may part ni Kuya Germs doon. Sana lahat ng payo ko sa mga artistang nakapiling ko, ipasa nila sa mga artistang makakatrabaho nila. At yung mga project ko sa Mowelfund at Eastwood Walk of Fame, sana huwag kayong makalimot.

* * *

I’m going to miss a lot of things about Kuya Germs. I’m going to miss Master Showman on Saturday evenings when the city is pretty much dead. I’m gonna miss him announcing the brand-new movies on Blu-Ray and DVDs, and the constant reminder to visit Listening Style over at Shangri-La Plaza. I’m not gonna see him anymore walking around Greenhills.

In this uploaded clip from his 1963 film Dance-O-Rama, Kuya Germs looked like our ’60s version of Michael Cera. Dressed like Buddy Holly, he boogies back and forth with Susan Roces in a thumping dance medley filled with hairspray-heavy bobs and classy dresses spinning madly on the dance floor. I’ve been watching this clip for the past few days, and I don’t want it to end.

* * *

Tweet the author @sh0nj0.

ACIRC ANG GERMS HINDI KUYA GERMS LANG MASTER SHOWMAN MGA STRONG YAN YUNG
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