‘Kuya Germs,’ master showman, dies at 82
Now he finally sleeps.
German Moreno, who started as a janitor and curtain raiser at the Clover vaudeville theater to become an actor, television host, producer and star-maker, died at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City early Friday morning. He was 82.
Fondly called “Kuya Germs,” the effervescent host known for calling out, “Walang tulugan!” (Let’s keep awake, people!) in his midnight TV shows, was still recovering from the mild stroke he suffered in January last year, when he passed at 3:20 a.m Friday, surrounded by friends and family.
“He’s now with our Creator,” said his nephew, television personality John Nite.
“He lived a full life, touched many hearts through the years, and helped make dreams come true for many of the biggest stars in the Philippine entertainment industry,” Nite said in a statement. “We are deeply saddened by his passing, but are comforted by the thought that his legacy will live on.”
But the loss had not fully sunk in, admitted Nite, Moreno’s cohost in “Walang Tulugan with the Master Showman,” the late-night variety program that gave him the monicker so popular that a local dumpling chain had named its stalls, “Master Siomai.”
Since the 1970s
“Master Showman,” started airing in 1997 over GMA 7, Moreno’s home station since the 1970s.
In a statement, the network said it was “deeply mourning” the death of its “beloved” Moreno.
“The Master Showman will be greatly missed by his friends and fans, both here and abroad, especially those from show biz, where he devoted the best years of his life,” the statement said, adding that Moreno was “the epitome of a loyal Kapuso.”
Shortly after news of his death broke online, the topic #KuyaGerms trended nationwide, as countless show biz folks and observers took to Twitter to express sadness, condole with his family and give tribute to Moreno.
Moreno started out in the local entertainment industry in 1957 as a janitor and telonero (curtain raiser) at Clover Theater in Manila, where he first discovered the wonders of vaudeville.
It was here where Moreno was discovered by stage director Victor Sevilla who was looking for a thin, mestizo-looking man to portray Jesus Christ in a Passion play.
From stage play, Moreno crossed over to film and became a resident comedian and choreographer for Sampaguita Pictures. His first talent fee was P75.
Moreno eventually forged a formidable movie career starting in 1963. One of his most notable movie projects was Celso Ad Castillo’s “Payaso”—an entry to the 1986 Metro Manila Film Festival.
He was a prolific television host, too. Aside from “Walang Tulugan,” Moreno hosted other equally successful and well-loved variety shows from the late 1970s to the 1990s, including “Germside,” “Germspesyal” and “GMA Supershow,” all on GMA 7, as well as “Superstar,” which he cohosted with acclaimed actress and close friend Nora Aunor, on RPN.
Moreno produced movies for television as well and anchored a number of radio programs, the latest one being “Walang Siesta” on dzBB. He likewise spearheaded the installation of the Walk of Fame Philippines in Quezon City in 2005.
But the TV host will perhaps be best remembered as a veritable star-maker.
Long before the advent of reality talent searches, Moreno had been discovering and launching young aspiring talents via the iconic youth-oriented show “That’s Entertainment,” which featured many of the country’s most accomplished music and movie stars, among them Aiko Melendez, Janno Gibbs, Carmina Villaroel, Vina Morales, Lea Salonga and the late rapper Francis Magalona.
Not an option
“From his guidance and tutelage emerged at least two generations of show biz personalities who are now carrying the torch of fine entertainment,” said Manila Mayor and former movie star Joseph Estrada, who, in 2014, hailed Moreno as one of the year’s Outstanding Manilans for “being without equal in nurturing new talents in the movie industry.”
Indeed, Moreno was a man of many hats, and he wore each one with utmost pride and did his job with unwavering passion. Retirement, he had often declared in past interviews, was not an option. Staying idle, he said, only made him feel weaker.
True enough, only three months after his mild stroke in January last year that temporarily paralyzed his right arm, Moreno willed himself to return to his radio program. In June, he was back on television. Until his death, he was attending show biz events and press conferences.
“As long as my body is willing, I will carry on,” he once said.
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