The last time I saw Kuya Germs was late in 2015, when the NCCA invited Audie Gemora and myself to help in planning the eventual rehabilitation of the Manila Metropolitan Theater. I arrived 10 minutes before the appointed time and was welcomed by Fr. Harold Rentoria, who whispered, “Nandyan na si Kuya Germs. Pakita ka.” So very Kuya Germs to arrive way ahead of everyone.
In his wheelchair, flanked by a private nurse and an aide, the Master Showman looked frailer and thinner. But upon seeing me, he became animated and started telling everyone about how we had worked together many times and how I had conceptualized the tribute that GMA 7 had given him a few years back. (Again, so very Kuya Germs to remember.) Flustered by the attention, I asked, “O, Kuya Germs, paano na ang Met?”
That was it. The frail old man vanished and was replaced by the Showman-Raconteur who summoned Memory, History, Names and Personalities, wielding them like lightsabers to banish the phantom menaces of Age and Deterioration. Yes, he said, the Met could live again. Bodabil would flourish. The masa would come. The old shell of a theater would come back to life!
I was of a different view. I proposed creative reuse. Gingerly, I tried to point out the realities, the traffic, the lack of parking, the lack of a genuine Need for Theater in an area that had become a pit stop for commuters.
No, Kuya Germs countered, he himself would oversee the efforts. He would raise the funds. He would call the artistas to perform. He did, in fact, have his aide call Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno on the phone to get a commitment on a bigger parking space! It was brilliant power play, pure theatricality, so very Kuya Germs: earnest, impressive, heartfelt.
At one point, his voice cracked and his eyes watered, as he pleaded for a full restoration of the Met as a working theater: “I promise you, I will help as long as I can!”
Maybe that is what we have really lost with Kuya Germs. In this “Modern, Practical” world of appropriated ideas and recycled hopes, he represented a tenacious belief in what was and what could never be again. He believed in the past and the faithful replication of that past, no matter how foolhardy and de trop that was. Unrepentantly Old World, bravely Old School, thoroughly German Moreno. (Reprinted from the author’s Facebook page, with permission)