FILM director Peque Gallaga, the man behind Oro, Plata, Mata (1985), Magic Temple (1996), and Scorpio Nights (1985) among many other well-known and well-loved Filipino films, passed away at the age of 76 in a Bacolod City hospital. Upon the announcement of his death, an outpouring of tributes were posted on social media from colleagues and friends. Here are some of them.
KIP OEBANDA, FILM DIRECTOR (VIA TWITTER)
We lost one of the greatest of all time. No one influenced my love for local cinema more than Peque Gallaga. RIP, sir. Your legacy as an artist and as a person will live on.
ZSAZSA PADILLA, SINGER/ACTRESS (VIA TWITTER)
Alongside an old photo of Mr. Gallaga, Ms. Padilla wrote, “From Hiwaga Sa Balete Drive. Took his photo while he was giving me instructions for one scene. Maraming salamat, Peque Gallaga.”
NINOTCHKA ROSCA, AUTHOR (VIA FACEBOOK)
He wouldn’t mind now but this was how I met Peque Gallaga. On the day martial law was imposed, Sylvia Mayuga called him to house me and a companion as the place we were in was an address compromised. Hence we journeyed to his house in a gated community where we could stay as we made plans for what to do next. He was very upset about martial law. So he brought out weed and a bong pipe. I declined, thinking, gee, I’ll be arrested, not for politics but drugs, LOL. He said JPE [Juan Ponce Enrile] lived just the next block and could be seen in the street in the morning jogging. But the point of this tale was that it was this way during Marcos time: one was willing to take in strangers to shield them from the state. We were larger then than simple survival. And never forgot a debt of gratitude. Go in peace and forever hosannas, Peque.
LIZA DINO-SEGUERRA, CHAIRPERSON OF THE FILM DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL OF THE PHILIPPINES (VIA FACEBOOK)
Inaabangan ng lahat ang pagbabalik-pelikula ninyo through Magikland… and it’s sad to find out na hindi ka na namin makakasama. I never had the chance to work with you but in the times we got to talk, napakabait nyo po sa akin. I will never forget it. Salamat, Direk Peque. You were more than a great director, but a true legend and mentor to this industry. You can rest now.
ICE SEGUERRA, SINGER/ACTOR (VIA FACEBOOK)
Maswerte ako, Direk Peque, kasi naging director kita. You and Direk Lore [Reyes] have taught me so much about our craft, mas natuto ako maging disiplinado and to take my work seriously. Mahal kita, Direk. Pahinga ka na po.
KEITH SICAT, FILM EDITOR (VIA FACEBOOK)
I’m heartbroken about the news of Direk Peque’s passing. He was as wonderful as you could ever wish a hero to be. I loved hearing his behind-the-scenes stories and very much sought his counsel — his wisdom always shining a light on a once-obscure path. I thank the universe for giving me the privilege to have gotten to know you a little bit in this world. May God be walking alongside you now while you watch over the rest of us. I love you and miss you.
BIBETH ORTEZA, ACTRESS/WRITER/DIRECTOR (VIA FACEBOOK)
In the hospital, soon after my mastectomy [in] November of 2004, I got this text from him: “You know for the longest period I’ve been an atheist. But I am now making my piece with God and praying for your healing.” I will miss you, dearest Bakunawa!
ANTOINETTE JADAONE, WRITER/DIRECTOR (VIA FACEBOOK)
Namaalam na si direk Peque Gallaga. I only knew him before for his Magic Temple (saulo ko ang kanta: Buto kalansay tabi-tabi po sa bangkay) and Batang X (saulo ko rin ang theme song: Batang isinilang sa mundo naguluhan, batang di pinapansin ng mga magulang, bulag nakakakita, pilay lumilipad!) and then I went to film school and watched the cinematic masterpiece that is Oro, Plata, Mata that left me in awe (oh wow what a privilege to have seen that film, thank you direk Peque). Years later, as I was doing research for my first film Six Degrees, I would contact him (he and direk Lore discovered Nanay Lilia on their horror film set) through Ate Jo — hindi ko sila kilala pareho pero kinapalan ko na ang mukha ko. Ate Jo told me direk Peque wanted to talk to me on the phone — and he said yes. My god, I was talking to direk Peque Gallage on the phone — kung pwede ko lang ipa-frame ang moment na ‘yun.
My [director of photography] Sol and I flew to Bacolod to interview direk Peque and actually shoot his scenes for my mockumentary. Starstruck na naman ako sa bahay niya. Kung umikot yung ulo at mata ko kala mo National Museum napuntahan ko. I was 26 or 27 then, and there I was, inside the house of the Oro, Plata, Mata director. Ang galing na artista ni direk Peque! Kung napanood n’yo ‘yung pelikula, scripted ‘yun pero parang hindi! My interview with him was what became the framework of my screenplay. I owe a lot to him. I still remember my favorite lines he said in my film: “But the reason we make movies is not because of the awards. The reason why we make movies is because we love making movies.”
I sent him a link to Six Degrees and when he saw it, he called me and said encouraging, beautiful words that will inspire me for the rest of my life. That was what direk Peque has been to me since then. An idol who I can reach with my hands because he was so generous to share what he knows. An idol who actually believed in me when I was just doing my first film! I would occasionally message him during decision-making moments of my life, and his words will always be full of wisdom. Of course, he didn’t forget to tell me when he didn’t like a movie I made. Balanse lang and I appreciated that.
Years later, Irene and I would cast him in Relaks, It’s Just Pag-ibig at nung magpi-picture na kami, naiyak si Irene sa upuan eh. I guess that’s really how overwhelming direk Peque’s presence is. Parang may dala siyang malaking Philippine Cinema na kapa tapos kukurutin mo sarili mo, Verum est? Totoo ba ito?
Binabalik-balikan ko pa rin ang e-mails at messages ni direk Peque sa akin sa mga panahong kailangan ko ng tulak. MARAMING, MARAMING SALAMAT, DIREK PEQUE. Mula sa isang fan-turned-forever fan. Your memory lives with us. There will never be another.
ANNE CURTIS-SMITH, ACTRESS (VIA FACEBOOK)
I will forever be grateful to him and Direk Lore for choosing me to be their Princess Dahlia. It breaks my heart knowing that he won’t get to meet my own little Dahlia. Direk Peque, thank you for giving me a role that would change my life forever. I will miss you and will treasure the memories and lessons you taught me in the craft of acting. Rest In Peace Nelson Bakunawa I love you.
JOAQUIN PEDRO VALDES, ACTOR (VIA FACEBOOK)
Absolutely gutted. I owe a lot of myself as a filmmaker and artist to the works and the artistic sobriety of Direk Peque. He was the only one in the biz that called bullshit out straight and was always truthful in his process. He was unfazed by the glitz of show business and was just a downright genius. And boy did he have real taste and class. Goodnight Direk, thank you for all the Horror, Fantasy, and Adventures you left us with. In your sleep, may you chance upon more vivid dreams. Paalam Nelson Bakunawa.