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Film icon Peque Gallaga passes away

Gallaga (real name Maurice Ruiz de Luzuriaga Gallaga) died at the Riverside Medical Center from multiple organ failure as a result of complications from pre-existing health conditions.

He is survived by wife Madie and five children, including writer Wanggo Gallaga.

The family had requested for privacy after rumors began circulating that the award-winning director was suddenly hospitalized.

Madie wrote: “His body has completely broken down. The doctors can’t do anything more but make sure he is comfortable and not in pain.”

When they were “on death watch,” Madie was able to say goodbye for the family and even if Gallaga could no longer speak, “I think he heard me and understood what I was saying.”

Gallaga is best known for his work on the 1982 classic “Oro, Plata, Mata.” Considered as one of the biggest contributions to Philippine cinema, the movie starred Cherie Gil, Sandy Andolong and Liza Lorena. Gallaga also launched the careers of Joel Torre and Ronnie Lazaro in that critically acclaimed movie.

“Oro, Plata, Mata” swept the 1982 Gawad Urian Awards, winning Best Picture and Best Director for Gallaga, as well as trophies for Cinematography, Production Design, Musical Score and Sound.

Gallaga’s knowledge in film and film production was all-embracing, with his 50-year career listing experience as a screenwriter, actor, theater and film professor, and visual artist. He also worked as a production designer, winning Best Production Design at the very first Gawad Urian in 1976 for National Artist for Film Eddie Romero’s musical drama, “Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon?” He won the same award in 1980 for Ishmael Bernal, also a National Artist for Film, in the latter’s critically acclaimed movie, “Manila by Night.”

To the masses, Gallaga is most remembered for his hit horror flicks. He was part of the first installment of the long-running Regal Entertainment movie franchise “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” where he directed the third episode titled “Manananggal.” This starred Herbert Bautista who won Best Actor Award at the 10th Metro Manila Film Festival.

“Tiyanak” and “Aswang” also gained Gallaga praise from critics and audiences.

Gallaga is hailed for his brave ventures in experimental cinema, tackling subjects and genres, such as erotica and political satire, considered taboo in his earlier years in filmmaking.

Other notable works include “Scorpio Nights” and “Virgin Forest;” and fantasy films “Magic Temple,” “Magic Kingdom” and “Batang X” in the 1990s.

“Tiyanak” was the last full-length film Gallaga directed. Before his death, Gallaga had been closely working with fellow Illongo and former congressman Albie Benitez who had built a theme park in Bacolod called Magikland, inspired by the director’s screenplay involving legendary folklore in Negros.

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