MANILA — (3RD UPDATE) Veteran director Peque Gallaga passed on Thursday at 11:45 a.m. in a hospital in Bacolod City due to pneumonia, his family said. He was 76.
"He was a visionary and artist; a loving husband, father, and grandfather; and a dear friend. He has brought so much joy to so many people and he will always live in our memories and in his art," his family said in a statement.
"There will be no service as we will observe safety precautions during these times. We are grateful for your thoughts, well-wishes, and prayers but we would appreciate some time to grieve as a family in private during this very painful time," they added.
The director’s widow, Maddie Gallaga, told ABS-CBN News that he will be immediately cremated. “This is what he wanted and this is what we wanted,” she said.
Mrs. Gallaga encouraged his friends to do their own online memorial for the director, who would have turned 77 this August.
“Let’s remember him at his best!” she said.
In a post on Facebook, June Rufino, past manager and close friend of Gallaga, poured her emotions on the untimely death of her friend.
Rufino also shared that Gallaga died peacefully and that the family was able to say their last goodbye last Monday.
"My mentor and best friend, Peque Gallaga just went home to his creator. I am so sad I was not able to say goodbye nor talk to him lately. Peque and I would often fight, but our love for each other would always prevail. He was one of my closest friends since I was young and my heart is so broken. Most of what of what I am now is what he taught me to be. Peque being a Virgo, was always full of surprises, last December 17, 2018 he surprised me with this message and song," Rufino wrote.
Born Maurice Ruiz de Luzuriaga Gallaga, the director had a brilliant filmography spanning four decades from his first movie 'Binhi' (1973) to 'Tyanak' in 2014. He is best known for the film classic "Oro Plata Mata," which was released in 1982.
Joel Torre made his final salute to the man who discovered him as a stage child actor in Bacolod in 1970 and launched his stellar career in "Oro Plata Mata."
“Peque is a great man and a very generous artist who knew talent when he saw one! He was family to me. He nurtured my craft. I would not be here if not for Peque," Torre said.
Cherie Gil, who made her star turn in "Oro Plata Mata," was inconsolable. “Let me take this day to grieve first and process everything, “ Gil told ABS-CBN News through a friend.
Also in mourning is Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., whom Gallaga directed in "Dugo ng Panday."
"Ako po ay nagluluksa kasama ng buong industriya ng pelikulang pilipino sa pagpanaw ng isang institusyon sa larangan ng sining - si Direk Peque Gallaga. Taimtim na dasal po at pakikiramay sa kanyang mga iniwang mahal sa buhay," Revilla said.
"He had an eye for the art like no other. The grandness of his visions and his designs, which only he can successfully translate into film, made him a legend in his craft. Ang puwang na kanyang iniwan ay mahirap mapunan ninuman. You will greatly be missed, Direk," Revilla added.
Gallaga's colleagues from showbiz quickly took to social media to remember the director.
Judy Ann Santos
Zsa Zsa Padilla
Gallaga's other films include "Scorpio Nights," "Virgin Forest," and "Shake, Rattle and Roll I." In 1986, Gallaga partnered with Lore Reyes in co-directing various movies like "Once Upon a Time" and "Magic Temple."
Gallaga first won recognition for his production design work in "City After Dark" and "Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon."
Gallaga’s last project was the animated movie "Magikland," a proposed Metro Manila Film Festival entry highlighting the battle of gamers and and an evil dictator in a video game. — with reports from Mario Dumaual and MJ Felipe, ABS-CBN News