MANILA— Al Quinn, one of the pioneering directors of Philippine television, passed away Saturday (Manila time) in Las Vegas, USA, his actor son Dino Pastrano confirmed to ABS-CBN News. He would have turned 87 this November.
One of the most beloved directors in the industry, Quinn was a favorite of the late comedy king Dolphy and other performers. He also lit up the careers of Nora Aunor, Alma Moreno, German Moreno, Carmen Soriano and many other celebrities from the '60s up to the turn of the century.
Quinn was also the long time director of Binibining Pilipinas, Star Awards for movie and television, and scores of TV specials and live shows.
His last directorial work was the 62nd FAMAS Awards at Solaire on July 2014, where he was accorded a surprise farewell party after he announced he was migrating to the US for good.
“He was one of a kind, much loved by the industry,” producer and long-time friend and associate Tess Celestino told ABS-CBN News.
He is also remembered for one of his last projects “Dolphy Alay Tawa: A Musical Tribute to the King of Philippine Comedy.”
“He was my mentor, the kindest, coolest and best director I’ve ever worked with,” veteran choreographer Maribeth Bicharra also told ABS-CBN News.
“Kahit baguhan ka, hindi ka niya aapakan. He will encourage you and let you shine under his guidance. He was well-loved by everyone on the set, hanggang sa nagtitimpla ng kaniyang kape. He was one of us.”
Alcuin Pastrano in real life, Quinn was given a new showbiz monicker by his friend Pancho Magalona who also introduced him to Dolphy. Per his previous media accounts, Quinn took up Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas and studied ballet on the side.
He landed as a dancer at the Manila Grand Opera House in the late '50s and worked with Nida Blanca, Nestor de Villa and Fernando Poe
Jr. in their movies.
Quinn later became an in demand choreographer-director in movie companies and television which was boosting the musical genre in the '60s and '70s.
Before he migrated to the US, Quinn fulfilled his dream to be a painter when he mounted several exhibits of his paintings with seascapes as one of his themes.
Zsa Zsa Padilla also paid homage to Quinn.
“We will always remember him with fondness. Aside from being a good friend of Dolphy, he helped me, almost everyone in the business. I would always remember him as a jolly person like Santa Claus, also because of his red cheeks. He had a good personality! He is a big loss to us, he will be missed!”
Nora Aunor also shared her heartfelt tribute to the director who megged her long-running show “Superstar”.
Aunor is considered the ultimate muse of the veteran director.
“Minahal ni Tito Al ng sobra ang ‘Superstar’ show. Sa 22 years na nagtagal ang ‘Superstar’, karamay ko siya sa lahat ng hirap at ginhawa. Masaya man o malungkot. Laging mataas ang rating ng ‘Superstar’ show ng siya ang aming direktor,” she said.
“Alam rin niya kapag may problema ako sa show namin. Alam niya kung papaano niya ako alalayan habang nagsoshow. May oras na dumarating ako sa show na malaki ang problema ko at lumalabas lang ako sa opening at ending ng show. Si Kuya Germs (the late host German Moreno) lahat ng gumagawa ng paghohost mula umpisa hanggang matapos, hinahayaan lang niya ako kasi alam niya na may pinagdadaanan ako.
“May oras na umiiyak ako sa kanya kapag hindi ko na kaya ang problema ko at lagi niya akong pinapayuhan at pinapangaralan. Napakabait niya sa akin.”
Aunor also recounted the time she and Quinn parted ways amid a change in national politics.
“Hindi ko makalimutan iyong panahong napakalungkot niya dahil dumating ang araw na napag-initan ng bagong gobyerno ang show namin, kaya kahit mataas pa ang rating ng show pinilit nila itong ibinagsak,” Aunor said.
“Nag-reformat . . . Pinalitan nila lahat ang dating management kaya nang dumating ako sa ‘Superstar’ show nang panahong iyon nagtaka ako . . . Wala na si Tito Al at kasama siya sa napalitan pati mga dancers ko at buong staff.”
Before he settled in the US, Aunor and Quinn reunited for the production of her talent John Rendez’s music video “Kembotan.”
“Si Tito Al ay pamilya ko nang itinuring, kapatid, direktor at tagapagtanggol. Masayahin, maalalahanin, at isang napakabait na kaibigan. Napakalaking kawalan ni direk sa industriya. Taos-puso kong ipinapaabot ang aking pakikiramay sa kanyang pamilya,” Aunor added.