MANILA -- Tears and laughter, music and humor punctuated the poignant online send-off for departed director and journalist Nestor Torre Wednesday night.
In various colorful recollections of their moments with Torre, friends and colleagues in showbiz and media shared many anecdotes and insights into the character of Torre who succumbed to COVID-19 complications last April 11.
Music stalwart Leo Valdez, singing the first lines of the theme song of Torre and Gines Tan’s “Magsimula Ka,” recalled how Torre corrected his enunciation as a newbie in theater.
Veteran writer Clodualdo del Mundo narrated how he owes a debt of gratitude to Torre, then his teacher, for goading him to write the film screen treatment of Edgardo Reyes’ novel, “Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag” while he was in college at Ateneo.
Journalist Ed Sicam, while attesting to Torre’s eagle-eyed excellence in proofreading, recounted his practice of doing stories in long hand, writing on yellow pad.
Boots Anson Rodrigo, meanwhile, was unabashed in describing Torre, then a broadcast media teacher at the University of the Philippines, as her “crush” and friend for 58 years.
Lawyer Lorna Kapunan called him a “lovable grouch, who, over wine, liked maligning other people like his friend (the late) Behn Cervantes."
Beverly Salviejo also stirred laughter among the online memorial participants with her hilarious anecdotes on how he was tutored by Torre.
Actress Ana Feleo, who revived “Magnificat” with her mother, director Laurice Guillen before the pandemic, broke into tears describing her uncle Nestor as a hard-driving director who took extra effort “shaping me, coaching me scene by scene” in “Spoliarium.”
One of the highlights of the send-off was the rendition of “Two for the Road” by Isay Alvarez who was referred by virtual host Ali Sotto as Torre’s muse and favorite protegee. Organizers of the memorial collated photos of Torre with his late bosom friend and co-host Elvira Manahan in the song tribute.
Isay Alvarez sings 'Two for the Road.' Video courtesy of Boots Anson Rodrigo and Isay Alvarez
Other singers who sang themes from Torre’s musicals included Dulce, Bo Cerrudo, Tricia Amper, Poppert Bernadas and others.
Araceli Dans, Pinky Marquez, Robert Seña, Leo Rialp and others also shared their fond recollections of Torre.
National Artist Ryan Cayabyab was particularly emotive in describing Torre as one of his most difficult partners in music collaboration. “It zapped all my energy doing act one," Cayabyab reminisced the time he set to music Torre’s play “Magnificat.” “I can only do act one, I said, you may ask someone else to do the rest of the play, and he said no, I will wait for you. And so he waited for me after one year!"
Cayabyab who also collaborated with Torre on the musical “Katy” and other projects, cherished the time he last saw Torre. “Two years ago, when I was conferred the National Artist award, the first person I went to was Nestor. He already had a stroke by then. But when I saw him, I felt his happiness for me!” Cayabyab said/
Rito Asilo, Torre’s long-time friend, actor and writing associate at the Philippines Daily Inquirer, preferred to be lighter in his farewell.
“Ayaw niya kasi ng drama, sad stories, baka mag walk-out!" he said laughing. “Till we meet again and let’s do ‘Magnificat’ in heaven!”