Uro dela Cruz, who died on Thursday, was a brilliant fictionist, screenwriter, film and TV director, photographer and amateur anthropologist. He was 64. He had shelves full of awards, including seven Palancas, that he was grateful for but did not talk about. Crowing about his achievements embarrassed him — the important thing was the work, and even that he barely discussed. It became a running joke: ask him how many TV shows he was directing at the same time, and he would say, “None.” “You don’t direct Bubble Gang anymore?” we would press him. “That show practically directs itself,” he would shrug. After we had peeled away layers of semantic obfuscation, we would learn that in addition to the comedy show he helmed for two decades, he was directing two game shows and a sitcom starring Manny Pacquiao. No wonder it took him ages to reply to texts and phone calls.
All these accomplishments — the shows ranging from Battle of the Brains to Bubble Gang that defined pop culture and Pinoy humor (he wanted to set up a website called Wackipedia as an archive of jokes); the now-classic films he wrote, including Virgin Forest and Scorpio Nights; the amateur urban archeology that led to a trove of photos by Teodulo Protomartir; the novel Antyng-Antyng (Kwadrisentenyal), which remained unpublished until we kidnapped the manuscript and sent it to a publisher — these are sidebars to the life of Rosauro Quevedo Dela Cruz of Lucban, Quezon. What Uro really excelled at was being a human being. He was a devoted husband to Anna, who runs the household with military precision, whom he described as the most beautiful woman he’d ever met. He was a terrific father to Tata, Toto and Dodong, whom he deprived of any issues they can report to a psychiatrist later in life because they could talk about everything. He was a marvelous friend — kind, generous, deadpan funny, fiercely intelligent, a human Google of arcane knowledge, and he would be the first to point out that there are too many adjectives in this sentence. Uro was one of the finest people I’ve ever known. It’s all downhill from here.