Member, CCP Board of Trustees; Critic, Writer, and Teacher
May 6, 1942 – April 6, 2021
Nestor U. Torre (Nestor Angel Urbina Torre Jr.), also known as Nestor Torre Jr. or NUT, was a television, theater, and film critic; theater and film director, screenwriter, playwright, actor, television host, and teacher. He served as a member of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Board of Trustees, and was one of the major writers of the film volume of the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine art.
He was born in Cagayan de Oro City to Nestor Torre Sr. and Isabel Urbina. He graduated from Xavier University with a journalism degree and pursued graduate studies in communication arts at Ateneo de Manila University. He completed a master of arts degree in radio-TV-film at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and postgraduate studies at the Center for Educational Television Overseas in London on a Colombo Plan grant.
Television, film, and theater actor and director Laurice Guillen is a second cousin.
Torre helped establish the Department of Speech and Drama at the University of the Philippines (UP) in the early 1960s. He was the founding chair of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino in 1976.
Torre was one of the few critics who consistently reviewed broadcast media works and films in his newspaper columns for nearly half a century. One of his early columns was “On Television” in Manila Chronicle in the late 1960s. It provided critical analyses of broadcast programs and in-depth assessments of the industry.
He also wrote a column called “Mmmmedia” for Woman’s Home Companion starting in 1972, then the column “Anak ng Mmmmedia” for Mr. & Ms. magazine beginning in 1975. Both discussed personalities and issues in the media industry.
He later wrote for the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) after it was founded in 1985. The Manila Chronicle, Woman’s Home Companion, Mr. & Ms., and PDI were all published by Eugenia D. Apostol. He wrote sharp-witted observations of blunders by television personalities in his column “Boob-Tube Booboos” which first appeared in the 1970s in the Philippine Daily Express and Weekend, and television, film, and theater reviews in his column “Viewfinder” in PDI from 1986 to 2019.
In broadcasting, he did radio productions in the 1960s at Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) in Cagayan de Oro. After his graduate studies abroad, RMN owner Henry Canoy tapped him to direct many TV shows on IBC 13, also in the 1960s. He then worked as production manager and eventually director for the video broadcast productions of the Ateneo Educational Television in the second half of the 1960s.
Torre went on to write and direct a number of shows on the pre-martial law ABS-CBN, including the talk show Two for the Road, which he eventually co-hosted with Elvira Manahan when it was revived in 1979 on GMA; the show ended when Manahan died in 1986. He directed Henrik Ibsen’s “Kaaway ng Bayan” (An Enemy of the People) in 1970 on ABS-CBN, and “Pasyong Pilipino” in 1975 on PTV 4, an adaptation by Bienvenido Lumbera of the narrative poem by Gaspar Aquino de Belen.
On the stage, Torre played the Moor in Wallace Bacon’s oral interpretation of William Shakespeare’s Othello at UP in the early 1960s. Torre played lead roles in more than 40 plays by Rolando Tinio for Teatro Pilipino. He was Konde de Rocca Marina in Carlo Goldoni’s Ang Abaniko (The Fan), 1975; Marat in Alexei Arbuzov’s Kawawang Marat (The Promise), 1976; and Jorgen Tesman in Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, 1977.
He also acted in plays directed by Zeneida Amador for Repertory Philippines, Behn Cervantes, Joey Gosiengfiao, Sarah Joaquin, Tony Espejo, Bill Kane, Wallace Bacon, Jonas Sebastian, and Jimmy Asencio. Plays he directed include Anton Chekhov’s Ang Bastos (The Boor), 1981; and Reuel Aguila’s Satirika (Satire), 1982.
Theater musicals he directed include Magsimula Ka (Begin All Over Again), 1988, 2010, 2013, and 2014; and Katy!, 1988 and 2013. He wrote and directed Magnificat, which premiered in 1996 and has been performed since then for more than 160 times; and Cory, 2008 and 2011. He directed the musical Sino Ka Ba, Jose Rizal? (Who Are You, Jose Rizal?), 2011-2012. Dinner theater works he wrote and/or directed were Close Encounters with the Third Sex, 1980; Cabaret, early 1980s; Manila Vanilla, 2011; Laugh Out Loud, 2014-2015; and With Love, Pope Francis, 2015.
In film, Torre wrote the story and screenplay of the dramas Dama de Noche (Woman of the Night), 1972; and May Isang Brilyante (There Was a Diamond), 1973; the comedy Inspiration, 1972; the action movie Dateline Chicago: Arrest the Nurse Killer, 1976; and the musicals Leron, Leron Sinta, 1972; and The Super Singer, 1973.
He wrote the screenplay of the fourth segment of the omnibus historical movie Dugo at Pag-ibig sa Kapirasong Lupa (Blood and Love in a Piece of Land), 1975. He directed the films Crush Ko si Sir (I Have a Crush on Sir), 1971; As Long as There’s Music, 1973; and Ang Isinilang Ko Ba’y Kasalanan? (Is What I Gave Birth to a Sin?), 1977. He also appeared as a minor character in the film Hari sa Hari, Lahi sa Lahi (King and Emperor), 1987, directed by Eddie Romero.
He wrote and published the children’s book Calypso: The Pig That Almost Became Lechon, 2011, illustrated by Araceli Limcaco Dans.
Torre’s video broadcast productions for the Ateneo Educational Television won Best Educational Program Series in the Citizens Award for Television, 1967. His plays won the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature: first prize for No Sadder Race, 1965; And a Happy Birthday, 1967; A Second Generation, 1968; and Dialogue, 1969; and third prize for Out of Darkness, 1964; and Apparitions, 1967.
He was elevated to the Hall of Fame of the Catholic Mass Media Awards in 2010 after winning three Best Entertainment Column awards for his column “Viewfinder” in the PDI in 2003, 2007, and 2009. He received the Anak TV Broadcasters’ Award, 2011; and the Gawad Tanglaw sa Sining ng Mass Media, 2012.
On December 4, 2018, a benefit concert titled Loving the N.U.T. was organized by the CCP, his friends, proteges, and colleagues in the theater and movie industry as a tribute and show of support for Torre who suffered a stroke in February of that year.
At the age of 78, on April 6, 2021, he died in Manila from heart disease and complications of Covid-19. Writer Frank Cimatu wrote about Nestor Torre on Facebook: “In his last days, he tried to be nearer heaven by producing and directing religious drama. But he doesn’t need to. He may be sometimes feisty, but he is a lovable chum.”