MANILA, Philippines -- Film maker and producer Cirio Santiago, whom award-winning Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino considers a big influence and inspiration, died Friday night of complications from lung cancer. He was 72.
Santiago, who was diagnosed early this year, was pronounced dead at 11:50 p.m. at the Makati Medical Center. His doctors declared respiratory failure as the immediate cause, his sister Digna, an official of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, told the Inquirer by phone on Saturday.
Like Cirio, Digna is also a film producer for the family-owned Premiere Productions.
At the time of his death, he was chair of the Laguna Lake Development Authority.
Cirio?s son also died of cancer six months ago, said Digna. "He became very depressed."
She said her brother was taken by ambulance to the hospital on September 18 after he complained of difficulty in breathing.
?His family learned of his condition in March, after his son, Cyril, was buried," Digna recounted. "He didn?t even tell us, probably because he didn?t like too much attention."
Cyril died of testicular cancer at age 26. ?Cirio took care of him for a year and a half and was profoundly affected by his passing," said Digna.
Surgery was recommended for Cirio in May, Digna said, as the cancer had metastasized to his kidneys.
He is survived by wife Annabelle; children Christopher, Cathy, Claudine and Cirio Jr.; and siblings Digna and Danilo.
Cirio was cremated on Friday. A Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Santuario de San Antonio, in Forbes Park, Makati.
?We last spoke a week ago," Digna said. "I promised that the family would bring him to the Vancouver Olympics in 2010."
Cirio, who also used the screen name Leonard Hermes, was chair emeritus of Premiere Productions. In 1995, he was president of the Philippine Film Development Fund.
In 1960, he was one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines, for Fine Arts.
Among Cirio?s better-known films were ?T. N. T. Jackson? (1975) and ?Firehawk? (1993). In the 1980s, he made low-budget Vietnam war movies, working with American producer Roger Corman and directors Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante, and Carl Franklin.
Several of these B-movies have become cult favorites, cited by such "renegade" Hollywood filmmakers as Quentin Tarantino.
During his first visit to the country last year, Tarantino sought a meeting with his two "idols," Cirio and another Filipino director, Eddie Romero.
Tarantino proudly announced that he based some of the characters in his iconic film, "Kill Bill," on those in Cirio?s earlier movies.
At the time of his death, Cirio was filming ?Road Warriors,? produced by US-based 147 Productions, as the sequel to his sci-fi flick ?Stryker.?
He was to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Film Academy of the Philippines next month.