Former MTRCB Chair Manoling Morato Dies at 87


Manuel Morato, or more popularly known by his nickname Manoling, has died. He was 87. The news was first reported by ABS-CBN News, which quoted family members as saying that Morato passed away due to COVID-19. 

Morato was a public official who served roles in different offices and agencies. He is perhaps best-known as the chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) during the time of President Corazon Aquino. He was the board’s second chairman, founding chair Maria Kalaw Katigbak.

As chief censor, he waged a cultural war against so-called “bomba” or “pene” films, with overtly sexual themes and scenes. Because of this, he often butted heads with filmmakers and creatives who accused him of being a prude. One memorable incident was when he defended the MTRCB’s decision to cut certain portions of the critically acclaimed film Schidler’s List, directed by Steven Spielberg, that showed nudity and sex in 1994. He had relinquished the position by then to Henrietta Mendez.

Morato also served as chairman and board member of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. During his term with the PCSO, he was accused of favoring charities run by the Catholic Church.

He ran for an elective position at least three times (twice for senator and once for President), but did not win. 

Morato was the son of Tomas Morato, the first mayor of Quezon City. Don Tomas was a Spanish-born citizen who had instigated the plans to build a new city that would later come to be named after his good friend, former President Manuel Quezon. A street in Quezon City now bears his name.


Tomas Morato and his wife Consuelo bore 12 children, including Manoling. In 2019, he figured in a quarrel with at least one of his siblings about certain properties of the family in Quezon City.

Feisty and always ready with a quotable quote, Morato remained on the fringes of public life in his later years. Just this month, he was in a press conference to promote a certain spray solution that purports to fight COVID and other health problems such as bronchitis and tonsilitis.





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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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