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Character actor and environmentalist Roy Alvarez passes away

Roy Alvarez in a publicity photo for the GMA Network series 'Villa Quintana'.

Veteran character actor Roy Alvarez, best known for his memorable performances on film and television and his environmental advocacies, passed away Tuesday shortly after suffering a heart attack. He was 63.

Born Leandro Delantar Alvarez in Pagbilao, Quezon, Alvarez earned a degree in Bachelor of Science in Commerce from the University of Santo Tomas. He made his big screen debut with a small role in Ishmael Bernal’s first film, “Pagdating sa Dulo”, in 1971.

A decade later Bernal would give Alvarez what would arguably be his biggest break in movies when he cast him in “Working Girls” (1984) playing the role of a poet who also happens to be the exasperated lover of hardworking bank executive played by Hilda Koronel.

Another big break was his casting as fictional rebel soldier leader Col. “Tiger” Tecson in the 1988 English-Australian mini-series, “A Dangerous Life”, that was based on the events leading to the EDSA Revolution.

With his deep voice and thick moustache, Alvarez would also often play trigger-happy villains such as the psycho killer in the FPJ classic “Kapag Puno na ang Salop” but would later take on a wide array of roles for films covering all sorts of genres, including drama, comedy, horror and fantasy.

His last film role  was that of Ai-Ai Delas Alas’ adoptive father in Onat Diaz’s fantasy-comedy “Kung Fu Divas” last year.

Although he never won an acting award, Alvarez was nominated twice for Best Supporting Actor for his performances in the Rudy Fernandez starrer “Diskarte” in 2002 and Dolphy’s final film, “Father Jejemon”, in 2010.

Even without an official acting recognition, he was always regarded by his peers in the industry as a brilliant actor who also dabbled in scriptwriting and directing in film, TV and theater.

For younger fans, Alvarez is best known for his recurring roles in recent teleseryes such as “Juanita Banana”, “Guns and Roses” for ABS-CBN and “Amaya”, “My Husband’s Lover” and the ongoing “Villa Quintana” for GMA Network.

As an environmentalist, Alvarez went around the country and worked closely with organizations such as Greenpeace Philippines, Mother Earth Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition, where he served as president.

Roy Alvarez speaks during a 2005 meeting of environmental leaders when he was an officer of the Mother Earth Foundation (Photo courtesy of Angela Blardony Ureta)

“He was one of the kindest, gentlest, wisest persons I’ve ever met,” said fellow eco-warrior and former television writer and producer Angela Blardony Ureta. “I will remember him most for his fiery passion as an environmental advocate. Roy helped shape and change how I view the earth and value all forms of life which are born of one Creator.”

Alvarez also made headlines when he claims to have seen UFOs and had close encounters with aliens back in the late 1990s. He talked about such experiences extensively in guest appearances on TV talk shows and on the radio program of psychic Jaime Licauco where he was a frequent guest.

“Villa Quintana” co-stars such as Sunshine Dizon and Elmo Magalona fondly remember the actor’s many stories including those dealing with ghosts.

“Hinulaan pa nga ako ni Tito Roy through numerology,” Magalona told Yahoo! Philippines  following the news of his death.

Alvarez is survived by his wife Nieves Campa-Alvarez and daughter Miren, both theater actresses and a son who is not into acting. Viewing of the late actor’s remains starts Wednesday at Sanctuario de San Jose in Greenhills, San Juan.

On Twitter, industry colleagues and co-stars mourned the actor’s passing.