National Artist and famed director Eddie Romero dies

May 29, 2013 9:43 pm
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Eddie Romero

Award winning director and National Artist for Cinema and Broadcast Arts Eddie Romero passed away on Tuesday night at the Saint Luke’s Medical Center. He was 88.

According to his son, director Joey Romero, his father had been in and out of the hospital for the past few weeks and was in a state of coma when he died. Doctors said he had a blood clot in the brain that resulted in complications. He had also been suffering from prostate cancer.

The family plans to hold his wake at Arlington Memorial Chapels along Araneta Avenue in Quezon City.

Born Edgar Sinco Romero in Dumaguete City, the influential and legendary director, producer and screenwriter was known for his films that focused on Philippine culture, history and politics.

His career spans three generations of filmmakers that began with his 1947 directorial debut Ang Kamay Ng Diyos.

In the 1950s, Romero directed the movies of classic love team of Pancho Magalona and Tita Duran such as Always, Kay Ganda Mo, Sa Piling Mo, and Kasintahan sa Pangarap, among others.

He switched to making international films in the 60s that brought together a cast of Filipino and American actors. These include Espionage: Far East, Lost Battalion, The Raiders of Leyte Gulf, The Passionate Strangers and Manila, Open City.

It was also during this decade that Romero found success in making B-movie horror thrillers with titles like Mad Doctor of Blood Island, The Brides of Blood and The Twilight People, a movie from which Quentin Tarantino drew inspiration for his own Grindhouse films.

In 1976, Romero helmed Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon?, a movie set at the turn of the 20th century during the revolution against the Spaniards and American colonizers.

It is considered as one of the finest movies in Philippine cinema. He followed it up with notable dramas such as Banta ng Kahapon, Sinong Kapiling? Sinong Kasiping?,
Kamakalawa and what many consider as his masterpiece—Aguila, which tells the story of a family set against the backdrop of the country’s history.

Throughout his career, Romero won more than 20 awards, including several Lifetime Achievement Awards and three Best Screenplay awards for Diego Silang, Durugin si Totoy Bato and Ang Padrino.

His 13-part series of Noli Me Tangere, meanwhile introduced José Rizal’s novel to a new generation of viewers.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) described Romero as “the ambitious yet practical artist, [who] was not satisfied with dreaming up grand ideas. He found ways to produce these dreams into films.”

His 2003 National Artist citation said Romero delivered those grand ideas “in an utterly simple style–minimalist, but never empty, always calculated, precise and functional, but never predictable.”

On its website, the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino describes the filmmaker as “that rare individual in Philippine Cinema: a man of erudition and consummate artistry working in conditions inhospitable to the tasks of general excellence. While the industrial mode of Philippine Cinema may be typified as crass commercialism and unmitigated sensationalism, Eddie Romero is counted among the very few artists who have managed to overcome the centrifugal mediocrity of popular concerns and produce works of great impact and astonishing originality. As one of Philippine Cinema’s leading scriptwriters and directors, he has a few peers. He is also an indefatigable industry and cultural leader as well as a pioneer in the field of international co-productions.”