Cinematographer Regiben Romana: A former Punk Music Photographer


This is Regiben Romana, I met him at the recent PMPC Star Awards. He was nominated for his work in the recent “Panday”. We were all early so while waiting he happened to talk about what he did before becoming a cinematographer.

His stories blew me away.

He was the photographer of the Eraserheads (he told them to pose as if they were going to be “The biggest band in Manila” back when they were unknown and one of his photos ended up being the album cover).

He also took photos of Pepe Smith. He had a panoramic shot of Pepe Smith playing the National Anthem ala Jimmy Hendrix at the 1986 EDSA Rally (correct me if I’m wrong, I was overwhelmed with the stories). He also had pictures of the legend apart from his usual shots, answering the crossword while being surrounded by his kids. He had photos of Cooky Chua when someone dropped acid on her drink which ended up being the best performance of her life! She was in tears while singing and her fans surrounded her in a circle while one of their friends started dancing around her.

He was also present while she was throwing up in the bathroom, Cooky being so pretty, even posed for the camera while hugging the toilet at Mayrics, doing a peace sign. Yak, haha! Pero sobrang astig.

He told me he used beer and eggs to make a mohawk and he saved hundreds of lives by telling an event organizer to just let the punks come in for free before The Wuds played their set in Intramuros (otherwise they would tear down the walls and make a stampede)

That’s not even 1/100th of what I know. While listening to him, I wanted to be joyful and cry at the same time on how interesting it was before. On how I was trying to look for someone to look up to in this field, LOCALLY, but never found anyone, until we were all nominated at the Star Awards and sat in the same row. (I almost typed, “shared a row” but I suddenly realized it’s something completely different, LOL)

It was the time when nobody knew WHEN they were going home. He said he wore the same pants for 3 months and still has rolls of film undeveloped until this day. I told him that his photos are priceless, and that they deserve to be in a museum chronicling the history of Pinoy Rock.

When we said our goodbyes that evening, he told Francis (which Francis told me afterwards) that when he saw the photo I took of Francis at the awards show, he thought that I take pictures like a cinematographer. Sabi ko, “Hindi na ako makakatulog! Grabe!”

So he saw my Tears for Fears photo and said this…

I was jumping up and down when I read this, hahaha!!! What he said to Francis at the Awards night, I haven’t forgotten. What more this? Waaah!

I actually considered the profession, given that my brother is a movie director. But he said it involves a lot of manual labor, like carrying lights. I’m hoping there’ll come a time when I have enough resources to actually focus on this. I used to buy cinematography magazines even if I didn’t understand a thing that was written. It was something I hope, but I don’t think I’ll get to do in the near future.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter, whatever he said, just made me wide awake and I’m supposed to deliver pictures tomorrow and head straight to a meeting before the Golden Screen Awards! Our song is nominated again!


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