Eddie Romero, one of most best-known Filipino filmmakers, died of prostate cancer on Tuesday, May 28. Romero was 88.
Named a National Artist of the Philippines in 2003, Romero (born on July 7, 1924, in Dumaguete City) began his film career in the late ’40s, when The Philippines were still recovering from the devastation of World War II. His international reputation rests chiefly on his low-budget horror and action movies; usually Filipino / American co-productions made in collaboration with actor-producer John Ashley.
Among those are the the horror sci-fier Brides of Blood (1968), featuring veteran Kent Taylor, Beverly Powers, tropical-island natives, and radioactively mutated human-eating plants; Beast of Blood (1971), featuring John Ashley and a headless monster; The Twilight People (1972), which has no connection to either Stephenie Meyer or the Cullen Clan — in the film, reminiscent of Erle C. Kenton’s Island of Lost Souls (1932), a mad scientist living on an isolated island creates half-human, half-animal beings, among them Panther Woman Pam Grier.
Also, Black Mama, White Mama (1974), starring Pam Grier (in the Sidney Poitier role, sort of) and Margaret Markov (in the Tony Curtis role, sort of) chained together in this twisted take on Stanley Kramer’s The Defiant Ones; the horror sci-fier Beyond Atlantis (1973), starring John Wayne’s son Patrick Wayne; Savage Sisters (1974), featuring tough female revolutionary Gloria Hendry; and the thriller Sudden Death (1977), with Robert Conrad and Don Stroud.
Eddie Romero and the Filipino identity
Exploitation movies aside, Eddie Romero also tackled Filipino issues in war dramas such as Lost Battalion (1962); Intramuros (1964), with Jock Mahoney; and Manila, Open City (1968).
Romero’s most prestigious film is probably the 1976 musical drama Ganito kami noon… Paano kayo ngayon?, winner of the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences’ Best Director Award, and Metro Manila Film Festival Awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay (Romero and Roy Iglesias).
Set at the turn of the 20th century, Ganito kami noon… Paano kayo ngayon?, which translates more or less as "We Were So … How Are You Today?" tells the story of a country bumpkin who becomes a member of an imaginary community during the time The Philippines went from being a Spanish colony to a de facto American colony. All the while, the movie’s hero looks for his "Filipino identity." Ganito kami noon… Paano kayo ngayon? starred Christopher De Leon and Gloria Diaz.
Of note, as per the IMDb Eddie Romero was an associate producer in Francis Ford Coppola’s Best Picture Academy Award nominee Apocalypse Now (1979). Set in Vietnam but shot in The Philippines, Apocalypse Now featured Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Frederic Forrest, Robert Duvall, and Dennis Hopper.
Eddie Romero photo via interaksyon.com.