Jose "Chito" S. Roņo Jr.
had his initial training in film at the UP Film Center. He was among the first batch of enrollees in Cinematic Arts - the first film course introduced in the premier state university by UP Film Center. He majored in broadcasting and engaged in substantial theater work in college prior to further studies at the New York School for Social Research. He took up scriptwriting at the Grey Film Atelier in Upstate New York and cinematography at Centro Statale di Cinematografia e Film in Rome.
He received wide acclaim for his debut film, Private Show (1986), which created a stir when it was chosen as the Philippine entry to the Chicago International Film Festival. He also won the local critics' group's award (Urian) and that of the entertainment press (Star) as best director for Itanong Mo sa Buwan (Ask The Moon, 1988). His socially relevant film on residents of Subic - once host to the US naval base - Olongapo, The Great American Dream (1987), was adjudged Grand Winner for Best Picture at the 13th Metro Manila Film Festival.
The revival of Manila Film Festival in 1991 brought another round of honors to Chito when his entry, Kailan Ka Magiging Akin, bagged the lion's share of awards. On top of the best director plum, the powerful drama about a surrogate mother romped off with 11 other prizes, namely, Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Story, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Sound, Best Music, Best Theme Song, Best Production Design, Best Make-up, Best Actress for lead star Janice de Belen and Best Supporting Actress for Charo Santos. It was his first and last participation in the said filmfest staged in commemoration of the Philippine capital's founding. Its expanded version, the Metro Manila Film Festival, has seen more action for Chito.
In all instances, he scored victory. In 1995, he entered Dahas which was proclaimed 2nd Best Picture. In 1997, he fielded Nasaan ang Puso which turned out to be the runaway winner in the eight major categories of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Music, Best Actress for Maricel Soriano, Best Actor for Christopher de Leon and Best Supporting Actor for Ronaldo Valdez. In December 1998, his entry to the 24th edition of the local filmfest, Babae sa Bintana (1998), was declared 2nd Best Picture.
Chito's festival participation is no less limited to the domestic arena. From the time of Private Show in Chicago, Chito's varied films have graced Berlin, Rotterdam, Hawaii, New York, San Francisco, Palm Springs, Palm Beach, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Kentucky, Hong Kong and Fukuoka. In September 1998, the award-winning filmmaker made waves with the exhibition of Curacha, Ang Babaeng Walang Pahinga (Curacha, The Woman Without Rest, 1998) at the Toronto International Film Festival. It marks the third time that Chito was represented in the famed film festival. He first took part in the major Canadian film event many years ago with Itanong Mo sa Buwan. In 1995, he joined the Philippine contingent with Eskapo. The Film Desk of the Young Critics Circle voted another of his most recent works, Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa (1998), as the year's best film. The romantic drama, Hinahanap-hanap Kita, starring Aga Muhlach is the latest release from the prolific filmmaker.
(UPshots 4: Film Artists From Diliman, February 1999)
Private Show (1985)
Olongapo - The Great American Dream (1987)
Itanong Mo Sa Buwan (Ask the Moon, 1988)
Kasalanan Bang Sambahin Ka (1990)
Bakit Kay Tagal ng Sandali (1990)
Kailan Ka Magiging Akin (1991)
Alyas Stella Magtanggol (1992)
Narito Ang Puso Ko (1992)
Ikaw Lang (1993)
Minsan Lang Kitang Iibigin (1994)
Sige, Ihataw Mo (1994)
Bakit Pa Kita Minahal (1994)
Patayin sa Sindak si Barbara (1995)
Nasaan ang Puso (1997)
Curacha - Ang Babaeng Walang Pahinga (The Woman Without Rest, 1998)
Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa (1998)
Babae sa Bintana (1998)
Hinahanap-hanap Kita (1999)
Laro Sa Baga (1999)