Dec 18
QUADRUPLE BYPASS by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Dec 18, 2009

Like other oldtimers in the movie industry, Roger Estrada was often seen at the Film Academy office. A quiet man with a poker face, Ka Roger would be sitting in a corner while waiting for their guild president.

As a veteran cinematographer, Ka Roger was a perennial voter and citer for the Luna Awards. One time at the UP Film Center, during the screening of voters, Ka Roger intimated his concern for the movie industry.

“Abot ng thirty-five million ang budget dyan. Wala namang kuwenta.” Ka Roger was referring to a movie shot on location in the northern part of the country. “Ang dami kasing equipment. Yung mga HMI (lighting units) hindi mabilang kaya pati generator ang dami rin.”

Roger Estrada with the author at the UP Film Center

And the sad part, “Hindi naman kumita.” If he had his way, he would be scrimping on the location expenses. “Puwede namang remedyuhan sa camera ang mga shots,” Ka Roger just wanted to accentuate the capabilities of the camera of which he was an expert.

With the small plans in his mind, Roger Estrada could have done something for the movie industry. But he suffered a fatal heart attack in the early part of 2009.

Following the footsteps of his father, Fernando Estrada or Ronnie to his friends, tackled any job he could get in the movies. “Basta masipag ka lang naman, hindi ka magugutom,” was Ronnie’s dictum. His name, Fernando and Estrada, signified two big names in the movie industry.

And maybe because of his good traits and connections, Ronnie was able to handle the camera like his father. A simple man with simple tastes, Ronnie’s priority was his dignity. “Kailangan kasi makapal ang mukha pero hindi yung abusado.”

Ronnie Estrada in a somber mood

While shooting in Luneta for a workshop project, Ronnie exhibited his savvy for the camera lens. He taught his groupmates a neat lesson in focusing and backdropping. “Pag maganda ang background, dapat gamitin para hindi naman sayang.”

Ronnie was lucky to be included in the Tanging Pamilya project which has no less than former president Joseph Estrada in the lead role opposite Ai-ai Delas Alas. Ironically, Ronnie was one of the unlucky passengers of Super Ferry 9 that tilted in the waters of Zamboanga sea last September.

Atty. Espiridion D. Laxa was the guiding light of the local movie industry. As what Marichu Maceda had said, “Si Attorney ang isinasama ko pag kailangan ko ng character sa meeting. Siya ang inihaharap ko sa malalaking tao.”

Atty. Laxa was almost all over the movie industry. He was honorary chairman of the Film Academy, chairman of Mowelfund, member of the FDCP (Film Development Council of the Philippines) board, member of the Anti-Piracy board and vice chairman of the Metro Manila filmfest executive committee.

Atty. Espiridion Laxa during the last Luna Awards. Beside him is Gina Alajar, Lorna Tolentino, Leo Martinez, Tirso Cruz III, Dante Rivero

My first encounter with Atty. Laxa was in April 2004 when I had an audience with the FAP Board of Governors in accepting me as their technical consultant. “Welcome aboard,” the good man said with a firm handshake and his trademark smile.

My last encounter with Atty. Laxa was in the last week of August. “May I have your opinion,” he said to me while pointing to the Luna statuettes located at the rear part of the FAP office.

Automatically, I said that the statuettes should be placed near the reception area for people to easily see because it is the symbol of the Academy. Atty. Laxa smiled, “Sabi ko na nga ba. We have the same thinking.” He then instructed the utility guy to move the statuettes to a more conspicuous place. (Up to this moment, the statuettes remain sitting at the rear part of the FAP office).

Two weeks after that last encounter, I learned that Atty. Laxa was in the hospital due to excessive stress presumably he suffered during a senate inquiry (on the finances of the MMFF). Next word was that he was on pain management. And then the last word was that the wake would be in Heritage.

Armed with a videocam and a still camera, I covered the entire ceremonies of the eulogy for Atty. Laxa. And I promised to compile the videos and photos in a dvd that I would give to Atty. Laxa’s family. (Up to this moment, that promise remains to be fulfilled).

Losing is a painful exercise especially if that someone had been a good person. The local movie industry had lost 3 good people this year of 2009. Er, make that 4 good people.

My own mother succumbed to colon cancer on November 24, 2009 after 22 days of confinement in the Veteran’s Memorial Hospital. It was very difficult for me to describe her last days so I just used my camera to capture that sad part of history.

She left for the US two years ago and came back to give us one month of companionship. The short time was not enough but it was better than coming back inside a box. Besides, the hope (of getting well) she gave us was more than enough consolation.

Note: click here to read a related article entitled The Traditional Moviegoer:

On a positive note, it is very encouraging to realize that we have a lot of relatives and a fairly good number of close friends and acquaintances. The presence of these people during the wake at the Loyola chapels made it easier for us to overcome the grief.

a smiling Grenada Jacinto Socorro (wearing black) with Atty. Rodolfo Brodett and wife Sinforosa. The author is at right.

The first visitors were people from the Film Academy headed by Leo Martinez, the FAP director general. Colleagues in the corporate world came by to show their support. Longtime friends appeared with their condolences.

Of course, the documentation of the sad event was continuous. There were video clips and countless photographs that would paint a clear picture of who came and when. But like the promised dvd to Atty. Laxa’s family, my mother’s dvd is yet to be finished.

Compiling an album for a sad event is the most difficult task for me. It was like re-experiencing what happened so you can imagine the pain. Time heals everything and maybe I need more time to finish the videos.

The year 2009 was not really good for the industry. Aside from the dwindling number of mainstream movies, the people in the industry are also decreasing in number. Here’s hoping that 2010 will turn a new and greener leaf for the movie industry.

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