By Leonel Abasola

Veteran cinematographer Romeo “Romy” Vitug (Portrait photo courtesy of Wig Tysman)

MANILA – Senator Jinggoy Estrada has filed Senate Resolution 908 seeking recognition of master lensman Romeo “Romy” Vitug’s invaluable contribution to Philippine cinema.

The resolution he filed on Jan. 22 also expressed the Senate’s sympathy and condolences to the bereaved family of the legendary lensman and celebrated cinematographer.

“Vitug’s unparalleled artistry and eye for detail, uncompromising commitment to excellence, and mastery of the craft make him one of the leading figures in Philippine cinema who immensely contributed to its enrichment and advancement. His passing is a great loss to the film industry and the Filipino nation,” Estrada said in a news release on Thursday.

Vitug, whose career spans more than four decades, passed away on Jan. 18 at the age of 86.

Estrada said aside from his impressive filmography, Vitug lent his stature to support advocacies that greatly contributed to the development of the local film industry, such as the “Sagip Pelikula” film restoration project and the anti-piracy information campaign of the Optical Media Board (OMB).

“Vitug’s exceptional creativity and technical proficiency honed through many years of hard work, innovation, and discipline were indispensable moviemaking skills in effectively telling the stories of the Filipino people,” he said.

Vitug first worked as a photographer for news publications, a newsreel cameraman for a television network and a stillman who took pictures of films’ highlights for promotional materials, before venturing into cinematography where he built a solid reputation and became the most sought-after lensman for his expertise in lighting, framing, and compositions.

Estrada noted that the numerous accolades and distinctions received by Vitug catapulted him into becoming one of the most celebrated in his field.

He was honored with a Cinemanila International Filmfest lifetime achievement award in 2000, the Natatanging Gawad Urian in 2016, and the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Hall of Fame award in 2019.

Vitug also produced some of the most memorable and epic scenes in films directed by esteemed directors, such as National Artists for Film Lino Brocka and Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Celso Ad Castillo, Carlitos Siguion-Reyna, Laurice Guillen, and Olivia M. Lamasan.

Vitug was a lifetime member of the National Press Club and the Philippine Press Photographer.

‘The Skywalker’

Estrada also filed Senate Resolution 911 expressing the Senate’s sympathy and condolences on the passing of Avelino “Samboy” Lim on Dec. 23 at the age of 61.

He said Lim, one of the 25 greatest players of the Philippine Basketball Association, merits the recognition of the Senate for exemplifying his boundless passion for the sport and exhibiting the ideals of sportsmanship on the court.

“His love and dedication to the sport as demonstrated by his outstanding performances exhilarated fans, inspired generations of athletes, and contributed immensely to the growth of Philippine basketball,” Estrada said in a news release on Thursday.

Lim earned the nickname “The Skywalker” due to his gravity-defying moves and high-flying plays on the court during the 1980s and 1990s.

He was the first recipient of the PBA Sportsmanship Award in 1993 for embodying the ideals of sportsmanship- ethical behavior, fair play and integrity. In 2016, the award was renamed as the Samboy Lim PBA Sportsmanship Award in honor of his contributions to the sport.

The basketball legend built a stellar collegiate career and steered Colegio de San Juan de Letran into attaining three consecutive championships in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) where he was named as Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1984.

Two years later, he joined the San Miguel basketball team and spent his entire 11-year PBA professional stint with the celebrated franchise, where he won nine championships, including a rare Grand Slam in 1989.

He also secured five PBA All-Star appearances, two PBA Mythical Second Team Selections.

When he became a member of the national basketball teams to represent the country in numerous international competitions, he brought honor and pride by winning gold medals in the 1983 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore, 1985 SEA Games in Bangkok and 1985 Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) Championship title in Kuala Lumpur; silver medal in the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing; and bronze medal in 1986 Asian Games in Seoul.

His passion for the sport did not cease following his retirement as he established the Skywalker Basketball Clinic and imparted valuable skills and lessons to the new breed of ballers, including beginners, intermediate and elite players.

Estrada said Lim’s passing is an immense loss not only to his family, but to the entire nation as well. (PNA)