Chito S. Roño hails from Calbayog City in the province of Samar. Despite his stature, he remains humble, low-key, unassuming and approachable.
Eldest among a brood of six, parents Carol and Jose Roño had passed on many years ago. The younger Roño is an alumnus of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (broadcast communication). After graduation, he traveled to New York and matriculated in a cinema course, major in documentary film.
When he returned home, he worked at the Manila Film Center’s alternative cinema. He did three independent, or what is now known as indie, films.
In his college days at the UP, he was active in Dulaang UP with Tony Mabesa as an actor, stage manager, props man and director.
He directed Private Show (1986) with Jaclyn Jose in the lead, which became his ticket into the movie industry as director.
Then, movie offers landed his lap continuously.
“Marami na akong nakatrabaho. Nakatrabaho ko na sina Janice de Belen, Vivian Velez and Dina Bonnevie for Viva Films; sa Regal Films naman ay sina Kris Aquino, Aga Muhlach and Richard (Gomez). I’m serious whenever I do a movie. I’m not intimidated for I’m prepared. When I arrive on the set, I’m very much ready. I know what I’m doing. Wala akong nerbiyos. I get nervous in technical matters or in things that cannot be controlled,” he remarked with a glint in his eyes.
He says he is focused and he expects his actors to know what they are supposed to do.
“They must know their lines. I show them that I’m ready. I treat everybody equal, regardless of who he or she is,” said he.
He vividly recalls in the movie The Healing, for instance, “Maraming galos si Vilma Santos rito pero di siya nagreklamo. Sobrang bow ako sa kanya. Nagkwento na lamang siya na nahilo siya, may galos siya. Sobrang inspiring makatrabaho si Ate Vi. Di siya nagpapa-importante kahit Batangas governor na siya noon. Di rin siya nagpapa-antay. Mahal na mahal siya ng mga kapwa-artista. Sabay-sabay sila dumating. Di siya nagbibigay ng problema... Iyon ang sobrang sarap kay Ate Vi.”
Roño admitted he is radical at home, or a non-conformist type of a person.
“I’ve always been a rebel. May sarili akong diskarte o pananaw. Even my father, who had a high position in government (being a local government minister then), never forced me to do things that I did not want. My mother was the one worrying kasi wala naman kita sa art,” he said as he released a contagious laughter.
His siblings, all in business, are “all very supportive.” When Chito became successful in his career, his parents and his siblings became very proud of him. They even attended the premieres of his movies.
When his dad got sick, he was able to observe healers who came to their house. “I was able to observe healing sessions,” said Chito whose father died some years ago while he was shooting the film Dekada ‘70 with Vilma Santos.
As to the state of the Philippine cinema, he believes that in show business, there is what we call biorhythm. There are ups and down.
With technological growth or advancement, he also believes producing movies is now conducive to independent filmmakers.
We live in digital age. It is affordable and easier to do indie film nowadays,” he said with a wide, sweet smile.
Certainly, Chito S. Rono, also known as Sixto Kayko and director of TV documentary Ang Simula (a 3D, animated film on 100 million years of the natural history of the Philippines), is doing a film with Christian Bables. Rogelio Constantino Medina