Twenty years ago, at the very first fashion shoot for Zee Lifestyle‘s maiden issue, I met Romero Vergara.
It was life-transforming, just as that fashion shoot was challenging. Featured were the collections of six different designers and fashion brands. That meant creating six different looks in six different locations for two male and four female models. Impressively, Romero Vergara and assistant brought it all off brilliantly, even directing some of the poses for the female models.
What immediately stood out was how deft his graceful hands were and how remarkably professional he was in his outlook. Without missing a beat, he could instantly change a model’s look to fit the mood required. He worked quietly and quickly, yet the most delightful surprise of all was his incredibly delectable sense of humor as he dished out quip after funny quip.
A little background here about those early days: We didn’t work with “pegs” (slang for images) then, we didn’t copy shamelessly. For inspiration and to rev up our artistic imagination, we talked about mood, movies, color palettes and art movements so we could achieve a certain look. Romero was then fresh from doing runway shows with Patrick Rosas in Manila and Japan, where innovation was the norm. Nothing was too outrageous for him, that was the exciting part. I personally thought that he was outrageous, marvelously so. Back then he was the only makeup artist in Cebu who could deliver the high quality of work that my fashion pages and fashion shows tried to uphold. Today he holds the distinction of being the only Cebu-based artist to come up with a styling book on Cebu personalities, evidence of his thoroughness and talent and artistry.
Working with Romero continues to be exciting and inspiring, especially now that he has broadened his artistic horizons. These days, he is doing volunteer work as Head of Hair and Makeup for Siddhartha the Musical. “It’s time to give back. Through my talent, I’m touching people’s lives all over the world,” he happily declares.
It was on one of our recent trips abroad that I thought of putting together some of the one-liners and amusing repartěe for which Romero has garnered quite a following. Here thus are some ROMERISMS, nuggets of wisdom which he delivers through seemingly nonsensical statements that, when analyzed closely, make eminent sense while entertaining immensely.
While walking along Rodeo Drive a blond lady in sporty clothes came down the street and confronted Romero who was taking video footage of the nearby designer stores and the woman had accidentally been included.
Blond Girl: Hey, I see you are taking a video and you have captured my image. Please delete it now; you don’t have my permission to post it anywhere.
Romero: Why? Are you the one of those glittering in the sky? I am the star of the show. Good day.
On the night we arrived at Orange County for a friend’s wedding.
OJ: Romero, please stop unpacking, let’s sleep. We might have a long day tomorrow.
Romero: Tomorrow is for touring. Let’s tell Kim (our host) to bring us to California
OJ: Why, where are we?
Romero: Duhh, Orange County. Didn’t you see the orange trees at the backyard?
On Facetime while touring New York.
Romero: Look behind me, that’s New York. That’s a beautiful building. I’m here in the Empire State of the mind.
On the phone, a day prior to returning home from the U.S..
Romero: My nieces insisted that I stay longer. My Mexican nephews feel bad that I didn’t have time to visit them.
OJ: Why, Mexico’s another country, you need a visa to get there.
Romero: No, they live in Aburlesque. That is still here in the U.S.A., my dear. (He meant Albuquerque, New Mexico.)
On a comment that New Yorker Emmanuel Hamoy posted upon landing at Mactan Airport.
Romero: OJ, Hamoy is turning charismatic. “Jesus is alive,” it says on Facebook.
OJ: Really? Let me take a look.
Emmanuel Hamoy’s post: Je suis arrivé.
Upon seeing his favorite Italian clothing company at The Galaxy Resort in Macau.
OJ: Romero, where are you going? We’re heading for Hotel Okura. It’s this way.
Romero: No, let’s go this way first. There’s my favorite store, Loro Diana (Loro Piana).
At Solaire after watching Les Misěrables.
Romero: Theater is my life. I’ll never do fashion again. So… when is our cover shoot for Zee?
At Resorts World Manila.
Romero: Here’s another Italian store I like, OJ. Erme… Ermeneneldo Zegna (Ermenegildo Zegna). If it was easier to pronounce, I’ll surely buy from them.
After watching Annie at The Newport Performing Arts Theater.
Romero: (singing) “The sun will come out tomorrow.” Oh Daddy Starbucks, please find me now!
(He meant Daddy Warbucks.)
Preparing his clothes for the curtain call of Siddhartha The Musical at Christchurch, New Zealand.
Romero: I think I’ll wear this shirt and slacks. I’ll also have to wear this jacket. The look is formalin. We are in The Isaac Theater Royal after all.
Meeting a 19-year-old boy in Auckland, Romero engaged him in a charming conversation.
Romero: Hi, are you a Kiwi Boy? You are very tall and handsome.
Kiwi Boy: Yes I am, may I help you?
Romero: Yes, can you polish my leather shoes? Only Kiwi polish works with them. (The baffled Kiwi boy looked at him helplessly.)
After applying the stage makeup of Benjie Layos as the Buddha for the play Siddhartha.
Romero: Benjie, this is your pureless look (he meant poreless). This is foundation by Mitsuyoshi.
An assistant hairdresser pointed out an imperfection.
Gino: Romero, you should have your teeth fixed because you’re a socialite.
Romero: Nothing wrong with my teeth. They are like the logo of the computer, Windows.
Dropping in at my atelier to view my Zen drawings. He saw the invitation to the exhibit.
Romero: Empty Line, Full Heart? Change this to Fool of Heart!
OJ: Hahahaha, which one is your favorite ink drawing?
Romero: They are all the same but the paper is beautiful.
OJ: Yes, all these are empty lines.
Romero: Poor buyers. They are only paying for the paper and frame. Hahahahah…