Tony Veloria, 60: Friends remember a true visionary


IN BRUGES, Belgium in 2002 (from left): Tony Veloria, Yul Servo, Lav Diaz and Cesar Hernando. Photo courtesy of Cesar Hernando

Indie movie producer Tony Veloria, who died in a bus accident at 4 a.m. on Tuesday in Malasiqui, Pangasinan, was the producer of Lav Diaz’s multi-awarded film “Batang West Side” and Mario O’Hara’s unreleased TV movie “Pusang Gala,” which premieres at the Cinemanila film fest next month.

“Pusang Gala” stars Gina Alajar, Ricky Davao, Janice de Belen and Yul Servo. Diaz found a copy of the shelved project and another TV movie that Veloria had produced, Jeffrey Jeturian’s “Motel.”

“Motel” also stars Servo with Jaclyn Jose and Albert Martinez, Jeturian said. “What struck me about Tony was that he was an avid Noranian (fan of actress Nora Aunor),” he recalled. “He loved the movies so much that he went into producing even if he didn’t know anything about the business.”

Former accountant

Diaz recounted that Veloria was an accountant in a top Makati firm before going into the movies. “Tony was a good friend,” Diaz said. “He was terribly eccentric but a true visionary. He bought production rights to so many Philippine literary masterpieces.”

As a producer, Veloria was “supportive and generous,” said filmmaker Maryo J. de los Reyes, Servo’s manager.

“We had bitter fights over the length of ‘Batang West Side’ (five hours and 15 minutes—and likewise topbills Servo), but he believed in the vision for change,” Diaz said.

“Batang West Side” will also be shown at this year’s Cinemanila.

JoAnn Bañaga, “West Side” and “Pusang Gala” line producer, said, “Tony was very passionate. He made sure he locked down all the nuts and bolts of his projects, from finance to distribution.”

Veloria was supposed to produce Diaz’s new film “Maynila sa Pula,” along with two movies by Cesar Hernando, “Tagsibol” and “Mekaniko ni Monica.”

On a personal note, “Tony loved his family … he was always thinking of his relatives,” said Diaz.

Going home

Veloria was on his way back to the family home in Pangasinan when the accident happened. He was 60. His remains lie in his Malasiqui home and the funeral is set next week, said his sister, Malou Veloria.

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