Tata Esteban tribute on the 700 Club
Date: Saturday, September 20 2003
You never know when its time to go.
Former bold film director and drug addict turned born again Christian Steve Regala a.k.a. Tata Esteban had been inviting people to come celebrate his 49th birthday on Sept. 28. But two and a half weeks early, on Sept. 10, at 10:30 a.m., he died suddenly from a heart attack. It was his fifth attack.
His wife Imelda said that it was an ordinary day, when Tata muttered he felt tired. He took a long and sudden intake of breath (parang hinugot ang hininga niya) and then he was gone. Imeldas only clue that her husband of 18 years was soon to see his Savior was his extraordinary display of affection the past days.
Araw-araw, napakalambing, carinoso, she describes. But then, she shares, he had always been caring and affectionate since he had surrendered his life to Christ and given up womanizing and a devastating shabu addiction.
Lahat na ng pagmamahal, ibinigay niya sa akin. She admits asking God, why take him now, kung kailan ang bait-bait na niya?
Tata had many pending projects and dreams. At his wake, DILG Secretary and NAPOLCOM Chief Joey Lina shared that he and Tata were to due to discuss the production of an anti-drug abuse campaign using the Bible as the most potent weapon against addiction.
Born-again actress Pilar Pilapil shared that she and Tata were considering doing a TV show together on Christian family values. Former drug addict buddy turned coevangelist and bosom friend Rodolfo Ompong Quizon (comedian Dolphy's son) shared they had been discussing doing a script for a Christian movie.
Former co-actor in sex and violence films Dick Israel (we always portrayed the rapists at large, the evil ones, quips Dick) who became Tatas convert and disciple in Christian living, shares that they had dreamed of doing bad-guy-turned-good-guy roles to promote the Gospel.
Tata was also due to graduate as Doctor of Strategic Missions, Honoris Causa, from the International Communicators Open University, an affiliate of the University of the Philippines (they gave him his diploma posthumously). He had also finished theology and pastoral course at the Baguio Benguet Christian College seminary and was eager to share all he had learned.
But his greatest legacy is his prodigal journey from a wild life in the pigsty of bold filmmaking, sex addiction and drugs to a new, grace-full life in his Fathers forgiving and loving arms.
Tata admitted having gotten so deep into drugs for 30 years that he sold all their properties and impoverished his mother. He started the Country Tavern in Baguio and other hot nightclubs, pioneered the pene and pito-pito quickie sex flicks, aborted unwanted babies, bedded hundreds of women, and built up scores more to be screen sex sirens.
Though a gifted, awardwinning filmmaker, he had gone over the deep end and knew it, but was helpless to get out. Recalls Rei Nicandro, Tatas coscriptwriter, notably of the critically acclaimed Alapaap When our pene movie Hubo sa Dilim (the infamous movie that caused the shutdown of the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines) was showing at the Palasyo ng Kalaswaan, the Film Center, Tata and I were not inside. We were at the back crying, asking ourselves, what happened to us? We were the most promising writers and filmmakers in our time. Now our children cant even watch our movies. We felt terribly guilty.
But God eventually heard the cry of Tatas heart. His mother Julie, who had become bornagain, prayed and shared the good news of forgiveness, salvation and new life, paid for at the Cross, with Tata in 1993.
But Tata kept falling until several heart attacks, from which he was healed, served to humble and sober him. He turned completely from drugs in 2000, after his then two-year-old son asked if he could sample daddys shabu.
On The 700 Club Asia program last February, Tata tearfully apologized to all the women he had wronged and shared his unwavering conviction: Forte ko iyan (bold films), and I can easily make a quick buck But fame can turn into shame, power is not forever, but Gods love is endless and His fidelity is eternal Hinding-hindi ko Siya ipagpapalit sa kahit ano o kanino.
A replay of Tatas life testimony, and interviews with his friends, including Ompong, Lucita Soriano, Dinky Doo, wife Imelda and mother Julie, will be shown on The 700 Club Asia this Sunday, at 8 p.m. on Studio 23, and at 8:15 a.m., Pacific Time, on The Filipino Channel, and Wednesday, 4 p.m., on Zoe TV 11. The 700 Club Asia airs live on Wednesdays, 12:30 a.m., on ABS-CBN.
Steve Regala goes bold for Christ on 'The 700 Club Asia'
Publication: Manila Bulletin (reprinted on the Article Archives website)
Date: Friday, April 18 2003
Today, due to insistent public demand, The 700 Club Asia replays the interview and dramatized testimony of former bold film and nightclub king Steve Regala, aka Tata Esteban. His true confessions about his dramatically transformed life will be shown on ABS-CBNs Studio 23 at 8 a.m. today. The show will also be replayed on TFC (The Filipino Channel), Sunday mornings, 8:10 a.m. Pacific Time in the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Saipan, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea.
In perhaps the boldest move of his life, former nightclub king and bomba film producer-director Steve Regala bared all for the TV cameras. This time, the producer-director of the notorious pito-pito quickie sex flicks shot in seven days and the critically acclaimed bold films Alapaap and Hubo revealed the lowest, darkest episodes of his past life as a hardcore womanizer, flesh trader and shabu addict. And how a stroke and a heart-rending candid remark by his two-year-old boy woke him up from his drug and X-rated nightmare and ushered him into an amzingly new, free and fulfilled life in Jesus Christ. Yung pagka-addict ko ng 30 years, hindi basta maaalis iyon, no amount of treatment, no doctor or rehab center [can cure you just like that]. But as the [Bible puts it], nothing is impossible with God, and it is by His grace that we are saved, a now-healthy, cleaner-shaven, and relaxed-looking Steve shares.
In a brave and candid testimony, interrupted by both tears of joy at his deliverance and restoration, and regret at his deprativity, Steve shared how he had been promiscuous since he was 13, and constantly wallowing in money as he traded and bedded women, and showed off their wares in his hit nightclubs and movies. Steve was famed for his once hot nitespots Arizona Disco, Jail House Rock Disco in Pampanga and Country Tavern in Baguio. He also helped launch famous former screen sirens Jaclyn Jose, Maria Isabel Lopez and Tanya Gomez, and was associated with softdrink beauties: Pepsi Paloma and Sarsi Emmanuel. He cranked out such box-office hits as Materyales Swertes, Diwata and Double Cross. He was lionized and on top of the world, but when Shabu devoured his health and fortune, he was almost alone. Those who were there for him included friend Ben Yalung, Imelda, his present wife for 18 years, his mother and Pastor Cyrus Contreras who led him to invite Christ to dwell in his heart as personal Savior and Lord. That began his Prodigal Son journey out of the pigsty of drugs and wild living into the waiting arms of his Father God.
Still, he did not completely turn away from his life as a drug addict until one day, while he and Imelda were snorting shabu, his 3-year-old son fell into a muddy canal. His neigbors called on them to help, but they were too engrossed in getting high. Finally their son, mud all over his body, came in and asked his father why he didnt go out to help him. He saw Steves shabu pipe and said Masarap ba yan Daddy? Patikim nga. Para kaming binuhusan ng malamig na tubig, recalls Steve. He shouted no, smashed the shabu piece and never touched drugs again.