jojo de vera: i think Mario O'Hara is even far better than Celso Ad Castillo in terms of visual storytelling. Castillo relies so much on his cinematographer in this case Romy Vitug whereas O'Hara only utilized the country's premiere cameramen twice... Vitug in Mga Bilanggong Birhen & the late Conrado Baltazar in Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos. i think he managed to bring out the best in the Araojo brothers (Johnny & Romulo) who photographed most of his films in the '80's such as Condemned, Bulaklak Sa City Jail & Bagong Hari. i also liked the visual style of Babae Sa Bubungang Lata & Sisa not to mention Pangarap Ng Puso.
if you'll remember Romy Vitug got most of the credit for Atsay...even more than Eddie Garcia's direction.
Mario used Carding Baltazar twice--in Mortal and in Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos. He never worked with Vitug again.
The problem with Vitug is that he's so good at beautifying images (he used to say to Vilma Santos--if I may evoke her name on this thread--"Ma'am, anong gusto mo--seventeen, o sixteen?" (What would you like--seventeen, or sixteen?) Santos would say "Sixteen." And he would light Santos in such a way that she would look sixteen--without filters, mind you) that lesser filmmakers who don't know what they're doing tend to use him as a crutch, to make their pictures look better.
I mentioned Celso because O'Hara admires his eye--thinks his filmmaking skills are better than even Gerry de Leon's.
Yes, I agree O'Hara's collaborations with the Araojo brothers are quite good, especially with Johnny (he's passed away, I believe)--Bagong Hari (The New King) and The Fatima Buen Story are obvious choices, but the bright cinematography of Pangarap ng Puso (Demons) I found quite beautiful in the way it balances fantasy and realism in a low, low budget (3 million pesos, where the average film nowadays is budgeted at 15 million).