Earlier this week, photos of a frail-looking, facemask-wearing John Regala sitting by a street side food stall circulated online. Clutching a small bag, the actor looked fragile and weak, wearing a shirt, jeans, and slip-ons. He was apparently sitting down due to dizziness. Carlo Marti Clariza, the Grab rider who shared the photos and who the actor bumped into and asked for help from at that random corner in Pasay said Regala was stuttering and looking for a nurse.
“He went to Pasay because he had this friend that would hydrate him because he could not move,” explains Regala’s friend and showbiz contemporary Nadia Montenegro to ANCX, adding the character actor had not had a meal in 13 days at the time of the incident. “Medyo may problema na yung arms niya medyo hindi na napapasukan ng karayom… so nagpa-suwero siya kasi nag-worry siya na hindi na siya nakakakain.”
Whenever Regala would attempt to eat anything solid, the actress explains, he would vomit.
Clariza sought the help of Barangay Tanod, and they made sure that Regala made it back home. The actor, it turns out, was being housed by the Iglesia ni Kristo, the church he has been a member of for years. “Kaya medyo hirap na hirap kami kasi medyo strict eh. Naka lockdown yung building niya, hindi nila alam kung paano siya nakaalis,” Montenegro says.
While it’s been a rocky 2020 for everyone, Regala’s year has been particularly challenging. His mother, the actress Ruby Regala, passed away earlier this year from a brain tumor while she was in the US. In an interview with Aster Amoyo, Regala shared that it was through Iglesia Ni Cristo’s influence and sources that her body was brought back home to the Philippines.
Born John Paul Guido Boucher Scherrer, the veteran screen villain is the son of the actor Mel Francisco with Ruby Regala. John is of Spanish, German, Italian, and French descent. According to a segment in the news magazine show Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho, Regala grew up away from his parents and was maltreated by the relatives who took him in in Quezon. When his mother came back for him, she brought him to Marikina where the young man started taking on odd jobs to help out with expenses. John initially thought of becoming a soldier, and trained to become a jungle fighter in Mindanao. Before his deployment, however, he went AWOL.
After seeing he could hold his own against the celebrities of the time, Regala thought of entering showbiz. He hung out in Escolta, where producers and other production people were habitues, and pleaded with directors to cast him as an extra. While his start in showbiz could be tied with his stint in the popular variety show That’s Entertainment, Regala’s career was built around his many turns as a kontrabida in 90s action movies.
Julius Babao expresses thanks to those who extended help to the actor.
But beset with personal problems and a long battle with drug addiction, projects were harder to come by in the 2000s. COVID-19, of course, also exacerbated the plight of many actors like Regala as halted or cancelled productions or projects eliminated sources of income. The last show the actor was on was ABS-CBN’s Ang Probinsyano, where he played Cong. Randolf Subito opposite Coco Martin.
Montenegro and Amoyo communicate with Regala everyday and learned about the incident in Pasay that night. The two went to the INC shelter the next day, bringing along a friend of Montenegro’s, Dr. Melissa Sinchongco, so that he could be looked over. “We made an initial check up on him, he was kind of bloated,” the actress shares of her friend’s condition upon seeing him, explaining that his liver was not doing well due to cirrhosis. “But his kidneys and everything are okay. So malakas pa rin siya nakakapaglakad pero hingal na hingal, pero putok-putok na rin yung fingers niya eh dahil sa diabetes and sa gout.”
Montenegro says her friend is less mobile—an unfortunate development since he has to go down from the 14th floor of the building every time he gets a visit. “Today, at 9 am, we already got all his blood chem, and we were able to take water retention kasi puro nana yung loob ng paa niya hindi na siya makalakad,” she describes. “So nabawasan na ng konti as per report ni doktora kanina sa amin. They were taking videos of everything being done to him while we were watching.” Only Dr. Sinchongco is allowed to go, Montenegro, Amoyo, and Regala’s other celebrity friends are updated via video.
Regala was also supposed to start hydration treatment today but he was bloated. He still can’t take in solids, and has only been drinking Yakult as nourishment for three days. He will be getting a doctor’s visit three times a week so that he will be administered liquid medicine as well as other supplementals like potassium through IV.
“At least now he has the care that he needs, and the only thing that we need now is to sustain it to get him back to health ng mga two to three months, and then maybe by then he can start taking solids again,” Montenegro says. “That’s when siguro we can do something on his liver kung kakayanin pa if he gets healthy.”
While incidents like these have happened with Regala before—three years ago the actor fainted in front a Savemore in Cavite—Montenegro says this recent example is painful to witness. “This is the first time I thought to myself na siguro naman people will help him and all. But unfortunately to find him in that situation again the other day talagang broke my heart,” she says, feeling for the misfortunes that have befallen her friend and many like him. “It’s not even double trouble, it’s triple trouble na. The pandemic, nawalan ng trabaho. It’s a dark world, you know, but there are people who try to make it brighter if we can all do our part.”
Not only is Regala in dire financial straits, he is also going through his health ordeal alone. “In his personal life, medyo sad, sad story. We’re trying to look for his children. Yung panganay niya kasi inaanak ko yun eh, and I also want to find him. Si Gilbert yun,” she shares. “Saka yung isang anak niya sa America yung iniiyak niya sa amin nung isang araw. Na kaya hindi pa siya kinukuha ni Lord kasi gusto niya makita yung anak niya sa America.
UPDATE #2 ON JOHN REGALA'S CURRENT CONDITION (as of July 31, 2020) This morning at 9AM, Dra. Melissa Sinchongco went to see John and to perform the following procedures... Blood Chem: Creatinine, Uric, CBC, HCC, Liver Enzymes, Potassium, Sodium We need these results in order to determine the kinds of additional IV fluids he needs. Apart from that, Dra. Sinchongco also drained fluid (abscess and water retention) from John's foot to lessen the swelling, and cleaned his wounds to avoid infection. We expect the results of John's blood chem to be out in 1-2 days, after which we can begin administering IV for his hydration and boosters to regain his strength. Dra. Sinchongco is also working on helping John with his gout in order to lessen his pain. Blood chem will be done every 2 weeks in order to monitor his progress and hopeful improvement. We continue to ask for everyone's prayers and much needed help. ————— We have opened up a crowdfunding page to cover John's badly needed medical support and proper healthcare. If you would like to donate and assist in his financial burden, any donation through this crowdfunding campaign would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much. You may donate here: https://bit.ly/helpjohnregala You may also donate through the following bank account which we opened just now for John's expenses: BDO (Joint Account) Account name: NADINE MARIE INEZ M. PLA / ASTERIA A. AMOYO Account No: 002030228830 or GCash 09157987428 (If you donate through BDO, please send a copy of your deposit slip to me or Nadia Montenegro Pla via PM so that we can do a proper accounting of ur donation. Salamat po.)
Friend Nadia Montenegro gave an update on Regala's health condition on her Instagram account
Montenegro says it would take more checkups for the doctor to know the main medicines that Regala would need moving forward. As going to the hospital is still currently out of the question, these regular visits will have to do for now. “Right now, what we will be expecting to spend every two weeks will be around nasa PHP 30,000 to 40,000 pati yung care for him. Kukuha kami ng caregiver,” she says. “Kahit volunteer sina doktora may mga major expenses sa mga gamit.”
While the actress knows there are those who say Regala is reaping the consequences of his checkered past, she pleads for their compassion. “What John needs right now is love and prayers,” she says. “Regardless of the past. Everyone has a past. God doesn’t look naman at the scars or anything.“
Donations to fund John Regala’s treatments may be sent to Montenegro and Amoyo’s shared BDO account (002030228830; Nadine Marie Inex M. Pla/Astoria A Amoyo), or through GCash (09157987428).