MANILA, Philippines - Young John Marvin C. Nieto — Jon-Jon to friends — grew up in Binondo, Manila, the second eldest in a large family of four boys and four girls. The father, Martin Romano, graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in architecture but decided to become a tailor instead, for this business promised to be more lucrative.
Later the family went into billboard advertising and became even more well-off, although John modestly estimates they were just “slightly above middle” income.
Jon-Jon faithfully attended classes but was not really studious. He appeared in school- and church-based plays (in the district of San Nicolas), and for some reason the boy (myopic even then) was often cast as an old man. He loved movies and his idols were action stars Lito Lapid and Ramon Revilla.
He graduated from the Philippine College of Criminology and was all set to become a policeman until fate, in the form of an uncle, Willy Cruz, intervened. The uncle, an engineer who knew some actors and directors, saw his nephew’s potential to become a professional actor.
And so they “stalked” the director Maryo J. de los Reyes, who always seemed to be in a hurry and would just wave at them from his Pajero. Eventually, however, De los Reyes saw something in this persistent young man and his uncle (who was an acquaintance). And thus one fine day he called up the Nieto tailoring shop. Jon-Jon answered the phone. More here!