Up close with Regal Oliva: Mandaue’s Renaissance Man
By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
THERE’S a plaque in Regal Oliva’s office that stands out. Amid the wooden fixtures and classic-themed interiors he himself designed, a glittery signage at the side reads: “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”
It was given to him by a friend, he said, and that in many ways he does agree with it. Likewise, those who know him would concur and go as far as saying he epitomizes those very words. On top of Regal’s flair for edgy styles that has made him a head-turner wherever he goes, his most flattering accessory yet has been his brilliance and wit, which he wears and carries with confidence, and that dash of curiosity to learn more about the world.
“Every day is a learning experience,” he said, with the conviction of someone who has gone through a lot, through plans that didn’t work out, yet all of which taught him to be the person he is today. Regal is currently the City Treasurer of Mandaue, but his interests and expertise go beyond the duties expected of that post. A lawyer, a thespian, an advocate of culture and a parent, he has a lot to keep him busy day in, day out — and with an assertive mindset, he breezes through all roles seamlessly.
Regal said that growing up he saw himself entering the creative field, but another path was laid before him, and right after finishing his studies in political science at Silliman University, he joined government service, first as chief of staff for a mayor in Tacloban City. He has since worked through various positions and has even finished his postgraduate studies in public administration at the same university — a feat that had him crossing from Leyte to Cebu to Negros during the weekends as he juggled it with work. Regal became part of the Mandaue City Government in 2008, and has served as City Treasurer since 2011.
Not to say he has forgotten his fervor for culture and the arts — Regal remains active in many community activities pertaining to such, including his involvement with Mandaue’s cultural celebrations. He has often played a huge role in city events, like the grand 75th anniversary of the Mandaue Presidencia in 2012, in Charter Day functions and the annual Mid-Year Cultural Summit activities during the fiesta. “Every year, the Miss Mandaue production is getting bigger and I’m glad to be part of it,” he said. “Much more than ever, the revival of the Mandaue Gay Pageant. I’m very happy we revived it through the Chest Foundation. It becomes a stage for the LGBT community not only in putting beautiful contenders, but also in showcasing the talents of every individual.”
Since his student years, Regal has enjoyed production work both on and off stage. In fact, last month he participated in 2tincans Philippines Inc.’s production of the The Vagina Monologues, combining his enthusiasm for acting and at the same time advocating for women’s rights. Although such creative pursuits already go on top of his busy schedule, he said it is what relieves his stress, even citing it as his “first love.” A music aficionado as well, Regal, who has been trained in playing the piano since he was five, said that not a day goes by he doesn’t perform a piece or two at home.
When it comes to public service, 2014 was a big year for Regal: he was awarded the city’s Department Head of the Year, having introduced innovations in his department, and it was also the year he passed the Bar Examinations. “Never was it in my wildest imagination that I’ll be taking the Bar,” he said. Nowadays, he also stands as one of the board of directors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Cebu City Chapter. Of his many commitments, Regal said, “These are things I love doing and I never get tired of doing it.”
Behind his public persona, Regal shared that what takes up his time are playing with his pets and catching his favorite shows, and hobbies such as gardening, painting and playing the piano — activities he often does with his daughter, Reign Renee. “She’s eight years old and she’s very sweet,” he said. “She keeps my whole life grounded. Having a child at home keeps one grounded and humble.”
Still, hardly the type to shy away from taking on a new challenge or task, Regal said, “As long as I’m given a life to live every day, then that is a signal for me to go and live it the best way I can. What keeps me going are my faith in God and my love for my family and everyone around me. I love criticism because they improve me, and I love compliments as well because they make me smile. Everything around me keeps me going. There’s no reason to stop.”
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Make-up Artist: Loyda Aytona
Hair Stylist: Valerie Barbie Uy