Are these women really desperate?

If truth be told, the really desperate one was the Regal Matriarch Mother Lily, producer of the movie.

“I can breathe easily now,” smiled Mother Lily. “I never thought that this movie could be made.”

This movie is none other than Desperadas, one of the three Regal entries (the two others are Bahay Kubo and Shake, Rattle & Roll 9) in this year’s Metro Manila Filmfest. It opens on Jan.

1 next year, along with the second batch which includes the Manny Pacquiao-Ara Mina starrer Anak ng Kumander and the Christopher de Leon topbiller Banal; while the two other Regal movies open on Christmas Day, simultaneously with those in the first batch, including Star Cinema’s Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo, Maverick Films’ Katas ng Saudi, M-ZET/OctoArts Films’ Enteng Kabisote 4 and Imus Productions’ Resiklo.

Like a woman giving birth for the first time (to quadruplets at that!), Desperadas went through hard “labor” and required not just one but four Caesarian sections. The original cast included (at random now, because you know how stars can be billing-conscious) Ruffa Gutierrez, Dawn Zulueta, Pops Fernandez and Gretchen Barretto. As showbiz-watchers know, a word war (one-sided, actually) erupted between Dawn and Gretchen (who did all the “shooting” while Dawn opted to be a lady and kept mum). In the confusion, Pops dropped out of the project. For a while, Desparadas was almost thrown into the freezer.

But the more “desperate” the situation is, the more Mother Lily feels challenged. So, let the game begin!

Finally, the movie (scripted by Roy Iglesias and directed by Joel Lamangan who also megged Bahay Kubo) is in the can, still starring Ruffa Gutierrez (with Jay-R as leading man) together with Rufa Mae Quinto (with Wendell Ramos), Iza Calzado (with TJ Trinidad) and Marian Rivera (with Will Devaughn who is still inside Big Brother’s house).

You wonder: Are these four women really as desperada as the characters they are playing in the movie (remotely-inspired by the hit US TV show Desperate Housewives)?

Are you comfortable playing a desperada?

Iza: My role was originally for Dawn. I play Stephanie, the sister of Isabella (Ruffa), Courtney (Marian) and Patricia (Rufa Mae). I play a lawyer, the most conservative — kuno! — of the four girls. I am faced with a marital problem. TJ Trinidad plays my doctor-husband, and we haven’t had a child after six years of marriage. I try everything to catch his attention, but no effect. And then, Ryan (Eigenmann) comes into the picture and he starts hitting on me.

Ruffa: My role was originally for Gretchen. But I would be just as happy if I played Courtney or Stephanie or Patricia. I play Isabella, a single mom and a fashion icon. Mahilig mag-shopping so she forgets to save and that she has a child. So she ends up with more problems than she can handle.

Rufa Mae: My role was originally for Pops. I play Patricia, a sexologist who has just written a book called Size Matters.

Marian: My role was originally for Ruffa. I really don’t mind being second choice. In Marimar, I’m also a second choice. What matters is that I get the role. In Desperadas, I play Courtney, KSP (Kulang Sa Pansin), so I try to attract attention by wearing OA dresses.

Speaking of Marimar, how has the phenomenally top-rating show (which has toppled all the competitions, barring none) changed your life?

Marian: Now, everybody recognizes me. People now call me Marimar instead of my real name. It’s flattering. Pero sa ugali ko at paniniwala, walang pagbabago.

So how are you similar to or different from your role?
Iza:
Stephanie is insecure because she hasn’t won a case. I am like her in the sense that if I find myself in a similar situation, I will do everything to iron things out and make them work. But, unlike Stephanie, I’m the type of person who would speak up right away to solve a problem — you know, “Let’s do this, let’s do that.” I’m confrontational in a way.

Ruffa: Like Isabella, I’m also a single mom who, no matter how busy she is, doesn’t neglect her child whom she loves so much. Like Isabella, mahilig din ako sa magagandang damit. But unlike Isabella, I know how to save and I don’t issue bouncing checks.

Rufa Mae: Unlike Patricia, I am conservative. Like Patricia, I’m passionate with my work.

Marian: Courtney is wild and liberated; I am not.

(To Iza) Of course, in real life your love life is going smoothly, even if it’s a long-distance romance. (Iza’s boyfriend, Jerry Garcia, is the manager of a band. He comes from a prominent and respected immigrant family in L.A.)

Iza: He’s here right now; he’s staying until February next year. He was also here only a few weeks ago. It has been an easy year for us. Luckily, I was able to go to Canada to shoot for The Echo and from there, I made a side trip to Washington D.C. and visit him. Last year, medyo mahirap because we would spend three months away from each other and we seldom saw each other.

Have you ever been desperate for or over a man?

Iza: Somebody has asked me that question and my answer is yes, I’ve once been desperate. That was when I was in high school and I weighed more than 200 lbs. Kaibigan ako ng lahat ng lalaki…ang daming tumatawag sa bahay…not because they had a crush on me. They wanted to make friends with me so I could be their “bridge” to my friends; nagpapalakad sila sa ibang girls. I was desperate for a boyfriend. I would attend soiree and when a guy would court me, I felt na para bang pinagtri-trip-an ako. Yes, desperada ako noon, but not to a point na nagpakulam ako ng guy.

Ruffa: Yes, just recently…the father of my kids (In deference to Yilmaz Bektas’ wishes, Ruffa now refrains from mentioning his name in interviews. — RFL). I’m not ashamed of what happened. I was desperate in the sense that I, you know, I was helpless. There were times when I begged him to stop what he was doing — you know, “Tama na, maawa ka sa mga anak mo!” — but he never did. That was a very desperate time for me. I’m glad that I have survived that dark period of my life.

Rufa Mae: Well, yes, when I was younger. When that happened, siempre in my desperation nag-i-emote-emote ako at nagdra-drama-drama ako para huwag lang iwanan. Pero, hayun, iniwanan din naman ako! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! But now, bahala sila kung ayaw nila sa akin!

Marian: Never! In my career, yes, sometimes I would feel desperate, especially when I’m promised a role that never comes.

Have you ever experienced sharing a man with another woman, maybe without your knowing it?

Iza: Teka, not really sharing but there was a time when nag-overlap ako with another girl. The guy wasn’t exactly my boyfriend; we were just dating. After a while, he simply disappeared from my life.

Ruffa: Yes, Celine and I. I shared the father of my kids with Celine. We both shared our love for him, all right, pero tapos na sila before I came into the picture. But then again, everytime I broke up with him, nagkakabalikan sila. For a while, we shared him but I ended up having him to myself. Ako ang winner!

Rufa Mae: I’m basically selosa, so hindi puede sa akin ang ganoon. ‘Yung iba, medyo nakaloko sila sa akin, pero okay lang. Ayoko ng sharing. Pag ako, ako lang.

Marian: Ay, never! Ayoko ng ganoon. Pag akin, gusto ko akin lang, walang ka-share.

What kind of a man would you fight for?

Iza: Somebody who’s like my boyfriend. Jerry is a nice guy, hard-working and humble. Of course, he’s good-looking.

Ruffa: I would fight for a man who would also fight for me. Importante sa akin ‘yung hindi ako lumalaban ng mag-isa.

Rufa Mae: I haven’t met one such man.

Marian: Somebody who respects me and who loves me as I am.

(To Iza) Doesn’t he feel insecure/jealous that you’re in a temptation-laden field like showbiz?

Iza: He’s secure with himself. He’s an entrepreneur, successful in his own right.

And what kind of a man would you give up your career for?

Iza: I would never give up my career for anybody! Di ba? If you do and become unhappy, you end up blaming the guy. Giving up your career for a man is a stupid decision. If I have to give up my career it would be because I want to.

Ruffa: What kind of a man would I give up my career for? Well, I already had a man for whom I gave up my career. But after what happened, I would never give up my career again for any man. I’m learning to love myself more.

Rufa Mae: So far, I haven’t gone beyond the boundary. If ever I give up my career, it will be because I want to and not because a man wants me to. If ever I get married, I won’t be a pabigat (burden) to my husband. Early on, I’ve learned how to make a living.

Marian: Ayoko magsalita ng patapos, but I’d rather that my man accept me for what I am and what I am doing.

How has 2007 been to you?

Iza: Yes. I did one soap (for GMA 7), Impostora, and, before that, Atlantika. I did three movies — Ouija, Batanes and Desperadas, not to mention the digital film Mona (with mostly theater actors). Of course, The Echo which, I hope, will make good when it’s shown in the States next year, so it would be good for the country and the local movie industry.

Ruffa: It has been a roller-coaster year. I made a lot of major decisions. There were times when I felt sad, times when I was able to laugh, times when I felt desperate. But God has been nice and kind to me. Maraming magagandang naging kapalit. Life is never perfect but I’m happy with my life now.

Rufa Mae: It has been a bad year for me, as far as my love life was concerned. Career-wise, maganda. I have TV shows, I did some movies, one of them (Apat Dapat, Dapat Apat) I myself produced.

Marian: Yes, 2007 has been an exceptional year for me, a year full of surprises.

What do you look forward to in 2008?

Iza: More films. I also want to continue working on my acting skills. I still have a lot to learn.

Ruffa: For the blessings to keep pouring in.

Rufa Mae: Makahanap ng boyfriend!

Marian: I hope that those who are following Marimar will continue to do so for my next project. Basta, maganda. Magugulat na lang sila. (Marian didn’t say if it’s Darna or Dyesebel. — RFL)

RICKY F. LO
The Philippine Star

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