MANILA -- All her life, actress-beauty queen Ruffa Gutierrez has been managed by her feisty mom, Annabelle Rama, who also handled the entertainment careers of her husband Eddie and sons Richard and Raymond.
Rama even managed other artists who were previously in her stable of talents. However, there came a time when Rama was advised by her doctors to avoid stress and rest.
“There was a time in my mom’s life when her doctors told her she cannot afford to be stressed,” Gutierrez revealed to ABS-CBN News. “So, she cannot manage talents anymore. She lied low from managing talents.”
It is for that reason Gutierrez recently signed a management contract with Viva Artists Agency (VAA). “I’m very, very honored, proud, happy and excited to be a part of Viva Artists Agency,” Gutierrez asserted.
“Since the '80s, I’ve been very close to my Viva family – Boss Vic del Rosario, Boss Vincent and Boss Veronique. The very first person who took me shopping at Rustan’s when I arrived here from the US was Tita Mina Aragon [Del Rosario’s late wife].
“She was courting me to sign up with the Viva family then. But Tita Donna Villa of Golden Lion Films made me sign up with them. Then, Regal Films followed. But the showbiz industry is so small. We are just moving in circles.”
After more than three decades, Gutierrez is back with Viva. But she will not just appear in films that Viva produces. She will also be managed by VAA.
Gutierrez, however, pointed out that her mom will never be away from her, constantly guiding her career and even her personal life. “Viva will be managing my career and my mom will still be there as my co-manager. I just want my mom to be happy," she said.
“She wants to be always part of the equation. Lagi siyang kasali. I have to give it to her because we should always honor our parents. My mom will always be part of my career and my life.
“Kahit na makulit siya minsan, inaaway ako lagi, that’s her. Our disagreements are often petty. We just have to accept her for the way she is.”
Rama has a lucky streak, according to Gutierrez. “Anything she touches turns into gold. She really knows how to relate with everybody. Sometimes, she’s a bit impulsive, though.”
'MAID IN MALACANANG' SUCCESS
The huge box office success of her latest film, “Maid in Malacañang,” was a big factor that made Gutierrez sign up a management contract with Viva Artists Agency.
“Maid in Malacañang” really “sealed the deal” for Gutierrez and VAA.
“All my projects with Viva have been very successful,” Gutierrez attested. “I think it just comes with timing and for me, this is the right time.”
Since 1988, Gutierrez has been appearing in Viva Films productions like “She-Man: Mistress of the Universe” with Joey de Leon and “I Love You Three Times A Day,” where she got to work with Jimmy Santos.
In 1995, Gutierrez even entered into a co-production venture with Viva Films when she did “Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa,” directed by Celso Ad. Castillo.
“I’m open to different kinds of roles, whether on TV or in film,” Gutierrez said. “I’m really happy with my partnership with Viva because they can work with all [TV] stations. They have so many projects in their line-up in terms of film, TV and music.
“Viva has been in this industry for so long. I am not choosy with my roles. I can play lead. I can be mataray. Last night, I watched James Bond [‘No Time To Die’]. I think I have to work out and start shooting. I can do action. Kaya pa naman. That’s exciting for me.”
Since she has worked with the likes of Vice Ganda and Anne Curtis (“M&M: The Mall the Merrier”), as well as Sarah Geronimo and Coco Martin (“Maybe This Time”), Gutierrez is very open to work with any contract artist of VAA.
“I want to work with Vice again,” she said. “A different leading man. The young stars, too. I’m open to work with different talents of Viva, doing different genres.”
Gutierrez, who played former First Lady Imelda Marcos in “Maid in Malacañang,” does not discount the fact that she might do a full-length film on Marcos’ life.
“I guess I really need to sign up a contract with Viva, so they will put me in the part 2 and part 3 of the sequel to ‘Maid in Malacañang,’ so my role will be longer. Who knows, Madame Imelda Marcos might even have a solo film.
“I love powerful roles or roles of strong, iconic women. If there’s a solo movie of Madame Imelda, I will love to play her. There are a lot of artists who want to portray Imelda Marcos.
“Marami akong kalaban sa role. But I’m very thankful that Direk Darryl [Yap] pushed me to play the character. And I was told, I was the choice of Madame Imelda. If the opportunity to play her in a major role will be given to me one day, why not?"
Meanwhile, when it comes to her love life, Gutierrez, who turned 48 last June 24, acknowledged she is no longer a teenager who needs to be reminded on what to do or what to avoid.
“When you’re this age, we should know how to listen to the things that are important to us, like our family, our career. We should be with a man who understands all that and even willing to take the backseat if he has to.
“He should be willing to support you if you need support. For me, I should no longer be asked what to prioritize, love life or career. It’s understood that everything is part of our life.
“I don’t think it will be nice if you have a successful career but no one is inspiring you. What is important is you know how to balance everything.
“I’m just very grateful and happy that the blessings keep coming in. The love life should only add spice to your life. It should not be the major highlight.”
Actor-politician Herbert Bautista has been a constant in Gutierrez’s life for the past two years now since they worked together in the series, “The House Arrest of Us” (2020).
Interestingly, Bautista was her first leading man in Carlo J. Caparas’ horror-comedy, “Takbo, Bilis, Takbo” (1987). Given the right project, Gutierrez is also open to working with Bautista on the big screen again.
“Nag-series na kami, so we can do a film naman,” she said.
SECRET TO SUCCESS
Gutierrez shared the simple secret to her success. “Being real, being authentic, working hard. Like what my mom says all the time, always be on time and don’t ever burn bridges. We are simply moving around in circles.
“The industry is very small. The ones you worked with 20 years ago, you will get to work with them again in the future. In fact, I noticed, the people working in production before, are now big bosses.
“We are the ones working together. I think that’s really a big secret that the young ones should emulate.
“I’ve been in the industry for 36 years and all the major superstars, not only in the Philippines, but in the world, deal with their [respective] bashers. We should no longer give them importance. You’ll never be able to change their minds.
“Some people will love you. Some people will not like you. Some people will always change their minds about you. What is important is you remain true to yourself.
“If my presence bothers you so much, then you can just close your eyes and sleep. This pandemic, we lost a lot of loved ones. Life is too short. You just have to accept positivity and be nice to everyone.”
A podcast for Gutierrez is in the works, where her candidness will be put to the fore. She will invite her daughter, Lorin, to join her occasionally. Brother Raymond is also being eyed to guest.
“For me, doing podcast is exciting,” Gutierrez said. “I want to put Lorin there so I will also know the thoughts from the youth. What the Gen-Zs are thinking. She will not be a mainstay, but she can guest and be a part of the podcast.”