It’s a marriage apparently made in heaven, with angels singing beautiful songs around them, and not in showbiz with nosey movie writers sowing intrigues between them.
Ronnie Ricketts, 39, and Mariz, 32, are a showbiz couple, all right, married since Dec. 18, 1993. And yet, they are non-showbiz in the way they’re raising a family. They have two daughters, Marella, 6, and Marie, 3, the former a pupil at Centro Montessori in Quezon City (a few minutes drive from the couple’s home) and the latter at the same Montessori school where Marella previously studied.
It’s easy to see how loving and how sweet Ronnie and Mariz are during this Conversation done at The Barn, a restaurant along Katipunan Road (in front of Miriam College) which the couple co-owns with some friends.
Mariz has just fetched their two daughters from school while Ronnie has taken time out from the post-production work on their latest movie together, Maverick Films’ Mano-Mano 2 (Ubusan ng Lakas) which Ronnie is also directing and producing. Throughout the interview, it’s Ronnie who does most of the talking and Mariz the laughing, punctuating her own statements with a nodding smile, a loving tap on Ronnie’s shoulder, a tender touch of his face and more laughter.
Is this for real? Are they for real? I’ve seen dozens and dozens of showbiz couples match and marry - and, sob and sigh, eventually bicker and break up - but this one is something else. They’re so genuinely sweet (no put-on there, I assure you!) that, any moment, I expect ants to crawl all over them.
So while Marella and Marie run around The Barn, let’s give Ronnie and Mariz the honor of taking us into the highways and byways of their fabulous and incredibly blissful eight-year togetherness where two hearts synchronically beat as one.
Didn’t you experience the so-called seven-year itch?
Ronnie: No. Our married friends were warning us to be ready and careful when we reached our seventh year. E, nakalusot na kami sa seventh year namin; we’re now into our eighth year, and they’re telling us, "Oy, when you reach your 11th year, mawawala na ’yung sweetness n’yo; para na lang kayo mag-barkada.’ Kasi, they always see Mariz and me na talagang sweet na sweet to each other – over the phone, in the house, wherever we are! Tapos, I continue to send her roses every other day until now.
Mariz: Just yesterday, hayun, he again sent me a bunch of roses.
Ronnie: I change the color of the roses everytime. Sometimes red, sometimes white, sometimes yellow, sometimes peach. Sometimes, I send her several, isang bunch; sometimes naman, isa lang.
Mariz: He has never failed since we got married in 1993.
Ronnie: Kabisado na kami ng mga kids namin. Sometimes, Marie even reminds me, "O Daddy, ‘yung rose(s) ni Mommy." Marie knows the flower shop where I buy the roses. Alam na niya ’yung routine ko.
You sound as if your marriage is a bed of roses.
Mariz: It’s really a bed of roses, believe it or not. There’s only one word that best describes our marriage – great!
Ronnie: We do have fights, pero very minor.
Mariz: Ronnie is the type who does not sleep on our tampuhan. So before we go to bed, he makes sure that everything is ironed out. Never kaming natutulog na may sama ng loob sa isa’t-isa.
What usually causes your tampuhan (petty spats)?
Mariz (Laughing): Time. Yeah, time!
Ronnie: Kasi nga I’m a workaholic. You can’t help it especially when you line-produce your own movie, direct your own movie and you star in your own movie, matindi ang pressure sa’yo. Sometimes, I bring her and the kids to the set so even if I’m working, kasama ko pa rin sila.
How can you tell if Mariz is making tampo?
Ronnie: She’s quiet. Then I realize na hindi ko siya nalalambing masyado, especially when I’m tired and my adrenalin is low.
How do you make up for it?
Ronnie: I take them out. Bini-baby ko si Mariz. "I love you" ako nang "I love you" sa kanya. If still that doesn’t work I call her, "Honey, come over. Sit here on my lap." Oy, ngayon ko lang ikinu-kwento ’to ha! There. May "magic effect" sa kanya ang lap ko! I resort to it only when my "sweet" approach doesn’t work anymore. Her silence has a way of making me feel guilty.
How long does your tampuhan usually last?
Mariz: Hours lang naman. But with us, that’s already long. If our tampuhan lasts the whole day, aba, mahabang-mahaba na ’yon!
Is Mariz also the sister you never had? (Ronnie has two brothers.)
Ronnie: My wife, my sister, my best friend. Mariz is all that.
Mariz: Kay Mommy (Edith Naldo-Ricketts), I’m like the daughter she never had. Ako ang kanyang Barbie Doll!
Who’s the speaker of the house?
Ronnie: It’s me. But Mariz is the finance manager. She handles the money.
So you get your allowance from her?
Mariz: He has his own naman.
Ronnie: But sometimes, naglalambing ako sa kanya, "Honey, pahinging money." It’s not nice if you have money all the time. For one thing, I’m not the type who goes out for a good time. Ever since naman, I’ve always been a homebody. Mariz is also a homebody kaya nagsi-sync kami. We’d rather play with the kids. The good thing about Mariz is that she always has a plan every weekend. Ang mga kids namin, they never run out of weekend activities, such as malling, visits to Enchanted Kingdom, visits to her folks in Pampanga or a Cinderella show. We’ve been to the Butterfly Farm, to the Manila Zoo, to the National Library, kung saan-saan.
Mariz: Parang reward for the kids, kasi the whole week they’re busy with school. It’s Ronnie who usually brings them to school and it’s me who fetches them from school.
Did you ask Mariz to (temporarily) quit showbiz?
Ronnie: Actually, it’s her decision. Some people are asking me if I’ll let Mariz do a movie or a soap because they think that I’m stopping her. I’m even the one who pushes her, pero ayaw lang talaga niya. But she couldn’t say no to this movie because I wrote the part for her. The role is tailor-made for her. It’s our fourth movie together (after Kakampi Ko ang Diyos, Patapon and Madaling Mamatay Mahirap Mabuhay).
What’s your role in Mano-Mano 2?
Mariz: A lawyer. Ronnie is again playing a street fighter like he did in the first Mano-Mano (with Beth Tamayo as leading lady).
Now that you’re married, can you now do more intimate love scenes, something you never did before?
Mariz: Smack lang.
Ronnie: It’s Klaudia (Koronel) who seduces me in the movie.
Do you watch or "guard" Ronnie when he’s doing a love scene with another leading lady?
Mariz: I don’t. There’s no need to. I trust him. When his love scene with Klaudia was shot, I was on the set, fixing the salary of everybody. Payday kasi ’yon, e. They were shooting upstairs and I was downstairs. If I watch, baka naman ma-conscious ang leading lady ni Ronnie.
Ronnie: Mariz was in-charge of the budgetting, so she had to be on the set even when she wasn’t shooting.
Mariz: Since the start, ayoko na talaga ng kissing scene, not even with Ronnie, more so now that we have kids. I don’t want our kids to have a wrong impression of me when they grow up and watch our movies.
In a marriage, one partner commonly dominates the other. In your case, who dominates whom?
Ronnie: We never discuss it; siguro it comes automatically. Mariz comes from a very conservative family at ang Daddy niya ang nagdadala, so I guess Mariz respects me the way she respects her Daddy. In short, wala kaming "martial law" sa bahay, walang power struggle. I have my "departments" and Mariz has her "departments", too.
Mariz: Even if Ronnie is the head of the family and he makes all the decisions, he’s very considerate. He never makes any decision without asking my opinion. "Okey ba sa’yo?" You know, mga ganoon.
So far, you haven’t had any major quarrel. There hasn’t been any rumor that you were breaking up. Walang issue or controversy ang marriage n’yo.
Mariz: None, thank God!
Ronnie: But we also went through little trials during our adjustment period. Like when we first traveled together to the States with Marella who was then very small. That time also happened to be the wedding of my brother Alex in California. Nagkakagulo kami sa oras. And Mariz had to visit her relatives pa in the East Coast! Si Mommy ang nagri-referee sa amin. We were arguing and arguing about our schedules. When we got into a deadlock, I would leave and work out to avoid further argument.
Mariz: I have only one brother and one sister here, the rest of my family are in the States na, in New Jersey.
In bringing up the kids, do you apply what you learned from the way your respective parents brought you up?
Ronnie: I guess it follows. I was brought in a very religious way and that’s how I bring up our kids – the religious way. Like one time, after we brought Marella to school, we brought Marie to the church. When we knelt before the Blessed Sacrament, I told her, "You know, when Daddy was small like you, his Mom would also bring him to the church and pray before the Blessed Sacrament." Mga ganoon. When I was small, or even when my brothers and I were already big, everytime we’d go out of town, Mommy always made it a point to bring us to church. And that’s what Mariz and I are doing with our kids. When we go to a place, the first thing we do is visit the church.
Mariz: We pray with our kids and thank God for the safe travel and to guide us to a wonderful weekend. When we go to Baguio or Subic or anywhere, ang una naming pinupuntahan ay simbahan.
In your case, Mariz, what did you learn from your parents that you’re now using in bringing up your own kids?
Mariz: A lot. One is love for family. Respect for elders. ‘Yung lambing. I think Ronnie and I have the same traits because we both come from families na maraming similarities. Ronnie is the type na nag-i-spoil ng anak. That’s why I make tampo when he has a lot of work to do because Ronnie also spoils me, especially with time. Spoiled ako sa oras. Pag gusto ko ng date, nagdi-date kami; pag gusto ko ng together kami, together kami; pag gusto kong the whole family must eat out, kumakain kaming lahat sa labas. But when he’s busy with work, siempre nagagahol siya sa oras and that’s when I make tampo.
Who’s the disciplinarian between you? Are you the spare-the-rod-and-spoil-the-child type of parents?
Ronnie: Si Mariz.
Mariz: Pero never akong namamalo.
Ronnie: In my case, it was our Mom who was the disciplinarian. But she never hurt us. Maingay lang si Mommy pero hindi namamalo.
You both come from closely-knit families.
Ronnie: Mariz’s Mom and Dad are very supportive at matulungin. Sagad-sagad kapag tumulong, ready to give even the shirt off their backs. My parents are also like that. Mariz’s parents and my parents also have a similarity – hindi sila nagtatanim ng galit. And they never say anything bad about other people. They have a very positive outlook and attitude.
And what are naman the differences?
Ronnie: Our family is noisy, maingay, partygoer na mahilig manamit. You know, socialite. I mean, socialite na hindi mayaman, mahilig lang sa party-party. Di ba ang Mommy ko, madalas malagay sa society pages? Mariz’s family is the opposite. They are a quiet family; hindi mahilig sa party-party.
Are you into family-planning? (Ronnie has three brothers while Mariz has six brothers and sisters.)
Mariz: Times are hard and it’s important to have family planning. Like now, we only have two children at kinakabahan na ako for their future. You know, what would happen to them? What kind of future do they have? You worry about their security. So what more if you have several children? I guess three to four children are enough. I don’t know about Ronnie.
Ronnie: I agree with Mariz. Maybe we’ll have a boy next time because we have now two little princesses.
You’re close naman to each other’s families, I guess.
Mariz: Oh, yes, we are.
Ronnie: Baligtad nga, e. When Mommy comes home (from California where she and husband Max Ricketts are based), she looks for Mariz and not me.
Mariz: It was Ronnie who taught my family to laugh out loud, especially during meals. Very formal kasi ang pamilya ko. Ronnie taught my family to unwind, to loosen up a bit.
Ronnie: When they ate, quiet sila. It was only when I came that they learned how to be a bit noisy - you know, kuwentuhan at tawanan, biruan.
Mariz: Ronnie brought laughter to my family, Sabi ko, "Masaya pala ang ganoon." So maingay na rin kami ngayon, just like Ronnie’s family.
What were your most trying years?
Mariz: The first year. Drastic kasi ang changes sa buhay ko, e. I got pregnant right away, so I had to adjust to being a wife and a mother at the same time. Si Ronnie naman, biglang sunud-sunod ang pelikula so he was out of house more often than he used to. Solong-solo ako sa bahay most of the time.
Didn’t you miss showbiz?
Mariz: I did. But I would never exchange the joys of family life with showbiz. I saw how my Mom supported my Daddy so I told myself, "Once I get married, susuportahan ko rin ang asawa ko; I’d be behind him all the way." Now that we have two kids, the more I realize how important it is for me to stay home than be in showbiz for the success of our family.
What have you discovered about each other after you got married?
Ronnie: The Mariz that I know now is the same Mariz that I’ve known when we were only in our courtship period. She hasn’t changed; she’s still as lovable as ever. At first, I thought Mariz was just faking her sweetness but as we went along I discovered na sweet talaga siya, na hindi lang siya nagkukunwari. I never leave the house without kissing her and telling her "I love you!" When I’m in a hurry, she would remind me, "Honey ..." then I’d say "Sorry" and hug and kiss her and tell her "I love you" three times.
Mariz: My Mom was a bit worried noong simula because she suspected Ronnie to be a playboy. But she was able to breathe freely when she realized na hindi naman pala, na totoong tao pala si Ronnie.
How would you rate Ronnie as husband and father?
Mariz: A perfect 10.
And you, Ronnie?
Ronnie: I won’t give her a perfect score. So far, siguro mga 9.