Annabelle Rama looks back on her decades-long friendship with Ricky Lo

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Annabelle Rama looks back on her decades-long friendship with Ricky Lo
Ricky Lo and Annabelle Rama during a cover pictorial at Daranak Falls for Expressweek magazine.
STAR / File

Annabelle Rama recalled her disbelief when she first heard that STAR’s Entertainment editor and her best friend of almost 50 years, Ricky Lo, passed away late Tuesday night.

“He was family. Barkada kami since dalaga ako. Wala pang Eddie Gutierrez sa buhay ko, he was there already. Hanggang tumanda kami, barkada pa rin kami,” Rama said of well-loved entertainment journalist also fondly called “Sir Ricky”.

The March 25, 1982 cover of Mr. & Ms. magazine featuring the Gutierrezes (in L.A.) — a family of four at that time — written by Ricky.

“He was there way before my children were born. Hanggang lumaki na ang anak ko, kilalang-kilala siya ng family ko. Even my children were close to him.”

She said it was a crying Ruffa Gutierrez, her daughter, who first informed her of the sad news Tuesday night. Her other children like Ang Probinsyano actor Richard Gutierrez would be calling her first thing in the morning.

“Si Ruffa umiiyak, si Tito Ricky wala na daw. Sabi ko, Ruffa that’s bad news. ‘Mommy, may nag-text sa akin, wala na daw si Tito Ricky. I called up a lot of people to confirm. It was Dolor Guevarra (Lo’s long-time friend) who confirmed to me, ‘It’s true.’ Kasi paano ka maniwala ‘Day, ingat na ingat yan (sa health)... Ay naku nalungkot ako!”

From left: Eddie Gutierrez, Annabelle Rama, former President Erap Estrada, Ricky and Susan Roces

Rama couldn’t help but get misty-eyed as she looked back on the first time they met decades ago at the El Oro office of veteran entertainment columnist Manay Ethel Ramos in Escolta, then a favorite hang-out of movie stars and reporters. During those days, movie production and booking offices were still situated in the Escolta district.

Their friendship only grew and became stronger over the years. Since Sir Ricky loved to treasure and preserve articles as well as pictures, in his Instagram feed, amid his snaps with Hollywood stars he interviewed, no other showbiz family perhaps has more throwback pictures than the Gutierrezes.

There’s even an adorable picture of Lo with Ruffa as a kiddie fashionista. “Sabi ko kay Ricky, ‘Saan galing ang picture na yan at naka-Gucci bag? Ang liit-liit pa niyan. Naku, sabi niya, ‘Magkasama tayo sa America Annabelle, kuha lang ako ng kuha ng pictures.”

In Ruffa’s own Instagram, on the other hand, she shared a screenshot of the March 25, 1982 magazine cover that featured them, which was written by Lo. The actress and former beauty queen wrote in the caption: “39 years ago in L.A., when we were on the cover of Mr. & Ms. magazine, written by Tito Ricky Lo.”

Through the years, Rama said that it was only to Lo that she would entrust major stories about her family.

“Everything about the Gutierrezes, he was the first to know,” she said, including the answers to the hottest issues about them.

“Yan lang ang reporter na di ako makapag-sabi ng no or hindi ko alam. Once he asks me something, hindi ako pwede magsinungaling diyan. Even with family secrets, ‘Annabelle, totoo ba ganyan-ganyan?’ I would tell him, Ricky, ‘Wag mo nalang isulat, aaminin ko na sayo.’ Yung mga intriga about Ruffa, everything about my family, he was the only one I would admit to. The rest of the reporters? Wala. I will deny everything.”

Even if Lo knew everything about her, she noted that he was very discreet.

Ricky with Annabelle and Ruffa Gutierrez at Universal Studios in the US in 1979

“He’s the person talaga I run to if I have problems. But if meron siyang problema, yan ang tao na very discreet. Di siya nagsasalita, nararamdaman ko lang. Siya, alam niya lahat, pati buong bituka ko, pero ako di ko alam bituka niya. That’s how discreet he was. He never asked my help. I would just feel it dahil sa super close namin. ‘Pag tao kasi na bestfriend mo, talagang alam mo na lahat.”

His being discreet would extend to how she saw him deal with celebrities who would take issue with what he wrote in his popular daily column Funfare and Sunday feature Conversations.

“‘Pag may umaway kay Ricky, ako pa nga nagagalit. Don’t be like that Ricky, ‘wag kang pa-api-api, gusto mo ako ang aaway diyan? Tapos, sabihin niya ‘wag! He would say no because ayaw na niya lumaki ang gulo. Maraming celebrities inaaway siya, remember? ‘Pag yan inaaway, tinatawagan ko na agad yan, ‘O, bakit ka naman pumapayag na away-awayin ka sa bruhang yan, ha? Do you want me to call that person?’ ‘Wag, wag, sabi niya, takot na takot hahaha! Sabi niya, ‘’Pag ikaw kasi pumapasok, lalaki ang skandalo, lalaki ang issue! So, I would just ignore it nalang. Ganun siya kabait ’Day!”

She also shared that of all people and considering the past issues between them, Ruffa’s Turkish ex-husband Yilmaz Bektas even contacted her daughter upon learning of Lo’s death.

Lo would also be the one to reassure new reporters (including yours truly) that there was nothing to be “afraid” of the feisty and proud Bisaya Rama, that she was actually one of the most approachable celebs around. “Iba yung aming pagkakaibigan ‘Day! Iba talaga! Hay naku, di talaga ako makapaniwala!” Rama further said.

Rama lamented that Lorin, Ruffa’s eldest daughter, was supposed to have her first-ever media interview with Lo next week. She said she felt her apo was ready to answer her ninong’s questions as she has grown confident and about to study college abroad.

Nevertheless, Rama is deeply grateful for all the memories they shared during their 50 years of friendship. “We miss you, Ricky,” she said.


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