Ruru Madrid on Lolong : 3-year wait is worth it

Jerry Donato - The Philippine Star
Ruru Madrid on Lolong : 3-year wait is worth it
Ruru with co-stars (seated) Jean Garcia, Christopher de Leon, Arra San Agustin, Shaira Diaz, Bembol Roco and Malou de Guzman; (standing) Marco Alcaraz, DJ Durano, Rochelle Pangilinan, Paul Salas, Maui Taylor, Ian de Leon and Mikoy Morales
STAR / File

Starring in the GMA 7’s adventure series Lolong is a test of patience and resilience for Ruru Madrid. His hard work — and that of the show’s production and creative teams — will finally be seen as the show premieres on July 4 after 24 Oras on GMA Telebabad.

Due to the global health crisis, which led to some start-and-stops and brought about some changes, like the casting in the show, the path to Lolong’s creation was outright extra challenging. But the Sparkle actor and his fellow creatives carried on.

“It’s been three years, from the time the project was planned,” said the ecstatic Ruru about the fruition process his latest show had gone through in a recent virtual one-on-one with The STAR.  “Ito na, earlier, we (me and my fellow stars) talked about how time can pass quickly, na parang kailan lang nag-ta-taping pa lang kami, parang kailan lang may mga problem na dumarating sa amin (It seemed just recently that we would tape scenes and encounter problems). But this time, this is it. We (are in a) media con. Days from now, Lolong will be aired.”

His character is named Lolong, who possesses the ability to interact with Dakila, a crocodile, and finds a friend in it. The series used a 22-ft. animatronic crocodile prop and computer-generated imagery.

Headlining GMA 7’s adventure series Lolong proves to be a test of patience and resilience for the actor.

During the interview via Zoom, the actor was generous and all smiles in sharing details about mounting Lolong, another series from the Kapuso News and Public Affairs, aside from the now airing mystery, thriller and romance Love You Stranger with Gabbi Garcia and Khalil Ramos as leads.

“The first time the project was mentioned to me, ibang-iba talaga kung papaano namin ginawa yung proyekto ngayon,” Ruru recalled and compared the original Lolong story to now. “Medyo mahirap siyang gawin, sobra siyang naging fantaserye, naging ganun ang dating niya sa akin nung binabasa ko yung unang script (It was difficult to make such a  series and reading the script for the first time gave me the impression that it was a fantasy series). Mahirap ding gumawa nang ganung klaseng teleserye sa gitna ng pandemya (It was also going to be tough doing that kind of series in the middle of a pandemic).”

As for the series narrative, Ruru said, “To be honest, hindi siya pinagaan, hindi mas pinadali yung storya. For me, I liked (this one more), the way the story was being executed because (I think) it was more relatable to people and at the same time, a lot of things were being incorporated in it. For example, yung pagmamahal sa kalikasan, sa mga hayop dito sa ating bansa (love for the environment, protection of animals), corruption and (ma)daming naipasok dito na nung una wala pong ganun. I’m just very happy that (the latest) material was the one being used.”

Because of the uncertainty that the pandemic posed early on to all, Ruru was not spared from feeling a bit blue about where things were heading to. He had a chance to reflect on his career, given the delays the Lolong production experienced and the actor’s desire to get things started and see its completion.

“And then when we finished it, I came to realize that lahat ng mga bagay na nangyayari sa atin ay may rason, lahat ng mga bagay na nangyayari sa atin ay may perfect timing (things happen for a reason and things happen at the perfect time),” said he.

With those lessons learned and new insights gained, Ruru could say that waiting for the right and opportune time to commence and complete Lolong was worth it.

“Kahit na tatlong taon akong naghintay for this project, sobrang sulit siya kasi sobrang ganda ng proyekto,” said he, who had to put aside other projects, work on a bubble and be away from family for a period of time as his sacrifices. Besides, he had to be physically fit and mentally ready for the character.

“I focused on it and only gave my best in every scene,” shared Ruru, “ayokong may eksena na masayang.” That’s why Lolong tops his list of most loved, if one may add, memorable projects.

“Every time I got interviewed and asked kung ano yung pinaka-minahal kong proyekto (about the project that was dearest to me) before, I would always say Encantadia,” recalled he. “Sobrang tagal naming ginawa yung Encantadia, sobrang grabe yung dedication na binigay ko sa project na iyun, but this time, na mas matanda na ako, this time I’m more committed to my work, this time I’m more passionate to my craft, I have given all of that here (in Lolong).

“Even before I did this project, I told myself that if this didn’t work, if I didn’t give my best, stop na, because that’s how I show my love for a project. Masasabi ko na itong Lolong yung pinaka-minahal ko sa lahat ng projects na ginawa ko.”

That special place of Lolong in Ruru’s heart also recognizes the fact that the men and women who constituted the show never gave up and bravely faced the challenges to make it happen.

“I’m just very thankful na sila yung mga nakasama ko dito at masasabi ko na sobrang swerte ko na itong grupo na ito yung nakasama ko,” said he.

Asked about his thoughts on Lolong as an advocacy series that is entertaining and engaging, Ruru had this to say: “Sobrang nakakataba ng puso dahil sabi ko nga hindi lang ito yung basta action serye na mapapanood lamang natin na mag-e-enjoy lang tayo sa mga fight scenes, hindi lang ganun, hindi lang siya puro drama na iiyak ka lang, hindi lang siya puro katatawanan na ma-e-entertain ka, but also marami kang mapupulot na aral dito (It’s not just an action series that we can watch and enjoy for its fight scenes, it’s not like that, it’s not just pure drama that you’ll cry, it’s not just pure comedy that will entertain you, but also you can learn a lot of lessons from it).” Through Lolong, the young people, who are into technology and social media, will also appreciate the beauty of nature, added Ruru, and along that line they realize the environmental problems that a country like ours faces.


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