Rio Locsin: From bit player, sexy star to one of Phl cinema’s acting gems

DIRECT LINE CONVERSATIONS - Boy Abunda - The Philippine Star
Rio Locsin: From bit player, sexy star to one of Phl cinema�s acting gems
Rio joins the cast of GMA Network's Ruru Madrid-led action series Black Rider.

MANILA, Philippines — It’s a dream enough to be an actress but what more to be like Rio Locsin who, aside from being one of Philippine Cinema’s acting gems, is gifted with an elegant, ageless beauty? In case you didn’t know, Rio served as the epitome of beauty in the song called Langit Na Naman by the Hotdog, a famous Filipino band in the mid-‘70s.

Joining show business and being an actress was not something that Rio dreamt of. According to her, it was her mom who persuaded her to be an “artista,” for a valid reason: education.

“I was against the idea of entering showbiz and I told my mother, ‘Ano ang alam ko sa pag-aartista?’ I was still a student at that time, I didn’t know how to act and my regular routine was just home and school, bahay-eskwela lang ako. But then, my mother said that we didn’t have enough money to support my studies. So, I agreed. I was discovered by Rey dela Cruz,” recalled Rio of her joining the acting bandwagon.

Like any showbiz newcomer, Rio had to endure the long hours of waiting on the set as a bit player or “extra” in the beginning of her acting career.

“Malala sa Burlesk Queen (Vilma Santos played the titular role), because the call time was nine o’clock in the morning but by four in the morning of the following day at saka pa lang ako makukunan, hulas na hulas na ang makeup.

“I was one of the dancers who would just dance with the others (bit players) on stage. Dinadaanan lang ng camera. Meron naman role na sinasampal ako pero ‘yun lang walang dialogue. Pinagdaanan ko ‘yung buhay extra,” she added.

Equally unforgettable for her were the movies she did with Eddie Rodriguez and Bembol Roco.

“As a diehard fan of the radio announcer portrayed by Eddie Rodriguez, my only part was to act giddy so kilig, kilig, kilig lang, no dialogue.

“And then with Bembol in Boy Apache, I was tied on a spinning roulette, with my legs apart and daggers would be thrown at me. I was so dizzy but I didn’t complain no matter how tough it was for me to be tied upside down. Introductory role na ko noon, malapit na sa bida,” she laughed.

In 1978, Rio was launched to stardom in Regal Films’ Disgrasyada, which turned out to be a box-office hit. It was followed with more movie projects that saw her in sexy roles, among them were Love Affair; Menor de Edad; Ina, Kapatid, Anak; Stepsisters, Bira, Darna, Bira (with Romnick Sarmenta as Ding); Manila By Night; City After Dark; Unang Yakap and Kambal sa Uma.

Joining show business and being an actress was not something that Rio dreamt of. According to her, it was her mom who persuaded her to be an 'artista,' for a valid reason: education.

The veteran actress couldn’t forget how painfully shy she was in her daring scenes in City After Dark (1980) directed by Ishmael Bernal.

“Grabe, hiyang-hiya talaga ako kasi syempre dalaga ako, ang bold ng pelikula. May mga eksena doon na naka-plaster ka lang sa ibabaw, nakalubog kami sa bathtub ni William Martinez tapos may love scene,” Rio ruminated.

“Then in another scene, I was on top of my partner while kissing him and the role required me to be aggressive,” added Rio, who portrayed as a blind woman.

Aware how strict and meticulous Bernal was, Rio knew she had to give her best. “Sabi ni Ishma (Bernal) sa akin, ‘Gawin mo na lang minsan, kaysa paulit-ulit kong ipagawa sa ‘yo ng sampung beses. Kapag hindi ko nagustuhan, uulit-ulitin mo ‘yan, ikaw din, sige.

“He had a point there, might as well, do it in one take. Thankfully, he was convinced with my acting and I passed,” she shared.

Rio also got the opportunity to work with other top caliber directors like Lino Brocka, Elwood Perez and Leroy Salvador. She recalled how she would absorb every acting lesson from them.

This columnist interviewing Rio on the show Fast Talk.
Photos from show's official Facebook page

“I started very young in the industry, nag-simula ako sa bold and then they entrusted me with beautiful movies. Ano pa naman ang gagawin mo kung hindi magpasalamat, makinig at sumunod (na) kahit sabihin na tumalon ako, gagawin ko especially with Ishma and Lino.”

In her four decades in showbiz, no directors or producers have requested for her facial moles be removed. They all considered them as her “trademark.”

However, Rio still underwent surgery to remove some of them after someone mocked her for having multiple moles on her face. “May nag-sabi sa akin, ‘Ano ‘yan connect the dots?’ (Kaya) Nag-tanggal ako ng tatlo, naiwan talaga ‘yung isa, trademark.”

Her mole must have also been her lucky charm considering the fact that she has remained visible on screen acting out roles alongside a young generation of actors.

On her working relationship with young stars, Rio admitted that she does not know all of them by their names. It’s just appropriate for the younger ones to make an effort to introduce themselves to veteran stars.

“Sinabi ko sa kanila, pasensya na kayo, senior na. Hindi ko lahat kilala ang mga batang artista hangga’t di ko nakakatrabaho. Pero pag nagpakilala kayo at gusto n’yo makipag-usap sa akin, welcome na welcome kayo sa akin. Kailangan ganun kasi mahirap ka manguna, dahil matanda ka, dapat sila ang unang lumapit sa ‘yo,” she said.

What she finds annoying are the young stars who, instead of getting ready for their scenes, are busy on their cellular phones.

“Me, I don’t bring my phone on the set and it really pisses me off when someone has a phone on the set during rehearsals and there are instructions to follow. That’s why, I would say that we have to study our lines and be prepared.”

Rio would also remind the production staff to never allow the use of phones on the set “because it’s also a sign of respect to your co-actors who came prepared tapos ikaw hindi kasi may kausap ka o nag-ri-ring ‘yung phone mo sa bulsa. How can we focus on work with that?”

Rio is in the cast of GMA primetime series Black Rider.

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