Private lives, public conversations with Ricky Lo
- Wilson Lee Flores () - February 10, 2002 - 12:00am
Philippine STAR entertainment editor Ricardo "Ricky" F. Lo is undoubtedly the country’s most popular and often controversial columnist, with a wider and more diverse following than many hard-hitting political commentators. Launched last Jan. 29, his well-written second book entitled Conversations with Ricky Lo is already a bestseller, sold out in bookstores and forcing this writer to get a copy at the Anvil Publishing office.

Known for his wit, candor, his many showbiz scoops, juicy blind items and fearless writing, even antagonizing not a few showbiz bigwigs, Ricky Lo writes his "Funfare" columns and his regular Sunday feature "Conversations with Ricky Lo" for the Philippine STAR. Born in Las Navas, Northern Samar where he attended grade school, he finished high school at the Tabaco Pei Ching School in Tabaco, Albay. Ricky Lo studied AB English at the University of the East. He is multi-lingual, fluent in Waray, Filipino, English, Hokkien and Mandarin.

His latest book is a delightful feast of 42 choice pieces of the more than 600 published Conversations with Ricky Lo features from 1988 to the present. Ricky Lo’s book is enjoyable to read and hard to put down.

Aside from his uncanny ability to win the trust and confidence of people who normally shun press interviews such as Regal Films founder Mother Lily and Fernando Poe Jr., Ricky Lo also ably draws the most honest and spontaneous responses from the galaxy of showbiz stars. His interviews probe deep; he has a good, sometimes naughty, sense of humor and he has unrivaled understanding of the topsy-turvy entertainment world.

The first part of Ricky Lo’s book focuses on the veterans. A year before her death, the late Charito Solis fearlessly discussed with Ricky Lo her colorful love life with a popular Manila mayor, a cabinet secretary, a movie producer and a sexy drama actor. Seven months after his heart bypass operation, "Comedy King" Dolphy discussed with Ricky Lo his films, family, his companion Zsa Zsa Padilla and even sex life at his advanced age. One of Dolphy’s wisest answers was to Ricky Lo’s query about his possibly joining politics: "Madaling tumakbo. Eh, paano kung manalo?"

The "Action King" FPJ in his exclusive conversation with Ricky Lo denies his rumored fear of flying, talks about his being magulo in his youth and his family’s hardship when his father died early. FPJ also dismisses politics but adds, "Mahirap magsalita nang patapos."

Ricky Lo’s conversation with the "Empress of Philippine Movies" Lily Yu Monteverde of Regal Films was another exclusive first. It reveals a media-shy producer as an educator, a former movie fan who used to cut classes with friends to watch shootings, her marriage to ethnic Chinese tycoon Remy Monteverde whose father was once a copra tycoon from Sariaya, Quezon. Mother Lily reveals that she used to climb up the gate of the Dalisay Theater in Manila during movie premieres just to get the autographs of her idols Nida Blanca and Nestor de Villa.

The second part of Ricky Lo’s book focuses on "Pairs," whether husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, or siblings. The showbiz glitterati included in this part are Anjo and Jomari, Charlene and Richard, Ogie and Michelle, "mortal enemies" and arch-rivals Pilita Corales and Carmen Soriano, and Richard and Lucy.

The third part of the book features the younger stars of modern times. Megastar Sharon Cuneta shows her wit and intelligence, her total devotion to her late father Mayor Pablo Cuneta, and to her family. When asked if she’s a daddy’s girl, she readily agrees and says: "Bilib na bilib ako sa dad ko that if he asks me to jump from a building, first thing I’ll say is, ‘From what floor?’" Sharon says that her biggest disappointment was marrying too early (to Gabby Concepcion in 1984), and how this had hurt her dad a lot. Sharon also says that tens of thousands of fans shouting they love her cannot compare with going home to hear husband Senator Kiko Pangilinan or her daughter KC saying: "Sweetheart, I love you!" or "Mommy, I love you!"

Joyce Jimenez talks to Ricky Lo about the travails and challenges of being a sexy star, guys who treat her with discourtesy, and how she really is a sweet girl raised with Filipino values in the US. Former sexy actress Anjanette Abayari reveals that she once turned down an offer to pose for Playboy magazine, that she is a great fan of Michael Jackson, that she is against any "live-in" arrangement, that she is actually shy and possesses conservative values. International celebrity Lea Salonga, who has performed in the US and Europe, says she misses Philippine showbiz presscons, which are different, more fun and that Filipino reporters are not shy.

Sexy actress Rosanna Roces makes for another unforgettable interview. A fearless, smart and sensuous woman, she reveals how science has altered her physique: her liposuction and bust lift which cost P60,000 each breast, and which was paid for with money she advanced from Seiko Films. Formerly using the screen name Ana Maceda, she readily admits that she used to work as a Brunei Beauty like many other actresses, beauty queens, singers and models (most of whom deny they ever worked there). Known by her nickname Osang, she reveals that she came from a devout Protestant family, that her eldest brother is a pastor, that a sister is a Protestant preacher, that she used to be a church choir member as a kid.

When asked by Ricky Lo what for her was the most touching scene in her film Ligaya Ang Itawag Mo Sa Akin where she played the role of a prostitute, she pointed out the scene where she touches her wedding gown and cries, because this scene actually also happened in her real life when her husband Tito Molina married her.

Zsa Zsa Padilla in her interview professes her love for Dolphy, that she "would do everything for love," that she regrets marrying too young when she eloped with her husband. Ricky Lo suggests that since she knows how to handle an older man, maybe she should give pointers to her good friend Kris Aquino (whose former partner is Phillip Salvador). Zsa Zsa laughs and replies, "Not in print. Kapag kaming dalawa na lang."

Another interesting interview was that with former sexy actress, now described by Ricky Lo as a "lady of leisure," Gretchen Barretto. She talks for the very first time to Philippine STAR about her totally new lifestyle with business tycoon Antonio "Tonyboy" Cojuangco, how she cooks mostly Filipino foods for him, their stepdaughter Toni and their own daughter Dominique. She reveals that she and Tonyboy click because of great respect and trust for each other, that she is street-smart but he "is really, really brilliant."

In contrast to Gretchen’s happy life with Tonyboy, Ricky Lo also interviews estranged couple Rustom Padilla and Carmina Villarroel, while Pops Fernandez and Martin Nievera, whose marriage has been annulled, pour their hearts out in public through exclusive and separate Conversations with Ricky Lo (after three years of vehemently denying their break up).

The book Conversations with Ricky Lo is thoroughly entertaining, honest, eloquent, like a very well-crafted and captivating movie. It is not only a good book about showbiz interviews and profiles, it is highly recommended for anyone interested to learn about the varied lives and stories of interesting human beings. Due to Ricky Lo’s credibility, resourcefulness, insatiable curiosity and humble personality, many of the biggest and even media-shy luminaries of Philippine entertainment have opened their hearts and revealed their secrets to him in his book.

Through his column, now compiled in this volume of 339 pages, Ricky Lo has masterfully shown the public the innermost feelings, fears, loves, foibles and humanity of the gods and goddesses of Philippine entertainment.
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Please send comments/suggestions to wilson_lee_flores@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 14277, Ortgas Center, Pasig City.

ACTION KING ANA MACEDA ANJANETTE ABAYARI ANJO AND JOMARI ANVIL PUBLISHING BOOK RICKY RICKY LO TONYBOY ZSA ZSA PADILLA
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