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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Richard Gutierrez plays Santa

Gauging by the prizes (a Magic Sing, a ref, aircon, DVD player, cash, etc.) raffled off and the near-perfect attendance, Richard Gutierrez’s thanksgiving get-together last Sunday with the movie press could easily romp away with the "Party of the Season" award, bigger in fact than those hosted by some companies.

He enjoyed playing Santa Claus.

"I have so much to be thankful for not only this year but in previous years," said Richard (with twin brother Raymond) who came to the party huffing and puffing from a whole-day promo for Mano Po 5: Gua Ai Di, Regal Films’ 2006 Metro Filmfest entry in which he co-stars with, among others, his perennial loveteam-mate Angel Locsin, playing a light-comedy role that gave him a much-needed breather from the rigorous, very physical role he’s doing in the top-rated GMA show Captain Barbell. "What else am I wishing for this Christmas? Nothing else, except of course that the shower of blessings will continue."

Taking over the interview, Richard’s mom Annabelle Rama said, "Richard is a good son. Very kind, very obedient, very helpful and very generous not only with his brothers and sister (Ruffa) but with us, his dad Eddie and I, and even the household help that has been with us even long before he and my other children were born."

He shares his blessings – and how!

"Among my children, except Ruffa, it’s Richard who’s enjoying a boom in his career. Siya ang nakakalamang. He’s not selfish. He wants (younger brother) Ritchie Paul to succeed as a rapper, so he produced Ritchie Paul’s CD. It was Richard who opened Ritchie Paul’s mind to music."

Last year, Richard surprised dad Eddie with shares at an Alabang golf club as Christmas gift.

"Richard knew that his dad is an avid golfer, so he chose that gift for him. He knows that I’m crazy about bags, so he has been giving me all kinds of bags. Not many people know that Richard also donates to churches (St. Claire, Manaoag, Quiapo, Sto. Niño, etc.) every month. Hindi siya maramot."

The Gutierrezes usually hold a party for the household help on Christmas Eve and Richard, just like his siblings, never fails to give a gift for everybody, including the maids’ children and their relatives.

"I’ve been luckier this year than in previous years," said Richard.

Even before the GMA fantaserye Mulawin (made into a movie by GMA Films and Regal Films, an entry in last year’s Metro Filmfest) ended, Richard had already been tapped to topbill a new one, Sugo, followed by Captain Barbell which will climax early next month. Besides Mano Po 5, he starred in another film, I Will Always Love You, also with Angel Locsin.

"His team-up with Angel is like those of Susan Roces and Eddie (Gutierrez), and Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon," Annabelle pointed out. "In real life, there’s nothing romantic between Richard and Angel and yet they click onscreen."

Off camera, Richard’s girlfriend is commercial model Georgina Wilson (niece of Gloria Diaz, now studying in Australia) while Angel is going steady with Oyo Sotto.

Asked if he is, maybe unwittingly, sacrificing his love life, Richard said no.

"Georgina is busy with school and I’m busy with my career," explained Richard. "We both have our priorities. She understands the demands of my work."

For more than a year now, Richard has been living alone in his own condo unit but he hardly sleeps, often dozing off in his van as he shuttles between sets. "He hasn’t totally enjoyed his bed," said Annabelle. "In February next year, he’s taking a two-week vacation. He deserves it."

To keep up with his back-breaking schedule, Richard pumps himself with health foods and vitamins, working out as often as his schedule permits. His constant companion is Rudy, a Waray who has been with the Gutierrez family for years, starting as the alalay (factotum) of Eddie.

"Like my other children," said Annabelle, "Richard is God-fearing. The whole family hears Mass on Sundays and after dinner, we hold a bull session."

This Christmas, the whole family will be together after a long time . Ruffa and daughters Lorin and Venice arrived Sunday last week and her husband, Yilmaz Bektas, is expected from Istanbul anytime now.

What’s her usual reminder to Richard?

Said Annabelle, "Not to let success go to his head...For him to be careful with people who are out to take advantage of his generosity...to invest his money in real estate and save for the future because stardom is not forever...to be professional and show respect especially for older stars and to treat the ‘small’ workers (crew members, extras, etc.) just as nicely...to be punctual on the set so that he won’t make other people wait."

Meanwhile, let’s excuse Richard as he resumes playing Santa Claus. Visit the link here.

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