Roderick "Kuya Dick" Paulate is one likable star. Hanging
around his dressing room at ABS-CBN's defunct afternoon show "Magandang Tanghali, Bayan" (MTB) can
tell you that. People simply come in and out of his tiny space. Practically
everyone is welcome.
From the writer who enters to brief him about the questions
for the day's "Winner Take All" game portion, to Claudine Barretto who pays him a short visit to say "hi!"
because she happened to be nearby taping for Boy Abunda's "Private
Conversations." From the barong-clad ABS-CBN utility man who quietly hands him
a slip of paper with names of friends he would like Kuya Dick to greet on air,
to a fan who gives him a simple purple leather necklace, which he quickly
wears, saying it complements his pink polo shirt. From a TV crew that wants him
on-cam speaking about his close friend, director Olivia Lamasan, to co-host Amy
Perez and TV directors Arnel Natividad and Edgar "Bobot" Mortiz who drop in
just to chat.
Obviously, Roderick is an easy fellow to approach.
So easy that at one time he was sent an S-O-S message from
the "MTB" staff to come and host, fast! The show was in panic mode: airing in a
few minutes, it had no host in sight! Roderick, then taping an episode of "Da
Pilya and Da Pilot" at the new ABS-CBN building, and scheduled to appear in the
show at a later call time, came huffing and puffing to the "MTB" studio. That
was a good five-minute sprint! He was still in the other show's costume of
maong shorts and striped shirt. When he got there, co-host Randy Santiago had
arrived; Roderick let out a sigh of relief.
The point is: how many stars can you S-O-S like that?
Those who know him say he's more than just professional and
cooperative, he is downright kindhearted.
Roderick himself will admit: "Gusto ko laging may love sa
puso ko. Sa ‘MTB' nga, binabanggit ko, ‘O, mag-I love you tayo kahit sino pa
ang kaharap mo!' So, ina-I love you ko 'yung contestant, ke babae, ke lalaki.
Ina-I love you ko 'yung waiter..."
He doesn't mind saying he's this way because there's so much
love to go around in his family. "Natutuhan ko sa pamilya ko," is how he puts
it. He is the youngest among nine children—even if everyone in showbiz calls
him Kuya Dick. It is a brood, moreover, that feels very close to their mother,
Paz, a woman Roderick openly announces his love for in public.
"We, my siblings and I, love her so much," he says. "She's
our queen. Ganoon namin siya kamahal."
At a very young four, Roderick began acting for the movies.
But it was years later, with his gay roles, that he would click with the
To this, Roderick demurs: "Kasi 'yung gay naman nag-start
'yon late Eighties. Mas marami 'yung hindi ako gay dahil ang mga gay roles ko
ilan lang compared sa mga movies na ginawa ko."
As far as he can recall, his first gay outing was in the
critically acclaimed High School Circa '65. "Doon naman, I was nominated for
Best Supporting Actor considering na 15 or 16 pa lang ako noon. I was the comic
relief of the movie."
Bibeth Orteza, who played a teacher in High School Circa
'65, created a gay character for him in the sitcom "Tepok Bunot." "Nag-hit
'yon," says Roderick. Then a producer gave him the lead role in Charot, a movie
inspired by Dustin Hoffman's gender-bending performance in Tootsie. Before
Roderick knew it, other offers to do gay roles started coming his way, with one
of them from a very persuasive line producer-actress.
"After Charot, ayoko munang tanggapin ang mga gay-gay
roles," he says. "But it was Charo Santos who convinced me to do a gay movie
where I would be paired with Maricel (Soriano)." The project was Regal Films'
Inday, Inday sa Balitaw which ended up being a huge success.
"The rest is history!" Roderick exclaims. "'Yun na!
Sunud-sunud na sa box-office."
Roderick, the gay comic, became so hot that, in 1987, he
made four gay movies in a span of eight months: Jack En Poy, Bb. Tsuperman,
Kumander Gringa, and 1+1=12+1.
It was Comedy King Dolphy, Roderick's mentor in the sitcom
"John En Marsha," who had encouraged him to concentrate on comedy. "Si Dad [his
name for Dolphy], sabi niya, dapat mag-comedy ka kasi kulang na ang mga
komedyante, 'yung star-material na komedyante." Robert Arevalo, his senior
co-star in the soap opera "Anna Liza," urged him to do the same. "Sinasabi niya
na natatawa siya sa akin. Gusto rin niyang mag-comedy ako," says Roderick.
However, he admits that, initially, his interest was
elsewhere. He was once host—and director for the documentary portion—of the youth-oriented public affairs program
"KB Kaibigan" on the government-owned Channel 4. He says, "Ini-interview ko
political people." And for co-hosts, he had former undersecretary of tourism
Ram Antonio and Jackie Kookoorichkin. "Ako 'yung medyo matigas kasi 'yung isa
taga-La Salle, 'yung isa taga-Assumption. Ako 'yung taga-UP."
He goes on: "Para makita mo 'yung conflict... I wanted to do
public affairs hosting but at the same time I was a commercial actor. Kung
hindi ko gagawin ang public affairs, mas gusto kong gawin 'yung drama roles. And
ayokong gumawa ng gay roles because I was a UP Student Council member."
Roderick, entering the University of the Philippines in
Manila as a Political Science major, had been elected freshman representative.
"Our Student Council president then was [former editor-in-chief of The Manila
Times] Malou Mangahas," he volunteers.
He speaks with pride of his days as a student activist.
"Nagra-rally ako sa Liwasang Bonifacio. Ako 'yung nagtatawag sa mga estudyante...
Tumatakas ako sa daddy ko, natutulog sa mga squatter areas kasi doon ang caucus
namin. Doon ang planning namin sa may Manila, sa Ermita. Pinasok ko 'yan.
Nakikipag-meeting ako doon."
Soon, his father found out. "Daddy ko, pina-stop ako sa
kurso ko. So ang nangyari, I had to shift to Theater Arts. In-assume ng daddy
ko na 'pag mawala ako sa Political Science, hindi ako mai-involve sa student
But, he chuckles, his father was wrong. "Because when I was
taking Theater Arts, professors ko mga political detainees! 'Di ba si Behn
He joined the theater groups Peryante and Dulaang
Laboratoryo and once portrayed Ninoy Aquino in a play mounted at Ayala Museum.
He recalls dramatically that while he was delivering a monologue about
revolution, there was a commotion outside the building, while inside, the audience
and the actors smelled tear gas!
Dangerous as those times were, Roderick says they gave him a
sense of satisfaction. "I was enjoying it a lot," he confesses. "At the same
time, politically aware ako. Tapos nasa performing arts pa ako. So, balance."
The activist in Roderick resurfaced during the first People
Power Revolution in 1986. "Humarap ako sa tangke sa Libis," he says. He also
trooped to the Channel 4 studio (now ABS-CBN). "Isa ako sa mga nag-secure ng
station. Sina Tessie Tomas nakita ko doon...the APO...we were inside."
Roderick admits that today his attention has gone to
pressing personal concerns. The only unmarried one in their brood, he says:
"Siyempre, 'pag nag-e-age ka, nag-iiba rin. Madami ka na ring nasasagupang
problema.... My mom, naisip ko rin siya. My father died before Cory won.
Parang...who will take care of my mom? Iisipin ko rin 'yon, 'di ba? May mga
hindrances while you age."
Even then, his days as a student activist seem to have found
their mark. Roderick reflects: "It made me closer to the masses. I was able to
do it in theater. I was able to do it sa pakikisalamuha ko sa kanila.... Kung
hindi ko man magawa ang pagiging aktibista ngayon, nakatulong ang karanasan ko
sa pananaw ko sa masang Pilipino."
As such, he sees something in his role as one of the
country's top comedians today. "If I can make them forget their problems even
for just two minutes or five minutes, that's a big thing for me already."
Whether it's obliging a fan angling for an autograph,
hosting a game show, giving in to pabati requests, or assisting shows in
emergencies, Roderick Paulate is happy to help.
"A show of kindness, a show of love—happiness 'yon," Mr.
Nice Guy says. "Kasama 'yon sa nagpapa-happy sa 'yo. Doon ko binubunot ang
(YES! April 2002 issue)