Although she forgot to mention them in her acceptance speech, Cinemalaya 2019 Best Actress Ruby Ruiz said she is very grateful and honored to be in the company of Mylene Dizon, Iza Calzado, Meryll Soriano, and Sunshine Cruz in the 15th edition of the celebrated indie film festival.
“I know all of them. Mylene was very good, Meryll was very good, Iza was very good, I did not get to see Sunshine’s film but I know their caliber,” she told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and other reporters following her Best Actress win.
Ruby won for Theodore Boborol’s Iska where she played a doting grandmother to an autistic child who had to deal with a series of unfortunate events.
The veteran actress added Mylene and Iza were particularly generous in heaping praises on her performance in Iska.
“Sabi nila, ‘Tita ikaw na ito, sa iyo na ito.’ Napakamapag-paraya nila at parang sinasabi nila na ‘all things being equal, puwede bang sa iyo na lang nila ibigay [ang award]’?”
Asked what it’s like to win her second acting recognition from Cinemalaya, Ruby recalls that the feeling is much different compared to the first time she won as Best Supporting Actress for Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra in 2013.
“Nung nanalo ako for Ekstra, I was completely clueless. Nagulat na lang ako nung tinawag ang pangalan ko. I did not expect to win, let alone be considered,” she recalled.
“This time for Iska it’s different. Dahil sa mga expectations ng mga tao, parang umaasa ka pero at the same time, ayaw mong umasa. Because at the end of the day, it’s still the jury’s choice.”
Overwhelmed with gratitude, she also pointed to the Philippine Educational Theater Association or PETA as having honed her to become the actress that she is today.
“PETA is very important to me. Doon ako nagsimula. Doon ko po natutunan ang lahat ng alam ko sa pag-arte. Lahat ng pinagkakakitaan ko ngayon dahil sa PETA. It is like my second home.,” she declared.
While initially identified with theater, Ruby has carved a distinguished career in film and television. Not too many may be aware of it but she is in the cast of just about every film directed by renowned filmmaker Brillante Mendoza including Kinatay, Thy Womb, Taklub and Ma’ Rosa where she and the rest of the film’s cast were nominated for Best Ensemble Performance at the Young Critics’ Circle award in 2017.
Ruby also had a small role in the Hollywood blockbuster, The Bourne Legacy that was partly shot in Manila in 2011 and released in 2012.
After winning in Cinemalaya 2013 for Ekstra which also garnered her nominations from the Gawad Urian, Star Awards for Movies and the Golden Screen Awards, Ruby continued to be cast in supporting and sometimes even cameo roles.
In Cinemalaya 2019, she is also in the cast of Belle Douleur and F#*@ BOIS (formerly known as Fuccbois).
“I’ve always been open to doing any role. Basta maganda yung character, whether mahaba or maikli ang screen time, okay lang,” she quipped.
Ruby already considered herself a winner when she was cast in the lead role of Iska after spending decades in the entertainment scene.
What made her casting all the more sweeter for her was the fact that she did not leave a first good impression with her director when they first worked together on the TV remake of the classic soap Annaliza in 2013.
“Ang role ko dun, sidekick ni Kaye Abad. Hindi kasi ako nai-intimidate kahit sikat na artista, so kinakausap ko si Kaye Abad, yung mga co-stars ko. Ino-obserbahan na pala ako ni Direk so nung gagawin na niya yung Iska, naalala niya ako kasi nakikita niya kahit wala akong dialogue, nagre-react ako sa mga eksena namin dun,” she narrated.
To prepare for the film, Ruby said the cast and crew visited several schools for autism to better understand what it’s like to care for patients, especially children, who are afflicted with the disorder. For her part, she also visited the person that inspired the film, the real Iska herself in her home, and got to know her better.
“Ang buhay ni Iska is very fascinating, marami siyang parallels. Sana ay mapanood pa ng maraming tao ang buhay niya,” she concluded.
Iska is still screening at Vista Malls Pampanga, Iloilo, Naga, and Evia Lifestyle Center.