For the past few months, Derek Ramsay has been focusing his time and energy on two of his favorite sports: golf and Frisbee.
On June 2 (Manila time), he competed and won, along with his fellow actor and golfing buddy, John Estrada, the Jack Nicklaus International Invitational golf tournament in Dublin city in the U.S. state of Ohio.
Aside from the coveted trophy, Derek and John, who were co-stars in the 2014 movie The Trophy Wife, won the enviable chance to meet their idol, Jack Nicklaus, who’s recognized as the best golfer of all time.
Then from June 18 to 24, Derek and the rest of his team represented the Philippines at the World Championships of Beach Ultimate in the resort town of Royan, France. They started out strong, and ended their Frisbee campaign with a fourth place finish.
AMO CRIME MINISERIES. Derek came back to the Philippines on July 5, and two days later, on July 7, he led the ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the family-owned The Barracks food hub in Tagaytay.
“I’m ready to go back to work,” he told this writer at the event. “I have two days left for Amo, which is Direk Brillante’s series sa TV5. And TV5 wants to give me a sporting show.”
Derek was referring to director Brillante Mendoza and the Cannes-winning filmmaker’s foray into television via TV5’s soon-to-be aired crime miniseries, Amo.
In Amo, the actor better known for his romantic leading-man roles plays a corrupt policeman.
“We’re portraying what’s been happening in the Philippines when it comes to drugs and our police force,” he pointed out.
“So, I’m actually playing not a kontrabida, but a very evil man who will kill with no hesitation to cover his tracks. And it’s nice for me to play that instead of playing the Mr. Romantic guy. Para maiba naman, I did that when I played a corrupt policeman sa Janitor.”
The Janitor is an action-drama that was screened at the 2014 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, in which he played a drug-using cop suspected to have led a bank heist.
“Parang hindi nga ako policeman dito,” he said of his Amo character. “Parang hitman. So, utos ng mga boss ko, gagawin ko. Walang babae, lalaki, bata, matanda—papatayin ko.”
He went on sharing his thoughts on his current TV project: “What I like about it is walang main bida. Everybody plays their role. TV5 asked me if I’m okay with that, and I’m like, of course.
“Again, I’m a team player. I don’t have to be the bida. Put me where Direk Brillante thinks I’ll fit in. And totally different experience working with him.”
Derek recalled one particular instance that happened during filming: “May nilagay kaming bangkay. Nagkagulo ’yong mga tao. Picture-picture. Okay lang kay Direk Brillante.
“Ang instruction niya lang, ‘Manood kayo. Huwag lang kayong magpi-picture kay Derek.’ So totoong-totoo ang mga reaction ng mga tao. Checking out the bangkay there.”
He remembered another shooting day in Barangay Addition Hills in Mandaluyong City, and Direk Brillante’s instructions to him went like this: 'Derek, tumakbo ka lang d’yan sa loob… Oo, tumakbo ka lang. Kunwari may hinahanap ka. May baril ka.'”
The actor, who was then experiencing for the first time his director’s unconventional style, just went with the flow.
“Naka-cap ako, walang may alam na nando’n ako,” he said. “Ang cameraman, humahabol sa akin sa likod. Ang mga tao, nabulabog talaga. And then, when I stopped running, do’n na ’ko namukhaan. Dumog na.”
He gave a satisfied smile, and declared, “You can’t beat that kind of acting when it’s honest.”
Indeed, he’s very impressed with his director: “Ang galing ni Direk, madiskarte!”
He went on recounting a rather eerie incident on the set of Amo: “Ang pinaka-wild experience ko sa kanya was… So may pinatay kami. Dinala namin sa morge to get cremated. We want to get rid of the evidence.
“So we shot in a morgue. May patay talaga do’n sa katabi ko. Pag pasok ko, di ko napansin. Akala ko, dummy. Kasi may dummy sa labas. [I asked the people there] ‘Sino ang gumawa ng makeup? Ang husay.’
“[They said,] ‘Derek, patay talaga ’yan.’ Matandang babae. Sobrang disturbed ako kasi may top shot, ’yong cameraman, nakatapak sa ibabaw ng patay.”
DRUG TRADE IN THE TIME OF TOKHANG. Derek has his own opinions on the issues that Amo tackles: illegal drugs and the problems that surround the eradication of this societal menace.
“Don’t do drugs,” Derek said with earnestness. “You know, you mess with drugs, you’re gonna pay the price. Siguro in our country, it’s been a while kasi before, you can pay people off.
“Now, [President Rodrigo] Duterte is really putting his foot down on drugs, and those who feel can get away with it, they’ll pay for the actions that they’re doing. I know a couple of people who are still in jail. No’ng panahon before, may pangalan ka, you can get out of it.”
“You know, my mom’s a drug tester,” he added, referring to his mother’s business of running drug-testing centers. “I’ve always been away from drugs my entire life.
“Drugs poison our society, kill our youth, and cleaning it up is, I think, a good thing. Yeah, there’s some sketchy ways of doing it, which I don’t completely agree with, but his passion in killing drugs, I share the passion with him. It’s really something that we should get out of our country. Pangit, pangit.”
He agreed that fighting drugs is a herculean task.
“Ang hirap. It’s hard. Di pa rin natututo ang mga tao. I think it’s up there, all the news, but I can see it slowly coming back. Pina-tone down lang ’tapos eto na naman. Not just celebrities [getting hooked]. It’s all over…
“You’ve heard about these killings. Are you still gonna risk using it, selling it? I have friends nga who got caught. And I have friends who talk about it. Kawawa naman sila. Sabi ko, ‘Bakit kawawa?’
“There was enough warning. Tinuloy pa rin. Hindi ako naaawa. Kaibigan ko s’ya pero hindi ako naaawa sa kanya kasi mali ang ginagawa niya. And bebentahan mo ang mga youth. You’re destroying their future. How do you sleep at night, di ba?
“My friend, I know you, but I don’t feel sorry that you got caught. One day it’s gonna happen. Leader nga ng mafia, nahuhuli, di ba? What makes you high and mighty that you won’t get caught? One day, you’ll make a mistake and you pay the consequences.”
Going back to his role as a policeman, Derek let out a hearty laugh when reminded of the memes that had gone around social media. Those memes centered around his declaration in an anti-piracy ad that he’s a policeman—and sounding like Polish.
MOVIE PROJECTS. Aside from TV work, Derek will be making movies again. The first one that he can already talk about is the biopic on slain race car driver Enzo Pastor.
“I spoke to Direk Enzo [Williams] two weeks ago,” Derek said of the man also behind his 2016 movie, The Escort.
“And he said, ‘Derek, malapit na.’ Kasi that, I really want to do that. Teaser pa lang, tumayo na ang balahibo ko, so…
“He’s trying to gather funds kasi he wants to do it by himself, e. Sabi ko, ‘It’s your project, so whatever you want to do.’ But the [Pastor] family wants to do it soon…
“I went all the way to Clark and shot the teaser. The family was there. But, according to Direk Enzo, they’re just waiting for funds.”
Derek is into cars, and he feels that playing a race car driver is the least of his worries.
“It’s more on bringing back the memories I have with Enzo ’cause I knew him,” he explained. “We want to motivate our youth to excel in sports. We don’t want to focus on his death and what’s currently happening. We want to focus on motivating the youth, and this guy competing against the best in the world.”
Derek admitted to getting emotional about his friend’s untimely death and the ongoing case that aims to shed light to the matter.
“That side of Enzo is really sad,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s really, really sad. It’s really, really messed up. I hope one day that case will be resolved, and maybe we can do another movie on that side of it.”
Also in the works for Derek are two high profile movie projects that will really excite his fans and the general movie-going public.
The first is under Star Cinema that will reunite him with a top leading lady with whom he has worked with in two box-office hits and in a top-rating teleserye. This project will be helmed by his director in a blockbuster that catapulted him to the A-list league.
The second project will also serve as a reunion for him, another top leading lady, and their director in a surprise hit of a movie.