Matinee idol Richard Gutierrez is now the proud owner of a Budji Layug-designed condominium unit in the heart of Taguig's The Fort, currently the center of anything hot, new, and expensive in Metro Manila.
For someone who only decided three years ago that he wanted acting for a full-time job, Richard has certainly seen a lot of good things coming his way.
"Hindi ko naman project lahat ‘to," he says humbly. "Hindi ko plinano na ganito. I'm just blessed, and I'm very thankful for all these."
He says he thought of buying his own condo unit only in late 2004, when everything he touched—TV and movie projects and endorsements—seemed to turn into gold. After scouting around, accompanied by twin brother Raymond, Tinseltown's most eligible bachelor settled for this condominium unit in One McKinley Place, a 44-story high-rise.
Richard then asked his mom to seek the services of interior decorator and furniture designer Budji Layug. Mom Annabelle Rama remembers telling her son that Budji's services didn't come cheap. But Richard was insistent: "Condo lang naman, Mommy. Malay mo, baka mura lang. Tutal, gawa na ito."
"Ang sa isip ni Richard, aayusan lang," Anabelle recalls. " So, tawag ako ke Budji. Nag quote sya ng price—mura! Sinabi ko ke Richard. Nagulat din. Pero noong nilinaw namin kung ano'ng kasama doon sa sinabi nyang presyo, ‘yon daw, plano. ‘Yong drawing-drawing? Sabi ko, ‘Ha? Drawing lang?' Sila naman, very relaxed na para bang sanay sa ibang customer na pag sinabing ganito, oo na. Ako talaga, reklamo ako ng reklamo."
When Budji eventually saw the unit, the first thing he suggested was for the walls and ceiling to be torn down. At one point, Annabelle told her son: "Puwede pa tayo umatras." "Ma, napasubo na tayo," Richard replied. "Tuloy na natin." "O, tuloy natin," she finally conceded. "Higpitan mo na lang ‘yang belt mo."
Three years' worth of Richard's savings from earnings as a movie and TV actor, as well as from his endorsement deals, thus went into the present look of his condo. These savings were possible, of course, because Richard's family does not depend on him; his money is his.
And when his mother finally saw the finished product, she was overjoyed: "Naku, talaga palang worth it. Worth din ang pinaghintay namin. Lahat kami sa pamilya, gusto namin ito. Haping-hapi kami."
It took Budji and his team a year and a half to execute Richard's specifications. Just about the same length of time that YES! waited for this exclusive shoot to happen (finally, it was published in March 2006 issue of YES!). Like Annabelle, we say: "It was worth the wait."