Marilou Yap Gumabao, better known as actress Isabel Rivas, got into showbiz through sheer guts.
"Nauna sa aking mag-artista si Dennis," says Isabel, referring to her elder brother, actor and former Quezon City 3rd District congressman, Dennis Roldan.
"Tapos, naging friend ko si [director] Joey Gosengfiao kasi neighbor namin siya sa Quezon City. So, noong kinuha nilang artista si Dennis, nag-apply din ako. I think I was just 18 [years old] at that time. Pero gusto ko nang mag-trabaho."
She goes on: "One afternoon, pumunta ako sa bahay ni Joey, naka-bisikleta lang ako at naka-shorts. Sabi ko, ‘Pwede ho ba akong maging artista?' He replied, ‘O, sige, titingnan ko, ii-screen test kita.' 'Yong screen test, pelikula na pala! 'Yong Kambal sa Uma ni Rio Locsin at Al Tantay. Tandaan n'yo?"
Showbiz wasn't easy.
"Na-traumatize kasi ako sa role ko," she recalls. "Ang eksena ko, si Rio Locsin nagiging daga, nagseselos sa akin, so kinakagat-kagat niya ako sa bathtub. Isang buong gabi akong nakababad sa bathtub. Nahuhulog-hulog 'yong daga—literal. Kaya sabi ko, ang hirap palang maging artista."
But that didn't stop her. In time, this girl from Iba, Zambales, would become one of the country's most formidable kontrabidas.
She admits that while she was absorbed with showbiz, she forgot the place she grew up in.
"Kasi s'yempre, nag-base kami sa Manila. "Noon, pag bumabalik kami dito [in Zambales], it was only for the beach. S'yempre, uso beach, 'di ba? Sun-bathing nang sun-bathing. After a while, I got so bored. Kasi, after maligo, mag-sunbathe, 'no na? How much sun can you take in? Sunog ka na, wala na."
It was her brother Dennis who came up with the bright idea of investing in a farm.
"Sabi niya, ‘Lika, mag-mangga tayo.' So, ayon. 'Yong isang kapatid pa namin sumosyo. Bumili kami 30 hectares-hati-hati kami-tigte-ten. Then, kanya-kanya na kami ng develop. And you know what? I found my love! "Nahanap ko 'yong pinagdadasal ko sa Diyos all these years—'yong pang-retirement ko. S'yempre kahit ka taga-showbiz, magre-retire ka din. Eto, binigay niya sa akin ito, and it's beautiful!"
Well, God also gave her industry and dedication.
These days, after eight years of cleaning, bulldozing, fencing, planting, and building on the farm, the lady farmer—"I'm farming with glamour!"—is finally taking things slow.
Or is she?