At 18, Rhian Ramos is quite resolute when it comes to her priorities in life. There may be detractors. Guys may get in the way. But her career is her real focus right now.
In a quick chat with PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) during the birthday party of talent manager/producer/endorser/actress Annabelle Rama, Rhian said: "The things that I've being dreaming of, they're happening now, I can't focus on anything else. I'm that thankful."
The Kapuso star is talking about the positive response of viewers to La Lola, her biggest project to date. Rhian relates, "It's such a big deal kasi for me, to know na people appreciate the show and they watch it and they enjoy it. Like, people come up to me and say, 'I laugh so hard when I watch that show!' And I'm just so grateful."
Unlike other television series, La Lola did not conduct auditions. It was as if the project was meant for her. "There was no audition," Rhian tells PEP. "Tinawagan na lang ako isang araw na...I don't know, hindi ko alam kung saan nanggaling. Pero siyempre, kokontra pa ba ako? Magrereklamo pa ba ako? Hindi ko na tinanong! Nagpasalamat na lang ako."
While narrating how GMA-7 management broke the good news to her, Rhian still could not hide her surprise. "Tinawagan na ako one day," she began. "Di ba sa GMA, bago lumabas ang shows, pinapakita...2008, eto yung blahblah...Di ba may plug ng lahat ng shows na naka-line up? Wala pang concept yung La Lola. I mean, wala pang script, ginawa na yung plug. Tinawagan ako nung day na yun para sabihin, 'Okay, tomorrow, can you bring this for the plug?' 'Plug? Anong plug yan? La Lola? Ano'ng La Lola?' I didn't even know then.
"So finally, when I did the plug, a very short explanation was given to me, 'Eto, lalaki siya, babaero, naging babae, ganyan...' Yung ganun lang. So I was like, 'So, wait! Ibig mong sabihin, ako si La Lola?!' So parang hindi pa nagsi-sink in, wala akong alam! But siyempre, hindi ko pa maiisip na magka-title role din ako kasi before that."
The girl who got noticed by GMA Films president Annette Gozon-Abrogar in a fast-food chain commercial made her television debut via Captain Barbell. In less than two years, she has so far portrayed major roles in four TV series, including a hosting stint in Pinoy Idol Extra.
Her high-speed rise to stardom earned her a legion of fans—but also many detractors. This year, Rhian got bombarded with hate-emails, some of which were circulated to the press. Rhian says in a more serious tone, "Until now...today alone, I got four to five texts. But it doesn't bother me any more kasi, parang, I mean, everyone says life is unfair. Parang ganun na lang din, di ba?
"Para sa akin, parang [things are] becoming fair. It's becoming fair so I'm thankful...I don't let it bother me and I'm okay lang because I have so many positive things to think about. It doesn't bother me na."
ON LA LOLA. "Overwhelming" is the wordto describe her reaction to the public's positive response to her first title role. "Parang I felt vindicated from all the hardship na napagdaanan ako before that," says Rhian.
She talks about how she felt before La Lola aired its pilot episode: "Kasi sa dami ng intriga na nakukuha ko araw-araw, well, hindi siya normal levels, e. At saka siyempre, nandun din yung pressure na you want the show to do well kasi importante siya sa iyo. So, wala...Parang takot lang ako at that time. Scary times siya para sa akin.
'Tapos nung nagsimula ako ng taping, na-ease yung stress kasi, first, palaging masaya yung set namin. At saka pangalawa, habang ginagawa na namin yung eksena, nakikita ko na parang maganda yung story na ito at saka natural sa bawat artista yung character nila.
"Tapos very funny pa yung story. Actually, when I'm reading, relaxing siya para sa akin, and I'm excited to receive my next one [script]. So ang galing lang. Sobrang overwhelming, saka na-relax ako nang solid."
How did she prepare for the role of Lola, the female counterpart of Lalo, played by Wendell Ramos? Rhian, demonstrating what she is saying, goes: "Ginagawa ko, pag nakikita ko siya sa GMA, kunin ko na phone ko, vini-video ko! Vini-video ko yung lakad niya, tapos kakausapin ko siya. 'Wendell! Wendell! Kunwari chicks ako, kausapin mo naman ako na ganito...' O kaya, 'O ngayon, kunwari barkada naman ako... Bro! kamusta na?' Tapos sasagot siya, 'Ok naman bro!'"
And she has a promise for avid viewers: she'll do better in the succeeding episodes. "As Lola, like, my friends text me things, na parang they can't believe the things I've done for the role. I've done so many shocking things for this role that I have never done in my life, like run naked in the corridor, yun... I will do whatever the show requires for me to do. It's just so important to me. It's just a big part of my life, and I've fallen in love with it, na parang I feel for my character."
She is crazy about Lola. "Basahin ko pa lang yung script. May umapi, may nang-asar man lang kay Lola, naiinis na ako. 'Hoy! wag mo nga yan gagawin kay Lola!' Parang yun yung feeling ko... Minahal ko na siya, e. So I'll do anything for it. I mean, they can expect the biggest amount of effort na, so far, I've never done before. And they can expect more of that...tuluy-tuloy lang ito."
ON LEADING MAN. When asked to describe JC De Vera and rate him as a leading man in a scale of one to ten, Rhian is quick to say, "Above and beyond my expectations, he's a 9! Kaya 9 dahil no one's perfect. Ayoko naman siyang i-ten. Hindi...Naku, yayabang iyan. He's a 9. Don't tell him."
The nice and talkative Rhian continues, "Maybe ask JC what he thinks? Hindi, nang-aasar lang kami... Kasi he's very steady e. Parang aakalain mo, hindi siya artista. Kapag kumikilos, kapag kinakausap mo, simpleng-simple lang siya. Taong-tao. Alam mo iyon?"
The young actress admits that the first times they were together were awkward moments. It did not help that JC, according to her, is a quiet guy. Rhian was actually the first to approach him.
"Siyempre, at first, because he's really quiet. I was surprised kasi about how quiet he was, kasi I've worked with him before, nag-uusap naman kami dati...konti. But I've never realized how quiet he was on set."
Eventually, her leading man began opening up. She recalls their first conversation, "I was like, 'You okay?' He's like, 'Ay hindi, ganito lang talaga ako, sorry.' And then, he was very cool. Kapag kinausap mo, mahaba-habang kwentuhan."
At this point, how would she describe the level of her closeness with JC. Is the tandem still reel or on the way to being real?
"Well, kasi for me, it takes quite a while to be...intimate is the wrong word... Parang, to share that closeness with someone, it takes a while for me to get to that level. But for now, we're really just taking it easy.
"We didn't really talk about, 'Oy, walang mangyayari, ha,' and 'Hoy, we have to be sweet.' Nothing like that. We're just taking it easy and going natural. I think I like it better that way, na some things remain unsaid and we just go with our instincts."
And to dispel the rumors linking her to different guys, she says flatly: "Yes, I am unattached. I have been all my life. Ang dami ko nang naka-link. Aminado ako dun. Pero ano, so far, I have been unattached."