Julio Diaz enthuses about renewed career and changes in showbiz since his heydey

Former heartthrob Julio Diaz took leave from the limelight and came back to a changed world, but the veteran actor knows what it takes to keep up with the times. "I'm here. I'm with the changes... Walang frustration na mangyayari. Ang frustration is when hindi ako nakarating sa napuntahan ko. The thing is kailangang bumaba ka rin diyan... You go with the time. Tingnan mo, hindi ako tumanda," said the actor in jest.


There's no doubt that Julio Diaz is one of the most prolific actors in the local entertainment industry. His name will always be included in the acting department's A-list. But for some time Julio became elusive to the media spotlight. Though he was hounded by nasty rumors, Julio remained one of the most revered actors of his generation.

When we chanced upon him during the press launch of Cinemalaya Cinco, we did not let the opportunity pass to finally get to meet and interview him. And the actor was more than happy to share his thoughts with this writer.

What's keeping him busy these days?

"Starting January nakatatlo akong pelikula. One is yung Kinatay, second is yung Biyaheng Lupa, and my third one is 24K. So far, so good," answered Julio.

His last commercial film was Batanes under GMA Films and he happily told us about it. "Actually, inalok nila yung role, one shooting day lang. Sabi nila, you're going to Batanes, pero ang budget nila indie budget lang. It's an indie budget, yun ang inalok sa akin. Sabi ko, sige, kahit anong role, tatanggapin ko. Ang Batanes kasi is one place na talagang going there is a dream also na para bang nagpunta ka na ng Europe. Here in the Philippines yun ang laging gusto kong puntahan. Para bang it's a dream come true."

Prior to Batanes, Julio said that he was in the film Balahibong Pusa which was a box-office success before he exited the showbiz limelight.

CHANGES IN THE INDUSTRY. "Pagkatapos nun [Balahibong Pusa], ang nangyari sa buhay ko, nagpunta na akong Amerika and Australia. Pabalik-balik na. And then wala nang offers. Nagdatingan na yung mga new faces. Nagkaroon ng mga bagong changes sa industriya like, dati di ba, the ultimate thing in the industry is movie but nowadays it's no longer true."

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Julio continued, "Nand'yan na yung tube, which is the TV. Nabago na. Ang dominance niya [TV] is very strong. Kahit na sabihin mo nang nandiyan pa rin ang mga sinehan, it's no longer a guarantee na kikita pa rin sila. Dito na rin nagpasukan yung sinasabi nating actors made by voting. Reality TV. Dito na pumasok yung 'Who will be the next?' Samantalang in my time na para bang if God bestowed something sa isang tao, alam mo na hindi ka artista, ang garantiya na true yung sinasabi Niya, yung talagang pinapanood at pinipilahan yung pelikula mo.

"But nowadays ang elementong ginagamit ngayon, kung ikaw kunwari ang may-ari ng GMA [TV network], ng ABS-CBN, maya-maya ikaw na ang sikat ngayon. Fabricated na ngayon. Hindi katulad nung araw, everything is willed by nature. Yun ang difference ngayon on my time and the new generation."

GOING WITH THE FLOW. Was there a time that these situations disappointed or frustrated him?

"No," Julio answered. "I'm here, e. I'm with the changes. Hindi ako madi-disappoint. Walang frustration na mangyayari. Ang frustration is when hindi ako nakarating sa napuntahan ko. The thing is kailangang bumaba ka rin diyan. Pagbaba mong 'yan, iba na ang klima, iba na ang panahon. It's like you've been in a time machine, pagdating mo diyan, iba na ang lahat. Kailangang pagbaba mo, pagbalik mo, kailangang maging helpful ka with them.

"Ang laking difference 'yon in my part, 'pag sinabi kong nung panahong yun lahat sila natataranta. But nowadays hindi mo puwedeng i-accept yung gano'ng klaseng system because that system now becomes obsolete.

"You go with the time. Kailangang mangyari yun. Tingnan mo, hindi ako tumanda," the actor added in jest.

He was one of the best actors in the industry. Did it not disappoint him that now he is somewhat put at the same level with the newcomers?

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"Why will I get disappointed?" Julio asked in return. "Once upon a time, for the record... one of the best actors ba? But it's no longer true anymore. For the record, yes. But then again meron na tayong... I'm talking about the new ones na napag-aralan nila. They really study hard to get into this profession. They follow what's instructed. By the book."

DID HE TURN HIS BACK ON ACTING? "Unang-una, ever since talagang ugali ko na para bang 'pag wala akong ginagawa dito... yun bang parang akala ko yung pagtatapon ng salapi, gano'n lang kadali," revealed Julio. "Like I said, punta akong Australia, punta akong Amerika, may mga kamag-anak ako do'n. I will stay there kunwari ng mga ilang panahon, magtatrabaho ako. Para bang Lego life yung lifestyle ko, I'm fitted for this career. Natutuwa ako na bibihira lang yung nakagagawa ng ganitong pamumuhay.

"Disappointing in a way na para bang going back to the industry, pagbalik mo rito inaasahan mo pa ba you can still be the heartthrob na sinasabi? Puwede mo bang sabihing puwede ba [akong] leading man? I mean, kung yon ang pagbabasehan natin, puwede kong sabihin sa sarili ko na, 'Julio, gumising ka! Buti pa lumayas ka sa industriyang ito dahil ikaw ang hindi nararapat dito!' Going back to this industry para bang beyond your expectation dapat. Pero 'pag ikaw ay tulad pa rin nang dati, meaning, hindi ka nag-grow, hindi umusad ang panahon. So, the same na nangyayari sa akin ngayon, kailangan namnamin ko 'to."

IS HE BACK FOR GOOD? "I don't believe in tuluy-tuloy na, e. Kasi may mga moods tayo, e. Siguro I'm more an artist rather than a star. Looking back, ang disappointment ko sa panahon na yun [his era], hindi ka makuha ng mga role na ganito." Julio is referring to the roles he gets in the indie scene. "Tailor-fit for you [ang roles noon] and then you can act."

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What can he say about the local indie scene?

"Ang indie ngayon, parang yung panahon nina Lino Brocka na Insiang. It's an indie film na nangyayari ngayon. Like yung Minsan [May] Isang Gamu-gamo. Yung mga klase ng pelikulang 'yan ay bumalik uli and this time in another format but in a manner na magkapareho sila ng value. Cinemalaya and the likes, siyempre yung mga pelikula ko, Kinatay and Serbis, ngayon lang nakaka-penetrate [sa iba't ibang bansa].

"Yung panahon ni Lino Brocka and this new age again, ito yung nag-jive na panahon na tingin ko dito napakasuwerte ko. Hindi man ako nakapasok nung panahon na yon, ito yung panahon na the same atmosphere na nando'n sa Brocka. Pagbalik nun na-capture ko yun. Looking back, the prices, the budget and everything, bumalik uli," Julio enthuses.

DID HE MISS ACTING? "Oo, na-miss ko ang acting. Sabi ko nga sa sarili ko, mamamatay pala talaga akong artista. Artista pala talaga ako. Hindi pala ako mamamatay na isang laborer. Hindi pala ako mamamatay na mayamang businessman. Pero mamamatay pala ako na isang umaarte."

And as a final note, Julio philosophizes, "To be able to find yourself, who you are, kailangan kang mag-experiment ng mga bagay-bagay."

The indie movie 24K is an official entry to the Cinemalaya Philippine Film Festival 2009 which is slated from July 17 to 26.


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