When she came of age, Ritz Azul got the best advice about love and marriage from both her parents.
She was told not to have a boyfriend until she was ready for a lifetime commitment.
Ritz took their advice to heart a bit much. Somehow it had gotten into her head that marriage would only bring her heartaches.
She vowed never to get married, despite the example of her own parents who have been happily married for 27 years.
Ritz told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) in this exclusive interview:
"Ipinangako ko kasi sa sarili ko na hindi ako mag-aasawa. Hahaha! Hindi talaga at all."
"Gano'n ako ka-weird. Nung before ako mag-18, may mga nanliligaw sa akin, pero binabasted ko.
"Sabi ko, after ko mag-18, magbo-boyfriend ako.
"Pero nung nag-18 na ako, nag-start na ako mag-work, naisip ko, 'Ay, parang hindi ko kaya mag-boyfriend.'"
And, true, in all her years in showbiz, Ritz's name has never been dragged into any rumored romances.
Instead, apart from becoming known as an accomplished actress, Ritz has been labeled NBSB (no boyfriend since birth).
She explained to PEP.ph, recalling the advice of her parents, "Kinakausap ako ng parents ko, 'Mahirap mag-asawa, maraming problema, maraming pakikisama. May mga hindi kayo pagkakasunduan ng asawa mo.'
"Tapos yung mga nakikita ko sa tita ko, sa social media...
"Parang medyo negative side yung nakita ko nung time na yun sa pag-aasawa, hindi ko nakikita yung positive.
"Sabi ko, 'Hindi na ako mag-aasawa. Kesa problemahin ko yung ganun, magiging masaya na lang ako na single."
But then, Ritz has found the one whom she is ready to spend a lifetime with—her first boyfriend ever.
Her parents have been right all along, especially her dad.
WHEN RITZ MET HER FUTURE
Ritz met Allan Guy that momentous night of October 10, 2016.
She was having dinner with some friends, including her The Promise Of Forever leading man Paulo Avelino, when Allan turned up to join their group.
Allan, an entrepreneur whose family hails from Batangas, seemed "suplado" during that first meeting.
But he soon followed her on Instagram and sent Ritz a direct message to ask if she got home safe from their group's night out that ended at around 2 a.m.
Ritz, 22 at the time and firm in her resolve not to have a boyfriend, thought nothing of Allan's solicitousness other than just a friendly gesture.
Even when Allan was calling her every day and they were getting to know each other more during their long conversations over the phone, Ritz hadn't realized he was pursuing her.
She said: "Siya rin nagpapakilala sa sarili niya. Nagiging honest siya sa buhay niya. Medyo lumalalim yung kuwentuhan namin.
"Napagkakatiwalaan ko na siya sa mga bagay tungkol sa family ko. Tapos may nangyari rin sa akin na siya lang nakuwentuhan ko.
"Dun kami nag-umpisa na lumalim yung friendship naming dalawa."
But, kudos to Allan, Ritz saw he was different from the other guys who tried to get close to her.
For one, she learned they share similar family values.
She continued, "Hindi ko pa nakikita nung time na yun yung lalaking gustung-gusto ko, e. Yung rerespetuhin ako, hindi ako iwawalay sa parents ko.
"Kasi usually, may mga kumakausap na lalaki sa akin, parang gusto ako ilayo sa parents ko.
"E, ayoko ng ganun, ilalayo ako sa pamilya ko, kasi sobrang family-oriented ako."
More credit to Allan: a patient man, he didn't rush Ritz but waited until she was ready to get into a serious relationship.
ALLAN'S FULL DISCLOSURE
It finally dawned on Ritz that Allan was courting when their friends started teasing her.
She told PEP.ph, "Niloloko na kasi ako ng friends namin. 'Sinagot mo na ba si Allan? Kasi sabi, nanliligaw daw.'
"Sabi ko, 'Ha? Nanliligaw pala yun. Wala akong idea.'
"Akala ko sobrang bait lang niya sa akin. Akala ko ganung klaseng tao lang siya na mabait."
Ritz recalled her conversation with Allan when she confronted him, "Tinanong ko siya, 'Nanliligaw ka na raw ba sa akin?'
"Tumawa lang siya. 'Hindi mo ba alam?' Sabi ko, 'Sorry, wala akong idea sa ganito.'
"Simula nun, lalo na siyang naging open sa feelings niya na mahal niya ako."
Ritz, still hanging on to her vow to stay single forever, felt conflicted.
She said, "Nagi-guilty ako. Naiisip ko, 'Ano ba itong taong ito? Ang bait-bait.
"Nagpapakita siya ng ganito, samantalang ayoko mag-asawa. Sayang naman yung panahon niya sa akin.'
"Sobrang naiiyak nga ako sa sarili ko nung time na yun kasi nakakaawa siya.
"Kung ako yung ipu-push niya, hindi ko naman iniisip na magkaroon ng partner, baka masayang yung oras niya sa akin."
RITZ DECIDES HE'S THE ONE
As much as Ritz appreciated Allan's friendship, and despite the fact she trusted him wholly, she turned down his declaration of love.
But his reaction took her by surprise and got her into thinking, could Allan be the one?
She decided to tell him when they were actually enjoying their first getaway together in Tagaytay.
Ritz related, "Nakikita ko, ang saya-saya niya. Nagtwi-twinkle yung mata niya.
"Sabi ko, 'Allan, mabait ka. Tingin ko, maghanap ka na lang siguro ng iba mong mamahalin. Kasi masasayang panahon mo sa akin.'
"Alam din niya na hindi ko balak mag-asawa. Ganun din siya, sabi niya dati, e.
"Tapos sabi ko, 'Hindi magwo-work ito.Tapos, siyempre, strict din parents ko.'"
His response to Ritz's rejection was totally unexpected and even comical to Ritz.
She recalled, "Sabi niya, 'Hindi naman ako nagtatanong, ha.'
"Hindi raw siya nagtatanong kung puwede kami maging boyfriend-girlfriend.
"Oo nga naman! Asyumera ako! Hahaha!
"Sabi niya, 'Hindi naman ako nagmamadali. Maghihintay ako. Gagawin ko ang lahat. Pero hindi ko pinapangako na kakayanin ko.'"
Allan proved to be persistent. He knew what he wanted and he was ready to do whatever it took to convince Ritz to say "yes" to him.
She said, "Medyo napaisip ako. 'Totoo kaya 'to?' Kasi ganun din napapanood ko sa TV.
"Pero tiningnan ko pa yung panahon, mga taon pa lumipas, hindi siya nagbago.
"Hindi siya tumingin sa ibang babae. Ginawa niya yung sinabi niya, yung promise niya sa akin.
"Doon ako napaisip, 'Wow, totoo pala ito. Too good to be true naman itong lalaking ito.'"
Ritz went on to say that Allan made an effort to make her feel special with his simple acts of thoughtfulness.
He'd often visit her on the set of her tapings just to give her a cup of coffee and her favorite snacks.
One time, he even went out of his way to pick her up in Bulacan after her taping for Ipaglaban Mo, a weekly legal drama anthology in ABS-CBN.
Ritz recalled, "Kausap niya yung PA ko, updated siya, wala akong alam.
"Nagulat ako, nung pack-up na kami, nandiyan na siya.
"Sobrang na-touch ako kasi may dadaanan ka pang ilog, e. Dinaan niya yung sasakyan niya doon.
"At pinag-drive niya ako pauwi to Quezon City. Ginamit niya yung sasakyan ko, tapos ako yung naging pasahero."
Allan had his driver take his car home.
Ritz added, "Kasi ako lagi nagda-drive ng sarili kong sasakyan sa taping.
"Sobra akong na-touch kasi naisip pa niya na baka mapagod ako.
"Tapos anong oras na, 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. na nun."
Over time, Ritz started to fall for Allan.
ALLAN WINS OVER RITZ'S FAMILY
If there's a sure way to Ritz's heart, it is through her parents.
What ultimately led Ritz to break her vow to stay single forever was seeing how easily Allan has won over her parents.
She was, in fact, amazed by his rapport with her father, who disapproved of Allan initially because of a "call divert" incident.
As it developed, Ritz's unanswered phone calls were automatically diverted to her father's phone to dissuade other persistent suitors from calling her up.
She explained, "May isang beses, nung nag-taping ako ng MMK with Ejay Falcon, pagka-pack up ko, nagtawagan pa kami ni Allan.
"Umabot na kami ng 7 a.m. sa phone call, ang haba-haba. E, antok na antok na ako, pagod na pagod.
"Hindi ko nasagot next call niya. Na-divert sa papa ko, na hindi pa sila magkakilala.
"Paggising ko, galit na galit yung papa ko. Sabi niya, 'May tumatawag sa akin, pero ayaw sumagot!'
"Tapos nung mga ilang weeks, sabi niya, 'A, alam ko na kung sino tumatawag sa akin. Yung friend mo yun. Huwag mo na i-friend yun!' Huwag ko na raw kitain.
"Nabastusan si Papa. Sobrang hate niya si Allan nung una."
What her father didn't know was that Allan thought it was a technical glitch, and he would simply hang up when a man answered not knowing that it was Ritz's father.
The situation was resolved when Ritz formally introduced Allan to her parents at their home in Pampanga.
She recounted, "Yun yung sinurprise ko sa birthday niya. 'O, tara punta tayo sa bahay.' Nagulat si Allan.
"Um-oo din naman yung parents ko. Nag-lunch na kami.
"Pagkakita nilang dalawa nung first time, sobrang naka-smile na si Papa.
"Tapos dyino-joke na lang niya yung call divert.
"I think nung nag-start na siyang maging close sa family ko, nakakita na ako ng future sa kanya.
"Nirerespeto niya kami ng pamilya ko, kung anong ugali ng parents ko.
"Kasi sobrang once na nakuha mo kiliti ng pamilya ko, ay, naku, hindi na kita pakakawalan!"
Describing Allan's dynamics with her family, she said, "Sobra siyang galing makasama.
"Pati kamag-anak ko, ako na pinu-push na, 'Pakasalan mo na 'yan.' Sobrang mahal nila si Allan."
NO BOYFRIEND-GIRLFRIEND LABEL
Allan's efforts paid off as he and Ritz eventually came to a mutual understanding.
Ritz said, "Naging close siya sa parents ko, naging close ako sa family niya.
"Nung nakikita naming ganun, parang nagkarooon na kami ng understanding na magkaibigan kami, sobrang best of friends, pero wala kaming kinikitang iba."
They were exclusively dating, but were not in an official boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.
Ritz elaborated, "Walang ganung label na boyfriend-girlfriend.
"Siguro yun ang tingin ng lahat sa amin, 'A, magdyowa 'yan.'
"Pero sa aming dalawa, basta nagkakaintindihan kami—na alam kong wala siyang kinikitang iba, alam kong wala akong kinikita na iba."
She added, "Yung tatay ko, ayaw din niya ng word na boyfriend.
"Kasi pag sinabi mong boyfriend, para sa kanya, parang may chance pa magpalit, may chance pang mag-break, tapos maghahanap ng ibang boyfriend.
"Siyempre, yun na rin ang kinalakihan ko, yun na rin ang nasa isip ko."
Ritz and Allan didn't even celebrate an anniversary when they started having mutual feelings for each other.
What mattered between them was their intention to "be honest and be open" to each other.
Ritz said: "Umaabot na sa point na nag-uusap kami tungkol sa future namin.
"With family na rin, minsan nag-uusap tungkol sa kung mag-aasawa na, na hindi pa kami engaged pa.
"Nagpapagawa na rin ng bahay, nagpaplano na rin ng business."
It was in September 2018 when Ritz first admitted to PEP.ph and other reporters that she's dating a non-showbiz guy.
After two months, in November 2019, she posted on Instagram a photo showing her and Allan having a coffee date.
During Cristmas break that year, she showed some of her vacation photos with Allan when she joined his family's trip to New Zealand.
By this time, it was pretty much known to Ritz's avid followers that she's been in a relationship with Allan, even when she had yet to confirm it.
Allan, as expected, fully understanding the demands of showbiz, has always been supportive of Ritz's career.
On one occasion, she promised to bring him as her date to the premiere night of the movie KontrAdiksyon on June 24, 2019.
It was initially approved by the promo team, since her leading man Jake Cuenca would also bring beauty queen-actress Kylie Verzosa as his date.
But there was some last-minute request from the promo team for Ritz to walk the red carpet with Joseph Marco, her love team in the ABS-CBN afternoon series Los Bastardos.
"Ang napaalam ko, si Allan, siya ang date ko.
"Tapos, sabi, puwede bang yung ka-partner ko daw? Siya na nagsabi, 'O, sige, bigay mo yung seat ko.'
"So ang katabi ko, si Joseph.
"Pumuwesto na lang siya nun sa taas kasama ng ibang friends ko na sumuporta rin. Ganun siya ka-supportive."
THE SUPPOSED PROPOSAL IN SWITZERLAND
It was only a matter of time before the couple sealed the deal that would make their relationship official.
Ritz had no idea that Allan was about to propose to her when they booked their supposed trip to Switzerland last April.
The Kapamilya actress even cleared her work schedule when she learned that her date of departure coincided with the Parade of Stars for the first Summer Metro Manila Film Festival.
Her film The Missing opposite Joseph Marco was one of the chosen 8 entries.
"Naka-book na lahat pati hotel, kumpleto na lahat, lilipad na lang kami.
"May conflict din sa movie ko na The Missing kasi sumabay siya sa Summer MMFF parade.
"Same ng day ng parade, same ng day ng trip namin sa Switzerland.
"Nagkaroon pa kami ng usapan with Regal and Star Magic.
"Tapos nung naging okay na kami sa schedule na yun, nagkaroon naman ng COVID.
"So, tingin namin, hindi talaga para doon yung proposal."
Both her trip and the first Summer MMFF got cancelled.
Then sometime in May, Ritz's father could no longer hold back: he let her in on Allan's surprise proposal.
Ritz recalled, "May pinag-uusapan kaming dalawa. Baka sobrang bigat ng loob niya sa kakadala dun sa pressure, at hindi rin naman natuloy yung proposal sa Switzerland.
"Sabi niya, 'Alam mo ba dapat magpo-propose na sa 'yo si Allan sa Switzerland?'"
"Naiyak ako. Feeling ko, nag-propose na si Allan sa akin.
"Pero naging maganda lahat ng nangyari nung sinabi ni Papa yun kasi mas naging bonded lalo kaming family.
"Mas lalo namin napag-usapan na malalim na side ng future."
SURPRISE PROPOSAL IN BATANGAS
Allan's second attempt happened on Saturday, June 20, 2020.
The 30-year-old entrepreneur fetched Ritz from Pampanga and brought her to his family's farm in Batangas for a get-together with his family and close friends.
Did she have an inkling he would propose to her?
The 26-year-old Kapamilya actress answered, "May ganun ako naiisip. Sabi ko, 'Bakit i-invite niya lang ako sa farm tapos may konting friends?
"Ang sabi lang niya, in-invite niya ako sa farm na magpitas-pitas ng prutas at gulay.
"Sanay naman ako na nagpapaluto siya pag nasa farm nila kami. Pero iba yung pinaluto ngayon, parang medyo ibang level.
"Tapos, sakto Father's Day pa kinabukasan, so baka yun.
"Pero nagkakaroon ako ng kaba sa puso ko. Wina-wash off ko yun.
The moment came when Allan asked her to step out in the balcony overlooking the mountains in Batangas.
Ritz looked back, "Sobrang ganda, kita yung bundok, sobrang scenic nung place.
"Pero nung time na magpo-propose siya, umuulan. Mabigat yung ulan.
"Pero nung lumabas kami sa balcony, nag-clear up yung sky. Nakita na namin yung bundok."
Even though she felt in her heart that he would be proposing to her that day, nothing prepared her for the overwhelming emotions that filled her when he finally asked her to marry him.
In one instance, Allan was showing her some of his funny videos from his phone.
In the next moment, he was going down on his knees and showing Ritz an engagement ring.
She told PEP.ph: "Siyempre nagulat ako. Basa yung floor. Sabi ko, 'Tumayo ka nga diyan!' Hahaha!
"Tapos nanginig talaga ako. Hindi na kaya lumabas ng 'yes' sa labi ko. Parang utak at puso ko na lang sumagot na, 'Oo! Ano ka ba?! Papakasalan kita!'"
"Yun yung nasa loob ko. Hindi ko na siya nailabas sa bibig ko.
"Hanggang sa nayakap ko na lang siya. Ang dami ko gustong sabihin sa kanya maliban sa 'yes,' na hindi ko na nasabi. Kaya ko siya nayakap na lang.
"Sobrang magical lang ng moment."
What astounded Ritz even more was that the heavy rains stopped during Allan's actual proposal.
"After ng konting pictures, umulan na ulit pagpasok namin. Sakto lahat."
This also marked the day when she finally said "I love you" to Allan via Instagram.
Ritz's caption on her Instagram announcement of her engagement: "This Guy’s in love with me, pare. I love you too, Allan Guy."
Whereas her relationship with Allan started with no label, when Ritz would simply refer to him as her constant "travel buddy" in her previous posts, she now officially calls him "my fiancé."
HONORING HER PARENTS
Ritz immediately called her parents to share the big news.
She told PEP.ph: "Agad-agad ako nag-video call, 'Papa, Nanay, nag-propose na si Allan.'
"Umiiyak pa ako. Pinakita ko yung singsing.
"Sabi lang ng Papa ko, 'Oo, alam ko na 'yan, e.' Ganun lang.
"Pero makikita mo, masaya sila for me."
The Kapamilya actress went on to say she's grateful that Allan told her parents first before proposing to her.
Ritz said, "Yun na yung inuna niya, yung parents ko, before me.
"Kasi alam niya siguro, sa akin, bago ako magdesisyon, kukunin ko muna yung opinyon ng parents ko, kaya siya dun nauna."
Had the proposal happened in Switzerland, Ritz said that she would have called her parents first before saying 'yes' to Allan.
"Buti na lang din na-spill yung secret nung May, at napag-usapan namin nang maigi ng parents ko.
"Siguro dahil probinsyana kami, tapos yung parents ko rin medyo may katandaan na, so medyo traditional."
As for Allan's parents, they were equally excited for the couple's journey to forever.
Ritz said, "Nakuwento sa akin ng papa ni Allan, 'Pinaplano niya 'yan noong 2018 pa.'
"Bago pa nagkaroon ng mga pangyayari ulit. Ang daming beses na attempt mag-propose."
The newly engaged couple plans to marry next year.
"Basta hindi masyado mainit na month, kasi balak namin sa beach yung wedding, kung kakayanin," she revealed.
As Ritz begins a new season in her life, one thing that resonates with her is the importance of honoring her parents.
"Ang inspirasyon ko talaga since mag-start ako ng pag-aaral at showbiz, yun ang tumatak sa isip at sa puso ko na tinuro sa akin ng parents ko—lagi lang makikinig sa parents.'"
"Kasi kahit anong mangyari sa 'yo, kung nakinig ka sa kanila, laging maganda mangyayari sa buhay mo, walang masamang mangyayari sa 'yo.
"Yun yung nangyari sa buhay ko kasi. Sila lang din nag-advice sa akin tungkol sa mga relasyon.
"In fairness naman din, maganda naman nangyari sa relasyon ko ngayon."
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