Balancing Act

IT’s ALL about staying power. Mention Ricky Davao, and one can’t help but wonder how in his career spanning almost three decades he has uniquely transformed himself from engineer, to actor, to TV director. It’s not about good fortune, he tells you, but hard work.

Safe to say, the actor-director is patience personified. His success is forging ahead in character-driven roles, quick-burn TV projects—indeed there are no small parts, only small players.

Portraying a rich and kind Cebuano businessman who is longing for the love of a child in the upcoming “Inday Will Always Love You,” a drama romance comedy series from GMA Network next month, Ricky shares his focus, discipline, stamina, and that sure-fire formula that pedaled him to where he is now—self-rediscovery.

How have you evolved? Compare the Ricky Davao then and now?

Let me see, 30 years ago and that was 30 pounds ago pero ngayon I am trying to lose weight. Slowly na-achieve ko na ngayon dahil nagke-keto ako which I have been doing for five months na, and I lost 20 pounds. I am trying to lose 10 more pa and so far okey naman as well as with my blood test. And mostly on my free time I watch a lot of theater.

You’re one of the most sought-after character actors. Do you have a lean season?

Thank God that I have been blessed because either with a big company or small companies if I am not directing I am acting. I am as well doing projects for a school production.

What to you is a good film?

For me a good film is something that will make me think. A film that will make me look at myself and my surroundings. But at the same time I want to smile, I want to laugh. A film that will make me cry and angry is also a good film and there’s no such thing as a perfect film.

With the many projects that you did, would you have that one significant favorite?

Wow, that’s something. I have a few favorites like “Ang Lalaki Sa Buhay Ni Selya” which was recently restored by ABS-CBN. Sana they can also show it here locally sa Cebu because nauuso na siya ngayon (restored films). I just saw the restored version of “May Minamahal” of Aga
Muhlach and Aiko Melendez and nakakatuwa dahil kinilig pa rin ako, for a film that was made 25 years ago.

So you’re not a cinema snob?

I watch almost everything. I am a film lover and again with all the good movies that’s recently been shown like “A Shape of Water” and “The Post,” with all the schedule mahirap because we wake up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. shooting for “Inday Will Always Love You.” And usually we would finish at 1 a.m. or minsan uumagahin.

It is hard work and minsan pa nga kaming mga artista gusto namin maikot ‘yung buong Bantayan Island pero mahirap dahil walang time. Ang maganda lang dito ngayon is we get to travel and we get to interact with a lot of people here.

Aside from acting and directing what are you into? Books? Sports?

Actually hindi ako mahilig magbasa pero when I started directing, importante pala ang reading kasi it lets your mind work more thoroughly. When you read the stories hindi mo siya makikita kasi it’s all in the mind, that’s the time when you get to visualize and imagine and ‘yun ang magandang natutunan ko that brought me back to reading. I love reading the news, though with the news kahit naglalakad ka it’s aired over the radio and everything is up online. Dati meron akong apat na diyaryo sa bahay everyday, ngayon hindi na. Every weekend na lang kasi most of the headlines ay nakikita ko na sa internet.

Any upcoming movies that we should look forward to?

I’m finishing this project with the tentative title, “Sunday Night Fever” with Diether Ocampo and Natalie Hart. It is medyo a sexy-love triangle romance and I play the rich boyfriend of Natalie Hart who in the middle of the film is na-inlove kay Diether Ocampo. It is good and may twist ang story by the end of the film. I am also doing “Kasal” with Bea Alonzo, Derek Ramsey and Paulo Avelino. Some scenes were shot here in Cebu.

As a director, how do you deal with difficult stars?

It’s case to case (basis) kasi kung sino siya. My approach is to be like a father, parang tatay lang although when I was young I did easily get mad. Being a director you are a lot of things and that includes being the captain of the ship. You consider a lot of things, halimbawa ang one day na shoot ng isang soap would cost to about three million, isipin mo hawak mo iyang three million. When I am directing there are about a hundred to 150 people behind me—actors and drivers, lighting people, catering, lahat. And kailangang matapos mo ito, and these are all paid, pati equipment. It can be stressful. Imagine mo when you do a scene at biglang uulan, minsan naiiyak ‘yung producer namin so anong gagawin namin? Minsan magdasal or minsan illipat na lang namin dito so ‘yung creativity ng Pilipino–dun ako bilib eh!

So, may pinagsabihan ka talaga?

Oo. I do get angry pero now that tigulang na ta, kailangang relax. Health is wealth. Stress makes you sick.

Any dream project?

Ang dami (laughter). Marami pa akong hindi pa nagagawa as an actor and ang dream ko sana is for Filipino actors to be part of an international film. I mean with the internet and social media the world has become so small. And as a community and we have interaction with Filipinos in different parts of the globe, we can make stories about Filipinos abroad and sana we can act with top international actors.

Among the young crop of artists, who do you see is most promising?

Si Barbie Forteza nakatrabaho ko na sa film. We did “Mariquina” for Cinemalaya three or four years ago. Now that nakatrabaho ko na naman siya, Barbie is hardworking and very intuitive. Ang galing niya. Lahat na ‘eh. I think okey siya. Because ganun kasi ako, of course it’s nice to work
with good actors, pero good actors with bad habits? I’d rather work with learning actors pero willing to learn and mabait pa.

What’s the secret to your staying power?

I don’t know pero I do look up to Eddie Garcia. Idol ko siya and he is like 88 or 89 years old now and he is still working. He is still very active like he works almost every day. The first time I saw him in person nagshu-shooting kami and I was just parang among the talents. I was sitting in one corner
waiting for instructions and biglang dumating siya. The director called him: “Direk Eddie, dito po tayo!” and gave instructions and I was surprised because here comes an actor who I know was also directing pero he was willing to take in all the instructions. I was amazed. And here I am doing the same thing and it is really an honor na years ago, he appeared in “Maalaala Mo Kaya,” he especially requested me to direct an episode about a teacher and a student. The roles were portrayed by him and the late Rico Yan.

From a director’s point of view, what’s your take on soap operas that get several extensions on the basis that they are rating well?

It has its pros and cons na nakaka walang-gana and there’s also a sector na gusto nilang makita ‘yung idol nila every night. So, kanino ka kakampi or makikinig? It’s very hard because if mayroon na kasing buong storya, with a beginning, middle and end, and then naging big hit, the stake has always been with the producers because it’s always up to them to give what the audience wants. Minsan pag ito’y nag extend and nag-extend, up to a certain point nawawala na ‘yung integrity ng material. Sometimes as sa director wala kang choice because let’s face it, it’s the reality of our job. As director I would still do it, it has happened to me na dati and because it’s still a job, when you’re handed down the material it’s up to me on how will I set the stage or the scenes.

What was the last film that wowed you?

“The Shape of Water” and sa local, ‘yung “Kita Kita.” My current favorite directors are Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu.

TAGS: Artist, companies, Davao, life, love, play, theater
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