As they say…once an actress, always an actress. Welcome back!
Just recently, a handful of Phil. Movie Press Club (PMPC) members had an intimate interview with the actress Isabel Rivas. It was a serendipitous encounter of sort with her who sneaked into the said coffee shop for a quick breather before heading for home. She came from a story conference of the one of the ongoing series Los Bastardos, with the Creative Program Director of said teleserye, the much sought-after TV and film director Ruel S. Bayani.
In the said tete-a-tete, Isabel disclosed the reason why she was away from home and the glitterville for exactly seven years.
“Actually, it’s a long story and it has something to do with what you call perhaps a part of a journey in life. As you might have known before I migrated to the States, I was heavy with assignments mostly for TV and on the side I was very visible in the social and business world due to my mango farm in our hometown in Zambales. Of course, I was also active, and up to now with our Christian prayer group led by Director Edgar “Bobot” Mortiz and his wife Millet,” the actress shared.
Unknown to many, Isabel then was an emerging star of no mean calibre who was introduced in Uhaw Na Dagat with Gloria Diaz (who just won the Miss Universe title for the country), with another local beauty titlist Elizabeth Oropesa. By the way, Isabel’s family name is Gumabao. She comes from the bloodline of another beauty queen, Sylvia Gumabao, who was one of the early titlists of Miss Phil. Press Photography.
In any case, the said film was directed by the dear departed “enfant terrible” of Philippine cinema Celso Ad Castillo who was pretty close in respectability to the names of Directors Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal who became National Artists for Film.
That film catapulted Isabel Rivas’ acting career. It also helped that she was then handled by one of the more popular and respected talent managers in the business named Nelson Bartolome who originated from the corporate world to put up a talent agency called Neildenbarg.
Isabel and brother Dennis Roldan were managed by Nelson. The other talents who were under the stable of Neildenbarg were Erik Espina who is now an opinion columnist in Manila Bulletin, Albert Padlan now an advocate of healthy living, Isadora Velasquez who was the female lead in “Pikoy Goes To Malaysia” directed by Celso Ad Castillo, Marilou Bendigo, beauty titlist now based in USA, Ricky Davao, and Ada Alberto who at one time shocked the whole of showbiz with her shaved head after taking an acting workshop from facilitators of acting guru Eric Morris of Hollywood. Ada is now living a happy, fulfilled married life in the States.
During that time, Neildenbarg was one of the very few talent agencies in showbiz that instituted serious acting workshops. And this writer incidentally helped in organizing and inviting film directors to lecture and demonstrate the how-tos of acting for films that included among others, Directors Celso Ad Castillo, Joel Lamangan, and Maryo delos Reyes, etc. Here, Isabel was first introduced to the craft of realistic acting, while on the side she was one of the favorite ramp models of the Designers for the Stars, the departed Goulee Gorospe.
In recent memory, Isabel’s last teleserye with ABS-CBN before she left for the States was Guns and Roses where she played mother to Bea Alonzo. It came to pass that she had to leave for the States through the prodding of a good friend of hers, Cory Quirino, beauty guru and former franchise holder of Miss World-Philippines. Cory noticed that she was looking so terribly frail and disturbed.
In the process, she confessed to Cory that she was swindled of her fortune and savings by some businessmen who posed as legitimate group of international business investors. She thought at that time Cory was an angel sent from heaven. She was down to her last centavo that Cory had to take her to the States even for a short vacation and maybe at least for a breather from all her problematic situation at the moment. And all expenses paid courtesy of Cory.
What was originally intended as a vacation to heal her trauma was extended for a few more months of stay in the US through the courtesy of Roxanne Kardouzh, a common friend of hers and Cory. Hence, Cory left her under the care of Roxanne.
Isabel recalled: “While with Roxanne in one of our socials, I was introduced to a gentleman and a widower named Richard Vella of Italian descent. In hindsight, deep in my heart I thought he was an answered prayer for me. We hit it off on our first meeting, he courted me until he proposed a wedding. At first I was hesistant to accept his proposal but he insisted, saying it was for my security.”
To make a long story short, Isabel married to a well-placed businessman based in Orange County, LA, California. Her husband of seven years is most supportive even before and now of her career in showbiz.
When Isabel received the call from Director Ruel S. Bayani for a role in Los Bastardos, husband Richard was there behind, and very eager to see through her sentimental journey back home.
“He had to accompany me to a boutique to buy some dresses and things I would need for the shoot. Really, he was excited as I was. My husband is really that sweet, considerate, caring, and of course very loving. He will come for a vacation in December. I could not ask for more,” she said with utmost sincerity.
Isabel Rivas plays a major role in Los Bastardos as one of the four women in the life of Ronaldo Valdez who sired an illegitimate son by her in the person of Albie Casino. The other sons of Ronaldo are played by Jake Cuenca, Diego Loyzaga, Marco Gumaboa, and Joshua Colet. The other women with whom Isabel will pit talent with are the comebacking Rosanna Roces, Pinky Amador (fresh from her highly successful stage play M. Butterfly), former beauty queen Joyce Ann Burton, Ana Abad Santos, and Perla Bautista who is supposed to know the skeletons in the closet of the patriarch Don Roman Cardinal played by Ronaldo Valdez.
Isabel is more than happy to be back to ABS-CBN studio after seven years of semi-retirement in the States. She believed that she is more than blessed with her ever-loving husband behind as she pursues once again her first love in showbiz which is acting.