PINAY BOLD STAR FROM VANCOUVER
(from the Philippine Star, written by Ricky Lo)
Quezon City, Aug. 15, 1999 - The sob story of Priscilla Almeda, a.k.a. Abby Viduya, can be summed up in three short paragraphs:
1. She grew up in Vancouver believing that the family she was living with was her very own. She had her early schooling there and, blush, her first crushes.
2. Barely out of her teens, she came back to the Philippines and joined showbiz. She was built up by Regal Films as a sweet/wholesome baby doll.
3. And then she discovered about her real identity and, voila, a bold star was born (part of her "rebellion") under the banner of Seiko Films (whose producer, Robbie Tan, she would later accuse of "exploiting" her, with Robbie filing a breach-of-contract suit against Priscilla who in turn filed a libel case against him; no further comment on the cases because they're pending in court). Priscilla/Abby's search for her identity ended happily, but not before her touching the depths of despair.
Gone for more than two years from showbiz, Priscilla/Abby is back - with a vengeance. She's starring in Crown-Seven Films' Sutla (meaning silk), directed by Romy Suzara, a movie so sexy that even Priscilla/Abby herself was shocked when she saw the rushes.
But does she have to jump into the already over-crowded "bold-wagon?"
Who am I talking to, Priscilla Almeda or Abby Viduya?
(Laughs) "To both!"
How bold are you in Sutla?
"Very! As in very-very! 'Yan ang uso ngayon, di ba?"
As in "all or nothing at all?"
"It's super-daring talaga! I did all the best I could . . ."
. . . in out-stripping 'em all (Ara Mina, Joyce Jimenez, Sunshine Cruz, Ina Raymundo and company)?
". . . in acting, too!"
Are you doing this because Sutla is your comeback movie?
"Yeah! It's really an explosive comeback, if I may say so."
When was the last time you did a movie?
"Two and a half years ago. The movie was originally titled Igorota but Tito Robbie changed it to Exploitation."
An apt title, I should say, considering that that was what you accused Seiko Films of, exploitation. How bold were you in Igorota/Exploitation?
"Not so bold, really, puro breast exposure lang, in line with my role as an Igorota."
Oh, not "lower " than that. . .
In Sutla, what sort of role are you playing?
"A barrio lass . . ."
. . . yes?
". . . a virgin . . ."
. . . then?
". . . she falls in love . . . "
. . . with whom?
". . . with Gary Estrada . . ."
. . . and then?
". . . she's heartbroken . . ."
. . . and then?
". . . Gary marries my sister (played by Samantha Lopez). . . "
. . . and then?
". . . I fall in love with somebody else (Jethro Ramirez)!"
I heard that your scenes are really bold, as in total nudity, with one scene reminiscent of a Nicole Kidman scene in Eyes Wide Shut showing you in front of the mirror, naked, caressing yourself, with the camera zooming in in extreme close-up on your very private part.
"Wait till you see the movie!"
How did you feel during the shooting of that (and other similar bold) scenes, considering that you said that you felt "exploited" by Seiko before?
"I thought that it was okay, even if I've never done that kind of scene before, because maganda naman ang treatment nila (Crown-Seven people) sa akin."
What do you mean by "treatment"?
"It was different from the treatment that I got from Seiko. Treatment on the set, I mean."
Of course, you knew that you were doing those bold scenes when you read the script (by Lualhati Bautista, also the author of the smash-hit Vilma Santos starrer Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa?)?
"Oh, yes, I knew!"
No problem this time?
"No problem! Before kasi, my problem was the still photos taken without my knowledge during the shooting (of Exploitation). This time, there was no photographer on the set (of Sutla), so I don't think that I will see any photos of my nude scenes in the tabloids."
What if you do see those photos in the tabloids before the showing of Sutla? Will you again cry, "Exploitation!"?
"I don't think Crown-Seven will do it to me. Hopefully, it won't. As far as I know, walang still photos 'yung mga scenes na 'yon."
Have you seen the rushes (of Sutla) already?
"I have. My first reaction? I was shocked! I almost fell off my chair. It's different when you're doing it and watching yourself on the screen doing it. But I have come to terms with what I did. I want naman the movie to make money."
Sutla is the first of several movies you're doing for Crown-Seven . . .
". . . I signed a three-year-five-picture contract with Crown-Seven. In fact, I have already started shooting my second movie, Huwag Kang Kikibo, Siya ang Hihipo, directed by Gil Portes (from a screenplay by Ricky Lee). Originally, the story was about a girl (patient) sexually exploited by a faith-healer. But they've changed the whole plot. Now, it's about a wild romance, with the girl into drugs and orgies, you know . . . "
Having tried drugs before, the character shouldn't be such a stranger to you . . .
How long ba were you into drugs?
"Not so long . . . off and on . . . patikim-tikim lang naman ako. I wasn't really heavily into it. Parang out of curiosity lang, pagaya-gaya sa mga friends ko."
At that time, you were also trying to cope with very personal problems -- like your discovery that you're an adopted daughter (of the Viduyas). It was a painful discovery for you, wasn't it?
"Oh, yes, it was painful! Very painful! I resented the fact that my adoptive parents and my biological parents kept it from me. Nag-rebelde ako. I drank; I hung around in discos."
And had one boyfriend after another?
(Laughs) "Not naman so many."
Maybe your parents (adoptive and biological) were trying to protect you, that's why they kept it all from you.
"They told me that they were just biding their time, that they didn't want to tell me yet because I might not understand, that they were going to tell me at the right time. But things have been sorted out now and everything's okay na. I've made peace with my adoptive parents and I was able to trace my biological mother (Leah Bromley)."
How old were you ba when you were given away for adoption?
"I guess I was only three-days old. My biological father, (deejay) Rudolf Rivera, entrusted me with the Viduyas. I grew up in Vancouver, believing that I was a member of the Viduya family."
How soon did you find out the truth?
"When I came back here. I was about 13 when I came back but I didn't find out the truth until I was 16. I was already in showbiz then."
How did you find out?
"Through blind items."
Oh, so blind items can be "useful"!
"That specific blind item said that isang babaing kasama ng Guwapings ay isang adopted. The clue was very obvious. Ako 'yung tinutukoy doon. So I confronted my (adoptive) parents. I was mad, in a fighting mood! I was totally disoriented. They denied it. Lalo akong nagalit. I told them, `Alam ko na, alam ko na!' Then I sought out my biological father and confronted him. He told me a different story, different from what my adoptive parents told me. So pati sa kanya nagalit ako. The Viduyas told me that they didn't want me at all; my father naman told me that he wanted me back but the Viduyas didn't want to give me back. Different versions. I became confused and furious all the more. Wow, I told myself, ano ito?"
The Viduyas and your father must be friends . . .
". . . my lola (Rivera side) and Mommy Viduya were classmates."
How did you find your biological mother?
"I found her last year lang, in Alberta (Canada). It was my biological father who told me where she was. She went to Alberta at about the same time that I was coming home. My mom is now married to an Irish. I have three half-sisters and one half-brother on my mother's side; three half-sisters on my father's side."
Don't you feel lucky that you belong to two families? Or do you feel that you don't belong to any of the two families at all?
"Before, I felt really insecure. When I met the Riveras, I didn't feel that I belonged at all. But when I talked to my (biological) mom, para bang I felt whole already. At least, nalaman ko na where I came from. Now I live alone. I have found a foster family in my Tita Nessie (her companion at home, like a real mother to her) and my Tito N. (her manager). I have already this sense of belonging."
During her "rebel" days, did you spin like a top cut off the string?
"I did, I did! Kung saan-saan ako nakikita, umiinom ako, kung saan-saan ako nag-i-istambay. I was looking for love and affection and attention in a weird kind of way. I was hungry for love. That's when I tried drugs."
Was having one boyfriend after another part of your rebellion?
"In a way. But the truth is that I was looking for love, someone I could call my own. But I realize now that that was a mistake. A big mistake! I was looking for love and I thought makukuha ko sa papalit-palit ng boyfriends. Hindi pala."
Did you also move from one relative to another?
"For a while, I stayed with my Dad, pero hindi ko makasundo ang wife niya at that time."
That was the time when you became close to your cousin Onemig Bondoc (whose mother is the sister of Priscilla/Abby's father). Did he give you any moral support?
"Oh, yes . . . in a way . . . pero . . . yeah . . . he was supportive. But let's not talk about him na lang . . . "
(Embarrassed laughter) "Basta, huwag na lang. Huwag na lang, please!"
But do you still see each other? (They're the same age.)
"Sometimes, we bump into each other. All we say to each other is, `Hi, pinsan!' That's all!"
At your age (21), you've gone through a lot of trauma, all kinds of experiences. Did all of it make you a better person?
"They did, definitely! I'm a stronger person now. I know myself better now. I've come to terms with my past so I'm ready to face my future. I'm glad and thankful that after everything that happened to me, I'm still sane. Hindi ako nabuang!"
And you have Mr. T. to thank for, di ba?
(Giggles self-consciously) "I did find true love with the guy, pero sayang, wala na kami. I really love the guy. He taught me a lot of things, he helped me grow and be what I am now. But I guess we're not meant to be . . . hindi kami para sa isa't-isa. He's non-showbiz and that's all I can say about him." (Mr. T. is the heir of a business empire.-- RFL)
Are you looking for a father figure?
"Not at all. Gusto ko 'yung ka-edad ko."
So when you decided to go very bold in your comeback movie, you didn't have to ask the permission/consent of anybody, not your boyfriend or your parents (biological and/or adoptive)?
"I did tell them about it but the final decision came from me. Open-minded naman sila."
How do you think they'll react to your nude scenes?
"They'll be shocked, I'm sure of that. Masha-shock sila."
Did you feel that you have to be competitive with the other bold stars, including your look-alike Nini Jacinto (being built up by Seiko Films)?
"I don't really compete with anybody. I'm just going with the trend. Nandiyan na rin lang, so pagbutihin na, you know? Sayang naman ang opportunity."
How did you sustain yourself during the two months and a half that you were practically jobless (doing singing stints every now and then)?
"I got help from friends, financially from my family. I had out-of-town shows kahit papano. Every now and then I would get movie offers pero hindi natutuloy when the producers learned that I still had an existing contract with Seiko. The contract expired last May 9 and immediately after that, I signed the contract with Crown-Seven."
Come to think of it, what will you do if you bump by chance into your Tito Robbie (Tan)?
"I will make beso-beso with him and say, `Hi!' even if he refuses to acknowledge my presence. Maybe I'll tell him, `Can we let bygones be bygones?' Actually, I wouldn't know how to react."
What about Nini Jacinto?
"Sa totoo lang, naaaliw ako sa kanya. We saw each other once during a taping at parang hindi ko naman siya kahawig. For one thing, mayroon siyang dimples, ako wala. Basta, aliw na aliw ako sa kanya."
Now, tell me. What's the difference between Priscilla Almeda and Abby Viduya?
"Well, Priscilla Almeda is an image, perhaps the object of men's fantasy. Abby Viduya is very simple, a conservative girl who stays home most of the time. Very decent. Kapag lumalabas ng bahay, balot na balot; hindi sexy."
Who would you rather be, Priscilla Almeda or Abby Viduya?
© Copyright, 1999 by PHILIPPINE
HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved
Back to the PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONILINE HomePage