PRISCILLA ALMEDA: I'M A CHANGED WOMAN NOW!
Quezon City, June 8, 2002 (STAR) by Ricardo F. Lo - "Hindi na ako sanay!"
Priscilla Almeda is trying to smile before the cameras in her first pictorial after coming home two months ago from New York where she stayed for one year and four months after shooting Lav Diaz’s multi-awarded five-hour movie Batang West Side. In that span of time, Priscilla fell in love with dashing kababayan Shoff (not Shaft as Funfare has been wrongly reporting) Ricablanca, 23, a medical technician at the Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York, and a member of the prominent Ricablanca clan of Aklan, and bore a beautiful daughter they named Maria Tippifarel (chosen by Shoff’s father).
"I’m not used to this anymore," she blushes. "Naninibago ako."
Later, when the crew of ABS-CBN’s The Buzz turns on the lights for Priscilla’s also first TV interview since her arrival, she feels a little nervous, as if it’s her very first time to face the cameras. The baby fat is gone. Her eyes show a certain calmness that wasn’t there before. She has matured considerably and she says that she’s sure where she’s going, that her life has a focus and a direction now. "And I’m very happy," she adds. "Very happy."
Shoff begged off from the pictorial-interview because, according to Priscilla, he’s camera-shy even if he used to lead his own band and is goodlooking enough to be in showbiz. He decided to stay home with their five-month-old daughter whose skin and complexion are as white and as creamy as those of her mother.
I tell Priscilla that everybody thought she was staying in New York for good and turning her back on showbiz.
"On the contrary," she says, "I’ve been missing showbiz that’s why I came back. Shoff and I have been missing the Philippines so we’re back."
They’re planning to put up a business here, even as Priscilla is all set to resume her rudely-interrupted career. Before she does another movie, she’s concentrating first on the promo of the album she did for Dyna Records before she left for New York in early 2000 and if she ever does movies again, she’ll still go sexy, all right, but not as bold as she used to.
She and Shoff got married in civil rites in Banga town, also in Aklan, early last month. Asked why they decided to do it in Aklan and not in The Big Apple, Priscilla explains, "Actually, it was a surprise for me from Shoff and his family. They woke me up one morning and told me, ‘You’re getting married today!’ I couldn’t believe it!"
As Funfare has been saying, the Ricablancas have been nice to Priscilla, taking her in like a long-lost daughter and making her feel like a member of the family from the very start.
"They don’t look at my past; they’ve never judged me. They have accepted me for what I am. Yes, they know what kind of movies I was doing and they never took it against me."
Shoff’s mom is Susan Ricablanca and his father is Isidro Ricablanca. Shoff is the youngest among three boys and one girl, a musically-inclined guy who could pass for a rocker with his shoulder-length hair. At the hospital where he works, Shoff is assigned at the dialysis section (specifically as blood "tester"). He migrated to New York when he was 12, several months younger than Priscilla.
"I went through a painful pregnancy," recalls Priscilla who gave birth in early December last year at the height of winter. "Tippi gave me terrible back pains when she was inside my tummy. When she came out, through natural means, I held her in my arms and I couldn’t believe that I carried her inside me for nine months."
Motherhood has totally changed her outlook in life.
"How would I bring her up?" asks Priscilla who, as a child adopted by another family, came to know the identity of her real mother only when she was already a grown-up and in showbiz. "Come to think of it, I haven’t even thought of that yet. I’ve been so busy enjoying her company that I haven’t really gotten down to planning Tippi’s future."
While Shoff plans to shuttle between the Philippines and New York, Priscilla will buckle down to showbiz and take up where she has left off. Besides Batang West Side, she also had one movie (Gil Portes’ Huwag Kang Kikibo) shown last year. She still has a contract with Crown Seven Ventures, Inc., maker of Kikibo.
Asked what she saw in Shoff that she didn’t see in other men, Priscilla says, eyes sparkling, "Honesty. He has beautiful eyes, very sincere and very honest eyes."
Those were, in fact, the first things that she noticed in him when they met at a bar in Manhattan – his honest and sincere eyes.
"It was love at first sight for both of us. I was sitting there and he was standing near me. The whole night, he was looking at me with those honest and sincere eyes, and I was looking at him, too. We never kept our eyes off each other the whole night. He asked for my phone number and before I knew it, we were dating. Soon, we were living together – and having a baby! Everything happened so fast; it was incredible."
Now that she’s a wife and a mother, what would be the changes in her career?
"As I’ve said, I can still do sexy roles but I don’t think it’s proper for me to show my private parts. Hindi na bagay, di ba? I myself wouldn’t want to do it."
Her private life has also changed radically.
"Before, I used to go out and go to parties. I drank, I smoked and I really enjoyed myself. Those were the days. Maybe I’d go out once in a while with Shoff, but my attention is now focused on my family. I am not the same Priscilla Almeda that people used to know. I have mellowed. I am a changed woman now."
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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