MANILA, FEBRUARY 28 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Ida Anita Q. del Mundo - While the celebrity heartthrob dutifully remains evasive when it comes to questions about his love life – his Valentine’s plans were to do charity work in Bohol – there is something that is making Richard Gutierrez’s heart pound faster. The young actor has developed a new passion – for triathlons, that is, and is currently training for this year’s Ironman marathon in August.

“I’ve always been curious about Ironman racing… I’ve always been intrigued by it,” he says of his interest in the sport, which is quickly gaining popularity with Filipino athletes and fitness buffs. “I started running first, then eventually I was crosstraining with biking, so I said why not try triathlon.” Richard says training for the event keeps him not only physically fit, but also focused and mentally strong. “Hopefully I finish the race strong,” he adds.

Something else that has tested Richard’s physical and mental strength is the recently concluded fourth season of Survivor Philippines. Though he hosts the show, Richard says that being on the island is almost like being a castaway himself. “It’s not easy. We’re there for almost a month and a half… there’s not a lot of luxury when you’re stuck on an isolated island and the nearest city is hours away.”

Hosting the TV show for the second time, Richard adds, “I enjoy that kind of adventure, though it gets tough if you’re there for a long time.”

After his stint on Survivor, Richard looks forward to doing a new prime time soap opera this year. “It’s a different kind of project for me because for 2011 I did mostly documentaries and hosting.” He adds, “I did less acting last year, so this year I want to go back to my roots and go back to the basics of acting.”

Indeed, this actor’s roots run deep. Growing up in a family of celebrities, Richard says, “My dad paved the way for us in terms of being in this industry.” However, he shares that, at first, he did not want to be part of showbiz and stopped acting until he finished high school.

“After high school, I decided to give acting a try again because I could earn extra cash,” he says. “Then I didn’t have to ask my parents for money when I went out with my friends.”

Eventually, acting started to become more than just a way to earn an allowance. “It just snowballed from there,” he says. “I eventually enjoyed acting. I became passionate about acting. I learned to love the industry that at first I hated. I learned to appreciate the art of acting and all the technicalities behind it.”

Richard remembers that when he was young and his mother Anabelle Rama, father Eddie, and sister Ruffa were constantly on TV or in the movies, “My classmates would usually tease me about that, but it’s okay, I learned to accept it.” When he started to become serious about being in the business, however, he says being in a family of celebrities is a blessing. “We try to support each other.”

Each a celebrity in their own right, Richard says that when he was just starting to act, there was a lot of pressure, always being a son or brother of his more famous family members. “I had to prove myself.”

Since then, the popular actor truly has proven himself, setting himself apart from his parents, sister, and even his twin, Raymond.

Now, Richard says that there is a lot to love about his job. “I enjoy it, I get to work with a lot of different people.” He adds that interacting with his audience is an important aspect of his work. “Telling a story and giving entertainment to people… it’s something like public service.”

The actor is also aware that showbiz comes with its own hazards. “It could be a harsh industry also. It’s kind of a dog eat dog world also. You have to know how to play the game and learn how to be patient.”

With that in mind, he has become skillful at dealing with gossip, both about himself as well as his family who have figured in more than a few controversial issues throughout the years. “You have to be ready to face rumors that are not true,” he says. “You just have to be prepared mentally and emotionally for it. I’m lucky because my parents guided me through it.” Richard adds, “My dad has been there for so long. He told me to say goodbye to my privacy when I enter showbiz. He also told me to never forget where I came from and never forget the people that I worked with when I was starting.” Richard is also well aware of the support of his hordes of fans. “I’m very thankful for their undying support for me.”

As he moves on in his career, Richard still holds on to the television show “Mulawin” and the movie “Let the Love Begin” as his most memorable projects. “Those two projects really started everything for me,” he explains.

As for dream roles, the actor says that there are so many. “I feel like I’m still starting and there’s a lot that I still want to do.”

This year, Richard hopes to focus on acting in his soap opera and also wants to appear in a serious movie. He adds, “Hopefully an all-star season of Survivor.”

Talking of Survivor, when asked what three things he would bring with him if marooned on a deserted island, the actor does not even consider the oft-mentioned gadgets, laptops, or cellphones. Instead, he lists some practical survival essentials: a fire-starter like a lighter, a knife, and a flashlight. He bargains, as well, for a fourth item – mosquito repellant.

In another set of threes, Richard talks again of his interest in triathlon: “I’m the type of person who wants to challenge myself all the time and really push myself to the limit,” he says as he likewise continues to challenge himself to achieve the best as an actor, host, and celebrity.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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