Journalist mines Hollywood for Filipino A-listers, artists

Ruben Nepales and the Red Carpet: Made for each other

Once you get hold of the book, “My Filipino Connection: The Philippines in Hollywood,” it’s easy to understand why Ruben Nepales is not your run-of-the mill entertainment journalist. He asks questions many celebrities dread most: the difficult ones. And asks them without trepidation and with great fondness for his sources.

To Michael Caine, he asked about a Filipina woman he once dated, and his reply “with disgust” was, “I hate (woman’s name).” Whether he can still go back to the actor for another round of interviews, my bet is with Ruben’s shrug-of-the-shoulder determination he most certainly can.

He asked Charice what it means to be “short and a minority” in the U.S. entertainment scene, and the “Glee” star laughed then turned serious in her response. She said she liked Ruben’s question.

He wondered out loud if there was sibling rivalry among animation artists Louie del Carmen (“Kung Fu Panda 2”) and his brothers Rick (“Family Guy”) and Ronnie (“Finding Nemo”), who all work for rival studios; and bravely asked Tina Turner impersonator Luisa Mendez-Marshall if her legs are insured.

Through it all, Ruben, a Communication Arts graduate from UST, has maintained great rapport with Hollywood’s A-listers and the wonderful, creative people behind the scenes — Filipino and non-Filipino alike. For his beholden-to-no-one style of questioning, Ruben presents us with this beguiling collection of interviews with celebrities we can only admire on screen. It was Ruben who first introduced Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”) and Camille Mana (“Asuncion”) to the our showbiz-loving community, and intimated that Quentin Tarantino is a Filipino B-movie buff who has been in the Philippines more times than he could keep track of.

Many of Ruben’s articles have appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, where he is an entertainment columnist. Ruben is also the first Filipino member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a 60-plus-year-old club of entertainment writers that is almost fortress-like in its culture of membership recruitment: not that easy to get in. That Ruben – and later his wife Janet, another reporter – managed to penetrate the club and become a member of the board says a lot about the couple’s professional discipline and their respect for celebrities drawing the line between what is personal and what is public.

Ruben will be at the Philippine Consulate on Fifth Avenue on May 30 to sign copies of his book. This may be the closest to Hollywood some of us will ever get to. — Cristina DC Pastor

One Comment

  1. […] Photos by Elton Lugay How is it that people who attended the May 30 launch of Ruben Nepales’ “My Filipino Connection: The Philippines in Hollywood” went from being moved to tears to foot-tapping to the beat of “Ocho […]

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