Proving that he’s definitely not just another primetime golden boy, Ruru Madrid is here for both a great time and a long time.
Decked out in nonchalance: a faded denim jacket over a white shirt, khaki chinos, white sneakers, a newsboy cap, and classic Ray-Ban aviators, Ruru Madrid walks in looking every bit like a Hollywood actor incognito. I compliment his look, to which he candidly responds, “Actually ngayon lang ako nag-explore ng ganitong style,” pertaining to the preppy chinos and cap. “My usual style includes boots and a leather jacket, kasi halos lagi akong naka-motor.” He takes a bite out of his cheeseburger in between, before continuing, “Which I couldn’t use today since umuulan, kaya iniba ko naman get-up ko.”
With his prominent mestizo features, impressively buffed-up physique, and sleek dark man-locks, it’s easy to see why Ruru is often hailed as a matinée idol-in-the-making. Throughout the shoot, he cracks a joke in between takes, his dimples showing alongside his megawatt boy-next- door smile, balancing out his otherwise strong and serious vibe. Despite that initial vibe, he prefers keeping most things laidback—like his personal style, daily conversations, and musical taste.
With his career however, he takes with utmost grit and intensity.
LEADING MAN OF ACTION
Breaking away from his teeny-bopper image, this twenty-year-old has his sights set on being the future of Pinoy action films. “Bata pa lang ako, mahilig na ‘ko sa action [movies], tapos malakas talaga loob ko, lalo na sa sports,” he reminisces. He then goes on about being part of both the basketball and volleyball team during his pre-industry years. “I was an athlete,” he quips. “Sobrang taas kong tumalon kaya grade two pa lang, kinukuha na ako lagi sa varsity.”
Aside from being into sports and action-packed flicks at an early age, the self-confessed adrenaline junkie took his passion to the next level by learning how to ride a motorcycle. “Walang nagturo sa akin actually. When I bought it, I just taught myself by watching videos on YouTube, and I got the hang of it agad,” he says, smiling proudly and mimicking bike-riding gestures.
On his downtime, one would usually find Ruru at the gym— whether it’s doing martial arts, boxing, or lifting weights. He also learned parkour for his role in the primetime show, Alyas Robin Hood. “Sabi ko kasi noon, gusto ko this time may iba naman akong ipapakita by doing my own stunts and fight scenes. People would always notice na may certain galaw ako [when doing those scenes],” he says. “Kasi nga lagi akong nanonood ng action noon pa, kaya na-pick up ko na rin.”
THE (BOY) STAYS IN THE PICTURE
Standing out in a sea of showbiz golden boys is no easy feat. Whether it’s constantly reinventing himself or going beyond what’s expected, Ruru proves that he’s in it for the long haul. The rising matinée idol has come a long way since he played Ybarro in the 2016 remake of hit fantaserye ,Encantadia—a role that Ruru considers as his most memorable one yet. “That role really helped me grow and mature, both in [terms of] my professional and personal life,” he says. “Kasi my roles before, puro teenager na pa-tweetums lang. But here, where I played a king, the director [Mark Reyes] told me na in order to do it well, I had to act like a king even in real life. So, kailangan maging responsible and sure ako sa lahat ng bagay,” he adds.
Another notable project for him was the internationally acclaimed indie film Above the Clouds, where he played an angsty teenager who embarks on a hiking trip with his estranged grandfather (played by the iconic Pepe Smith) after the tragic loss of his parents. The film was directed by Pepe Diokno, whom Ruru describes as an incredibly profound and talented filmmaker. “He had this plan [for my character] na bawal akong makipag-usap kahit kanino the entire time we were filming,” he shares. “I wasn’t even allowed to contact my family, para talagang ma-feel ko ‘yung character.” He laughs as he recalled how this initially annoyed his then-sixteen- year-old self, but then his eyes light up as he talked about seeing the film for the first time. “Sobrang worth it—doon ko na-realize na tama pala ’yung pinagawa sa akin.”
Apart from branching out to more serious roles, Ruru also uses different ways to improve his skills, whether it’s learning a new sport, watching more films, or reading a book. “I’ve been reading a lot lately, actually kakabasa ko lang ng The Alchemist [by Paolo Coelho],” he says. “And since puro action-packed roles mga binibigay sa akin ngayon, plan kong matuto ng Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Para ‘di ba, lagi akong may bagong ipapakita sa kanila [my fans].”
WAX ON, WAX OFF
Like every other young man his age, Ruru grew up watching a lot of animé—which is why he’s beyond ecstatic about being part of the first ever Filipino animé series Barangay 143. Premiering soon on GMA-7’s primetime lineup, the show revolves around a group of high school basketball players and takes place mostly in the gritty streets of Tondo. “The storyline is very Filipino, lalo na ‘yung street-basketball aspect and mga eksena na talagang nangyayari sa totoong buhay,” he relates.
Being part of the show is definitely a dream come true for an avid fan like Ruru, whose favorites include Naruto, Slam Dunk, Dragon Ball Z, Ghost Fighter, and Samurai X. In Barangay 143, he voices one of the main characters Wax Rivera: basketball team captain and resident heartthrob. Ruru describes Wax’s personality as “chill and tahimik lang, pero kung may gawin kang masama, sure lagot ka sa kanya.” Is he anything like this character? “Pareho kaming tahimik lang… or so I wish,” he jokes. “But yes, I idolized characters like that when I was a kid, ‘yung tipong chillax lang, pa-pogi na effortless, tapos cool ‘yung boses.”
“So when I auditioned for this role, I really went all out. One of the scenes na pinabasa sa akin, may kasamang pag-iyak, which I actually did. Nagulat nga sila eh, like bakit daw ako umiiyak,” he chuckles at the memory. “Sabi ko sayang eh, baka ‘di ako makuha, kaya ‘yon tinodo ko na.” He is confident that the show will be well received by Filipino viewers. Surely it is brimming with a distinct storyline and compelling characters made for Filipinos by Filipinos—though for obvious reasons Ruru can’t say much about yet.
ABOVE AND BEYOND
For someone who plays all sorts of sports both on- and off- cam, one of Ruru’s advocacies is to help improve Philippine athletics. “Aside from basketball na talagang patok dito, goal ko na mas makilala lalo ng mga Pinoy ang sepak takraw. Kasi diba ito ‘yung pambansang laro natin, tapos sobrang exciting din nito.” In fact, sepak takraw was also one of Ruru’s favorite sports as a kid. “What can I say? Sobrang sports-minded ‘kong tao,” he says with a proud smile and a shrug.
What else is next for TV’s rising action dynamo? When asked about his dream role, he is quick to answer, “aside from showbiz, sobrang dream ko talaga noon maging soldier, so now pangarap kong magawa ‘yon kahit sa TV man lang.” Having been under the tutelage of several distinguished directors, Ruru also plans on delving into filmmaking. “I want my films to tackle relevant issues, whether it’s political or ‘yung mga nangyayari sa mga tagong lugar dito sa Pilipinas, para maging aware ang mga tao,” he says. “I also want to do something cultural. For example, pupunta kami sa iba’t-ibang local destinations na hindi pa discovered,” he adds.
From Leonardo DiCaprio to Fernando Poe Jr. to Dingdong Dantes, all his idols have done several production and directorial works themselves. Good thing Ruru already had a head start thanks to Sherlock Jr. director Rechie del Carmen, who let him choreograph a few fight scenes upon noticing his potential. “Sobrang solid kasi first time ko maging fight director,” Ruru says. “Sa simula, I was just giving opinions on how to improve this or that fight scene. Eventually, sinabi ni Direk na ‘sige, ikaw na gumawa ng fight [scene] na yan,’ hanggang sa ako na pinag-direct ng whole chunk ng ibang mga eksena.”
It’s hard to believe that less than a decade ago, the then- fourteen-year-old Ruru encountered a lot of rejections before being discovered by the late award-winning director Maryo de los Reyes. And so of course, we just had to ask what his advice for aspiring young actors is. “Don’t give up,” he laughs as he sings a line from a 2016 pop song. “Kidding aside, kung may goal ka sa buhay, kailangan mong i-chase ‘yon at gawin lahat no matter how hard it can be.”
He may not be the man they call legend—yet—but Ruru Madrid is definitely set on his quest to becoming one.
Videography and editing by Ian Francisco of New Monarq Creativx