Hilda Koronel has been out of the limelight for almost six years, living a quiet domesticated in Los Angeles, California with her Filipino-American husband of a dozen years, lawyer-businessman Ralph Moore Jr.
That did not mean that Hilda, one of Philippine cinema’s most iconic actresses, had not been receiving offers for movies and TV dramas from back home.
“Since I left naman six years ago, I never ran out of offers naman. Sa TV. Sa pelikula. Parang okay naman na lahat. Pero isa lang naman ang request ko. I have to see the script,” she says.
For one reason or another, no particular script had piqued her interest until she read the script for “The Mistress”. Or rather, until her husband Ralph read it and endorsed it to her.
“He was the one who read the script of ‘The Misstress’, and he liked it very much,” she relates.
“The Mistress” is a production of Star Cinema, the same studio for which she did her last movie, 2006′s “Nasaan Ka Man”. Hilda plays the aggrieved wife to Ronaldo Valdez’s unfaithful husband. Bea Alonzo portrays the title role, with Olivia Lamasan directing.
Hilda returned to the country last month and started working on July 26, shooting for twelve days for her month-long stay.
How was it acting again in front of the cameras?
“I never had a hard time naman. Although syempre, ngayon, I’m 55, ang long lines eh hindi ko na dire-diretsong magagawa. ‘Yung masyadong mahahabang lines. That’s why I love Direk Olive,” she says.
Again, for her, it comes down to the script. “Kaya I really ask for the script kasi it has to move me. Kailangan kong maramdaman ang emotions kung paano tatakbo. Maiiyak ba ako o hindi? You have to see the lines. How it will move you,” she explains.
She’s proud to say that unlike Ronaldo’s character, her real-life husband is quite devoted to her. They’re inseparable and the project would only be possible if Ralph could travel to the Philippines with her.
“I don’t travel na if he’s not with me. That’s why the reason for me to come home should be really worth the trip,” she says.
The story of how Hilda met Ralph sounds like a Star Cinema script.
“We met in Greenhills. One of those days na nagja-jogging ako. Siya rin. And he bumped into me. Sabi niya, the world just stopped. And he waited for that other round na makasalubong niya ako pero hindi na nangyari. Kaya memorable sa amin ‘yang corner ng Dunkin’ Donuts in Greenhills. Nandyan pa rin daw.
“I think it was destined dahil after ilang days lang, I was at his office inquiring about their products. Sinabi sa kanya ng secretary niya na Hilda Koronel is in the office. And he didn’t even know who I was. And the rest is history. We got married in Las Vegas in 2000.”
So, what is her life like in the US?
“Shopping! Joke. Basta I lead a life na hindi na stressful for me. So, I do a lot of things around the house. And paminsan-minsan, when I get to watch shows in TFC, nakakaramdam din ako ng pagka-homesick,” she says.
Her two daughters Leona Isabel (from previous relationships with actor Jay Ilagan and Bambi del Castillo) are both married and raising their own families. Isabel
“Nasa akin na si Isabel and she works for my husband’s company. The two boys are here. Pati my grandchildren. And my adopted daughter, si Ivy,” she says.
The first few years of settling down in America were not easy for her.
“Very hard! Syempre, dito I had all the maids. Doon, wala. But the people were wonderful and very nice. So, first Christmas ko du’n I was crying and crying and nakakanood nga ako every once in a while sa TFC. And nakikita ko na ‘yung mga nagti-tiangge. Na nakikita ko lang noon in Greenhills. I miss my maids. I miss my kids na nandito. I miss the people I worked with.”
At 55, she is aging quite gracefully. “Syempre, hindi naman puwedeng maging forever ‘Insiang’ ako,” she says, referencing the classic Lino Brocka film where her beauty sans makeup mesmerized film audiences around the world.
Hilda wants it known that her face remains untouched by plastic surgery.
“Hndi pa ako retokado, ha? Kahit tingnan mo pa, wala pa ‘yang mga tahi. Ayaw ng husband ko. I want to grow old gracefully. Kaya, not even botox. Hindi ko naman kailangan. Hanggang facial lang ako,” she says.
Her secret? “Good living. Stress-free. I’m eating lang everything. That makes me fat. When I’m here, that’s what I do. But in the US, I only eat organic things. And I exercise a lot. When I was here, I played badminton. In the US, one meal a day nga lang. Lunch is full. Juice, vegetables and fruits. Hindi naman ako party person kahit na nung nandito pa ako. I do a lot of charity works there. At saka maaga ako matulog.”
How is her health? Her heart condition?
“You know I have a pacemaker na, hindi ba? I am doing well naman. For as long as I live healthy. Simple lang.”
Is it worth it to give up her pampered life here to live a quiet life in America?
“The kids are grown now. Sulit naman. Dahil kung hindi, uuwi ako talaga rito. But I have a very wonderful husband who has taken care of me all these years,” she says.
But Hilda admits the actress in her needs to be indulged once in a while. More important to her, Ralph knows it, too.
“Kaya nga when he said yes when the script was sent to me, I knew na alam niya na gusto ko pa rin itong gawin,” she says.