Movie-TV director Ruel Bayani thinks nothing of proclaiming his obsession with Christmas. And he goes all out in commemorating the season every year.
His townhouse in Quezon City is gaily decorated with all sorts of holiday ornaments and trinkets, including Frosty the Snowman dolls and Santa Claus throw pillows.
He tells Inquirer: “I always have a different theme for the decor. One year, the motif was apple green. Then, gray and white…”
This year, he is in the mood for a burst of colors. “I wanted turquoise and fuchsia, for a change,” he says. “I got a new six-foot tree for the living room.”
Still, he found another room for the old tree, which now wears the more subdued gray-and-white ornaments, and is set up in his bedroom.
The two trees reflect the highs and lows of 2012, as well as his dominant moods in the past year: cheerful and contemplative.
Thus far, it has been a bustling ride for Bayani, who scored a career high with the box-office success of “No Other Woman” in 2011.
For the first time, he is fielding an entry in the Metro Manila Film Festival, Star Cinema’s “One More Try.”
He’s likewise on a roll in TV work. He just got promoted as ABS-CBN business unit head for drama.
On top of these, Bayani has gone back to teaching, taking over the film class in Ateneo left by his late mentor Marilou Diaz-Abaya.
Yes, 2012 has been frenetic, work-wise. But it has also been a time for quiet reflection.
He notes: “It will be the family’s first Christmas without my dad, who passed away in June.”
Instead of spending the holidays in the family home in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, he invited the clan to a Yuletide feast in his city home. A sister is flying in from Canada.
“The morning of Christmas Day, I’ll take my relatives to an invitational screening of ‘One More Try,’” he says, “with the movie’s stars, Dingdong Dantes, Angel Locsin, Zanjoe Marudo and Angelica Panganiban.”
He remembers his childhood Christmases as festive, and to this day he relishes the memory of home-cooked meals prepared with love by his mother and grandmother.
He hopes to replicate those cherished holiday meals this year, as a tribute to his father. “I want to make this Christmas count. My mom is 79 years old. I feel so blessed that she is still with us.”
Early this year, Bayani was named “Anak ng Cabanatuan”—one of his proudest achievements, he says, because he was able to share the moment with his parents. “My father was still strong enough to attend the ceremony.”
His parents were always his staunchest allies, supporting all his endeavors—which greatly motivated him, although he had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). “I didn’t even know I had ADHD,” he says. “I always excelled in school.”
He was already in show biz, in fact, when colleague and friend, scriptwriter Mel Mendoza-Del Rosario, told him that he exhibited all the symptoms of ADHD.
“I’ve always been hyper,” he admits. And the diagnosis, when it came, didn’t daunt him.
His home is his refuge from the hubbub of the biz. “I moved in three years ago,” he says. “At first I thought the place too small [at 100 sqm]. But it’s really too big for me and my cook
(Tess is much-loved by Bayani and his friends for her delicious squid adobo and roast chicken.)
Installing mirrors on the living room walls made the place look bigger. And since he didn’t need a two-car garage, he used the extra floor space to expand the dining room.
“I don’t have formal training in interior design,” he says, “but it’s an interest. Since I’m a director, I am very meticulous about production design. My TV shows and movies are colorful. I hate blank walls. My take on Filipino melodrama is that it should be lush, textured, multi-layered.”
Since he loves inviting friends over for dinner, he makes sure to always have a new conversation piece.
A favorite nook of his pals, including actress Eugene Domingo and directors Wenn V. Deramas, Don Cuaresma and Andoy Ranay, is the foyer, which features an entire wall with a floral design.
“It’s called a photo wallpaper. I got it from abroad,” he explains. “It has become the staple background for picture-taking sessions with friends.” In front of the photo wall is an antique day bed embellished with vibrant pillows.
He describes his pad’s overall look as “contemporary and iconic.”
Another conversation piece and pictorial spot is the main door crafted by famed architect Agi Pagkatipunan. Bayani relates: “He made the doors of the homes of celebrities like Cesar Montano, Claudine Barretto and Laurenti Dyogi. Mine is made from four different kinds of local wood. It’s a huge investment. Should I ever move, I’ll make sure to take the door with me.”
He is also proud of the dining set—which includes ghost chairs (from Rustan’s) and vivid Philippe Starck chairs (from Dimensione). The dining table is from Restoration.
The transparent ghost chairs have a practical purpose, too. “Even if my nephews and nieces spill spaghetti sauce on the ghost chairs, all I have to do is wipe it off.”
Needless to say, the pricey Starck chairs are off-limits to the kids.
In one corner, near the tree, are two Barcelona chairs. “I got those colorful throw pillows from bazaars,” he says.
The place also sports paintings by Filipino artists: an Ivan Acuña in the dining area, an abstract by Ricky Isidro next to the staircase, and works by Lex Marcos, Bobby Nuestro and Joaquin Hernandez. A prized piece is the BenCab “from a friend.”
Just outside the bedroom stands a huge armoire made from Mexican wood—where Bayani keeps his DVD collection.
With his Chillbox (a video-on-demand service) and Krave sound system from Filmografia, he indulges in movie marathons on his days off.
He says, hollering, “And since I have ADHD, I can watch movies, surf the Net and read scripts at the same time.”
The 45-inch Samsung TV was a gift from Kapamilya stars Kim Chiu and Gerald Anderson two Christmases ago. He became close to the young stars on the set of the soap “Tayong Dalawa,” which he directed.
The living room, with its comfy sectional sofas, has become Bayani’s favorite nook.
“I can spend all day watching movies here,” he says. “I’ll be slumped on the sofa with my blanket… I’ll have lunch and dinner there, too.”
Otherwise, he’ll be reading books.
His bedroom is the exact opposite of the home’s “public” spaces. “It’s done in black and white,” he says. “I wanted it to look serene.”
Even so, there’s that Christmas tree in one corner. After all, he’s a bona fide Yule junkie.