By Jerry Donato
Ruffa Gutierrez is one celebrity who uses her popularity to push for an advocacy for a disadvantaged sector of society. Hers is Avon Speak-Out Against Domestic Violence. After what she went through in her marriage back in 2007, Ruffa is now not just being admired for her acting and beauty, but also for her inner strength. Many now look up to her as an empowered woman.
“I have been an ambassador of Avon Speak-Out Against Domestic Violence since 2009,” says Ruffa in a presscon held recently at the East Avenue Medical Center. “It was also in 2009 when I celebrated my birthday here for the first time. After four years, I’m here again… I cry when I hear your stories and (when I’m) just being surrounded by beautiful and strong women. It’s good to hear and think that you are not victims but survivors.”
Ruffa encourages victims of domestic violence not to go back to their lives but to set out on a new journey, though the first step is tough.
“I’ve been through a lot with my life,” she recalls. “I think I have survived the worst in my life and I know that God will give me a second chance to be happy. It’s been two years that I don’t have a boyfriend. It’s by choice. Kung ako’y iiyak lang sa piling ng isang lalaki, I would rather be happy alone because I know I can survive.”
Daughters Lorin and Venice are Ruffa’s source of joy. They are the reasons why “I really work hard to save money (and) to put them in the best schools.”
These days, Ruffa is also in the mood for learning. She was accepted at King’s College Summer School. Four days after her birthday (June 24), Ruffa will leave for London.
“I’ll be staying (there) for a month,” says Ruffa. “I’m taking up (a short course on) international political economy.” She is also eyeing to study the art of leadership. King’s College Summer School is under University of London.
The beauty queen-actress is excited about the idea of attending classes and listening to lectures along with other students, instead of going to private lessons. In London, Ruffa will be just an ordinary student acing her way to complete academic requirements.
“You know when I was 19, I received a letter from Schiller International University and I was already accepted to study international relations then,” she shares. “It wasn’t pushed through because my movies were back to back. So, I decided to forego my education and concentrate on my career. Opportunity only knocks once.
I was doing five movies then.” After finishing the course, Ruffa will be back in Manila and begin shooting for a movie which will be released by Star Cinema in August.
“I’ll be able to use (the course) in my everyday life,” says Ruffa. She clarifies that it is not in preparation for a political career; she congratulates our public servants because their job is not a walk in the park. But Ruffa sees herself working as ambassador in the future.
Ruffa will definitely agree that education can empower anybody. That’s why women who participated in the Avon-Women Crisis Center event received scholarships to study either commercial cooking or basic computer skills to expand their economic opportunities. This is a way of making them financially independent. But before abused women enjoy that independence, they need first a shoulder to cry on.
“Kung ilalagay mo lang sa puso mo ang problema mo, you will explode one day,” shares Ruffa. “Baka di mo makayanan. It’s very important to speak to a friend, to a colleague, to a group like the Women’s Crisis Center to share what you’re going through. At least they can help you rectify the situation, and even if they can’t help, there’s someone who can listen to you and to provide you support.”
Ruffa also thinks that one should never lose hope and try to improve oneself. Abused women have to use “the pain to be better individuals.”
“We all make mistakes, have struggles and even regret things in our past,” Ruffa reads a quote. “But you’re not your mistakes, you’re not your struggles. You are here now with the power to shape your day and your future.”