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The Pink Ranger is a Pinay

If you are "techno"-crazy like my nephews, chances are that you are an avid fan of Power Rangers.

For the sake of old fogeys (like this one), here's a little backgrounder on Power Rangers, culled from the Net:

Power Rangers is a long-running American children's television series adapted from the Japanese tokusatsu Super Sentai Series, though it is a "new" production with English-speaking actors spliced in with the original Japanese footage in varying ratios. Due to the very Japanese nature of many of the Super Sentai Series' stories and design, the American shows are altered to fit the Western audience. However, many of the action sequences featuring the characters in costume and the mecah (referred to as "Zords" in the English series) are typically dubbed.

The series that began the franchise was Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which began broadcasting as part of the Fox Kids group of programs that aired on the Fox network. It lasted for three seasons (from 1993 to 1996). The franchise has continued, and as of 2008 has consisted of 16 television seasons, 14 different series, and two theatrical films. The 15th season and the 13th series, Power Rangers: Operation Overdrive, debuted on Feb. 26, 2007, and completed on Nov. 12, 2007. The new series, Power Rangers: Jungle Fury, debuted last Feb. 18.

The Power Rangers series was distributed by Saban Entertainment from 1993 until the end of 2001 and was broadcast on Fox until the fall of 2002. The franchise was purchased by the Walt Disney Company as part of the buyout that took place between 2001 and 2002.

But what Power Rangers fanatics probably don't know yet is that a Filipino actress has been in the series (Power Rangers: Operation Overdrive), playing Rose The Pink Ranger, for almost a year, so petite (standing 5'1") that she looks like a Dresden Doll side by side with the other Rangers: Samuell Benta as Will The Black Ranger, Caitlin Murphy as Roni The Yellow Ranger, James Maclurcan as Mack The Red Ranger and Gareth Yuen as Tax The Blue Ranger.

She's none other than Rhoda Montemayor, 29, a full-blooded Filipina born and raised in London, along with her two siblings Renee (older), also an actress, and Rowena (younger) who, believe it or not, played the son of Lea Salonga in Miss Saigon when the Cameron Mackintosh megahit musical opened at the Theatre Royale Drury Lane in London's West End. Her mom, Rosalie Pichay Viloria (related to former Rep. Prospero Pichay), is Ilocana; and her dad, Eddie Montemayor, is Kapampangan.

"My sister Renee is the reason why I am in this business," revealed Rhoda. "She's the actress in the family, the first UK-born Filipina to play Kim in Miss Saigon. I wasn't always into the performing arts. I used to do ballet classes as a part-time work in school and Renee, seeing the potential in me, pushed me into auditioning for some plays."

Whatever happened to Rowena?

"She didn't pursue acting. She's 21 now and she's into events marketing."

Rhoda graduated from the Laine Theater Arts in London, a school which she described as "very similar to Fame" (remember the movie?). She can dance but even if, as she herself admitted, "I can't sing," she has been in several musicals-on-tour, such as West Side Story and A Chorus Line.

"I can carry a tune, all right, but I am not as good a singer as those in the Philippines where there are so many fantastic singers," Rhoda said in all candor and humility.

Rhoda is here for her regular vacation and she's staying for two months. She arrived on June 16, going around incognito, and she hasn't even said yes to any of the invitations for her to guest on TV. This interview was her very first ever.

So how did Rhoda get into Power Rangers?

"Disney went to London to look for actors to play The Black Ranger and The Pink Ranger," said Rhoda. "They had already found the other Rangers but they couldn't find the remaining Rangers, even if they had already auditioned dozens of aspirants in such faraway places as New Zealand, Australia, India and South America. I don't have any idea what qualities in the actors they were looking for. They actually went to London as a last recourse."

Rose The Pink Ranger is supposed to be a genius who graduated from Harvard at the age of nine.

"I was to find out later that the Disney people wanted an actor who is quite cool and who is able to pick up quickly," added Rhoda, "and who is trained in martial arts which I was not. I would learn martial arts only on the job. During the audition, they asked me to memorize some lines and they wanted an American accent. Three weeks later, I got the part. Before I could recover from excitement, I found myself on a plane to Auckland, New Zealand, for the shoot. I was there for seven months. Everything happened very fast, like a whirlwind."

Her background as a dancer came in handy for the choreographed action scenes.

"It was in Auckland where we trained in martial arts and stunts. There are a lot of explosions in the series, so we were trained how to run so that we wouldn't get burned. We were also taught how to fall properly so we wouldn't break our bones, and how to kick and be kicked without getting hurt. We started shooting in 2006 and the series started airing seven months ago in the US. It should be showing in the Philippines soon."

How much of her is Filipino and how much is British?

"Oh, I guess 50/50. I was raised in a Filipino family, even if my surrounding is very British. No, we never experienced any clash of cultures. Our parents instilled in us very Filipino values. Family and religion are very strong factors in our upbringing. We children were baptized Catholics."

As soon as she's back in London, Rhoda will resume work on a British film called Suicide Kids, a horror-thriller. Her first movie was Finding Neverland (yes, the Johnny Depp starrer) which was shot in London. Her other films include Animal (no, not the Rob Schneider starrer) and Adulthood (a sequel to Kidulthood), now showing in London, where she plays a cameo. (She has auditioned for other Hollywood films, one of them Memoirs of a Geisha.)

Would she consider an offer to do a project here?

"I'm here on vacation but I'm open to anything."

This information came from http://www.philstar.com/archives.php?aid=2008071118&type=2&

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