Every journalist yearns of gracing the front page, having his own column, or publishing a bestselling book. Thirty five years into the industry, UST journalism alumnus Ruben Nepales has done them all.

Now based in Los Angeles in the United States, Nepales writes a column and is the Hollywood correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. He has published a book on the Filipino “connection” in the American movie industry on top of recognitions for his entertainment writing.

Nepales fell in love with writing at a very young age, mainly influenced by his mother Socorro, a teacher. His passion was such that he would share his pieces to his classmates at fifth grade.

“I enjoyed writing these [features and news] stories on my school notebooks. I tore these pages and ‘forced’ some of my classmates to read them,” he recalled.

Nepales left the province in college and enrolled at UST where he eventually wrote for “The Flame,” the official student publication of the Faculty of Arts and Letters.

“What I liked about UST is its mixture of students from different backgrounds,” he said.

After graduating, Nepales got his first job as a staff writer at a newsletter of the Batulao Village Club, a defunct private club near Tagaytay.

From writer to author

Publishing his first book was a life changer of sorts for Nepales. Although his colleagues encouraged him to come out with a book, his busy schedule initially hindered him.

“I had an angel in Nenet Galang, an Artlets alumna, who had such faith in me. I am grateful to her for hooking me up with Anvil Publishing, Inc., which published the book,” he said.

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His first book, titled My Filipino Connection: The Philippines in Hollywood (2012), features Hollywood talents who had direct or indirect connection to the Philippines.

Personalities featured in the book include Helen Mirren, who recalled her brother who loved the Philippines and lived in Laguna, and Forest Whitaker who mentioned staying with friends in a home in Balic Balic at the height of the People Power Revolution.

“That is the focus of my book. It is a collection of mostly published pieces on Darren Criss, Vanessa Hudgens, Hailee Steinfeld, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, and more,” he said.

Though he writes mainly about Hollywood talents, he makes it a point to include Filipino performers and personalities.

“It has become my advocacy to help push Filipino talents in the world stage,” he said.

He also featured alumni such as the Del Carmen brothers (Ronnie is co-directing his film at Pixar, Louie is at DreamWorks, and Ricky works at Fox); and Gini Cruz Santos, who is one of the “Pixnoys” at Pixar.

“I featured Bernardo Bernardo, a Philets alumnus who is now based in Los Angeles, and Luisa Mendez Marshall, my Communication Arts major batch mate who is Canada’s award-winning Tina Turner tribute entertainer and a TV talk show host,” he said. “I also featured Tony de Zuñiga, the veteran and revered Marvel and DC comic book illustrator who sadly just passed away.”

“So far, we are already on our second printing–I hope we will have a part two,” he said.

Nepales has been cited for his body of work.

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In 2011, he was a finalist in the National Entertainment Journalism Awards, a United States-wide competition presented by the Los Angeles Press Club. He also became a finalist of the Los Angeles Press Club’s 54th Southern California Journalism Awards this year.

Last March, he received The Outstanding Thomasian Alumni Award, two years after he was named Gantimpala Awardee for Media by the Faculty of Arts and Letters.

“Hollywood is known for its loose, anything-goes atmosphere. But I have managed to stay on course because the importance of integrity and compassion have stayed in my mind and my heart up to this day,” he said.

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