Real-life sweethearts Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera left on February 2, 2010, for Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to be special guests in the Ogie Alcasid-Regine Velasquez Heart2Heart Concert, held in that Middle Eastern city on February 5.
Shortly after the concert, Dingdong and Marian flew, via Doha Qatar, to the land of Marian's birth—Madrid, Spain.
This was to make true on Marian's long-standing promise to her Spanish dad, Francisco Javier Gracia, that she would visit him after six long years of not seeing each other.
The visit was made even more special by the presence of Dingdong, whom Marian got to introduce to her dad for the first time.
Asked how his first meeting with Mr. Gracia went, Dingdong says, smiling: "Magaan. Unang-una, walang parang dialect difficulty, kasi magaling siya mag-Tagalog, so nagkakaintindihan kami. 'Tapos, siguro 'yong kultura natin, medyo malapit din sa kanila, bilang naging Spanish colony tayo dati. He's very groovy pa din, e. Saka pareho kami ng mga interes, lalo na sa kotse. And he's a very hardworking fellow. Ang galing!"
But the best part of the trip, Dingdong adds, was seeing dad and daughter happy together: "After almost six years of not being together, e, they were given the chance to be with each other again."
Marian says there were no crying moments between her and her dad at the outset. "More on tuwa talaga," she recalls. "Pero naiyak talaga ako noong pauwi na kami. Doon ko na-feel na, 'Ay, uuwi na 'ko.'"
The actress, who lives with her mother, Amalia Rivera, in Cavite, says she took home, not just happy memories, but something more important: her dad's loving words.
"Sabi niya, nakompleto ang buong pagkatao niya noong makita niya ako uli."