Who would have thought that the guy who first started out in teenybopper and terribly wholesome roles would turn out to be one of showbiz's hottest hunks?
Dingdong Dantes has got his career going full steam ahead. He is the man as far as sexiness goes, having been named as one of E! Entertainment Television's Top 25 Sexiest Men of the World.
That honor didn't come to him overnight. Not only did he work out regularly to develop his muscles; more importantly, patience and single-mindedness drove him steadily towards becoming sexy hunk that he is, inside-out.
"Gusto ko something different, gusto ko ibang Dingdong Dantes naman ang ipapakita ko sa tao," he said exactly a year ago when he agreed to be photographed-with nary a stitch on-for a Cosmopolitan cover.
"Dati pa naman gumagawa na ako ng mature roles, but it doesn't mean na magpapa-sexy na ako sa movies, sa TV...I believe na pag magpapa-sexy ka, you have to act it, you have to perform it, and not just pose," he added.
His Cosmopolitan cover would be the launching pad to a new career high for the handsome actor.
Climb to Fame. Before super-popularity landed on his doorstep, though, Dingdong climbed step by step through various showbiz projects.
He was initially known as Antoinette Taus's constant onscreen partner (and then later, off-screen as well), first in the TV show, T.G.I.S. (Thank God It's Sabado) in 1995, in Anna Karenina in 1998 (until 2002), and in truly sappy flicks like Honey, My Love, So Sweet and Kiss Mo ‘Ko in 1999.
He was handsome, no doubt, and he had a string of assignments, but for some reason, Dingdong could not hit his stride. Fame proved elusive for the actor even with attempts to bank on love teams to fully launch his career.
After his team-up with Antoinette ended, spurred by her decision to try a Hollywood career in 2002, Dingdong was paired opposite Tanya Garcia in GMA's Sana Ay Ikaw Na Nga. The Dingdong-Tanya team-up was reasonably well-accepted, even producing yet another collaboration in 2003's Twin Hearts. But it did nothing to make their careers exciting.
Another try at a pairing was with current girlfriend, Karylle. They starred in the 2005 horror flick, Bahay ni Lola 2. As horrors go, it did fairly well in scaring the living daylights out of movie viewers. As for popularity measure, there was nothing special in the reel pairing to propel their names to new heights.
On TV, GMA-7 gave Dingdong lots of opportunities to spread his wings. In 2003, he was given a chance to prove his mettle in hosting via the talent search, StarStruck. And he nailed it. He was good at hosting. The next year, he again hosted the show and as an offshoot, he also hosted the Bb. Pilipinas pageant. Aside from the serious hosting jobs, he was also given directing chores in Kakabakaba Adventures, a production that showcased snippets of horror stories.
His network, GMA-7, also thought it wise to pair one of their handsomest to one of their prettiest. Thus, Dingdong was cast opposite lovely Iza Calzado in the romantic movie, Moments of Love and Eternity (2006).
Prior to that, he played Ybarro/Ybrahim opposite real-life girlfriend Karylle and Iza Calzado in Encantadia. He was good. He was versatile. But the phenomenal success of the series was attributed to the story and the four sangg'res.
But it was only when Dingdong Dantes met one Marian Rivera that the actor's popularity shot up like it was given a wonder drug.
August of 2007, the Mexican telenovela, Marimar, was launched on Philippine shores with a fresh local twist and with a new and promising pairing in Dingdong and Marian.
After that, there was no looking back for Dingdong Dantes.
The Dingdong Dantes. "Lahat ng magagandang nangyayari, lahat ng dumarating, ipinagpapasalamat ko lahat. Wala na kong mahihiling, pero siyempre, with regard to my work... gusto kong pagbutihin pa. Magaganda naman ang lahat ng nangyayari and I thank everyone na nakakatulong para malagay ako kahit paano sa situwasyon na ito," Dingdong told the press in his thanksgiving party on December 2007.
The thanksgiving was the actor's way of showing his appreciation to the people who had helped him. It was also, in a way, an acknowledgment that lady luck had finally blessed him with success. His role as Sergio to Marian's Marimar made him not just a household name, it positioned him in the league of the big stars.
September of that same year, highlighting his apparently growing popularity, Dingdong was featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine. Also that September, he was one of the featured sexy males in the Cosmo Bachelor Bash (titled "Flight 69") at the Fort, Taguig. It was the first time Dingdong walked the ramp wearing nothing but low-riding jeans.
The event ripped to shreds the ‘conservative' Dingdong of old, giving way to sexy Dingdong Dantes.
In March 2008, after striking endorsement deals one after another, one billboard made Dingdong appear bigger than life and sexier than ever. In his Bench billboard along Edsa, specifically in Guadalupe, Makati, he wore nothing but a pair of skimpy briefs and an enticing smile. "Siyempre, pinaghirapan ko talaga, ‘to," proudly referring to his enviable physique.
The hunk eventually got more exposure in Blackout: The Bench Denim and Underwear Fashion Show held at the Araneta Coliseum last July.
As the latest Bench endorser, Dingdong did not disappoint when he stripped to his briefs in front of avid spectators. "Actually, wala akong naririnig, e, dahil focused ako na malakad ko nang diretso ang rampa, after having a few shots of brandy para pampalakas ng loob! Kasi ganoon ako sa isang bagay kapag gusto kong mag-concentrate talaga, to the point na nasusungitan ko minsan ang lahat ng tao sa paligid ko. Pasensiya na po sa inyo, pero bukas hindi na," he explained.
"Sa akin lang, I want to make the most out of the moment because alam ko na importante ito para sa akin, at gayundin sa mga tao sa Bench, dahil napakalaking produksiyon ito, at nagpapasalamat nga ako na isinama nila ako rito.... Tamang tama lang, they gave me the opportunity at ginawa ko lang kung ano ang nararapat," added Dingdong.
Asked how he kept fit, he revealed: "Inayos ko lang ang pagkain ko, mas healthy." His regular gym workouts (supervised by a personal trainer) paid off; so did jogging whenever possible.
Being chosen as one of E! Entertainment Television's Top 25 Sexiest Men of the World is icing to everything else. He has owned the tag ‘sexy hunk' since baring it in Cosmopolitan, one might say.
"Actually, nung nalaman ko, e, natatawa ako dahil talagang never in my wildest dreams ko naisip na mapapasama ako dito," he said in an August 24 interview with PEP. "I'm very thankful talaga. Kumbaga, minamahal ko talaga ang ginagawa ko so that's why siguro it loves me back."
The future looks bright. "Kasi naniniwala ako sa patience...patience and waiting for the right project," Dingdong related. "Sa akin naman, kahit gaano ka katanda, kahit ano mangyari sa ‘yo in the past, kung baguhan ka man, but given the right project, many things can happen. And sa akin, yung paghihintay, yung mga nangyari, lahat yun learning experience yun, e. Kumbaga sa ipinundar na taon, na experience, marami akong naipundar kahit papaano."
Having found his niche in the industry and now enjoying his well-earned success, Dingdong also wants to give something back, to pay it forward. In line with this, he spearheaded a basketball for a cause last August. The event, which was given excitement by Dingdong's Kapuso friends like Alfred Vargas, Wendell Ramos, JC de Vera, among others, was in collaboration with the Philippine Maritime Institute to help give scholarships for two deserving students of Dingdong's choosing.
Indeed, the sexy hunk has an equally beautiful heart.
Still busy as Fredo in the TV hit, Dyesebel, the actor still looks forward to more challenges in his career. It would be recalled that only last July, Dingdong was vocal about wanting to be in an ‘edgy' role: "Well, I would like to say ‘edgy.' Daring is part of being ‘edgy,' e. Mas gusto ko ang ‘edgy' than being daring. For me, ‘edgy' is being something not normal. Yung tipong kapag ginawa ko, mag-iisip ang mga tao, ‘Sira ulo ba ‘to? Hindi si Dingdong ito.' Something na ganoon. A breakthrough performance. Isang bagay na gustong gawin ng bawat actor.'
He is now under contract to do three films with GMA 7 and one has even been given some buzz already: about a movie to be titled Amnesia, opposite Marian Rivera and Iza Calzado. So, we will see more acting chops from Dingdong Dantes.
He is just starting to enjoy his success.