Angelu de Leon: Riding high on her second wind

by James Patrick Anarcon
Nov 16, 2020
Here is Angelu de Leon, still standing and whole. She has remained very much active in show business despite the ups and downs in her life and career.
PHOTO/S: TGIS / @angeludeleonrivera on Instagram

Angelu de Leon is a freelance actress and businesswoman in the Philippines.

Angelu, now 41, used to be an exclusive talent of VIVA Artists Agency, appearing mostly in GMA-7 TV shows and movies produced by VIVA Films.

FAMILY BACKGROUND AND EDUCATION

Angelu de Leon, Maria Luisa Angela Martinez de Leon in real life, was born on August 22, 1979.

The youngest child of Luis and Flora de Leon, she has two other siblings: Christine and Francisco.

Angelu studied pre-school in Veritas School, Parañaque City.

She went to two schools—at St. Joseph College in Grade 1 and Holy Spirit Quezon City from Grade 2 to 6—during her elementary days.

At 10 years old, Angelu did her first commercial appearance without her father's consent.

But before he died from colon cancer on January 23, 1992, Angelu's dad gave his blessing to her acting aspirations.

In high school, Angelu studied in three schools: Sienna High School Quezon City, Sienna High School in Antipolo, and RESPCI in Pasig from 1992 to 1994.

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During this time, Angelu was already trying her luck in showbiz.

Angelu de Leon with siblings and momAngelu de Leon (in black) with her (L-R) sister Christine, mom Flora, and brother Francisco.

Angelu is married to Lorenzo “Wowie” Rivera. They tied the knot in an intimate wedding celebration on September 17, 2010.

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Angelu has three kids: 22-year-old Nicole, her daughter with action star Joko Diaz; 19-year-old Loise, her daughter with businessman Jojo Manlongat'; 8-year-old Rafa, her son with husband Wowie.

Angelu de Leon with husband Wowie Rivera, daughters Loise, Nicole, and Rafa.

SHOWBIZ BEGINNINGS

Angelu was 12 years old when she was discovered in 1992 by TV director and ABS-CBN Talent Center head Johnny “Mr. M” Manahan.

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Mr. M included her in the first batch of ABS-CBN’s youth-oriented gag show, Ang TV, which he directed.

Famous for its catchphrases “Esmyuskee” and “4:30 na, Ang TV na!,” Angelu’s co-stars were Claudine Barretto, Rica Peralejo, Jolina Magdangal, and Lindsay Custodio.

Angelu de Leon in Ang TV

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Angelu left Ang TV after a year, and then she signed up with VIVA Artists Agency.

One of her first projects with VIVA was the movie ‘Di Na Natuto in 1993.

In 1994, she was given important roles in the sitcom Ober Da Bakod, a co-production of VIVA Television and GMA-7, and in the movie Kadenang Bulaklak.

Angelu de Leon with Donna Cruz, Ana Roces, and Vina Morales in Kadenang Bulaklak.

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BIG BREAK AND SUCCESS

In 1995, VIVA TV tapped Angelu as the lead star of its youth-oriented show, T.G.I.S.: Thank God It’s Sabado, along with a bunch of newbies: Bobby Andrews, Red Sternberg, Raven Villanueva, and Michael Flores.

They would later be joined by Onemig Bondoc, Rica Peralejo, and Ciara Sotto.

Angelu played Maria Patrice “Peachy” Real, the kikay of the group.

Angelu de Leon as Peachy Real in T.G.I.S.

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Director Dominic Zapata, one of T.G.I.S’ directors and creators, would later reveal in T.G.I.S’ PEP Live interview that Angelu was the highest-paid star in the show.

It came as no surprise as Angelu, among the main cast, had the most experience playing plum roles in TV shows and movies.

In the seventh episode of T.G.I.S., the show's creators saw the chemistry between Angelu and Bobby Andrews after a sweet scene by the pool.

Since then, their characters Peachy and Wacks became more and more involved with each other.

Their love team proved to be a success as T.G.I.S. continuously registered high ratings.

Angelu de Leon and Bobby Andrews' sweet scene in the 7th episode of T.G.I.S.

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In 1997, Angelu, Bobby, and the whole barkada ended their stint in T.G.I.S. when VIVA transferred them to a weekly prime-time show, Growing Up, in the same year.

They played the same roles they portrayed in T.G.I.S.

Angelu and Bobby would also top-bill their own projects: movies Laging Naroon Ka (1997), Wala Na Bang Pag-ibig (1997), Ang Lahat ng Ito’y Para Sa ‘Yo (1998), and the teleserye Ikaw Na Sana (1997-1998).

Angelu de Leon and Bobby Andrews in Wala Na Bang Pag-ibig.

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CONTROVERSIAL PREGNANCY

In 1998, in the middle of Growing Up’s run and before Ang Lahat Ng Ito’y Para Sa ‘Yo could be shown in theaters, it was reported that Angelu was pregnant.

She was in a relationship with action star Joko Diaz.

Because of her pregnancy, Angelu left Growing Up, which ended its run in 1999.

Angelu said in a 2015 PEPtalk interview, “Noong part na iyon ng Growing Up, na we were doing the episode already, I was pregnant.

“And then, parang dumating iyong choice na, ‘Do you wanna continue the pregnancy, or you wanna continue the show?’

“Para naman sa akin, I mean, not for anything, I’m not gonna judge anyone, but I cannot do an abortion.

"So, I had to do that... na parang that thing na I would be bold enough to admit right away that I was pregnant.

“Siyempre, parang lahat sila, ‘Ha? Si Bobby [ang ama]?!’ [Ang sagot ko,] ‘Hindi po.’

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“It was really hard, but I think that choice I made was for the good of my soul."

Angelu gave birth to her first child, Maria Louise Nicole, on November 7, 1998.

Angelu and Joko would later break up, which paved the way for her showbiz comeback.

SECOND WIND

In 1999, Angelu, still with VIVA Artists Agency, had shed her teenybopper image.

She did her first daring role via the critically acclaimed movie, Bulaklak ng Maynila, which starred Elizabeth Oropesa and Christopher de Leon.

Angelu played Ada, a victim of abuse who leaves home and becomes a sexy dancer to survive.

Angelu de Leon with Jomari Yllana in Bulaklak ng Maynila.

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During her June 2020 PEP Live interview, Angelu recalled how she got through a sensitive scene in the movie in which she removed her bra top while dancing.

She said, “Ilang takes iyon na talagang sa hindi ko kaya mentally, talagang nagsabi ako na I needed a drink to get through this.

“Parang hindi kaya ng acting skills ko! Kailangan kong uminom!

“’Tapos ang naalala ko pa noon, nasa bandang Manila kami, wala namang wine doon!

“Naalala ko, tosca tequila yata iyon na wow, blade! Para kang uminom ng blade para lang magawa ko iyong eksenang yun. I guess it kind of loosened me up in a sense.

Angelu earned her first Best Supporting Actress award in the 1999 Metro Manila Film Festival for her portrayal of Ada in Bulaklak ng Maynila.

In 2000, Angelu did the movie Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin with Diether Ocampo and the VIVA TV-produced teleserye May Bukas Pa, which first aired on IBC-13 and, later, on RPN-9.

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Angelu de Leon (middle) with Cherie Gil, Kim delos Santos, Dina Bonnevie, and Anne Curtis in VIVA TV's teleserye, May Bukas Pa.

But Angelu was not able to finish May Bukas Pa because, again, she got pregnant.

The father of her second child, Maria Louise Margaret is businessman Jojo Manlongat, Angelu’s beau at that time.

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In 2001, after giving birth to Loise, Angelu staged her second comeback portraying a major role in the GMA-7 prime-time series Sana Ay Ikaw Na Nga.

The series, top-billed by Dingdong Dantes and Tanya Garcia, also marked the return of her team-up with Bobby Andrews.

Dingdong Dantes, Tanya Garcia, Angelu de Leon, and Bobby Andrews in Sana Ay Ikaw Na Nga

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CHARACTER ACTRESS

This time around, Angelu took a new career path as a character actress.

In Sana Ay Ikaw Na Nga, she was the sister of the series' villain Olga, who was played by Maricar de Mesa.

She also had a short appearance in ABS-CBN’s weekly series Buttercup in 2003, where she worked with Claudine Barretto, Piolo Pascual, and T.G.I.S. co-stars Ciara Sotto, Onemig Bondoc, and Bobby Andrews.

In her next teleserye, which was Te Amo: Maging Sino Ka Man (2004), Angelu portrayed the role of Colette, the spoiled brat rival of Rosela (Iza Calzado) for the heart of Principe Aragon (Segundo Cernadas).

Angelu began portraying mother roles with ABS-CBN’s 2006 kiddie series Super Inggo as Pacita, the mother of Budong played by Makisig Morales.

Angelu de Leon as Pacita in Super Inggo.

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From 2009, Angelu would star in a string of teleseryes in GMA-7, either playing a kontrabida or a mother role.

These included Ang Babaeng Hinugot Sa Aking Tadyang (2009), The Last Prince (2010), Koreana (2010), and Sisid (2011).

In the middle of Sisid’s run in 2011, Angelu had to leave the show when she got pregnant with her child with husband Wowie Rivera, Rafael Andres.

She gave birth to Rafa on January 31, 2012.

In December 2012, Angelu was be reunited with Bobby for the sequel of T.G.I.S. titled Teen Gen.

She also did mother roles in her succeeding teleseryes: Pyra: Babaeng Apoy (2013), Niño (2014), and Buena Familia (2015).

Angelu was also the only actress who became a cast member of the reincarnations of GMA-7’s two successful telefantasyas: Encantadia (2016) and Mulawin vs. Ravena (2017), portraying two different roles.

Angelu de Leon as Lourdes in Mulawin vs. Ravena

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In 2019, Angelu headlined the afternoon series Inagaw na Bituin with Sunshine Dizon and Angelika dela Cruz.

It marked the first time that three of GMA-7’s original drama queens in the 1990s to the early 2000s joined forces for a teleserye.

The series was also top-billed by Kyline Alcantara and Therese Malvar.

Angelu de Leon played the adoptive mother of Kyline Alcantara in Inagaw na Bituin.

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Angelu had just finished shooting Bababaero, a movie produced by VIVA Films, which stars Janno Gibbs and Andrew E. It has yet to be shown in theaters.

BELL’S PALSY

In November 2016, Angelu revealed on Instagram that she had Bell’s Palsy.

According to Web MD, “Bell's palsy is a paralysis or weakness of the muscles on one side of your face. Damage to the facial nerve that controls muscles on one side of the face causes that side of your face to droop.”

This was not the first time that Angelu had a bout with Bell's Palsy. The first time happened in 2009.

In an interview with PEP.ph in 2017, Angelu admitted she experienced depression after her second Bell’s Palsy attack.

She said, "I would let it get to me for a time. Pag naiyak ako, iiyak ako, but I didn't show it to my kids.

"My husband would sometimes see it, pero hindi nagpapa-baby, sinasabihan ko na huwag niyo i-baby, don't make me feel...

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"After noon, hinga ako, magpe-pray na ako 'tapos magbabasa ako ng Bible.”

SOCIAL MEDIA

Angelu is active on social media.

Her Instagram account, @angeludeleonrivera, is verified and has 295K followers. It is where she is most active, sharing a glimpse of her life with her fans and followers.

Angelu’s Twitter account, @AngeluDeLeonR, is also updated. She has 46.9K followers on the platform.

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BUSINESSES

Angelu is also entrepreneur.

Her first business venture is called The Makeover Lounge, a salon and spa business established in October 2015. Among her partners are her friends Phoemela Barranda and Chef Rosebud Benitez.

Located in San Juan City, the business is still active.

Angelu also co-owned a restaurant called Spice and Cleaver, which was established in 2015, with husband Wowie and his friends as her partners.

The restaurant offered hand-crafted sausages and aged steaks.

It was located in Estancia until Angelu and her partners decided to close it permanently in 2019.

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CELEBRITY LINKS

Recounting her showbiz relationships, Angelu disclosed during the recent T.G.I.S.’ reunion on Eat Bulaga!’s “Bawal Judgmental” that she became involved with two of her co-stars: Michael Flores and Onemig Bondoc.

She hastened to add that her relationships with Michael and Onemig happened before they all were cast in T.G.I.S.

Bobby Andrews, Angelu de Leon, and Michael Flores in Bawal Judgmental.

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She never had a romantic relationship with love-team partner Bobby Andrews, but Angelu said in her June 2020 PEP Live guesting that they dated once, during an Alanis Morissette concert.

During their PEPTalk episode in 2015, Angelu described her relationship with Bobby as “more than friends but less of a lover.”

Bobby also revealed in the interview that he attempted to court Angelu during their T.G.I.S. days.

However, he said, “Nang medyo nakaamoy ang mommy niya, kinausap ako.

“‘Si Angelu, bata pa iyan, hintayin mo muna mag-eighteen iyan. Ayoko may mangyayari sa inyo bago mag-eighteen siya. So, whatever you have now, ganun na iyon.’

"Not in that exact [words], but something to that effect."

Angelu’s known showbiz boyfriend was Joko Diaz, the father of her firstborn, Nicole.

She also had a relationship with businessman Jojo Manlongat, the father of her second daughter Loise, and Ronald Singson.

One of Angelu’s closest friends in showbiz is Sherilyn Reyes-Tan, the only celebrity invited to her intimate wedding with Wowie Rivera on September 17, 2010.

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Angelu has also remained in touch with some of her T.G.I.S. co-stars, mainly Ciara Sotto, Michael Flores, Bobby Andrews, Red Sternberg, Rica Peralejo, and Bernadette Allysson.

Angelu is also in the same circle with TV host Phoemela Barranda and chef Rosebud Benitez, along with other non-showbiz friends.

Angelu is constantly in touch with Tanya Garcia and Maricar de Mesa, with whom she became close while doing Sana Ay Ikaw Na Nga.

They usually hold reunion dinners once a year.

Angelu de Leon with Maricar de Mesa, Tanya Garcia, and the producers of Sana Ay Ikaw Na Nga.

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LIST OF TV AND MOVIE PROJECTS

Television

  • Ang TV (ABS-CBN, 1992 to 1993) as herself
  • Ober Da Bakod (GMA-7, 1994 to 1997) as Kuting
  • T.G.I.S.: Thank God It’s Sabado (GMA-7, 1995 to 1997) as Ma. Patrice “Peachy” Real
  • Growing Up: T.G.I.S. Primetime (GMA-7, 1997 to 1998) as Ma. Patrice “Peachy” Real
  • Ikaw Na Sana (GMA-7, 1997 to 1998) as Blanca Perez / Susan Saavedra
  • May Bukas Pa (IBC-13/RPN-9, 2000) as Irene Buencamino
  • Sana Ay Ikaw Na Nga (GMA-7, 2001-2003) as Agnes Consuelo Villavicer
  • Buttercup (ABS-CBN, 2003) as Chloe
  • Te Amo: Maging Sino Ka Man (GMA-7, 2004) as Colette Camacho
  • Super Inggo (ABS-CBN, 2006) as Pacita
  • Super Inggo 1.5: Ang Bagong Bangis (ABS-CBN, 2007) as Pacita
  • Parekoy (ABS-CBN, 2009) as Angelique
  • Ang Babaeng Hinugot Sa Aking Tadyang (GMA-7, 2009) as Heleen Barrientos
  • The Last Prince (GMA-7, 2010) as Mayang
  • Love Bug: Exchange of Hearts (GMA-7, 2010) as Fina
  • Koreana (GMA-7, 2010-2011) as Nerissa Rosales-Jung
  • Sisid (GMA-7, 2011) as Alicia Cordelia
  • Hindi Ka Na Mag-iisa (GMA-7, 2012) as Jordana Montenegro
  • Teen Gen (GMA-7, 2012-2013) as Ma. Patrice “Peachy” Real-Da Silva
  • Pyra: Babaeng Apoy (GMA-7, 2013) as Merly Lucente
  • Nino (GMA-7, 2014) as Leny Inocente
  • Buena Familia (GMA-7, 2015-2016) as Bettina Buena
  • Encantadia (GMA-7, 2016) as Amanda
  • Mulawin vs. Ravena (GMA-7, 2017) as Lourdes
  • Sirkus (GMA-7, 2018) as Liza
  • The Stepdaughters (GMA-7, 2018) as Brenda Salvador
  • Inday Will Always Love You (GMA-7, 2018) as Rica
  • Inagaw na Bituin (GMA-7, 2019) as Aurora dela Cruz
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Movies

  • ‘Di Na Natuto (VIVA Films, 1993) as Elisa
  • Kadenang Bulaklak (VIVA Films, 1994) as Daisy Abolencia / Tricia Hidalgo
  • Ober Da Bakod: Da Movie (VIVA Films, 1994) as Kuting
  • Forever (VIVA Films, 1994) as Cindy Valdez
  • P’re Hanggang sa Huli (VIVA Films, 1994) as Jing-jing
  • Okey si Ma’am (VIVA Films, 1995) as Ida
  • Jessica Alfaro Story (VIVA Films, 1995) as Lorraine
  • Takot Ka Ba Sa Dilim (VIVA Films, 1996) as Carly
  • Where ‘D Girls ‘R (VIVA Films, 1996) as Demetria
  • T.G.I.S.: The Movie (VIVA Films, 1997) as Ma. Patrice “Peachy” Real
  • Isinakdal Ko Ang Aking Ina (VIVA Films, 1997) as Karen
  • Laging Naroon Ka (VIVA Films, 1997) as Patricia “Trixie” Gomez
  • Wala Na Bang Pag-ibig (VIVA Films, 1997) as Gemma Caringal
  • Ikaw Na Sana: The Movie (NEO Films, 1998) as Blanca Perez
  • Ang Lahat Ng Ito’y Para Sa ‘Yo (VIVA Films, 1998) as Cathy
  • Bulaklak ng Maynila (VIVA Films, 1999) as Ada
  • Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin (VIVA Films, 2000) as Abby
  • Abandonada (VIVA Films, 2000) as Cindy
  • D’ Uragons (VIVA Films, 2002) as Claudia
  • Aishite Imasu 1941: Mahal Kita (Regal Films, 2004) as Maura
  • Status Single (VIVA Films, 2009) as Wanda
  • Tween Academy: Class of 2012 (GMA Films, 2011) as Luisa
  • Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy (Star Cinema and VIVA Films, 2013) as Rhea
  • Echoserang Frog (Scenema Concept International, 2014) as Madam Berta
  • Deadma Walking (T-Rex, 2017) as John’s ex-girlfriend
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AWARDS

Acting Award:

  • Best Supporting Actress at 1999 Metro Manila Film Festival Awards for Bulaklak ng Maynila

Other Awards:

  • Darling of the Press at 1993 Guillermo Mendoza Scholarship Foundation
  • Teenage Queen for T.G.I.S. and Growing Up at 1998 Guillermo Mendoza Scholarship Foundation
  • Most Popular Love Team with Bobby Andrews at 1998 Guillermo Mendoza Scholarship Foundation

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Here is Angelu de Leon, still standing and whole. She has remained very much active in show business despite the ups and downs in her life and career.
PHOTO/S: TGIS / @angeludeleonrivera on Instagram
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