He played Sergio in Marimar, Fredo in Dyesebel, Homer in Ang Babaeng Hinugot sa Aking Tadyang, and soon he will be Cholo in the local remake of Stairway to Heaven on GMA-7. He is the only Pinoy to land on Entertainment Television’s roundup of the “25 Sexiest Men of the World,” and the Asian who ranks highest on the list. He is impossible to miss on EDSA billboards—his intense gaze, chiseled features, and ripped abs provide a welcome distraction from the heavy Manila traffic. He has even made his foray into music with the release of The Dingdong Dantes Experience, an audio-visual project that includes a mini-coffee table book and a DVD featuring four music videos starring the actor. He is the epitome of the hunky leading man.
Dingdong Dantes is 100% hot onscreen, but when the cameras aren’t rolling, he’s a good-natured, funny guy who doesn’t let all that stardom get to his head. Read on to find out why Dingdong can ring our bell anytime!
How does it feel to be hailed as one of the hottest guys in the industry now?
Even up to now ‘di pa rin nagsi-sink in sa akin because it’s like the last thing I ever imagined [being]. Never ko naisip na mapapasama ako dun, kahit maging artista or something. For whatever reason they have, I’m very flattered. It’s a privilege na matawag na gan’on pero s’yempre I would like to be known for other greater things, for example, sa larangan ng pag-acting. But s’yempre malaking karangalan pa rin sa akin iyon.
When you were younger and you weren’t this successful yet, which female actress did you want to work with?
Oh, Dina Bonnevie. Pero nakatrabaho ko na siya. And I would like to work with Maricel Soriano.
How do you balance work and your personal life?
Sa akin okay lang kahit one or two days of rest. Enough for me to do my personal stuff.
And you work hard the rest of the week?
Oo. Pero s’yempre may break naman, minsan maaga matapos [ang taping]. So buong gabi pwede ka na gumawa ng kung anu-anong kalokohan.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Definitely still in the industry. Siguro in five years may pamilya na ako. So it’s gonna be me plus one, plus two, or plus three (laughs).
How about 10 years from now?
It’s still too far ahead e.
But you can see yourself in the industry for the rest of your life?
Of course. Maybe not directly on cam. Definitely around the industry. Pero I’d like to take it on a daily basis kasi gusto ko ma-maximize ko lahat ng araw ko, magawa ko ang lahat ng pwede, as compared to planning that far. Siguro planning for the next five years, three years, but 10 years masyadong malayo pa.
You used to do a lot of directing also. Do you still have projects?
Yeah, pero mas gusto ko muna mag-concentrate sa acting. Pwede naman [ang directing] anytime. Kahit naka-wheelchair ako kaya kong gawin ‘yun.
What thrill do you get from directing that you don’t get to experience when acting?
Iba ‘yung rush. Iba ‘yung thrill of trying to put things together and put people together and magiging part ‘yung personal touch mo sa material. Ibang klase talaga. Kasi ‘pag director ka, ‘yung material na ‘yan, it’s you, because you will orchestrate all the movements. Pati kung papano umaarte ‘yung mga artista mo.
Who do you idolize most in the industry? Both local and foreign.
Siyempre si Richard Gomez. Sa directors naman gusto ko ‘yung style ni Joyce Bernal. Marami, pero si Joyce because siya ‘yung latest na nakatrabaho ko. [As for] foreign, I don’t really follow the works of foreign directors. I know a good movie if I see it pero ‘di ko na tinatanong kung sino’ng director.
Are there any foreign actors you idolize?
Hugh Jackman. Idol ko ‘yan.
You’ve worked on a lot of projects since you were in your teens. What role would you like to be remembered for?
Siguro the one that has created the greatest, most recent impact is playing Sergio in Marimar, because I believe that started my transformation. In fact I was watching it last night on DVD. Sabi ko, “’Yun pala itsura nun!”
When you look back at your trajectory in this business, do you like what you’ve achieved so far or is there anything you’d like to change?
Sa change, marami. Pero sa akin hindi ko matututunan lahat kung everything was perfect. Everything happens for a reason. I’m okay it happened that way.
What are your favorite pastimes?
Kung pastime, tulog lang naman. To de-stress, target shooting. Then soon babalik ako sa aking first na nahiligan which is knife fighting.
Is that a popular hobby?
Hindi masyado. But it’s growing. Pero ang maganda ‘yung pagka-exclusive. ‘Yung mga tao dun intact talaga sila. So gustong-gusto kong bumalik.
Aside from your looks, what do you think is your most attractive quality?
I don’t know. It varies.
With every girl?
Yes. Hindi pwedeng manggaling sa akin ‘yun. Siguro ‘yung maalaga.
How do you take care of her?
Pinapalitan ko ang diaper. (Laughs). ‘Yung balanse. ‘Yung pwede mong itrato siyang parang prinsesa at the same time pwedeng parang kaibigan. ‘Yung pwede mong biru-biruin. Ayoko ng stiff na babae. Hindi naman ‘yung tipong babatukan mo. Hindi naman ganun. Siyempre may respeto pa rin.
Would you consider yourself sweet?
No. But sabi nila oo. Kaya hindi ako naniniwala (laughs).
Where would you take a girl out on a first date?
Ah, masaya ‘yan. I would take her out jogging, probably in UP. Then have some fishballs and some isaw after. Then have happy hour in a place that has beer below zero.
Do you believe that opposites attract or should two people be similar for a relationship to work?
Siyempre you should have konting similarities. These similarities are the most important ones, like of course you should first like each other. Kung hindi, e ‘di wala na ‘di ba? Pero mas [okay kung] opposites. Sa similarities, ‘yung major points lang. Pero sa little things, mas maganda kung opposite.
How can you tell if you and a girl have chemistry? Can you tell right away?
Medyo. I can tell right away. Siguro [an] initial sign [is] if you can last the whole day speaking with her and not get bored. At pag-uwi mo may natutunan ka. ‘Yun muna, kasi pwede pang magbago ‘yun. Baka araw-araw ‘yun lang ‘yung ituturo niya sa’yo (laughs). Siyempre mahabang proseso ‘yun.
You said being an actor is not something you actually planned. What do you imagine yourself being had you not been an actor?
Siguro member ng banda na nasa military.
Do you play drums?
Yeah, nung grade school ako, I used to be in a band. Wala na ngayon, pero siyempre it’s still isa sa mga passions ko.
But you’re still interested in music?
Of course. Always.
What do you listen to?
Gusto ko rock e.
‘90s rock. Hindi pa ako umaalis sa ‘90s rock. Para sa akin wala pa ring tatalo sa ganun.
Pearl Jam, Nirvana, STP, Live, REM, Metallica, mga ganun.
Is there any career advice that your parents gave you? And among these, what do you consider the best?
Sleep when you can. Kasi minsan ‘pag bata ka, you tend to be always on the go. Imbes na magpahinga ka, kung anu-anong ginagawa mo. For my job, it’s needed for you to rest para may energy ka to do your next thing.
What did your parents want you to be when you were younger?
Wala naman. Kahit ano. Pero siguro ‘yung dad ko gusto niya maging astronaut ako (laughs). Pero kahit ano naman.
Watch the behind-the-scenes video of Dingdong's August 2009 Man on Fire shoot here.
Photos by Mitch Mauricio