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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

The king in his prime 

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Jose Sixto Gonzales Dantes III, better known as Dingdong Dantes, is a Filipino actor and television personality celebrated for his versatile acting, effortlessly transitioning between dramatic and action roles in Philippine films and television series.

In the ‘90s, Dingdong’s braces added sparkle to his heartthrob smile as a cool teenage actor. Back then, his character Iñaki Torres in the hit teen Saturday series T.G.I.S. (Thank God It’s Sabado) catapulted Dingdong to stardom. It was a few years later that I recall seeing him on campus, diligently working on a filmmaking project under the class of highly acclaimed director Marilou Diaz-Abaya at the Ateneo de Manila.

Fast forward to May 9, 2024, Dingdong renewed his ties with GMA Network, where he reigns as the Primetime King until today.

Overflowing with emotions, Dingdong described the feeling in a mix of English and Filipino. He comfortably switches between two languages, “It felt like a birthday celebration combined with Valentine’s [Day] and Christmas. Very celebratory. I really looked forward to this because this is very important to me. I celebrate this even in my heart and mind so I was so thrilled when this is also their [GMA’s] interpretation of how to celebrate and I’m just so happy. They are giving me another opportunity to do what I love to do.”

Dingdong’s connection with GMA dates back 28 years, even including his time as a member of the Abztract dancers. He fondly remembers his first time on GMA, “My first onstage appearance on GMA was for That’s Entertainment, ‘96 or ‘97.”

That’s Entertainment, a now-defunct youth-oriented show hosted by the late German “Kuya Germs” Moreno, served as a launchpad for many aspiring talents in the Philippine entertainment industry.

Reflecting on that experience, Dingdong shared, “I will never forget the feeling of going on that stage. It’s still the same feeling I get after all these years. I see these as chapters in my life. Dancing was just a chapter. Another chapter opened up for acting in television, and movies. In every chapter, there’s a cycle. And after a cycle, another one begins. I’m excited that I’m still with GMA in doing projects under their platforms.”

The Primetime King teased us with his upcoming projects, “Aside from Family Feud which they can watch every day, and Amazing Earth every Friday, they should watch out for The Voice Kids very, very soon. Hopefully, there will be teleseryes for me too. I’m also excited about collaborations with GMA Pictures and joining more of the Masterclass series of GMA Regional TV.”

When asked about what he hopes to maintain in his nearly three-decade-long relationship with GMA, Dingdong emphasized, “I wish to keep the good relationship with GMA. We have immense love and respect for each other. Isn’t it like that, in every relationship, when there is mutual love and respect, there are so many possibilities? If that principle is present, opportunities are magnified and multiplied to do more things. For me, that’s what’s important.”

Surprisingly, Dingdong revealed that hosting Family Feud was something he never thought he could do. He candidly confessed, “I must admit, initially, I asked, ‘Is it really me you want for that? Am I fit for that? Can I do that?’ I know Steve Harvey’s version, I watch that, and I am always amused. I had that insecurity which led me to question my capability to do the job.”

“I’m not saying that it’s very easy for me now but what I mean is that I embraced it and I’ll do everything to improve. Most of all, I want to enjoy the experience. I always tell them [management], you are the ultimate judge if I’m doing things right. As long as they are happy, I am happy. So far, they are,” he went on.

Dingdong further added, “I see things as chapters, as cycles. There’s a beginning, an end, and another one starts. In this case, an engagement contract. I just always strive to become a better artist each time. After a project, I ensure that I learned a lot which I can use in my next one. And about how people perceive me, that can change. I have no control over that. What cannot change is my attitude toward what I do. That has always remained constant and that’s what I intend to do as long as I can.”

Asked if there’s anything else he wishes to pursue in the future,  Dingdong aspires to delve into documentary filmmaking. “I enjoyed it when I did a documentary on Marian in Israel,” he shared, referring to his wife, Marian Rivera, also known as GMA’s Primetime Queen, who was a judge at Miss Universe 2022. “I have a couple of ideas which I wish to turn into documentaries. In particular, I am interested in the ‘90s culture as compared to today’s P-Pop culture — the dancers’ era.”

Among his many projects, Dingdong holds a special place in his heart for his first appearance on GMA as a member of a dance group at the age of 16 or 17. “That would have to be the moment when I first stepped on the GMA stage. That was when things got clear to me that this was what I wanted to do. True enough, I still get to do it even 28 years later, every day, whenever I go up on stage, I get that same feeling.”

“This is it,” Dingdong said, “I am happy that even when I’m already 43, I still get to do it.”

Dingdong inspires many with his passion, dedication, and commitment as he juggles his entertainment career with raising a loving family with his wife Marian and their children Zia (8) and Sixto (5) and active involvement in non-government organizations. Dingdong joined the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation, Inc. or MOWELFUND as part of the Board of Trustees and was elected just a few days ago as a member of the Board of Directors in the actors-led group, Aktor PH. Dingdong currently holds, together with his wife Marian, the record of the highest-grossing Filipino film of all time for the movie Rewind.

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