It wasn’t fame or money that he earned most from working as an actor. Used to being always in the spotlight since he was very young, José Sixto González Dantes III, popularly known as Dingdong Dantes, has gained more than the trivial benefits of being a celebrity, having understood that the profession comes with both perks and petty intrigues.
Showbiz opened several doors for him to learn more about himself and maximize his potentials. Starting out as a commercial model, then dancer for the all-male group Abztract Dancers, Dingdong has since donned several hats including TV and movie actor and now, producer. In the process, he has earned the respect of his peers in the industry.
But the Kapuso Primetime King, who has been managing his own production outfit called Agosto Dos Pictures, stressed that his most challenging role ever is to be an actor and producer at the same time for “Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles 2,” an official entry in the Metro Manila Film Festival.
With the “dual role” come huge risks which he has faced head-on, eventually realizing that the trick is to take off one hat before putting on the other.
In two days, Dingdong will take on another challenging role, this time in real life—that of being husband to Kapuso Primetime Queen Marian Rivera, in what has been dubbed as the “Royal Wedding.” He recently took the time off to sit down with Cebu media and talk about his new film, among others.
Is the 34-year-old heartthrob experiencing pre-wedding jitters? Does he believe in aswang? Will he join politics? Let’s hear it from Dingdong himself.
Can you describe the kubot to us?
It’s part of Filipino folklore. Wala siyang English equivalent but kubot is basically an aswang na pupulupot sa iyo hanggang sa ikaw ay mawawalan ng hininga. The story came from our director, Erik Matti who hails from the Visayas.
How was it working with Direk Erik for the second time?
It’s a blessing to work with brilliant people kasi intitusyon na sila sa industriya. It’s inspiring because sila na ang matatawag natin na true filmmakers in the sense that with their brilliance, para sa kanila content is the key. Na hindi mako-kompromise ang kanilang proyekto all because of a certain circumstance like, let’s say na if there’s a bagyo, problems with actors or actresses, kung blockbuster ang movie o hindi. Para sa kanila ang mahalaga is the material and everything will revolve around it. Because sometimes the way we do things inuuna natin na we should do it this quarter because ngayon nanonood ang mga tao … gawin natin ito dahil ito ang gusto ng public. Si Direk Erik siya ‘yung kabaligtaran. Some would do it for the money or for the audience. Si Direk hindi siya ganun. I appreciate his different approach in attacking things.
Don’t you think that’s way too risky?
It is a risk. Risky in terms of putting yourself up with other big blockbusters but I always put it this way na the greater the risk, the sweeter the rewards. But if you have a good material to back you up, you will always be confident na at the end of the day you will be proud of kung ano ang inihain mo sa mesa. I guess “Kubot” in all aspects has all these elements. Masaya ako na I’m one of those people na who are behind it.
Which is more difficult—to be a producer or an actor?
Mas mahirap ‘yung combined! Hahaha! It’s like gawin natin to … pasasabugin natin ‘yung building! Pero magkano ba, how to do it? (It involves) different aspects of decision making. Pero if I am on the set I always take my hat and be the actor because hindi pwede na ipaghahalo mo ‘yung dalawa ‘eh, mawawalan ka ng focus. Ako naman I just make sure that things are already in place even before the film is in production. Kailangan nakalatag na lahat sa akin before we start rolling.
“Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles” was groundbreaking. What can moviegoers expect from “Kubot”?
To borrow the words of Erik Matti: Expect five times more! Five times the excitement, the horror, the fun, the effects. Even the cast! Now we have Isabelle Daza, KC Montero, Elizabeth Oropesa, Lotlot de Leon, Julie Ann San Jose and Abra so nag level up talaga kami.
Will there be a third “Aswang Chronicles”?
It’s in the pipeline. Like in any vision nakalatag naman lahat ‘yan ‘eh for the long term. In our vision we see it until the people are willing to support it.
Do you personally believe in aswang?
Oo. Walang basehan ‘yan pero meron ‘yan. At meron din mababait na aswang.
What did you learn about yourself while doing this film?
I am happy to be a human being. I am happy na hindi ako aswang. I mean, let’s face it everyday we deal with issues and for the aswangs if nagugutom naghahanap ‘yan ng meat—human meat. It could be from a live person or sa patay na. Contented na ako sa pagi-
What were the challenges you faced during filming?
Siguro in the aspect of thinking ahead—what can we do or explore if we would do a Part 3. Ibig sabihin we not only end with one project dahil kasi kahit na magka-Part 3, kahit na wala ako sa Part 3, the legacy is the franchise.
The role of Makoy is quite different from “Tiktik.” How did you tackle it?
Oo, kasi si Makoy dito medyo nagre-recover siya galing sa isang masamang pangyayari. So, medyo he is not himself. Hindi siya katulad nung makulit, happy-go-lucky Makoy. He has to go through it for the story to move forward.
How was Isabelle Daza as a co-actor?
Isabelle was a revelation. Wala siyang ka-arte arte. She is one of the boys. Kung kami nahihirapan, nahihirapan din siya pero hindi siya ang type na nagrereklamo. Hindi lang lang basta-basta ‘yung pinagagagawa niya dito because she did all her stunts.
You have been appointed as commissioner-at-large of the National Youth Commission. Do you yourself getting into politics?
Let’s put it this way, right now I am faced with probably one of the greater tasks one could ever have and that is to build a family. Right now with everything that’s happening and with my job in the youth commission plus ‘yung foundation (YesPinoy Foundation) as well as me being an actor … I don’t want to be unfair naman to these institutions that I am serving if I would think of that right now.
Who is the person that you look up to?
Of course, my dad.
When you started showbiz did you think that you would stay this long and get to where you are right now?
Hindi eh! Nu’ng pumasok ako it was all for fun ‘eh. Sinabi ko nga once a week lang ako pwede dahil nag-aaral ako. Graduating ako ng high school ‘eh. So I let that pass, went to college and habang tumatagal I fell deeply into the craft hanggang sa naging job, naging lifestyle, until it became my life. So, the industry has become a place where I belong.
You’re tying the knot on Dec. 30. Any pre-wedding jitters?
Wala naman. It’s all excitement and I’m a bit anxious kung ano ang magyayari. There are things that I want to happen and tingnan natin kung masusunod ba. Pero overall, it’s more of excitement.
Aside from your future wife, Marian what’s the best thing that showbiz has given you?
Siguro it’s the opportunity for me to get to know myself better. Kasi I didn’t went through stages na bibiglain lahat sa iyo. Dumaan ako sa mga phases at stages na unting-unti may revelations sa sarili ko na later nalalaman ko na what we do as actors is that we touch lives ’eh. We go through a certain spiritual exercise na hindi siya scientific, hindi tangible pero alam mo na andiyan. Those are the things na hinding-hindi mo makukuiha sa ibang trabaho. And I guess it’s a gift. Maybe that’s why I am placed in this position dahil may purpose.