Their undeniable chemistry made them the hottest love team in the Philippines and GMA Network's Primetime King and Queen.
But Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera have a very real love story that is full of surprises and unexpected twists and turns that brought them to where they are now-- the country's most celebrated couple set to tie the knot in the most awaited wedding of the year.
Dingdong Dantes began his showbiz career as a commercial model at the very young age of 2. Years later, he became a part of the all-male dance group Abztract Dancers with Dino Guevarra and Arthur Solinap before he got his shot at acting.
At age 17, Dingdong appeared in a movie for the first time in the "Shake, Rattle and Roll V" episode “Anino”, and starred in GMA Network's youth-oriented series “T.G.I.S. (Thank God It's Sabado)” under the name Raphael Dantes. Dingdong also appeared in “Honey My Love So Sweet” and “I'm Sorry My Love”, as well as in television programs such as "Anna Karenina" and "F.L.A.M.E.S."
He continued to star in films and telenovelas like "Encantadia", "Twin Hearts", and "Moments of Love". Dingdong also hosted shows such as GMA's reality artista search “Starstruck” and the game show “Family Feud”.
While Dingdong was making a name for himself in the entertainment industry with starring roles and top bills, Marian Rivera was discovered after modeling for commercials for years. It was 2005 when Marian was commissioned for roles in GMA Network soap operas “Kung Mamahalin Mo Lang Ako”, “Agawin Mo Man Ang Lahat”, and “Pinakamamahal”.
The following year, she signed a contract with Regal Entertainment and starred in the horror film “Pamahiin” with Dennis Trillo.
The year 2007 marked the first meeting of the year's hottest reeltime and real life love team. Marian auditioned for the role in GMA Network's remake of the Mexican series "Marimar" and won over Nadine Samonte, Katrina Halili, Jennylyn Mercado, and Karylle.
Dingdong, who was then Cosmopolitan's No. 1 Bachelor of 2007 and USTV Students’ Choice Award's Most Popular Actor in a Drama/Mini-series, was meanwhile cast to play the lead role Sergio.
"Marimar" became the highest-rated primetime show on Philippine television, and at the same time, launched Marian and Dingdong's career as GMA's Primetime King and Queen.
The success of the Marian-Dingdong team-up led to more soap operas such as "Dyesebel" in 2008, "Ang Babaeng Hinugot sa Aking Tadyang" in 2009, "Endless Love" in 2010, and "My Beloved" in 2012.
In 2008, they starred in their first movie as a love team in “One True Love”. This was followed by “You to Me Are Everything” in 2010.
Although their chemistry was undeniable, Marian revealed that she found Dingdong ‘suplado’ or snobbish and remote. She said in a magazine interview, "Hindi kami magkasundo. At all!",
It was, according to Marian, a little bit disappointing to find a leading man who was a little remote and kind of snobbish. She added in an interview with PEP.ph, “Tahimik siyang tao. At tsaka nung una ko siyang nakita nung audition ng Marimar, sobrang haba ng bigote niya. Hindi kita yung lips niya so mata lang nakikita mo. Naka-bubblegum pa. Kaya feeling ko parang suplado.”
But for Dingdong, their chemistry was something 'special,' and this he found out after holding Marian for the first time for a scene in Marimar. "When I held her, she was like clay that molded itself into my hand. It was like... my hand had its own place on her skin," he said.
The "feeling" was a first for Dingdong, as his previous leading ladies had felt "rough". He could not explain why. He surmised that it was his touch that wasn't the right fit.
But with Marian, her skin just seemed to fit perfectly in his hand, and from there grew a relationship that would change the both of them.
Rumors and declaration
Despite their on-screen chemistry, Marian and Dingdong had, at first, a “strictly professional relationship” as both were with other people; Dingdong with singer Karylle, and Marian with basketball player Eric Vijandre.
In a 2010 magazine interview, Dingdong revealed, "We would connect on the most important scene, and then after that, wala na. Siguro, wala lang sa tipo namin ang magpa-cute sa set."
After working together in numerous projects, rumors of an off-screen romance began to surface.
From June 2009, after their team-up in “Ang Babaeng Hinugot sa Aking Tadyang”, Dingdong and Marian grew closer despite the non-to-stellar first impressions. From working out together to travelling abroad together, the actors started to behave as if there was something more between them.
Then came Marian's 25th birthday in August 2009 where they openly held hands all evening and looked very much like a couple.
Dingdong explained in a later interview, “We're happy together. Open kaming nakakalabas na dalawa, nagdi-dinner, nakakapanood ng sine... Sinusuportahan ko siya sa pagte-training niya ng Darna. Kung may time siya, sumasama siya sa workout ko sa gym at itinuturo ko kung ano ang makakatutulong sa kanya.”
Finally, in February 2010, Dingdong and Marian revealed in an exclusive magazine interview that they had a special relationship. They came to the relationship slowly, shared Dingdong. He was in New York with friends and Marian was in Los Angeles when they realized they had feelings for one another.
It turned out that the initial impressions they made on each other was the first step of their journey as a couple, as it helped them realize how, as opposites, they complemented each other.
Dingdong and Marian had started out by getting to know the worst of each other first, after which they made the worst work for them. "Aminin man namin o hindi, kung anong kahinaan ko, meron siya. At kung ano ang kulang sa akin, napupunan niya. Swak kami. Kaya balance kami. Hindi kami parehas," Marian said.
Proposal #1: Macau with the family
After three years, Dingdong was sure that Marian was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.
It was August 2012 when Dingdong gathered his immediate family and arranged for an elaborate wedding proposal that would take place in Macau. The proposal involved a huge dome filled with butterflies, the song “Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko”, a speech on “forever,” and, of course, the ring.
They arrived in Macau, the butterflies flew around them in a big dome, but the song came out from earphones connected to a cell phone, and the “forever” speech delivery was marred by jitters.
Despite the quick compromises that circumstances called for, Dingdong got a slightly delayed but resounding “Yes!” from Marian, who was overwhelmed by the unexpectedness of it all.
The proposal also proved to Marian that Dingdong paid attention to the little things about her. Marian shared that she had a fondness for butterflies. She used to collect stuff with butterfly designs, and she also used to draw butterflies a lot. But she had to set her hobby aside because of work.
“Na-touch ako noong naalala niya na ang pinakahilig ko talaga ay ‘yung mga bagay na may butterfly,” she said. “Sa haba ng panahon, naalala pa niya.”
Marian added, “Hindi ko inexpect na doon mangyayari ‘yun. Pero alam ko sa sarili ko na ito [si Dingdong] na talaga ang gusto kong makasama habang-buhay.”
After the engagement, Dingdong and Marian went back to their hectic work schedules. They both agreed that they would announce their engagement to the public at the right time. After all, they partly owed their partnership, and all of their fame and fortune, to their fans.
Two years passed, and Marian was set to get more than just the announcement that was originally planned.
Proposal #2: ‘Marian’ with the rest of the Philippines
As it neared the time for the engagement's announcement during Marian's birthday celebration in her dance show “Marian”, Dingdong felt he needed to do more than what he did during his marriage proposal two years earlier. So for the second time, he planned to surprise Marian with a second proposal.
Dingdong managed to have the show aired live, and on August 9, he declared, “I want to do it right this time.”
What was supposed to be an engagement announcement became a second marrige proposal for Marian and Dingdong. And this time, the fans were there to witness it, together with both their families, friends, and everyone they loved and who loved them.
Another speech, another ring, and another “Yes!” from the bride-to-be, the DongYan love story became much celebrated. Their wedding is set to be the Wedding of the Year, with guests such as the President of the Philippines himself and the entertainment industry's biggest stars.
Love Lessons from DongYan
Their relationship transformed both Dingdong and Marian into better versions of themselves.
Fun-loving Marian made the quiet and reserved Dingdong more expressive and made him adapt to her humor and positivity. One of the things Dingdong learned from his fiancee was, “Huwag masyadong seryosohin ang lahat ng bagay. Sense of humor sa mga bagay.”
The couple also never fails to surprise each other and show their appreciation for each other with simple gestures. Their first date was a simple road trip to Tagaytay on a motorcycle. Simple as it was, the date was one of their most memorable moments.
“Nakakatuwa at nakakakilig isipin. Imagine mo, ilang oras akong nakayakap sa kanya. Nagkwentuhan kami at kumain. Favorite namin 'yung Sonia's Garden,” Marian shared in an interview with Jessica Soho in GMA Network's "Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho".
Though they are both working actors who are always the focus of the public's attention, they are at their best with each other during private moments. That's why they often like to travel and be alone together. According to Dingdong, his favorite travel moments are the airplane flighs during which they do nothing more than sit next to each other and just talk.
“[Ang gusto lang namin] Makaupo, makakain, makapag-usap ng maayos. Regardless kung saan,” Dingdong said.
Despite this, Dingdong and Marian never neglect the grand gesture. On Dingdong's birthday last August, Marian surprised Dingdong with a concert from his favorite band, Wolfgang. Marian gathered his fiance's four best friends, his family, and friends to celebrate with them.
Marian shared, “Lahat na ng pakiusap, lahat ng pagmamakaawa ginawa ko masorpresa ko lang siya... Ang hindi matatawaran, yung nakita kong masaya siya.”
The Kapuso Royal Couple also made an effort to know the people who matter to each other.
Dingdong proved his intentions were honorable when he arranged a trip to Spain with Marian in 2010 so he could meet her father.
According to Marian, it was very special because it was the first Valentine's day that she got to spend with the two most important men in her life. For Dingdong, it was the perfect opportunity to “share a date.”
“That was a Valentine's day and proud ako na may kahati ako sa kanya sa date na 'yun,” he said.
Not surprisingly, Marian's father gave Dingdong his blessing.
Marian, meanwhile, is very close to Dingdong's mother, Angeline Dantes. She confides with her when she and Dingdong go through rough patches. One of the things she learned from her soon-to-be mother-in-law was “Kapag may away, hindi dapat sumasabog. Kumbaga kung 'yung isa mainit, magpapalamig 'yung isa. Hindi dapat sumasabay.”
Marian also liked that Dingdong was close to his family. She saw it as an indication of what kind of a father he would be someday.
“Sabi nga ng iba, kung paano i-trato ng boyfriend mo ‘yung nanay niya, ganoon niya ita-trato ‘yung [sariling] pamilya niya,” Marian said. “Nakikita ko kung ga’no niya kamahal ang mommy niya. Lahat ng pagmamahal, nakikita ko sa kanya sa mommy niya.”
And domestic bliss really seems to in the cards as Dingdong likes Marian's cooking. Marian’s version of sinigang na hipon is Dingdong’s favorite. “Proven na talaga kapag masayang-masaya ako kapag nagluluto ako, nagiging masarap,” Marian said.
‘Wedding of the Year’
After eight bridal showers, a few despedida de solteras, a bachelor's party, and wedding preparations in between-- Marian and Dingdong are set to say their “I dos” on December 30, 2014 at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Cuabo, Quezon City, the parish where the groom-to-be was born and raised.
The entourage includes the entertainment industry's biggest names, and President Benigno Aquino III.
Among the principal sponsors are Ogie Alcasid, Mac Alejandre, Ben Chan, GMA President and COO Gilberto R. Duavit Jr., GMA Chairman and CEO Atty. Felipe L. Gozon, Perry Lansigan, German Moreno, Randy Ortiz, Marciano Reyes V, Vic Sotto, Regine Velasquez, Joyce Bernal, Lolit Solis, Sharon Cuneta, Wilma Galvante, Vicki Belo, Lily Moteverde, GMA Entertainment TV SVP Lilybeth G. Rasonable, Vilma Santos, Celia Rodriguez and Kris Aquino.
The maids of honor include Ana Feleo and Roxanne Barcelo, while the groomsmen include Paolo Contis and Arthur Solinap. The bridesmaids include Luane Dy, Liz Uy, Rochelle Pangilinan and Bettina Carlos, among others.,
Other members of the entourage are Lucy Torres-Gomez, Richard Gomez, Ai-ai delas Alas, Gabby Eigenmann, Ryzza Mae Dizon, and many more.