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 travellin