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Dion Ignacio gets biggest break after almost 10 years

Plus: Ibong Adarna fires up the theater stage anew

Starstruck 1 alumnus Dion Ignacio has finally landed a big role, playing the male lead opposite Bela Padilla in the new GMA 7 afternoon prime offering “Magdalena.” This is Dion’s biggest break as a Kapuso contract artist although he recalls playing leading man to Yasmien Kurdi in “Saan Darating ang Umaga,” another afternoon prime offering several years back.

Dion was last seen in a guest role in “The Good Daughter” that featured Kylie Padilla and Rocco Nacino, which ended some three months ago. Prior to that, he was part of the epic series “Amaya.” 

The reluctant leading man admits feeling the pressure in this new afternoon soap helmed by award-winning actress-turned director Gina Alajar. “This is my biggest role. I have a lot of scenes, most of them dramatic, plus I am playing a matured role,” says Dion. Adding to the pressure is that this is his first acting assignment under Direk Gina.

So how does he find working with Direk Gina? “She’s very strict when it comes to acting. She wants to feel your acting or else she’d ask you to repeat the scene over and over again until she gets what she wants from you,” Dion says in Tagalog. He had a three-day workshop with Direk Gina together with Bela – which included a sensuality workshop – because his role requires bed scenes and kissing scenes with Bela. “We should be at ease with each other that’s why Direk Gina asked us to undergo the sensuality workshop,” relates Dion.

The Starstruck 1 alumnus had long been waiting in the wings and is very happy that he is given this break as a leading man. “It’s fine with me if GMA gives me small roles or supporting roles because I am not in a hurry. Besides, I am not choosy when it comes to TV projects. But I am very happy with this break and I am really pressured since I want to make sure that the show will rate well. But I am channeling that pressure as a motivation for me to make good in my role and hopefully this would lead to more and bigger projects in the future,” says Dion.

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How did he feel when he learned that GMA is giving him a lead role in Magdalena? “Of course, I was really happy and thankful. I am happy that the network trusted my capability to take on an important role. I am also very thankful to God because He gave me this opportunity. I’ve been patiently waiting for a good project and it has finally come my way. Hope this is just the start of more big things to come,” says Dion.

He admits getting the jitters on his first taping day, but he told himself he ought to get rid of the jitters or else he won’t be able to deliver if he would allow his nervousness to get the better of him. “I really concentrated on my role as Abel and told myself that I have to be the character that I am playing,” says the Kapuso star.

Dion’s contract with GMA 7 is expiring soon but he has decided to renew his contract with the Kapuso network. “I don’t have any offers with any network naman. Since GMA 7 gave me this break in Magdalena, all the more that I should stay here in GMA. It means they trust that I can deliver that’s why they gave me this show,” he says.

Since he is a product of an Artista search, what can he say about Protégé, the new reality based artista search that the network launched recently? “Okay na okay po kasi at least there would be new stars joining GMA,” Dion says. “We lack leading men in GMA so at least there would be more coming into the fold.”


One mythical bird. Seven enchanting songs. Seven color changes. One ailing king. One courageous queen. Three sons and three princesses - all of these and more are in Gantimpala Theater’s Ibong Adarna, written by Ed Maranan, under the direction of Roobak Valle.

Ibong Adarna is a mythical story, formed in narrative song and poetry called corrido and considered a big part of Philippine literature.

This amazing folklore made into a play centers on catching the fabled bird that is so beautiful – it sings a total of seven songs with seven color changes, which could either enchant anyone to sleep, turn that person into stone or heal a deadly sickness.

The songs of the illusive creature as prophesized by the “manggagamot” or healer are the only cure to Haring Fernando (Billy Parjan) of Berbania’s grave illness. Thus, Reyna Valeriana (Pamela Hundana, alternating with Heidi Arima) assigned her three sons to find the magical bird, catch it and bring it home before it’s too late.

Arkin Da Silva as Don Pedro, the eldest and heir apparent, Noel Escondo, as Don Diego, the second-born and second-in-line to the throne, and Kristian Chua, the youngest and his parents’ favorite – one by one, each don becomes Berbania’s hope.

During their quest, the dons meet Cris Pastor (Maria Blanca), Sharlene Rivera (Prinsesa Leonora) and Vera Capiral (Prinsesa Juana), Abel Napuran (Haring Salermo) and Joey de Guzman as the enigmatic Ermitanyo. Matthew Manalaysay, contemporary ballet dancer and actor is the Ibong Adarna.

Maranan’s script highlighted the values found in the corrido such as sacrifice, faith, perseverance and forgiveness and the power of love while director Valle sets the whole play in a Mindanao cultural community utilizing its traditional dances that added more pageantry and energy to the play.

Teaming with Valle and Maranan to realize their vision of Berbania are Andy Villareal, (Lighting Designer), Eric Rosales (Associate Production Designer), Ronald Santos (Choreographer), Charyl de Guzman (Production Manager), John Paulo Garcia (Assistant Production Manager) and Joey David (Stage Manager).

Performances are on September 28-29, (9am/12nn/3pm), AFP Theater, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, October 5-6, (11am/2pm), Cinema 3, SM Southmall, Las Piñas City and October 12-13, (9am.12nn, 3pm), Star Theater, Star City City Compound, Pasay City.

The National Parks Development Committee and Everbilena fully support Gantimpala Theater’s Ibong Adarna. For tickets, call 998-5622 or like:

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