MANILA, Philippines – “Once in showbiz, always in showbiz.” Trite, but generally true.
It took singer-actor Dante Ponce 20 long years to revive his showbiz career. Yet, he has no regrets about leaving the business then even at the peak of his career. Today, he is indeed making up for lost time and busier than ever before.
Although his entertainment career was halted while he was in the US, going back to showbiz had always been at the back of Dante’s mind. He attempted to stage a comeback repeatedly, albeit always postponed. Yet, he never totally turned his back on being an entertainer.
Wherever the family settled — from Arkansas to Hawaii to California — Dante always welcomed invitations from Filipino groups to grace events and render a song number or two.
The year was 1993 when Dante packed his things and went to the US, leaving behind his immediate family in Manila and giving up a thriving showbiz (read: acting and singing) career. He got married (to radiation oncologist Winlove Suasin), started a family and raised four children.
The eldest, Glys Angelique, 21, is now taking up a culinary course in San Francisco. The only boy and towering Dante Armand, 19, will enter college but is now vacationing in the US. Jasmine, 17, is in Kona, Hawaii, studying at the Hawaii Preparatory Academy. The youngest, Sofia, 13, is in seventh grade at Brent.
“The kids have adjusted really well since we decided to settle here in June 2013,” Dante offers. “They actually love the culture. Armand has even shown some interest in joining show business, that’s why he’s taking a year off from school to try it out.”
In October 2012, Dante came for a mere visit and attended the CITEM Furniture Trade Show at the SMX Convention Center. “It just hit me when I got here that I really wanted to come back, bring my family here in Manila and go back to show business,” he recalls.
Assessing the two decades that he has been out of the limelight, Dante admits he and his wife nonetheless had a great time watching their kids grow up. For his part, he also worked different jobs in marketing and sales.
Yet, there’s nothing in showbiz that Dante didn’t miss. “I missed performing live as a singer and the acting part,” Dante reveals. “Maybe if there’s one thing I didn’t like, it’s the late shooting hours. It doesn’t get any easy, especially when we are shooting scenes that are for airing. They have to be finished at all cost.”
Only two weeks after he returned, Dante was cast in the ABS-CBN afternoon soap series, Galema, which topbilled Andi Eigenmann. His memorable role as Gen. Roger Barredo, the dad of Andi’s character, lasted for eight months. Undoubtedly, with that series, Dante made his strong comeback mark in the industry.
He has since done other teleseryes like Please Be Careful With My Heart, Dream Dad, Pure Love and the recently concluded Pasion de Amor. He also guested in drama anthologies like Ipaglaban Mo and Maalaala Mo Kaya, and even in the fantasy drama, Wansapanataym, playing all sorts of challenging roles, from good dad to bad boy.
In between his television assignments, Dante was also able to do movies like director Wenn Deramas’ comedy flick, Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy, starring Vice Ganda and the horror-suspense thriller Maria, Leonora, Teresa, where Dante played husband to Iza Calzado’s character; the Sarah Geronimo-Coco Martin box-office starrer, Maybe This Time, directed by Jerry Lopez Sineneng; and Star Cinema’s opening salvo for 2016, Joyce Bernal’s Everything About Her, starring Vilma Santos and Angel Locsin.
“It has been a long journey for me to end up here in the Philippines and work in the entertainment business again,” Dante asserts. “For me, the feeling is indescribable.”
Back in 1993, he made his big screen debut in director Joel Lamangan’s drama, Hanggang Saan, Hanggang Kailan, where he shared stellar credits with Dina Bonnevie, Alice Dixson and Cesar Montano.
He has been actively doing TV commercials, too, like KFC, Centrum, UFC Spaghetti Sauce and the Globe-Star Wars promo.
Apart from acting on TV and the movies, Dante is also set to revive his singing career. He did a self-titled debut album before, which was launched with the hauntingly sentimental carrier single, Para Lang Sa ‘Yo, penned by Vehnee Saturno.
With the help of his new manager, June Rufino, as well as some old friends from the industry, Dante is soon bracing himself to do TV guestings in musical programs and record a new CD, reviving old hits and singing new compositions.
“I’ll be relaunched as a singer again and it’s a very exciting time for my career right now to be able to get back into singing,” Dante says. “My wife and our kids have been very supportive of my decision from the beginning. I can’t ask for more. We’ve sacrificed a lot as a family to be able to come back here not just to pursue my dreams, but to also let the kids experience their culture.”