Donita Rose: Learning lessons the hard way
- Mario E. Bautista () - October 12, 2002 - 12:00am
Hers is one of the most refreshing faces on TV these days, not only as an international video jock but also as a much-sought after model for various TV commercials. Since 1998, Donita Rose has been shuttling to and from Singapore, her second home as a popular VJ for MTV Asia. She has really come a long way from the 15-year old girl we first met in That’s Entertainment who hardly spoke Tagalog. Now, she not only exudes a lot more self-confidence but also speaks the native language more fluently.

Born Dec. 5, 1974 in the state of Utah where her dad hails from, she feels much more emotionally mature now that she is turning 28. She is definitely no longer the love-struck teenager whose loyalty was then torn between her parents and her very first boyfriend, Gary Estrada. She admits crying buckets of tears over Gary, who her parents diapproved of for he was already an unwed father. Looking back, she can only laugh at what now seems to be so much ado about nothing. "I now realize it’s not true love but more like an intense case of infatuation," she shrugs.

She has learned a lot living independently in her one-bedroom flat in Singapore. "Would you believe I just take the public transport in Singapore?" she says.

"Unlike what most people think, I am not a doña there. I dont even have a maid or alalay. On my way to work at 9 in the morning, I take a cab because I am still fresh from the shower at ayokong pawisan. But going home at 5 or 6, I take the bus or the train, stopping by my favorite turo-turo store to buy take-out food. Sometimes, I just eat scrambled eggs or tuna with rice."

We remember her mom used to accompany her wherever she went. How did her mom, dad, and two brothers and one sister, accept that she’s living so far away from them? "My mom has learned to trust and let go of me. They’re very proud of what I have accomplished. But I really miss them very much since I’m really close to everyone. I visit them in San Francisco about three or four times a year."

Her dad, William Kent Cavett, was with the U.S. Air Force while her mom, Evelyn Ramos, is a teacher from Pangasinan. She was already five when her dad was assigned in Clark Air Base. She was in high school at Brent International School when she went with some friends to Manila to watch That’s Entertainment at the Broadway studio of GMA-7. Kuya Germs saw her and asked her to join the show. Soon, she was making movies, too. Her last movie before she went to work in Singapore was Birador with Rudy Fernandez. Last year, she did Hesus Rebolusyonaryo with Rudy’s son Mark Anthony Fernandez, where she appeared only in his dreams in a non-speaking role. Now, she is more excited with her latest movie, 9 Mornings for Star Cinema, where she gets to work for the first time with Piolo Pascual as her leading man and Jose Javier Reyes as the director.

"I really enjoyed doing the movie because it conveys very positive values." she says. "Piolo is Gene a very materialistic, arrogant young executive who uses women only for sex and has lost his faith in God after his girlfriend died in a tragic accident years ago. His wealthy lola, Armida Siguion Reyna, left him a sizeable inheritance but he could only get into on condition that he would complete the nine early morning masses or simbang gabi during the Christimas season. That’s where he meets me and I help change his life. I play Elise, a pre-school teacher in an orphanage who cannot let go of a past love. I was about to marry my boyfriend when he suddenly jilted me. We live in a very materialistic world today where success is measured in terms of material acquisitions. The movie shows that there’s more to life than just making a lot of money and pursuing self-gratification. Hopefully, the viewers will also be moved by its message."

The film’s serious intent sits well with Donita because she has become a devoted Christian who is a devout member of the Victory Fellowship Church, attending Bible classes even in Singapore. "Before, I just talked about Christ, but now I could say that I walk the talk. My deeper spiritual faith has made me a better person and I have surrendered everything to Him. In return, He has become so generous to me. When I count my blessings, I realize all the more how much He loves and cares for me. Nothing will happen if He doesn’t will it."

How was it working with Piolo? You know when I was told I was working with a Piolo Pascual, I didn’t really know who the guy was because I’m in Singapore most of the time. When he saw me in a gathering, he told me, "We’ll be making a movie together and I said, ‘yeah.’ He looked familiar but I couldn’t place where I saw him before. When he told me we were both in the Friday edition of That’s Entertainment with Ruffa Gutierrez, I was embarrassed. My excuse is he was so thin then and was called PJ. On our first days of shooting, he was so quiet on the set. I remember our first shooting was on my birthday last year. Because the film is set at Christmastime, we had to shoot while all the Christmas decors in the malls were still around and we had to shoot double time because I can only come to Manila on weekends. It takes time for Piolo to open up but what is nice is that he doesn’t put up a front. What you see is what you get. He’s very kind and all the time we were working together, I never heard him speak ill of anyone, which is rare in showbiz.

How about director Joey Reyes? "He’s the most flamboyant director I’ve ever worked with, really quite a character. We have a very relaxed set because he is always making jokes. But he knows what he wants from you. He has a vision and he sees to it that he gets it across through this film. I’ve made a religious film before, The Life of Sister Faustina of the Divine Mercy, but 9 Mornings reflects religion in a very different light. It says that if your heart is open to change, you can grow with your faith and Christ will be in your heart not only at Christmastime but every day of each year. I was really able to relate to my role as a teacher because my mom is one and I’ve visited her classes so many times before and I really love children."

After 9 Mornings Donita will next be seen in the OctoArts Films entry in the December Metro-Manila Filmfest, Lastik Man, where she plays leading lady to Vic Sotto, along with Michael V. Elizabeth Oropesa, Jeffrey Quizon, Michelle Bayle, Anne Curtis and Oyoboy Sotto. "I’m in Manila more frequently now because we are rushing the shooting of the movie to meet the filmfest deadline," she adds.

Donita confesses she has found a new love in Eric Villarama, the best friend of her brother, Paul, who lives in Daly City. "We’ve known each other for a long time but he never got the nerve to tell me his feelings for me. He’d keep in touch via text and e-mail, but I didn’t know he’s in love with me. He’s a graphic artist and finally, last Christmas season, he gave me a beautiful gift, a story that reveals his feeling for me. This time, my family approves of him very much." Isn’t it difficult to conduct a long-distance relationship? "When you’re truly in love, distance doesn’t really matter. And in these days when we have all the latest technology for communication from cellphones to e-mail, it’s so easy to get in touch with your loved one if you need to do so. But only the Lord can say if our relationship will really prosper. It’s His will that we’d follow, not ours."

What can she say about Gary who is now married to Bernadette Allison and has one kid? "I wish them all the best. What happened between Gary and I was part of my growing up process and I really learned a lot from it."

What’s the one thing she regrets in life? "That internet controversy involving me and Ruffa. I cried and cried when our photos came out on the Internet and I questioned God why it had to happen to me. But it’s a humbling experience which taught me a lot. I’ve been more careful and discreet since then. I now consider it as another lesson learned the hard way."

AIR FORCE ANNE CURTIS AND OYOBOY SOTTO ARMIDA SIGUION REYNA BERNADETTE ALLISON BORN DEC DONITA NOW PIOLO PIOLO PASCUAL REALLY
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