Dayanara Torres: Life is a dance
- Ricky Lo () - November 12, 2006 - 12:00am
Dayanara Torres is on "no comment" mode.

What can she say about Aga Muhlach, her ex-boyfriend now happily married to Charlene Gonzalez with whom he has two beautiful twins?

"He has moved on and so have I. I don’t want to say anything more than that."

What about her ex-husband, Salsa King (and fellow Puerto Rican) Marc Anthony, her ex-husband (now married to Jennifer Lopez) and father of her two children, Christian and Ryan?

"I’m not supposed to talk about him." (After the couple’s divorce, the court ordered a gag order on both parties.)

And what about Jennifer Lopez?

"I haven’t met her. I don’t want to say anything more than that."

What brought the former Miss Universe back was an offer as endorser of Beverly Hills 6750, a beauty clinic based in Makati. She’s here for only four days. She arrived last Thursday morning to grace the blessing of the Beverly Hills clinic (and to help push the administration’s medical-tourism program) and for a series of pictorials and TV guestings, capped by a "live" appearance today on the GMA 7 noontime show S.O.P. She’ll fly back to L.A. tonight.

Dayanara (fondly called Yari by friends and fans) first came in 1993 initially to crown her successor, India’s Sushmita Sen (in the Miss Universe pageant held here for the second time; the first having been in 1974), and then to embark on a showbiz career. She starred in three movies (Basta’t Kasama Kita with Aga Muhlach, Hataw Na with Gary Valenciano and Type Kita, Walang Kokontra with Cesar Montano) and "glamour/glitterized" local television which hailed her as a Dancing Queen (as co-host of the ABS-CBN noontime show A.S.A.P. and Eezy Dancing).

Then, in 1999, she quit the showbiz scene. Next thing we knew, she got married to Marc Anthony from whom she was divorced after barely three years.

Although Dayanara describes the past eight years as if she’s "been through hell and back," she looks none the worse, in fact still looking as gorgeous as ever. She has remained down-to-earth, with no star complex at all. It seems like she hasn’t left at all.

You’ve been away for eight years.

"Yeah. That’s a long time. I’m excited to be here."

You’re here as endorser of Beverly Hills 6750 and to push for the government’s medical tourism project.

"Yeah. The Beverly Hills offer came at the right time. I was planning to come back. And I’m happy to be doing my bit for the medical tourism of the Philippines. More than anything else, I spent five wonderful years in the Philippines and I want people around the world to know that the Philippines is a great place to be in. It’s a great country."

Of course, you look as just beautiful, even more so, as you did when you won as Miss Universe in 1993. I presume that you don’t need just yet any of the Beverly Hills services.

"No. Not yet. But I’m always open for it...I don’t know...maybe in the future. But for now, all I need is some skin care and dental treatment...just a little bit of everything."

Since you left eight years ago, so many things have happened in your life. What fond memories do you have about the Philippines? You were hailed as The Dancing Queen.

"Everything in the Philippines was just wonderful. In the beginning, I thought I was going to stay for only six months, but I stayed for five years! Filipinos have made things easy for me and I’m forever thankful for that. The Philippines has opened so many doors for me. I had TV shows, movies and commercials. I had a great time!"

Now, you’re having a great time in Hollywood. Do you miss anything in the Philippines?

"Oh yes, I do, I do! Every now and I then, I review the tapes of my shows. You know, Sayawnara and Eezy Dancing and all that. Then, I smile to myself and start missing the wonderful, wonderful time I had in the Philippines. I do miss it – especially dancing. Then I went back to Puerto Rico, I started my singing career, I got married and I had two beautiful, gorgeous kids. When I went back to my career two years ago, I began acting but dancing is the one thing that I really miss most."

Do you still dance?

"I do, I do! In fact, I did a surprise dance number in one of the award shows. I did the Flamenco."

So what were you busy with before you resumed your career two years ago?

"Before that, I dedicated my life, every single minute of it, to my kids. I was happy doing it. I was lucky enough to be able to do it – you know, be a mom and enjoy the company of my kids. I was lucky enough to be able to stay home."

Home is in L.A.?

"Actually, New York. I stayed there for a while before I moved to Miami and then to L.A. My two kids were born in New York."

Are you a hands-on mom?

"Yeah. I dedicated my time to their learning. I focused my attention on them since they started going to nursery school. I would bring them to and from school. Now that they are in kindergarten, I’ve started working again. I had so many spare time in-between. After I bring them to school, I go to auditions."

Oh, you still have to audition just like everybody else.

"Of course, I have to. But when I auditioned for Watch Over Me I didn’t tell anybody. It was only when I passed that I told everybody."

You were also in The Young and The Restless.

"Yeah. I also auditioned for that. And that was when I was living in Miami. I was there for two years. I had to go to L.A. for the audition."

Did you hire a nanny for the kids?

"I did. I hired one two years ago. I needed a nanny since I went back to work. But now, it’s my mom who takes care of my kids when I’m away. Like now, I’m out of town and my mom had to fly to L.A. from Puerto Rico."

When you left eight years ago your career was at its peak. Did you leave your heart in the Philippines, or maybe just a piece of it?

Absolutely! The reason why I left was that I wanted to pursue my singing career and I did an album in Puerto Rico. After that, I received offers to do plays; I did Cinderella and Peter Pan, also in Puerto Rico. And that was great! Later on, I got offers from the States and I met (Marc) who became my husband. After that, as I’ve said, I dedicated my life to being home with my kids."

You’re here for only four days...

"...yeah. Very short. I can’t be away for long because of my kids."

...only enough time for work but not to reconnect with friends...

"...but yesterday, I got to meet with my fan club. They were at the airport waiting for me. I wish I had more time to see old friends."

Who among your friends here would you like to see?

"Martin (Nievera)."

He’s in Las Vegas, a brand-new dad. (Martin’s beloved Katrina Ojeda gave birth to a boy, named Santino Martin Nievera, in Las Vegas last Oct. 23.)

"I met Martin two years ago in Las Vegas."

Who else?

"Pops (Fernandez), Ariel..."

...Ariel who? (Ariel happens to be the real name of Aga Muhlach.)

nice try! Ariel Rivera...and several others. Everyone! I wish I had more time to see everybody. I have to go back home. My kids are in school. Otherwise, if it was Christmas or their summer break, I could have brought them with me."

You still have that Miss Universe’re even more beautiful than ever. How do you maintain it?

"I jog. Or I hike, if I have the time. Actually, just running around with my kids is enough exercise. I try as much as possible to eat healthy because I don’t have too much time."

No time for love? You’re free and available.

"I’m still dating."

What happened to Terrence Howard (the rapper-actor and star of Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, Crash and Hustle & Flow for which he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar)? The two of you were romantically linked by the US entertainment media.

"Just friends. As I said, I date once in a while. I was actually in San Diego for four months filming Watch Over Me (to be aired on The Fox channel) and I hardly have any love life at all. I had only one day off and that was the only time I had with my kids. No time (for a serious involvement). Not yet!"

I remember that when you underwent abdominal surgery at a New York hospital, Terrence was there for you, giving you moral support.

"Yeah. He was there. You know what happened? On the plane to New York, I felt a terrible pain in my stomach. It turned out that there was a blockage, so I went straight to the hospital as soon as the plane landed at JFK.""

So there wasn’t any romance at all contrary to the speculations in the US media?

"You know what...we met and I respect him. I think he’s a wonderful actor and a good person, and we became really good friends."

I understand that you also wrote a book for children.

"Yeah. It’s about two kids, Ricky and Andrea, going to the dentist for the first time and they are so afraid. Not many people know that I wanted to be a dentist before I won Miss Universe. This way, at least I get to be involved in dentistry. I put into the book all the techniques I use in taking care of my kids’ teeth. I want to show the children that going to the dentist is nothing to be afraid of."

Of course, you’ve also just been signed up as endorser of Wal-Mart’s Metro 7 clothing line.

"It started three years ago. The partnership has continued up to this day. I love the clothing line and the people I’m working with. Two years ago, I did a spread for Vogue which is doing another pictorial anytime soon."

From what I’ve been reading, you’ve been living like a princess?

What do you mean?"

Well, that you’re a lady of leisure.

"You know what, I think I’m very blessed. I’m happy. I was able to have the best of both worlds. I’m a mother of two, I love my children. I want to be the best mom I can. And also, I can work on the side. It’s been great! I’m very blessed."

No regrets whatsoever?

"None at all. I think everything happens for a reason. I had a wonderful time being at home, being with my family and now pursuing a career that I love."

So there’s life after Marc Anthony.

"Absolutely! Life goes on and I’m happy. Life is a dance. You have to dance to the music."

If I may ask, are you in contact with Marc?

"I’m not allowed to talk about us."

Have you met Jennifer Lopez?

"No. I think they have a wonderful relationship."

If other offers come (a movie or a TV show), would you come back?

"You know, I’ll never say never. But I think it really depends on the project. It has to be good. But it really all depends on my schedule. Work shouldn’t interfere with my being mother to my kids. They are the most important things in my life."

And what are the best lessons that you learned from the past eight years?

"I think I’ve been, you do you say it...yes, people can say I’ve been through hell and back. But I’m thankful for everything. All the experience has made me who I am now. It has made me stronger. I didn’t have any idea how strong a person could be. My kids are the ones who keep me going."

How different are you now from the Dancing Queen that you used to be?

"I guess I’m just stronger and more mature. I was probably a baby when I first came to the Philippines. I was only 18. Now I’m not naive anymore."

If there’s anything in your life that you could change, what would it be?

"Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I wouldn’t change anything at all."
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