Diet: Still Kapamilya at heart and temporarily a Kapatid

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - November 23, 2015 - 9:00am

When Diether “Diet” Ocampo faced the movie press last week after quite a spell, he was visibly at once excited (he arrived at Annabel’s restaurant more than an hour earlier than his co-stars and the reporters) and nervous (fidgeting and nearly tongue-tied when asked about his love life).

“It’s my first presscon after two years,” mumbled Diet who is headlining two episodes of the Kapatid Network’s Wattpad Presents, the first being Wicked Ways (by Ann Syril, published by Bookworm with an estimated seven million reads) now airing until Friday, Nov. 27, at 9 p.m. “I am still a Kapamilya,” he added, “I’m still with Star Magic.”

His teleserye was shelved when leading lady Judy Ann Santos got pregnant. Left with no Kapamilya project (the network is focused on the younger set composed of JaDine, KathNiel and LizQuen, relegating the older set to the background and farther away), Diet grabbed the offer from the Kapatid Network, saying, “Walang masamang tinapay.” Well, money is money wherever network it is coming from. Besides, times are hard.

Before Diet left in haste after the presscon (as if eluding a stalker), the movie writers persisted in asking about his love life and all he could say was, “Everything’s okay.”

Diether with Ritz Azul and John James Uy, his co-stars in Kapatid Network’s Wattpad Presents’ Wicked Ways.

From Diet’s complacent smile, Funfare presumed that everything is, indeed, okay. It was safe to conclude that his more than three years romance with Michelle Cojuangco Barrera is going as strong as ever. Since Diet was mum on the matter, I referred to Metro Society magazine’s February 2015 Valentine issue given to me as a complimentary copy. Featured were seven couples, with Diet and Michelle on the cover and shown on 12 glossy spread in perhaps their most tender moments, in one picture holding hands while wearing wide smiles astride thoroughbreds. Yes, Michelle is an equestrienne like her Tita Mikee (Cojuangco-Jaworksi) whom she idolizes.

According to the story titled Riding On Love by Katrina Stuart Santiago, Diet and Michelle first met sometime in 2010. Katrina quoted Michelle as narrating, “When he told me he did a little bit of acting, my first reaction was, ‘yeah right!’ because he was so shy. So I didn’t really believe him. Then, while I was in France, he invited me to come to his show and I thought ‘kawawa naman,’ maybe he’s a back-up singer and he needs support, so I went to the show…all these girls were screaming…And then this guy went up the stage and it was Diether. And I thought, ‘Oh no, what have I gotten myself into?’”

From the Metro Society story, Funfare learned that Michelle, descended from the influential Cojuangco clan, is “soft-spoken and humble” who spent her younger years in Vancouver and Australia before moving to the Philippines. In 2011, according to Katrina’s story, Michelle trained one of Mikee’s horses for the SEA Games in which she competed as well.

Although admittedly coming from opposite social/economic backgrounds, Diet and Michelle clicked, starting from a long-distance relationship while Michelle was abroad and Diet was kept home by work. Michelle has been afforded a first-hand view of, well, the other side of her world via Diet’s K.I.D.S. Foundation which helps poor children (the advocacy landed Diet on the cover of Reader’s Digest a few years ago).

While Diet is, whether he likes it or not, a public property, Michelle is extremely very private, no wonder Diet is so over-protective of her.

Asked about the rumor that he and Michelle are altar-bound, Diet was evasive at the presscon.

“Let’s just talk about Wattpad,” he begged off.

At the presidential table, Diet looked like big daddy (oops! a tito) in the company of younger Kapatid stars Ritz Azul and John James Uy, his co-stars in Wicked Ways; Mark Neumann and Eula Caballero (Wrong Number, airing Nov. 30 to Dec. 4); and Monica Cuenco (the Cebuana discovery of the musical Bituing Walang Ningning) and Martin Escudero, stars of Iska Ispiritista, Dec. 7 to 11. Aside from Wicked Ways (directed by Philip Lazaro), Diet’s other Wattpad starrer is Mr. Wrong (Dec. 14 to 18) with Sam Pinto.

 (E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com. You may also send your questions to askrickylo@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)


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