Dianne dela Fuente, the girl you love to hate, is really lovable
- Ching M. Alano () - April 14, 2002 - 12:00am
People love to hate Maria Amor, the famous character on the popular TV drama series Pangako Sa ’Yo. Once, she created a stir among Baguio folk when word got around that she was there. Her mom, who accompanied her to Baguio, was half-amused and half-worried when she overheard a certified soap opera fan fuming: "Ayoko dyan, maldita yan! Sampalin ko pa yan!" (I don’t like her, she’s a bitch! I could slap her!)

She once graced a sports fest opening and was introduced thus, "Many people are angry at her because of her effective portrayal as Maria Amor on Pangako Sa ’Yo. But don’t worry, she’s really a good person."

With that "Good Housekeeping seal of approval," nobody threatened Maria Amor with bodily harm. Surely, she’s become a household name in many a Pinoy home, albeit in an unsavory sense. For instance, how many housewives, in the middle of cooking dinner, would just love to chop her to pieces or fry her to a crisp for forever scheming against the goody-goody Kristine Hermosa a.k.a. Ina.

"It’s a job and I’m glad I was able to do justice to my role," says Dianne dela Fuente who’s gotten used to the fact that some people just can’t separate fact from fiction, the real from the reel.

Sporting a new short hairdo, she hears her name called out while shopping in a mall, "Ay, si Maria Amor!" "Yes, I had to cut my long hair, which I’d had since I joined showbiz at age 15, for Pangako, to show my character’s transition from the girl from the Talimpao dumpsite to the heiress daughter of Amor Powers."

Of course, if you’ve been faithfully following this soap, you know that this upstart isn’t the real heiress. A few episodes ago, she died, leaving behind an inconsolable Amor Powers (played by Eula Valdez) who refuses to bury her. Will she eventually allow her daughter to be buried? Abangan.

promises to unveil a few more surprises which even the cast is not privy to.

"They don’t tell us everything because they don’t want the story to be preempted," Dianne notes. "There was a time when stories were coming out on the Internet like new characters which haven’t even appeared on the show. So if they give us a script, we have to return it right after the taping."

Dianne was herself surprised when she reported for work one day and was told that her character would be killed. "But Star Cinema assured me not to worry as they would take care of me," she says, further confessing that she lives one day at a time.

At first she cringed at the thought of lying inside a coffin. But upon the prodding of veteran actress Anita Linda who plays her lola on Pangako, she overcame this mortal fear and did what the role called for. "Anita Linda gave me the encouragement, she assured me it was good luck," says Dianne. "She’s given me a lot of moral support."

As if to redeem herself in the end, Dianne made this "death wish" to the producers of the show before she "died": "If ever I’d disappear from the show, I’d like to go as a good person. Because in the first place, Maria Amor started out as a nice person."

A nice person Dianne really is, and well-loved by her colleagues, too. On the set of Pangako, she’s easily everybody’s favorite. "Paborito nila akong pagtripan," she points out with a laugh. "If you think people on the show are serious, you’re dead wrong. They’re some of the most kenkoy people in showbiz. Pinaka kenkay si Ate Eula. Between takes, we would swap stories, she’d share fashion and makeup tips. She’s got such a wide collection of dresses and accessories, she has different accessories to match each outfit. I had so much fun on the set of Pangako, minsan kulitan lang. Everybody’s been so nice."

So full of life and dreams, the 20-year-old Dianne dela Fuente – Diana Soberano Manlosa in real life – is back doing what she does best. "Singing has always been my first and only love," Dianne chants.

Dianne was only 15 when she started singing on TV. She was part of the Ang TV cast which also had Jolina Magdangal. But she says she really started singing when she was 5. She’d stick a tape into the cassette recorder, climb a chair and sing with the music. She’d belt out a Nonoy Zuñiga or a song from Broadway musicals like Sound of Music and Annie. People sat up and took notice of this little diamond in the rough.

Years later, she would dazzle people with her brilliant performance as Jewel in The Little Mermaid. "I remember auditioning with more than a hundred other aspirants," she recalls. "And then there were two of us."

Dianne did Little Mermaid for two years, from 2000 to 2001, of which she did 20 out of 30 performances. "She had to do a lot more performances because Carol Banawa went abroad," Dianne’s mom and constant chaperone Celia Manlosa explains. "She’d do the 3 p.m. show and then the 8 p.m. show. It was quite tiring for Dianne it took a toll on her health. She used to weigh only 90 lbs.; she couldn’t eat before a performance because it was hard to sing on a full stomach."

To the stage born, Dianne’s stage performances also include Alikabok (where she played the lead character Bising); Alice in Christmasland mall tour (as Alice); Walt Disney Manila mall tour; The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (as Susan); and Habi-Tabi at ang Banal na Aklat (as Prinsesa Diwa).

Last year, she auditioned for Miss Saigon. "I got in in the first and second auditions; it was a special audition for a Singapore tour," she relates. "I was called back for the third audition but that was during the martial law anniversary and many roads were closed. We were rerouted and when I got to the CCP, the audition was over. Maybe it wasn’t really meant for me."

On TV, she’s a mainstay on the Sunday noontime show ASAP on ABS-CBN. Turning a new leaf in her career, she’s a regular on Pahina on Channel 16 and a regular VJ on Kasaysayan TV. "It’s another side of me," she says. "Pahina, which was cancelled last year, will be back this August. We’re high school students here and each story is about Philippine literature."

Dianne has also done a number of recordings, to date: "Got to Believe" movie soundtrack for Star Records; JAM, Himig Handog sa Makabagong Pilipino interpreter Kahit Pilitin Pa; Metropop Song Festival interpreter I am Light (Infiniti Music); "Deep Inside My Heart," Ulan; Himig Handog sa Bayaning Pilipino interpreter Para Sa ’Yo; Talk TV jingle.

It came as no surprise to many when she was named one of the Gawad KKK-Galing ng Kabataan 10 Most Outstanding Youth of the Philippines last year.

Whew! Dianne must be in an awful hurry.

"Oh, no," she counters. "I take things as they come – slowly but surely. I’m just enjoying my life."

That means spending time with her family whom she loves so much: mom Celia and dad Filemon, and siblings Ronan, Sonia (who’s in the States but is an avid fan of Pangako), Filemon III and Marlo.

"She’s been through a lot of heartaches she deserves what she has now," says her mom, proudly adding, "She’s a very good daughter. She sets aside all her earnings for the family. For instance, she bought us an Isuzu Crosswind which her dad and brother drive. She has not taken driving lessons."

Yes, my money goes straight to my mom," she confirms. "Paminsan-minsan, kinakalabit ko si Mommy to ask for money."

She says she has no vice: "I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs. It’s easy to be waylaid when you’re in showbiz and exposed to a lot of things. I try to have self-control and live a clean life."

She’s no shopaholic, too, but sometimes, she’d reward herself for a job well done by splurging. "I’d buy something special like something from Benetton, Girbaud or Esprit," she says. "My closet is so full of clothes that I have to keep some in bags already. I like to keep old clothes because you never know when they’d be useful again like for my tapings."

On top of singing and acting, Dianne studies communication arts at Angelicum College where she’s in third year and where her classmates and teachers call her Maria Amor. She’s leaving in July for shows in the US.

"Reach out for your dream," she urges young people. "Work hard, have self-confidence and most of all, have faith in God. If you do the right thing, everything else will follow."

That’s a promise, says the young star of Pangako Sa ’Yo.

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