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By Ma. Lalaine B. Reyes, Meg magazine, March 1999, p. 48

Sure, there are lots of cute guys on Primetime TV. But let’s face it. Ding Dong Dantes, as the cool and suave Inaki Torres of TGIS is the only reason we keep watching.

My earliest memory of Ding Dong Dantes was his cough syrup commercial. He played a choirboy with a bad haircut, happily announcing that his cough problems were all wiped out. That was six years ago. Now, just when you thought you could add his name to the long list of dorky performances in a television commercial, the goofy boy, errr, I mean young man is back, all grown up at 18 – stands 5”10, sports a poster boy hairdo, wears cool clothes, braces and a killer smile to boot. Major characteristics of a dreamboat. And I am betting my favorite bear necklace that he’s most likely to top every 16-year old girl’s list of dream date for the Prom. His latest project, Honey My Love So Sweet is your typical teenybopper movie. But REALLY, his dream is that of his idol Nicolas Cage role in The Rock. Or have Inaki Torres turn into a Psycho. I tell him that he has the looks, with his piercing light brown eyes and all. “Oh really? So you can tell - were you once a psycho too?” he teases back. Now we’re bestfriends I thought, exchanging jokes. This will be fun.

Norman Bates - I mean Dantes, goes for the music of P.O.T. and Soundgarden. He also digs the movie Ace Ventura and the historical film Rizal. “I wouldn't have minded being an extra there," he adds. The closest he ever got to doing something like that was when he starred in GMA’S Campus Romance, as a guy named Enrique transported from the past to the present time. Set amidst the romantic town of Vigan, he portrayed a struggling albeit sweet and funny a “manong” having trouble adjusting to modern times while spewing highfalutin Tagalog words. He’s definitely well on his way. For starters, did you know that his real name is Jose Sixto Dantes III? Ha! Ha! Got this little info from his Mom Angeline. Thanks Mrs. Dantes!

But undoubtedly, it’s his role as Inaki Torres, the leader and resident chick magnet on TGIS that made him a household name. Is it okay if people call you Inaki rather than Ding Dong? "At first no. TGIS was the only TV show I was doing. But now it’s fine. It just shows how much people watch the show.” He’s not pressured either to fill the shoes of Bobby Andrews and Onemig Bondoc, who moved on to Growing Up. (soon to be replaced with a new show TEXT- Dingdong's included). They already built a following for the show and for themselves, so were challenged. As the new group, we have this sense of responsibility that we should be able to entertain the fans.”

He plans to stay in show business as long as people want him but he’s prepared if ever show business doesn’t work out. He’s currently taking up Philosophy and Management from San Beda College. This is the deal he made with his Dad, to not stop schooling and prioritize his studies so that he’ll have a stable career to fall back on. He’s likewise aware that juggling career and studies is hard so, how does he manage it? “It's really about time management and prioritization. Kung ano yung importanteng bagay sa iyo, iyon ang unahin mo.” He promises not to miss out on the regular activities of college students like, parties. So girls, don’t be surprised when he attends ONE of your Class Interactions.

But not all is a bed of roses for Dantes. He’s had his share of showbiz intrigues, specifically on someone who was once close to his heart. “Minsan natatawa lang ako. Some people, they wanna destroy me. I know how I grew up, how I was raised. I won’t stoop down to their level and prove that they’re wrong. I could do it pero bakit pa? Siguro masasabi ko, dahil doon, I’m much more of a person than them.” I quickly ask if he’s afraid to love or get tired of loving because of this unfortunate chapter in his life. “No, you should never get tired of love, of loving. It’s not good if you don’t use your heart again.” Spoken like a true gentleman.

Obviously, Dantes is enjoying his life. Who wouldn’t, after all he’s young, he’s going to a good school, he’s got a career that ‘s going great guns, a supportive family (His Mom only has good words for his eldest son, “He is a jolly person when he’s home. He plays with his baby sister Victoria, who fondly calls him “Baba”) and best of all he absolutely like what’s he’s doing and everything that’s happening to his life. Now that’s what I call a really groovy Boy’s Life.

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED AT THE BROADWAY CENTRUM I requested for copies of his baby pictures. We agree to meet again, days later at the Broadway Centrum. He asks me to wait for him while he finishes his rehearsal. Accompanied by my bestfriend, we soaked the sights and sounds of bizlandia. It was a long wait but no problem. Suddenly, an assistant tells me that Dantes has left already. I hurriedly ran inside the studio, down the stairs and out to the parking lot. He’s nowhere in sight. I swear to God, I was prepared to wage World War 3 on him. I was fuming mad going back to the studio. But surprise, surprise, it turns out that he didn’t leave and that we both had a mini-marathon around the studio. “Ding Dong, I’m close to killing you!” I tell him as he hands me his baby pictures. “Ako rin eh. Tingnan mo hiningal din ako dahil naghabulan tayo.” We pose for pictures, both breathing heavily and smiling cheesily for the camera. Now, I can offficialy declare, “Dantes chased after me!” Kidding aside, I enjoyed my encounter with the debonair Dantes. And if ever my Editor asks me if I’ll do it over again, I would probably exclaim – to borrow Dantes’ fave word – “HOLLRIGHT!”

The Dantes Fact Sheet

Family: Dad Jigg, mom Angeline, sisters Angela, Cristina, Victoria, brother Angelo
Home: Quezon City
Fave gift he ever received: “My Rolex watch, a Graduation gift from my Dad.”
Fave high school memory: “Prom, my Graduation Ball.”
Fave superhero: “Superman. I used to imitate his stunts when I was a kid.”
Fave daydream: “Being a successful family man and businessman.”
What he likes about himself: “I know what I want and I know what I don’t want.”
Most embarrassing moment: “When I was left by a plane in the airport bound for Naga. It seems that I went to the wrong waiting area and when I heard the last call of my plane, I ran after the plane which was backing out already, calling after the crew and all. But it was too late.”
Ideal girl: “Someone who’s intellectual, has a great sense of humor and who has great sense of values. She also knows what she wants.”
What no one knows about him: “I’m moody and antukin.”
Best thing he’s learned from Life: “In life there are good and bad things and it’s up to you on how you choose to go on with your life. Surround yourself with good people who will guide you. So basically, you have to trust people but be careful on who to trust.”
How he defines Happiness: “It’s when you know what you want, find a way on how to get it in a good manner and a good way. This sometimes works for me. Ngayon ko lang kasi nakita yung totoong meaning ng happiness. When I knew what I wanted, who I wanted.”