TAGS: Daniela, Daniela Mondragon, Dimples, Dimples Romana, Kadengang Ginto

Photography: Stephen Capuchino

As Dimples Romana welcomes us into her family farm, we see no sign of Daniela Mondragon, her feisty kontrabida role in Kadenang Ginto. In her place is a charming woman, greeting StarStudio.ph with a smile and a sunny disposition that doesn’t falter despite the rains heavily pouring the day of our visit.

Bearing the light in a dark and stormy weather may just be an apt metaphor for her life story as well—in the midst of her struggles, Dimples has learned to carry herself with confidence, an inner peace that glimmers through as the actress, wife and mother we’ve all come to love.

A mini mommy

“When I was a kid, my papa used to be a postmaster for the post office,” she begins. “My mama...mahilig siyang mag-Divisoria, parang businesswoman siya kasi. Buy-and-sell siya, meaning bibili siya ng tsinelas, ibebenta niya. Sa village lang namin kasi hindi rin siya pinapayagan ng tatay ko, since I had a sister who had leukemia.”


Dimples with her father Papa Bong
Photo from Instagram (dimplesromana)

Pebbles, her sister, was five when diagnosed with the condition, while Dimples was nine. Raised in Paranaque City, Dimples learned how to shoulder big responsibilities as the eldest child, and aimed to be of help to her mother’s rakets. “Multi-talented nanay ko e, marunong siya magkatay ng baboy, binebenta niya. Tsinelas, mga damit-damit, tapos ako tagabuhat no’n kasi ako ang panganay, e.”

 

Young Dimples with her Mama
Photo from Instagram (dimplesromana)

While she was enrolled in a public school, she liked joining competitions. Under her grandmother’s roof which was their home at the time, she cooked, cleaned the house and fended for her younger siblings. Since she and her siblings were anemic, it’s no wonder their mother were extra protective of them. 

Dimples quickly understood that she had to be a responsible sister. “I would take care of my brother, kaya si Bam, iba ang relationship namin, e, parang baby ko talaga,” she says, referring to her younger brother. “Parang mommy ako talaga…basically wala akong childhood.”

She muses, “I was a very serious kid. I was shy, I didn’t know where to place myself. Sobrang mahiyain ako kasi nga hindi kami nakakausap ng iba.”

An early dive into showbiz

“The reason why I got into showbiz early is namatay ‘yung kapatid ko,” Dimples says. She was twelve years old then, while Pebbles was nine. Wanting to help her family, Dimples was eager to work when she got scouted at the mall.

“Tinanong nila kung anong kaya ko,” she says, recalling the time the higher-ups chose to put her in drama. “I cried very easily, kasi kamamatay lang ng kapatid ko.”

Dimples also recalls that her father didn’t like her working at a young age. “Hindi okay sa kanya, but I told him na gusto ko makatulong. ‘Yung tatay ko, nanghihingi siya ng pera kani-kanino. Mga donations... sanay kami humihingi ng pera sa different institutions para sa kapatid ko.”

 

Dimple Romana's post on Father's Day
Photo from Instagram (dimplesromana)

 

Her joining showbiz was, first and foremost, out of necessity. Despite her determination to act, she was still simply a girl overcome with shyness. “Hindi ko naman talaga gusto mag-artista noong una. Gusto kong maging doktor. Super nerd ako, e. Noong college, tourism pa kinuha ko sa UST. Gusto ko maging diplomat. ‘Yun talaga mga trip ko, e. Kaso, iba ang plano ni Lord.”

Three years after her sister’s passing, her family went through a difficult period once more. Her father passed away due to aneurysm when she was sixteen, just four months after her third sibling Angeli was born. 

Dimples with her mother and younger siblings Bam and Angeli
Photo from Instagram (dimplesromana)

Growing up, she managed to experience many things at a young age: take a tourism course in UST, get married, and then major in Culinary Arts in an International Hospitality Management course in Enderun College, the latter in which she even gained a scholarship.


“No’ng nag-One More Chance ako I already had Callie and she would have been 3 years old, so...I would have been (celebrating) 10 years in the business.” 

When it comes to her many acting stints, her taking part in the 2007 film One More Chance, which would become a modern hugot classic, was when she realized that her hard work was all worth it. “Sometimes lang kasi you’re at a loss [with] what you wanna do...ano ba, para saan ba...? Narealize ko finally talagang siguro si Lord—gusto Niya talaga, [umarte] ako.”

Dimples had many best friend roles for twelve years, but she didn’t mind getting typecast. After all, one can always put their own unique spin to any role. “It really becomes a challenge for me na parang, okay, best friend [ulit] ako this time pero hindi nila makikitang pareho ito. I will change it up...it’s important that you see differently...nobody else thinks the same way as you do. That’s the beauty of acting, it’s never the same.”


Photo from Instagram (dimplesromana)

“I like to think of it as one of my gifts,” she says regarding her supporting roles. “To highlight somebody else’s work so nasanay ako do’n...I don’t mind stepping back to make somebody shine... Imagine, puro lahat ng bestfriend ko naman sina Bea [Alonzo], sina [Angel Locsin]...you have to know where you’re really good at, and then milk that.”

On Love

“Very Biblical ang love story namin... love thy neighbor kami—literal,” Dimples says with a laugh, having met her future husband Boyet Ahmee at around sixteen years old at the compound where they lived.

 

They didn’t really get to know each other until a fiesta celebration in a multi-purpose hall, which also happened to be in front of Dimples’ house at the time. “My husband and I actually began as friends…[when] my husband and I weren’t getting along...ang nag-save sa amin, friendship. Kasi sa totoo...iba yung respeto mo sa kaibigan. [Kay Boyet ako umiiyak] noong meron akong iniiyakan na iba...tapos bantay-salakay pala siya, ay nako...syempre, version ko ‘yun ng kwento,” Dimples laughingly says.


Photo from Instagram (dimplesromana)

“My husband was really the one who was there for me. Hindi siya nawala,” she says, with regard to why she chose to marry him at a young age. “Mga one year and a half bago kami nag-asawa…my feelings were always there naman. It wasn’t a partner kind of love, it wasn’t romantic, it was really because I love him as a person.”

At the start of their marriage, Dimples recalled not having much. Even if they could have stayed at their in-laws, she remembered how they were both determined to start from zero. “Nagrenta kami ng bahay, ‘dun kami tumira, para lang matuto kami.”


Throughout their relationship, Dimples has a lot to be thankful for when it comes to her husband. “He lets me be. That’s how he supports me. That really counts a lot. He keeps giving...I’m rarely home, he’s the one who takes care of the kids. Siya ang nag-aalaga sa mga bata pero nirerespeto niya na ‘yung desisyon ko na to be somebody else apart from being just his wife and being mom of the kids. Okay sa kanya ‘yun.”

If she were to describe herself as a wife, Dimples had this to say. “I'm a very jealous wife,” she proclaims without hesitation.  “Ang ganda lang ng dynamics namin, kahit na selosa ako, naiintindihan niya. Meron kasing asawa who will take that against his wife. Si Boyet, alam niyang selosa ako, so lahat ng gagawin niya, i-aadjust niya…[kapag] boys night out ng asawa ko, alam na nila na ‘di [siya] sasama...kapag nakahanap ka ng gano’ng lalaki ‘wag mong papakawalan, e, totoo!”

“‘Pag tinanong [kung] selosa [ako], oo!  Kaya si Boyet, kung nandito pa ‘yun, sasabihin nya, ‘ang gwapo ko talaga!’” Dimples says with a smile. It’s evident that her husband is just as lucky to have her, too, as she’s always prepared to accommodate her family’s concerns, even when she’s in the thick of taping. Dimples is proud to be the kind of mother who will give her family everything that they need.

Being a mom

“I’ve always wanted to be a mom talaga,” Dimples says. “Pinalaki ako ng nanay ko na mag-alaga ng iba, so kumbaga parang feeling ko that’s my love language, ‘yung [acts of] service.”

Photo from Instagram (dimplesromana)

“Noong nagbuntis ako kay Callie, I was very young, I was 19,” she says. “Nobody believed I could be a good mom...sasabihin nila ‘ang bata mo pa’, they will doubt you...nilunok ko ‘yun lahat, at iniisip ko, I will prove to you that I will be a good mommy. Kaya nung lumalaki si Callie, sabi ko, ‘yung batang ito walang [magiging] kulang sa kanya."

Even if she bore a child while young, Dimples didn’t find it totally overwhelming, having been used to having many responsibilities to attend to.

Photo from Instagram (dimplesromana)

“Callie is a very thoughtful kid, very sweet.” When Callie was growing up, it was around the time she and Boyet were having lots of fights. Callie grew up more maturely, much like Dimples herself growing up. “Madali siyang maging sensitive sa feelings ng iba, ayaw niyang nakakasakit basta, ganyan.”

Dimples also notes the difference between being pregnant with Callie and Alonzo, with the latter following the former after eleven years. “Let’s talk about pain. Kay Callie, wala akong naramdaman, tumayo ako kaagad, kasi nineteen palang ako. Here I was thinking it would be the same—I had forgotten I’d gotten older! After, kay Alonzo, lahat ng santo, tinawag ko!”

Photo from Instagram (dimplesromana)

There was also a drastic difference of support that she got regarding her two pregnancies. “When I was pregnant with Callie, I only had my family. There was very minimal support from other people because I was very young. But with Alonzo, everybody wanted to be ninong, ninang!”

Through it all, Dimples remains undeterred despite some negative comments she receives about her choices in life. “I’m very intact with my truth. It’s very important sa tao na alam mo who you are, what you can offer, what your morals are. Kapag klaro sa’yo as a person kung ano ka sa loob mo, hindi ka matatablan, kahit anong sabihin nila,” she says. “Ang pinakaimportante sa lahat is how you see yourself.”

On the path to Kadenang Ginto

Aside from being the best friend, Dimples also doesn’t mind taking on more challenging roles, such being the antagonist. “I’m very secure as a person. I know my core. Mahirap magkontrabida ‘pag feeling mo lapit sa character mo,” she says. “I can embrace the character fully the way I want to embrace it because everybody knows me. Walang pag-iingat na nagaganap, so I don’t have to explain myself.”



This brings us now to Daniela Mondragon, who is the kontrabida of the afternoon series Kadenang Ginto. The role was offered to her during her last tapings in Bagani. “Ang first teleserye ko was Esperanza, and I was already a kontrabida there...chinange-change lang nila, but kumbaga, that’s my forte.”

At first, Dimples was reluctant since she had asked to take a break from work beforehand, but ended taking the role out of gratefulness to the offer. Soon enough, it became a huge hit!

In order to improve her role as Daniela, Dimples was, as expected, meticulous in approaching her role—she even joined G-Force workshops to be more expressive. She also make it a point to ‘people watch’, adapting the traits she observes from her surroundings, such as small gestures audiences don’t usually notice. “[Sa simula] there was no color for Daniela. But because the character was evolving, and I was evolving with it, [since] halos isang taon na ‘kong Daniela, everytime, I feel stronger as Daniela when I’m in red.”


Photo from PUSH.com.ph

It helps that her chemistry with her character’s protagonist counterpart, Romina, played by Beauty Gonzalez, translates amazingly well on-screen. “Beauty and I managed to have a system… I wanted to know how she wanted to go about [the acting], then I’ll follow it up.”

Dimples also wants to give credit to the whole team’s efforts that make the show resonate with the viewers. “Kadenang Ginto isn’t working out just because of Beauty and me. It works because it’s an ensemble. Merong team Daniela, merong team Romina—kaya nasusupport ‘yon, kasi feeling ng audience, sila ‘yon.”

“Our job is to make people feel,” she elaborates. “Whatever emotion they would feel, ang importante sa’kin is they’re feeling it.”

Photo from Instagram (dimplesromana)

Her attempts were a success, as everyone has been talking about Daniela’s latest antics and quotes since then. When it comes to viral Kadenang Ginto memes, which sometimes pokes fun at the things in the show outright, Dimples is actually all for it.  “‘Yung memes, kaya siya nagwork kasi hindi ako napikon, e. That’s how you turn things around. It all started because they were making fun of it. All of a sudden, naha-happy vibes sila...ako naman, in-embrace ko ‘yun, kasi masaya sila. Why not?”


Photo from Instagram (dimplesromana)

Dimples also doesn’t mind hateful comments toward her, as she doesn’t consider herself a self-conscious person. “The kind of behavior that people show toward you is the kind of behavior they show toward themselves. Imagine, if you were kinder to yourself, then everything that comes out of you is also kind.”

For Dimples, it all boils down to getting the job done. “‘Yun ang importante sa’kin, e, that the audience will feel something from my performances because at the end of the day, people watch TV to have a retreat, to forget problems, relax and feel something else that they’re not supposed to be feeling.”

She shares further: “For example, you wanna be happy, or you wanna feel the pain of other people...then you watch teleseryes. That way, you’re feeling somebody else’s pain, and you realize you’re not alone. That’s the beauty of watching television.”  She is also certain as to why she thinks her role Kadena Ginto simply clicks. “‘Yung mga bagay na ‘di nila kayang sabihin, sinasabi ni Daniela.”

And after all the success of Kadenang Ginto, how have things changed at home?



“My husband has zero tolerance for celebrity entitlement at home,” Dimples remarks, maintaining that aside from getting more recognized by fans and having lots of learnings throughout the series, nothing has really changed. “I’m still the same person...ang thinking ko, this too shall pass, I will enjoy it while it lasts, but I should also not linger on the fact that there are more journeys that I will go through—and it should not be compared to this one.”

ALSO READ: CHECK THIS OUT: Dimples Romana’s Heavenly Family Farm 

Art Director: Alfred Amado
Videographer: Nikki Niko Romero
Stylist: Drew Lacia assisted by Jakie Mendoza
Makeup: Kat Galang
Hair: Henry Ranaso assisted by Shine Mejarito