Fascinating Women: Actress, Entrepreneur, And Family Woman Dimples Romana
On the topics of success, the future, and the true riches of life, Dimples Romana says, "Success, ultimately, is being able to look at yourself in the mirror every end of the day and saying 'You’re still the same person. I still like you as you are. You have not changed,' and you are at peace with yourself"
What do you think actresses see when they look in the mirror?
Perhaps they see the face of allure and beauty, the look of success and aspirations made real. Or, they might notice a fine line and a gray hair or two that weren't there before, or maybe, a glisten in their eye and a hint of a smile that only appear upon recalling memories of the greatest times of their lives.
For Dimples Romana, she sees prayers.
In clearly defined letters, prayers are engraved in some of the mirrors of her family's home. Passages from the Bible's Book of Psalms were carefully chosen to help Dimples and her family live well and right—prayers of joy, thanksgiving, unmeasurable happiness.
They're not there because she prays to receive more, to be more, to have more.
On the contrary, Dimples prays because she feels big thank yous are owed to many: to her children and husband that are an endless well of support, to her co-actors and actresses who have become her work family, to the crew and execs who always want the best for her, to her business partners who never let her down, and to God that always knows best—and yes, even to herself who never stopped believing in what she could do and who she could become.
And become something special she truly did.
She's still "becoming," too.
For a woman like Dimples, the process never ends and that's kind of the whole point of it. That's the best part about getting to live life and having prayers answered; there's no limit to what tomorrow can bring, no cap to the beautiful things one can hope to happen.
And as an actress with over two decades of experience in the industry, a dedicated family woman, and an admired business owner, Dimples, truly, has a lot to look forward to.
Going full circle
Dimples' day starts early. She's up at 5:30 a.m. almost every morning, and the first thing she does is send out a little thank you up to heaven. It's another day, after all, and it's a blessing in and of itself to wake up to experience it. When her mind has transitioned to wakefulness, it's straight to checking out her to-do list. Scanning through her calendar and all the plans she has, her heart swells with gratitude. There's an influx of projects, both professional and personal, all of which appear to be part of some Divine blueprint that Dimples feels was designed just for her.
She begins with the best one of them all—a return to primetime with new teleserye, Huwag Kang Mangamba.
"When it was offered to me, I felt like I was in a daze," she tells Metro.Style.
"Somehow [my character on the show is one] I’ve always dreamt of doing right after Daniela [from Kadenang Ginto]. Daniela is a very challenging role to follow because she is an icon on her own... [In] the landscape of, at least my craft and my career, somehow there is pressure [of] 'What do I do after this?' 'What kind of role do I take on?' And following the kind of path that I have done for myself over the past few years... I always shift. I'm really a shifter," she explains.
Huwag Kang Mangamba follows her success on Kadenang Ginto, where she played Daniela Mondragon, whose fiery red dress became a pop culture phenomenon all on its own. The role of the dedicated mother and scorned woman, demanded Dimples to dip into a previously unexplored part of herself—all her roles do, and that's what she's proudest of as an actress.
You can never fault her for being a one-note performer. She is intentional with the projects she agrees to, and only if they offer her a chance to bring something new to the table does she say yes to a casting offer.
"I don’t give too much thought on [kung] isa lang ’yung eksena ko, tatlo ba eksena ko, mamamatay ba ako agad. There’s really none of that for me," she shares.
"You would see na laging part ako ng beginning of the story and there’s a reason for that. It’s because I actually go for characters, looking at [them] really more on the depth than the quantity of the scenes. I always keep thinking, ‘Magmamarka ba itong character na ito? Is this something that’s going to give me a kind of craft and career path that is not predictable?’ Kasi that’s what I don’t want to happen to me, that people would get to predict what I want to do," she divulges.
On this sweet cake, there's both a cherry and an extra layer of icing top it off.
First and foremost, she was ready to acknowledge the new reality for the entertainment industry. COVID came and she knows it will be here for a while, which means accepting that work for actresses like her will inevitably slow down. And yet, here she is, celebrating not one new project, but two. Dimples was also cast in Viral, a series with an all-star cast revealed to the public just this February where she stars alongside Jake Cuenca, Markus Paterson, and breakthrough actress Charlize Dizon. Shooting will begin once community quarantine restrictions have eased. What's more, her sitcom with Ian Veneracion is also still airing at this time, while all these new things have come her way.
Second, there's the fact that Huwag Kang Mangamba broke the first commandment of casting—to not regroup the same set of people—in the best way. Much to the delight of the biggest Kadenang Ginto fans, the new teleserye had Dimples reunite with previous co-stars including the teen stars of The Gold Squad (Andrea Brillantes, Francine Diaz, Seth Fedelin, and Kyle Echarri), plus other cast mates from previous projects like Mylene Dizon, Sylvia Sanchez, and Nonie Buencamino. She also joins forces with familiar faces behind the camera, making the teleserye an even bigger joy to work on.
Huwag Kang Mangamba premiered last March 22, exceeding expectations of viewers who were treated to a brand new teleserye filmed during the time of COVID. Everyone who worked on the show, which is ultimately a story of empowerment and hope, believes that it was released at the right time. As Filipinos all over the world grow more and more in need of reasons to hold their heads up high, Huwag Kang Mangamba—a title that literally asks viewers not to worry—is a real gift.
With the wheels of fate turning, Dimples thinks back to how this chapter of her career began and still can't believe the fortune in her cards.
"I was reading the script and I was crying. I thought, 'Lord, grabe naman. Parang sobrang dinidinig mo naman ako.' Iniisip ko kasi na especially now we pray thousands, millions, billions of prayers every single day because at this point in our lives, nothing is for certain, especially now that COVID cases are even higher, and thousands of people lost their jobs and they don’t know what to do. At this point na walang kasiguruhan ang mga bagay, here comes a role that I’ve always been praying for," she describes.
Her character's name couldn't be any more apt—Faith.
Dimples smiles and calls it going full circle.
Remember Dimples' morning routine?
One of the things she also likes to do is indulge herself in letting her musings flow freely onto paper. It doesn't matter what they are, she can always save a random thought for later and who knows? It could turn out to be the seed destined to grow into something magnificent.
"I actually like to clear my mind by dumping all the ideas that I have in one notebook, actually several notebooks, and then after that, I would have coffee," she shares.
It's one of her personal practices that remind her that she and only she steers her ship; her goals and dreams are her responsibilities, and while help from the right people is always welcome along the way, she could never depend on others to carve the path to success for her. Dimples is one hundred percent a woman for herself, and it's likely what propelled her to successfully branch out outside of showbiz.
Besides, even with her fame as an actress, there's no way that Dimples would have allowed herself to be "just" a celebrity. She's an artist more than an artista in this sense. This part of her identity is a wellspring of creativity, so much so that she's now the proud co-owner of a restaurant—an international one, at that.
Top world culinary destination Singapore will be the new home of a restaurant called Alegria Singapura. The restaurant, which is schedule to open a few months from now, will serve up Latin-Asian fusion food and speak to the palates of Pinoys who miss home.
Alegria Singapura is a joint project between Dimples and her husband, as well as other partners.
"All our partners are working very hard because we also know there’s a big community of Filipinos in Singapore and we want to be able to support that. Even through the pandemic, we want to be able to let our hospitality shine through—through our work, through the food that we serve to people," Dimples says.
"It would be nice kasi sa Singapore, alam naman natin na marami tayong kapamilya doon, mga Filipinos that are still working very hard. I hope to be able to reach out to them through this restaurant and bring light to what we do best as Filipinos, which is to welcome everybody with warmth," she continues.
Though she won't be able to visit the restaurant any time soon nor be around for its grand opening, Dimples says she has full trust in her partners to take care of operations for her in the meantime. In fact, that's the best piece of advice she has for anyone looking to try their hand at entrepreneurship: even with the best, most original ideas in mind, the real key is finding the best business partners. Delay a business if you have to if it means giving yourself more time to find the right people to work with.
"You really have to surround yourself with people who have the same vision and people who care for more than just business," Dimples states.
In terms of business expansions, perhaps the most surprising part is how it's not only Dimples helming her own brand these days. Her eldest, 17-year-old Callie, successfully launched her own fashion brand late last year. She now owns Cal the Brand and it specializes in locally made, minimalist woven bags. Two things stand out about the bag line: it supports local artisans, plus, it was built from the ground up with Callie's own savings.
Any guesses about where Callie got her entrepreneurial spirit from are welcome, but we're pretty sure mom's got a lot to do with it. (And we're sure that Dimples is happy to own her influence, too!).
Speaking of family, Dimples has pretty strong feelings about the role it should play in one's life.
"Amidst all these things that we have to do, with all the hats that we have to wear, I feel like family should always come first," she states.
The creed of family
This love for family is intimately tied to some of her earliest experiences, some of which left her lonelier than she'd like to admit.
She had a younger sister, Sarah, who was diagnosed with Leukemia. Dimples was 12 at the time and made the decision to start working as an actress to help with ballooning expenses, even before she had the chance to experience adolescence and youth like her peers would.
Four years later, Dimples' father would meet his own demise in his early forties. He suffered from an aneurysm while he was at work one day and no one could save him from the inevitable. By 16, Dimples was more than familiar with the weight of family duty. But she carried it on her shoulders anyway out of love and out of the belief that one day, her efforts would culminate in something beautiful.
"This is a very touchy topic for me and my family, that’s why you would see on my feed that we would really try our best to have the best days, or at least if we didn’t have a good day and we have problems coming from everywhere, I always make sure to put a smile on my family’s face," Dimples confides.
"Because at the end of the day, all those things, para sa akin, ingay lang. Kasi there are harder battles that other people are going through that may not affect me, but at the same time I feel for them kasi dumaan ako doon," she states.
At 19, Dimples married Boyet Ahmee and she gave birth to her first child, Callie, in the same year. She had her second child, son Alonzo, in 2015.
It's safe to say that her family is everything to her these days. When Dimples is afraid of whatever might come, and she is a fearful person indeed, what calms her nerves and gives her strength is knowing that she did a pretty good job giving her kids and husband a great life with her.
"That’s also the reason why I’m very proactive in life. I really want to be able to end the day and say if this day will be my last and tomorrow I wake up in heaven, hopefully I’m still smiling because I was able to do what I needed to do," she shares.
When she looks in the mirror, she is satisfied.
Next to the Psalms she prays with sincerity is a reflection of herself—a woman reborn many times, a woman in pursuit of constant reinvention and metamorphosis but always wrapped around the same core.
She's different yet still the same, and just maybe, that could be her legacy for all women who dream big dreams, just like she does.
Dimples turns 37 this year. She remains grateful despite her life's early tragedies and the necessary sacrifices needed to push her family forward, but her biggest accomplishment isn't anything she can see, grasp, or count. It's what she feels about herself.
Her true wealth is knowing her luck changed, but in the process, she did not.
"Marami na tayong kwento na nakita na super successful.... Ang dami nating na-achieve, ang dami nating mga material things na na-achieve, medals, and all these awards. And yet sometimes, a lot of people would still feel emptiness," Dimples ponders.
"So I feel that it’s really important that even with all the success that you garner in your career or at home with your family life—because that’s also a big achievement, lalo na ngayong pandemic—I think it’s really important that when you look at yourself in the mirror, you really say you’re still the same person as when you were starting to dream big," she continues.
Staying in touch with herself in her quietest moments has also trained her to live in the present. Worrying about tomorrow takes away so many of the joys from today—especially if what you're preoccupied with are things that don't feed the soul. Aging? Staying relevant? Wondering how many shows and movies you can pack in a year? They come second to Dimples. They're extras in what is already a prosperous existence.
As long as she's alive, her family is thriving, and she leaves traces of goodness wherever she goes, she's set for life.
"I really do everything in my power to guard my peace. I think it’s the most important value that I’ve learned," she tells us.
"I don’t want to get lost in the fame. I don’t want to get lost in the success. I don’t want to get lost in all the blessings that are coming our way. Because at the end of the day, I wake up in the morning, I’m alive, and that is a huge blessing," she ends.
Mirror or no mirror, Dimples knows what it is she should be seeing in front of her—a life lived to the fullest, now and always.
Interview by Grace Libero-Cruz
Photos from @dimplesromana