Say hunk and the image that immediately comes to mind is a good-looking muscle man who’s God’s gift to women. All brawn but no brains. You know what they also say about dumb blondes. Gifted all over their anatomy but empty between the ears.
And then you meet a hunk like Dante Balboa and your concept of a hunk changes. Dante is an "educated hunk" and you wish there are more hunks like him – with grey matter where it matters.
Not many movie fans know that the sexy stud who starred in a few Seiko skin flicks is a professor at FEU, teaching Language, Literature and Philosophy of Man. Heavy, isn’t it?
Asked how his students react when they recognize him as the bold actor, Dante smiled, "Inside the classroom, they treat me as they do their other professors – with respect. On campus, I’m totally different from my screen persona. Sometimes, my students would ask me, ‘Why do you have to teach? Teaching doesn’t pay as much as showbiz does.’ I would tell them, ‘I’m basically a teacher; I want to share whatever knowledge I have with other people.’ I guess I was born a teacher."
Actually, Dante is a teacher and a student at the same time. He has already tucked up a degree in Architecture but he still goes to school. He only has to finish his thesis to tuck up a B.A. Film degree and seven subjects (one semester) for a B.A. Philosophy degree. He has also taken advance courses in Landscape Architecture and Art Studies, and a few other subjects (computer science, etc.) during summer.
Why does he have such an insatiable hunger for knowledge?
"Even before I joined showbiz, mahilig na talaga ako mag-aral. I hate being idle. Time to me is like gold. Not a minute should be wasted."
It doesn’t mean, however, that Dante has turned his back on showbiz. He has just shot a bold-drama called Karelasyon, directed for ATB-4 Productions by Buboy Tan and slated to be shown soon. Between school and movies, he manages to do stage plays, the latest being Tatarin (inspired by Nick Joaquin’s Summer Solstice which has also been made into a movie by Tikoy Aguiluz for Viva Films). He might be cast in Seiko’s next project (after Liberated 2).
"Theater is not alien territory to me," said Dante.
Two years ago, he debuted as Dr. Jose Rizal in 1898, followed by Mate, May Kaluluwa Ba sa Likod ng Utak? (at CCP, with Julio Diaz and Sylvia Sanchez among his co-stars), The Bomb (of PETA Productions, staged at the Raha Sulayman Theater in Fort Santiago), as Haring Herod in Martir sa Golgota, as Andres Bonifacio in Mabini: Utak ng Himagsikan, again as Rizal in Huwag Mo Akong Salingin and then Pamhinta (also at CCP).
"There might be a re-staging of Huwag Mo Akong Salingin, done almost yearly. I might again do Three Rats (with Criselda Volks and Cris Villanueva)." Does he have any regrets being a bold actor?
"None... none at all. The ‘bold’ is also a film genre. Several bold stars eventually become good actors and actresses and we should credit them for that. When you’re a bold star, mas natsa-challenge ka because you have to take good care of your body and at the same time prove to the public that you are not just a body, that you can also act."
Yes, brawn and brains.
Dante is the best example of that rare combination.