Diva Montelaba Recalls Her “StarStruck Days

Diva Montelaba recounts unforgettable encounter with Marian Rivera: “May dala-dalang heels na branded! Ibinigay niya sa akin!”

Diva Montelaba admits that her “StarStruck” journey more than a decade ago was not a walk in the park. She encountered several challenges along the way, not only with the show’s own games and tactics, but with her personal insecurities.

Montelaba was hailed as the First Princess of the show’s fifth season in February 2010.

She admits, “I felt like I didn’t belong kasi—no offense—but dark color ako dati. My complexion was very very dark. Ang pangit ng ngipin ko when I started. So, nakatulong din talaga yung makeover. But I felt really really insecure of how I look and how I speak.”

Diva Montelaba
Diva Montelaba goes through a makeover
PHOTO: GMA Network

Moreover, it was hard for her not to be with her family, particularly with her late lola who convinced her to join the artista search, since they reside in Cebu. It was a good thing that when she entered the competition proper after the audition and callbacks, her lola was able to finally join her in Manila.

Also, she later realized that being morena was actually an advantage, having mestiza co-finalists like Sarah Lahbati, Rox Montealegre, and Nathalie Hart (who was Princess Snell at that time).

She tells FreebieMNL, “Yeah, they’re all mestiza. It made it my edge so I embraced it and paunti-unti ko na-realize na being morena isn’t so bad.”

READ: “StarStruck V” Graduate Diva Montelaba Gives Life Update, Plans To Pursue Showbiz In The United States

Diva Montelaba and her unforgettable artista encounters

When she was still starting, there were times that Diva Montelaba got starstruck with Kapuso artists.

One of those unforgettable moments was with Iza Calzado, who was a judge during their season with Floy Quintos and Lolit Solis.

She recalls, “Si Ate Iza, I can’t forget how supportive she was. She’s always encouraging you, say words of wisdom, make us feel na kahit nasa competition kami, we matter as long as we are getting better every week. Lagi niyang nire-remind sa amin yun.”

But one moment she can’t forget was for an artista acting test she had where she had to do a scene with a surprise actor.

Montelaba remembers, “I think, Top 14 pa lang kami noon. Meron doon isang araw, acting challenge daw na para kaming nagte-taping ng soap [opera]. Ipina-memorize sa amin yung lines, there were two characters. Meron daw kaming asawa. Ngayon, hindi nila ipinaalam, surprise yung makaka-eksena mo and then, malalaman mo lang kapag nag-take na. So, siyempre noong time na yun, 16 ka, minemorize mo lang yung lines mo, tapos heavy drama.”

Much to their surprise, it was “StarStruck” season one Ultimate Male Survivor Mark Herras who came out as their scene partner!

Montelaba shares, “Siyempre dati, noong bago pa lang kayo, siyempre hindi pa namin siya nakakatrabaho before! Pagtingin mo sa kanya, hindi mo masasabi yung lines mo kasi nagulat ka and at the same time, kinakabahan ka kasi oh my gosh, Mark Herras, ang pogi. So, hindi ko alam, nakailang take yata ako noon!”

She admits that she got nervous by Herras’ presence at the time! As a result, “Noong nasabi ko yung lines ko, lumabas yung Bisaya accent ko sa Tagalog sa sobrang kaba! ‘Tapos inulit na lang namin. Hiyang-hiya ako kasi noong ipinlay ko, yung Tagalog ko sobrang Bisaya noong accent!”

Even then, she was able to pull off the scene and was even praised by the scene’s director, Helen Rose Sese, who is now one of GMA Drama’s heads.

But as for Herras, she says, “Wala kasi kaming chance makipag-usap kasi pag nag-cut, pagkatapos ng scene, maghihiwalay na. So, wala talagang bonding moment. Pero nagsabi siya ng mga comments sa mga girls kung kumusta.”

Diva’s moment with Marian Rivera

Diva Montelaba is lucky that immediately after “StarStruck,” she was able to work with some of GMA’s biggest stars. One of them is Marian Rivera, who is touted as the “Kapuso Primetime Queen.” It was for the Christmaserye, “Jillian: Namamasko Po,” headlined by now teen actress Jilian Ward.

But even before Montelaba and Rivera worked together in a project, the “StarStruck” alumna already had an unforgettable encounter with her “Ate Yan,” which happened during the “StarStruck” final judgment.

She shares, “Hindi ko makalimutan si Ate Yan kasi nandoon siya sa final judgment, nakita niyang pangit yung heels ko. Kasi nagre-rehearse ako kasi maaga siya dumating, parang may number din ata siya. After a couple of minutes yata, nilapitan ako ng PA niya, may dala-dalang heels na branded! Ibinigay niya sa akin, gamitin ko raw.”

Montelaba was left speechless. “Naiyak na lang ako kasi ano ba, Marian Rivera na yun! ‘Tapos nagka-work kami and lagi siya umaalalay. Si Ate Yan at saka si Kuya Dong, yan yung masasabi kong mababait na tao.” Kuya Dong is Dingdong Dantes, Rivera’s husband and GMA’s “Primetime King” who Montelaba had also worked with on several projects.

Montelaba is now currently in the United States enjoying her Sabbatical leave. She has also decided not to renew her contract with Sparkle, GMA’s talent management arm.

Banner Image Dani Sison

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