Dolly de Leon reveals: 'Marami pa akong utang'

At a glance

  • After she conquered Hollywood, Cannes, and London, de Leon also disclosed that she and her four kids still rent an apartment and do not have a car.

Dolly de Leon (Facebook)

International star Dolly de Leon has the fame, success, and debt she accumulated when she fought through the pandemic.

After she conquered Hollywood, Cannes, and London, de Leon also disclosed that she and her four kids still rent an apartment and do not have a car.

"Let me put it this way. Wala pa rin akong sasakyan and I'm still in debt. Marami pa akong utang," said de Leon, when asked about investments after she triumphed in the Oscar-nominated movie "Triangle of Sadness," during an interview at the Project Hulmahan event held at the Manila Hotel last Sunday.

(Let me put it this way. I still don't have a car and I'm still in debt. I owe a lot.)

She continued: "Maraming hirap ang pinagdaanan ko eh. I'm a single parent of four kids. Solo breadwinner ako. So for all those years ako lang ang nagta-trabaho. Nagka-pandemic pa. So I'm still in debt and I'm still in the process of paying for that. Once nabayaran na yung mga utang, tsaka na ako mag-iisip kung ano na ang gusto kong ma-invest."

(I went through a lot of hardships. I'm a single parent of four kids. I'm a solo breadwinner. So for all those years, I'm the only one working. There's still a pandemic. So I'm still in debt and I'm still in the process of paying for that. Once the debts are paid, I'll start thinking about what I want to invest in.)

On building her dream home, the award-winning actor said: "Huwag muna wala pa yun. Renting pa rin ako ng apartment. Kailangan ko lang talaga muna magtrabaho ng magtrabaho para ma-achieve ko yung investments pero now wala pa talaga."

(I'm still renting an apartment. I just need to work and work so I can achieve the investments, but now there's really nothing.)

At least now she can pay for food to be delivered to her children.

"Araw-araw nagpapabili ng milk tea. Puro mga ganun grabe. Before hindi naman namin afford magpa-deliver ng pagkain sa bahay eh. Hindi namin afford noon ang mga milk tea na yan. Kahit may craving kami, hindi namin nakukuha. So everything is lutong bahay. I cook. Marami akong best dishes. Marunong akong gumawa ng lasagna, sinigang, kaldereta, beef stew at mag-bake. When I was a kid, tinuruan ako ang nanay at lola ko. Pero yung ibang dishes, sa YouTube ko lang natutunan," said de Leon.

(We buy milk tea every day. Before we couldn't afford to have food delivered at home. We couldn't afford those milk teas. Even if we had a craving, we couldn't get it. So everything is home-cooked. I cook. I have many wonderful dishes. I know how to make lasagna, rice porridge, kaldereta, beef stew, and bake. When I was a kid, my mother and grandmother taught me. But the other dishes, I just learned on YouTube.)

De Leon said that she and her children have a healthy relationship. Her kids - aged 27, 23, 22, and 10 - are her worst critic.

"We love swimming, we love going to the beach. We love playing games together like board games, video games. Sometimes just hanging out. We're just in one space and we're doing our own thing pero nag-uusap usap naman kami from time to time. Nagbabasa or nasa computer and phone pero magkakasama pa rin kami. Barkada ko sila eh. We're all good friends. They're my worst critic. Grabe silang mamintas. Ang ganda ng relationships namin because I trust them completely. They're very honest with me. Hindi nila sinu--sugarcoat ang mga bagay-bagay," she also said.

(We love swimming, we love going to the beach. We love playing games together like board games, and video games. Sometimes we just hang out. We're just in one space and we're doing our own thing but we talk from time to time. They are my friends. We're all good friends. They're my worst critic. They are very critical. Our relationships are good because I trust them completely. They're very honest with me. They don't sugarcoat things.)

De Leon became a solo parent after she split with her husband.

"I was married but it wasn't a healthy relationship. Hindi siya nakakatulong sa aming dalawa and hindi rin nakakatulong sa mga bata. So I felt it was better for me to be on my own. That's why it ended. But we're good friends. We're okay. We're on good terms. He still sees his kids. Wala kaming bad blood. Maganda ang parting of ways namin. Sometimes you just need to let go of things that won't help you grow. And the same with him. Sa parehong hindi talaga kami swak together," she said.

These days, de Leon is busy shooting the local movie "A Very Good Girl" starring Kathryn Bernardo for Star Cinema. She just wrapped up her second Hollywood flick "Grand Death Lotto" with John Cena and Awkwafina.


On working with Kathryn, de Leon remarked: "Our shoot will go on until June. Then in July, I will prepare for my August trip. Kathryn is so cool. She's very easy to work with. Wala siyang ere. Okay siya."

De Leon, 54, said in a previous interview that she was grateful for all the blessings she received lately in showbiz, adding that the projects are sufficient to keep her busy toward the end of the year. She remembered a moment when she had to text some film executives to ask for roles.

"That happened once. May time na nagmessage ako sa mga executive ng big companies para lang makiusap na bigyan ako ng trabaho pero they ignored me. Hindi nagreply yung mga executive per yung creatives nila, yun ang tumulong sa akin. One time ko lang ginawa yun because I was desperate for work. Okay lang. Wala naman akong sama ng looob dun. Naintindihan ko rin naman sila roon."

De Leon also said that she's happy with the local movie industry in terms of the working system. "It's improving especially because of the pandemic. Nagiba na yung working style. Hindi na umaabot ng 24 hours ang shoot schedule. Ngayon ang pinaka maximum is 14 hours. Kung mag-extend man 16 hours lang pero hindi na umaabot ng 24 hours. Malaki na yung improvement sa ways of working. The companies I work with are open to collaborating. Nakikinig sila. The first step to growth is listening and observing best practices."

Asked to describe her life now, de Leon said: "Mas grabe yung challenges. Naging mas mahirap dahil mas mataas na ang stakes ngayon eh. So kumakayod ako ngayon, mas lalo akong nagtatrabaho ngayon. Kailangan kong maging masipag, kailangan kong maging healthy at alagaan ko ang katawan ko. Yun ang difference ngayon. Mas intense kaya kailangan talagang hindi ko rin seryosohin ang sarili ko. I have to be more diligent, I have to really make sure na I'm doing everything right."

(The challenges are worse. It's been more difficult because the stakes are higher now. I'm working harder now. I have to be healthy and take care of my body. That's the difference now. I have to be more diligent. I have to really make sure I'm doing everything right.)

In those days she made waves abroad, de Leon revealed she discovered something about herself. She said: "I discovered I was very intense. I take myself seriously that's why now my motto is don't take yourself seriously. If you take yourself seriously, doon pumapasok ang pressure, stress. You shouldn't even bother about that kasi for me I'm just doing my job as an actor. As simple as that."

Her prayers these days are simple: "Health and safety for my kids and friends. Yun palagi."

De Leon also believes that nothing changed much about herself when she found fame abroad.

"I guess it changed in a way na mas na-broaden lang yung view ko. Iba na yung perspective ko ngayon. I see things very differently now. Mas malawak na yung lense ko. That's all and everything else is just the same. Wala namang nagbago," she said.

De Leon said that she got emotional meeting Filipino artists elsewhere.

"It's a very emotional experience for me. When I was there, ang dami kong na-meet na Filipino artists. I really feel their passion for their jobs, and their pride in being Filipinos. So I feel very honored and proud."

De Leon made history when she became the first Filipino actor to be nominated for best supporting actress at the Golden Globes and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) for "Triangle of Sadness."

Is there pressure in having such an achievement? de Leon said: "Noong una there was pressure. Pero now, for me, I don't see it as pressure. I see it as an opportunity for doors to open everyone else."

De Leon considers her father engineer Juan de Leon Jr. as one of her inspirations in life.

"He really showed me kung paano maging tao by how he lived his life. Napakabuti niyang tao because he cared about other people. He was helping people. He always put others before himself. So he really inspired me although it wasn't easy kasi very self-centered ako nuong bata ako eh. I'm also very strong-willed at saka may pagka-perfectionist. That's why I had to go back to his ways of doing things and go back to the basics. Just being human and being kind to one another. Yun talaga ang nag-inspire sa akin as a human being," she also said.

When asked about how she wants to be remembered, de Leon said: "I just want to be remembered as someone who tried her best and hopefully, succeeded in being a good person. Ang dami kong kasalanan sa iba't ibang tao when I was younger so I hope to be remembered as someone who made mistakes, learned from them, and made the most of what she has now."