Merriam-Webster defines a matinee idol as “a handsome male actor who is popular with women”. Looking at this list below, yup, we’d say that definition is just about right.
10. Diether Ocampo
Who can forget his younger years as the lad with a fresh face in Gimik? The drama series targeted for the youth ran from 1996 to 1999, and since then, Diether Ocampo has risen to fame and grown into more mature roles in teleseryes such as Saan Ka Man Naroroon in 1999 with Claudine Barretto, as well as in 2005’s ‘Til Death Do Us Part opposite Kristine Hermosa. He’s also showed his acting chops by playing both heroes and villains, and, to prove he’s still got it, he also became part of ABS-CBN’s The Hunks.
- Patrick Garcia
As the object of desire of a chubby little girl obsessed with Tender Juicy hotdogs, Patrick Garcia was the infamous “Carlo” in the classic television ad. With a boyish charm like that, who could blame her? If Patrick Garcia sat beside us today, we’d pretty much write the same thing down in our diaries. He was a regular in Ang TV, and soon became a teenage dream in Gimik. He then moved on to Tabing Ilog in 1999 to 2003 (very reminiscent of Dawson’s Creek), and then made his way into primetime with Pangako Sa’yo in the year 2000 to 2002. He is now a daddy, with actress Jennylyn Mercado being his son’s mother.
- Rico Yan
It was the dimple that launched a thousand ships—or swoons and sighs from Pinays all over the country. Despite the tragedy of his death at such a young age of 27, Rico Yan continues to live on in the memories of all his fans and everyone he’s ever worked with in the business, including Judy Ann Santos from Mara Clara and Gimik in 1996, and Claudine Barretto from Mula sa Puso in 1997.
- Francis Magalona
Another great artist who was taken from this world too soon, Francis M revolutionized the local rap industry and is hailed as the King of Pinoy Rap. His hits include “Mga Kababayan” and “Meron Akong Ano!”, and his Royal Tru Orange commercials will forever remain in the hearts of fans and non-fans alike. Sadly, Francis Magalona was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, and he passed away in 2009—but not without leaving a legacy that will be with Pinoys for all time.
- Richard Gomez
This particular crush ng bayan was the very epitome of tall, dark, and handsome back in the 80s and 90s. The award-winning actor-model not only has the looks, but he also has mad fencing skills as a Southeast Asian Games gold medalist. Sorry, girls; he’s now married to the gorgeous Lucy Torres-Gomez. But you’re always free to dream, right?
- Aga Muhlach
This tisoy from the 80s has been making audiences sigh since his 1984 series Bagets. He’s also got the acting skills to go with those dimples, too, due to all the awards he’s received over the years—FAMAS and Gawad Urian included. Isn’t Charlene Gonzales one lucky wife?
- Dingdong Dantes
For someone who began as the love team partner of Antoinette Taus in T.G.I.S., Dingdong Dantes has definitely transformed from a fresh-faced boy into a rugged hunk. As one of the most popular celebrities in local television today, he actually used to be part of an all-male dance troupe called Abztract Dancers. He also started out as a child model when he was merely two years old in a dairy commercial. It’s hard to believe he is now one of the most sought-after male celebs in showbiz, as well as the doting husband of expectant Marian Rivera.
- Coco Martin
The darling of the local indie industry, Coco Martin was dubbed “Prince of Philippine Independent Films”. His daring roles and committed acting fought their way into the country’s spotlight—of course, it doesn’t help that he’s extremely good-looking, too. As Ramon Lecumberri in Tayong Dalawa and as Alexander and Javier del Tierro in Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin, he won the hearts of every Filipino—both male and female—and has been constantly rising to the top of the charts since then.
- John Lloyd Cruz
Oddly enough, even though JLC doesn’t go around ripping his shirt off and flaunting six-pack abs in every single scene, he is still one of the top matinee idols in the country. Perhaps it’s his sheepish smile that makes female fans everywhere swoon—not to mention he is one darn good actor who’s definitely worth his salt. He began as a member of Star Magic from ABS-CBN when he was fourteen, and was partnered with Bea Alonzo for Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay in 2002. The rest, as they say, is history, as his career took off and his numerous roles skyrocketed him to fame. Who can forget the very memorable performance he made in One More Chance? “Bash, hindi mo ba alam yung three-month rule? Lahat ng taong na-in love at nakipag-break ay alam iyon. Bash, maghihintay ka muna, tatlong buwan! Diba, tatlong buwan, bago ka makipag-boyfriend ulit? Hindi mo ba alam yun? Bash, may dalawang linggo pa ako, eh. Dalawang linggo pa. Bakit kating-kati kang palitan ako?” And, of course, the clincher: “She had me at my worst. You had me at my best. Pero binaliwala mo ang lahat… and you chose to break my heart.”
Who else can top this list but the great Papa Piolo himself? The actor, singer, and father began his showbiz career in That’s Entertainment when he was in high school in the 90s, and after deciding to finish his studies at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), he migrated to the United States, seemingly breaking the hearts of Pinays everywhere. Still, he came back with a vengeance and won eight awards for Best Supporting Actor in Dekada ’70 during the year 2002, and needless to say, he’s been a crowd favorite ever since. Who can blame Toni Gonzaga when she screamed “I love you, Piolo” in that infamous Sprite commercial, right?
*Photos screengrabbed from Youtube.