MEGAstyle April 2016: Erich Gonzales & Daniel Matsunaga

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The stars of the country’s most-watched daytime drama open up about career, travel, self-discovery and their most candid moments

By Therese San Diego. Photography Xander Angeles. Art Direction Alexandra Lara. Styling Nicole Blanco Ramos. Makeup Anthea Bueno. Hair Anton Papa of Aveda Philippines.  Nails Luz Fortuno of  TRIPLE LUCK BROW & NAIL SALON. Sittings Editor Sarah Santiago.

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On Erich: Black halter dress and chiffon pleated trousers all by REISS, black suede pump heel by H&M On Daniel: Black round-neck t-shirt by H&M, gray cotton shorts by FOREVER 21 MEN, canvas sneakers by H&M

Erich Gonzales and Daniel Matsunaga scale new heights as they headline the top-rating daytime teleserye Be My Lady, with the show’s consistently high ratings prompting its extension. The onscreen and real-life partners seem to have eased comfortably into the limelight of show business, an achievement they had never imagined growing up.

Back to the Start

It has been 12 years since they first embarked on their professional careers—Erich at 14 and Daniel at 16. Both of them had no idea they were in for an extraordinary ride.

It was 2004. In Erich’s hometown of Davao, ABS-CBN held auditions for the second season of the reality talent competition Star Circle Quest. She recounts how she dreamt of becoming an actor as a little girl—“I used to sing and dance in front of the mirror and practice my tears”—but thought a showbiz career was a long shot. This, however, did not prevent her from trying out. “When I got there, super daming maganda, as in matangkad…Sabi ko, wala na ‘to, pero okay lang, try na lang for fun. And then, biglang, wow, thank God! I won.”

In the same year, Daniel left his home in Brazil to pursue modeling gigs around the world. Together with his sister Vanessa, he would book jobs and spend about two to three months in each country. Among the countries they’ve stayed the longest are Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and the Philippines. Joining show business was beyond the realm of his imagination at the time: “I would watch TV, a lot of movies…but I never expected I would become an actor.”

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On Erich: Orange dress by H&M, black leather wrap belt by SFERA On Daniel: Moss green t-shirt and dark orange cotton trousers all by H&M

Upward Trajectory

Erich has since become a household name, getting her first big break in her lead role as a teenage mom on Katorse. She continued to receive starring roles in dramas including Tanging Yaman, Maria la del Barrio, Juan dela Cruz and Two Wives. On the big screen, she has showcased her versatility in a range of genres, from romantic films I Do, Once a Princess and the Filipino-Thai film with Mario Maurer, Suddenly It’s Magic, to the dark thrillers Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang and Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi, among others.

Daniel entered showbiz in 2010, starting out with GMA Network and later working as an actor and host on TV5, Asian entertainment and sports channel KIX and ABS-CBN. While acting was an unexpected development in his career, joining Pinoy Big Brother was something Daniel wanted to do since he was 18. Back home, he auditioned four times but didn’t get in. “In Brazil, it’s called BBB. Brazil Big Brother. Sobrang laki. I [tried out] but…I always got disappointed.”

Imagine his excitement when he received the opportunity to enter the Pinoy Big Brother house as “celebrity housemate” in 2014. A few months later, he was declared the big winner. “[It was] super fun. I would do it again,” says Daniel. “You get to learn so much about life, about people, different cultures, the language…Once you stay four months inside the house without doing anything, that’s the time you realize the value of small things—family, loved ones, everything.”

It is a first time for Erich and Daniel to share the screen at top billing with Be My Lady, and the audience reception is unmatched. Asked about other projects lined up for the year, they reveal, “We look forward to our first movie together!” They cannot disclose much just yet, but they are already in talks with Regal Films. They’ve also received new endorsement offers, individually and as a couple. Clearly, DanRich is fast becoming an iconic love team.

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On Erich: Lemonade floral lace dress by H&M, floral necklace by FOREVER 21, black suede mules with rainbow tassels by H&M On Daniel: White and gray linen blazer by HUGO BOSS, gray shorts by FOREVER 21 MEN, brown leather loafers by PEDEO

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On Erich: Red wine structured gown by TONY EVAN, pink rose brooch (worn as choker) by FOREVER 21 On Daniel: Black long-sleeved polo by FOREVER 21 MEN, red cotton trousers by RALPH LAUREN

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Finding Downtime

While they’ve been busy taping Be My Lady almost daily, they are happy that they get to spend time with each other on the set. As the couple gets groomed for the cover shoot, they give the MEGAstyle.ph team a glimpse of what they are like behind the scenes—goofy, playful and inseparable, filling the room with their infectious laughter and energy.

They giddily share random moments and habits they’ve acquired, such as how they make sure they’re “twinning” by color-coordinating their outfits in the morning, and how they step out of their comfort zone for each other—with him giving rose planting a go and with her conceding to a workout session. That particular workout gave birth to the couple’s famous #spartanbaby hashtag. “He invited me to go to the gym in Hong Kong,” shares Erich. “I died! Kasi siya, known siya as Spartan, so sabi niya, since baby niya ako, [I’m his] Spartan baby.”

While Erich is more of a homebody who prefers reading romantic fiction and gardening, Daniel finds time for fitness and the outdoors. “I do all kinds of sports—muay thai, jiujitsu, capoeira, ping-pong, tennis, badminton, football, swimming…” He also hits the gym at least four times a week. Though it was Erich who got him into badminton—her only sport—she notes that if she needs to work out, she prefers to exercise at home. Daniel teases, “Yung dumbbells mo sa bahay, sobrang liit!”

They also like to cook for each other. Erich likes his grilled steak and salad with vinaigrette, while Daniel likes her Filipino specialties, sinigang and nilagang baka.
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Time for Travel

Whenever they get time off, travel is one of the items on their agenda. Together, they’ve traveled to Paris, Amsterdam, Japan, Hong Kong and Bali. Locally, their trips have often been for work, but Daniel has joined Erich for a vacation in Davao, where he got to meet her family. Their next dream destination is Brazil, where Daniel hopes to introduce Erich to the rest of his kin.

They usually prepare an itinerary beforehand, but play it by ear when they get to their destination. One thing they always love to visit, however, is a good theme park such as Parc Astérix in France as well as Universal Studios. “We like to go on rollercoaster rides, extreme rides… and then vomit after!” jokes Erich.

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On Erich: Gray ruffled top by BENGT ENRIQUE, black lace skirt by H&M On Daniel: Gray wool sweater and red cotton trousers all by RALPH LAUREN


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On Erich: White lace cropped, white lace skirt, silver hoop earrings all by FOREVER 21,black lace-up sandals by CHARLES & KEITH On Daniel: Rose Quartz long sleeved polo by HUGO BOSS, white linen trousers by BANANA REPUBLIC, canvas slip-on espadrilles by H&M
Self-Discovery and Spiritual Connections

Erich and Daniel value having a strong spiritual bond, going to church every Sunday and finding time to read the Bible together, even during taping. Daniel shares how his faith has helped him not only in his career but in all aspects of his life. “What I learned is that God can really do everything in your life; you just need to have faith,” he says. “You go through problems in your life [and] there are so many things that you think you can’t do. But at the end of the day, if you really put your trust in Him…it’s amazing how He can do things in His glory to make it work.”

Erich adds, “[I learned that] you should always have a grateful heart, and that it’s nice to always see the good or the positive in everyone, in everything.” She notes that she cannot expect a life without challenges, but her faith can help her overcome the struggles.

Erich and Daniel continue to explore new, exciting territory, and their fans are more than raring to join the journey.

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