Adventure is Out There: Donny Pangilinan and the Last Frontier

Adventure is Out There: Donny Pangilinan and the Last Frontier


Despite the craziness and challenges of the past few years, Donny Pangilinan has never been clearer and more confident about his path. With renewed clarity, purpose, and drive, he’s ready to take his craft and career into the next gear

This is an excerpt from MEGA Man’s February 2023 cover story.

Donny Pangilinan has had an eventful couple of years. To be fair, so did the rest of the world, thanks to a little thing called a global pandemic. But while most of us Googled how to make Dalgona coffee and figured out how to do Zoom meetings, Donny has had to watch the entire entertainment industry shift to on-demand and online, see his home network shutter closed, and figure out how to show off his skills on completely new and unexplored digital platforms—all the while, like the rest of us, wondering if he would still be able to work and keep himself alive.

RELATED: A Man On A Mission, Donny Pangilinan Makes It Clear Why He Is Where He Needs To Be

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2020 started off bright and busy: in February, he officially joined ABS-CBN as a talent, sharing that he was working on new music as well. In the same month, he starred in the movie James & Pat & Dave with Loisa Andalio and Ronnie Alonte as the dashing ex-boyfriend Dave trying to win back Pat and fend off James. While he didn’t get the girl at the end, there was a powerful moment in the movie that had audiences in an uproar. As he stares at his phone with his tear-filled eyes after Pat chooses James, a beautiful girl hands him a handkerchief and offers a smile to console him. There is hardly any dialogue, but there is chemistry. There is tension. There is Tricia, played by the luminous Belle Mariano. That small scene was less than a minute, but this was one of the first instances where the new DonBelle partnership was seen, after it had been announced a few months earlier that they were playing the lead roles in the on-screen adaptation of the Wattpad sensation He’s Into Her.

One month later…well, you probably already know. The world changed.

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Ang daming nangyari,” he assents simply, sitting back on the other end of yes, a Zoom call. “Ang daming first din for me. A lot of adjustments.” Perhaps the biggest, most glaring thing that Donny had to adjust to was being a part of He’s Into Her. The online show was a massive success, and it’s propelled him to superstar status. It’s hard now to imagine that there was so much doubt surrounding the project back then. “We really didn’t really understand at first how big it was going to be,” he admits. They already knew that the novel written by Maxine Lat was an incredibly beloved story, but they didn’t even know if the show could get made at all. “First of all, makaka-shoot ba kami? Kasi ‘di namin alam kung tutuloy with all that happened! We were thinking: ‘oh my gosh, are we even gonna start [shooting]? Are we even gonna be able to do this show? Is ABS-CBN gonna be able to release this? How will they release this?” He shakes his head, laughing at the incredulity of the situation they were facing back then. “We had so many questions. There were so many times that the shoot was postponed. So many times na, ‘yon na yon…wala nang He’s Into Her.” How could they even imagine the show breaking records when no one knew how it would get made? But the whole team, both behind the scenes and on screen, rallied together to make and promote the show, and in 2021 it was finally released on iWantTFC.

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An unprecedented number of frenzied fans streamed the premiere, causing technical issues on the channel. But aside from that quick technical glitch, people—both here and abroad—ended up absolutely loving the show. “At the start, there was a lot of people saying that there were so many changes from the book,” he recalls. But that’s something that every team bringing a book to life on screen expects. “Our primary goal was to share that story in a different sense, but also give people a breather from everything they’re going through. We’re just so happy that the show was able to do that, to give them a different story, and just relate with the different characters as well.” Before long, there was a second season, as well as a grand finale concert in Araneta Coliseum packed with their fans (but also available for streaming, of course, for their international fans). Looking back at their crazy, will-we-or-won’t-we journey, Donny feels incredible grateful to the fans of the show. “It’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”

Read more about Donny Pangilinan’s great adventures and new finish lines in MEGA Man’s February 2023 issue, now available on ReadlyMagzter, and Press Reader.

Creative Direction NICOLE ALMERO
Art Direction MARC YELLOW, assisted by ANDREW ENCAPAS
Photography GEE PLAMENCO JR.
Fashion Direction RYUJI SHIOMITSU
Styling JOHN LOZANO, assisted by ROB LIM
Shoot Coordination KZ FRANCISCO and MJ ALMERO

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