She may not have hit the lead credits often, but Matet de Leon has been portraying a common and significant role in the movies and dramas she has starred in – the best confidante of the main characters – giving her the title “Bestfriend ng Bayan”.
Some of her remarkable best friend roles were Jean in Till There Was You (2003), Zoila in the top-grossing romantic-comedy movie trilogy A Very Special Love (2008), You Changed My Life (2009), and It Takes A Man and A Woman (2013), Gemma in Till My Heartaches End (2010), Nancy in Huwag Ka Lang Mawawala (2013), and Rowena in The Legal Wife (2014). And now, we admire her as Tracy Buenaventura, the ever-supportive best friend of Andrea (Bea Alonzo) in the primetime romantic series A Love To Last.
But before she was able to score the said roles, Matet, or Maria Theresa Villamayor in real life, used to be a child star since she was three years old.
Aside from her cuteness and charming personality, coming from one of the country’s most influential showbiz clans – the De Leons – got her an easy ticket to the industry. Having been under the care of her adoptive parents screen veterans and former power couple Christopher de Leon and Nora Aunor, she seemed to have inherited their impeccable acting prowess.
Her first acting stint was in the 1986 drama film I Love You Ma, I Love You Pa in which she joined her parents and foster siblings Lotlot and Ian. It was subsequently succeeded by the fantasy-action Inday, Inday sa Balitaw headlined by the Diamond Star Maricel Soriano. From 1987 to 1991, Matet starred in 10 movies, leading two of those namely Bunsong Kerubin, where she got nominated as Best Child Actress in FAMAS Awards 1988, and the movie that had spawned from her famous utterance, Takot Ako Eh!. In 1997, she reunited with her mom on the big screen through Mama Dito Sa Aking Puso and also appeared in the sixth installment of the renowned horror movie franchise Shake, Rattle, and Roll. Since then, Matet was cast in numerous and consecutive movies -- may that be drama, romance, comedy, or horror. Some of these were Dalaw, Forever and A Day, 24/7 In Love, Pagpag: Siyam na Buhay, Da Possessed, Walang Forever, Third Party, and The Super Parental Guardians.
It was only in 2001 when the former child star began her television gigs, starting off with the romantic drama Sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan top-billed by Optimum Star Claudine Barretto. In 2003, she also got a minor role in the hit the well-loved youth-oriented teen drama Tabing Ilog and in the TV incarnation of Bunsong Kerubin under the fantasy-drama series Komiks (of course, she didn’t play the titular role anymore). From 2009 up to the present, Matet appeared in innumerable Kapamilya teleseryes and frequents in Wansapanataym, Maalaala Mo Kaya, and Ipaglaban Mo.
Currently, Matet is a doting wife to her basketball player-turned-chef husband Mickey Estrada and mother to their three adorable daughters – Mishka, Mikaela, and Mia – for 11 years now. Unfortunately, their son Juan Miguel died five days after birth. In their interview in Magandang Buhay, the couple elatedly imparted that their affair was a result of love at first sight and incessant exchange of text messages. They tied the knot in 2004. In her 31-year career, Matet successfully got out of her adoptive parents’ shadow and created a space and name for herself through her own efforts and talent. Even though there are a lot of new emerging artists through the years, she is still considered as one of this country’s underrated yet incomparable actors. We’re looking forward on your next projects, Matet!
Photos credit to misismatet IG