Diego Loyzaga is deemed as showbiz royalty at first glance.
The name, the lineage, the talent, and the look no one can doubt has been destined to make it big in the limelight.
But little did anyone know that this child of award winning actor and filmmaker Cesar Montano and renowned character actress Teresa Loyzaga was never the celebrity child we assume.
He calls himself a simpleton, an Australian street kid who spends most of the day drifting with buddies without any care for his future.
Diego was born in the Philippines, but when he was three years old, he emigrated to Australia with his mom, who gave up her showbiz career to focus solely on being a parent and take a different career path. Since living in Sydney, Diego was unaware that his parents were famous celebrities back home.
“I never knew Teresa Loyzaga was an actress, I never knew my mom was an actress. I never knew my dad and I never knew Cesar Montano is Cesar Montano (the actor). And never ko yun hinanap,” Diego revealed in an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN.com.
“Nabuo ang pagkatao ko without knowing na I had a showbiz (lineage) na may showbiz background si Mama. Kaya for me, that’s what I’m proud of. I’m proud na lahat ng nagawa ko at a certain age nung nasa Australia ako, ginawa ko yun sa kayod lang namin, not relying na nasa showbiz ang family ko,” he added.
Diego, his half-brother Joseph, and his mom Teresa lived a simple, ordinary life in Australia. Being a single mom, Teresa, he said, would work hard to make both ends meet.
“I was an ordinary person. Hindi ko naman sinasabi na mahirap kami. Pero hindi kami mayaman, kami ng ermat ko. Single mom, two kids, she was always away working. Minsan more than one job para lang mabuhay kami ng utol ko. My brother and I both attended a Catholic private school pero nung high school, public school,” Diego said.
During his teen years, Diego said he did odd jobs to supplement the family income, from working in a fastfood restaurant to a construction worker.
“I was able to get a job at a fastfood joint nung underage pa ako. And I even helped a friend of my brother who worked as a laborer. Sumama ako sa kanya. It’s a dollar a brick. So kung mag-lelay ka ng 100 bricks in a day, you get 100 dollars. So ganoong ka-simple lang ang buhay,” Diego noted.
Laid-back street kid
But all in all, Diego described himself as a laid back street kid who was content at living the simple life with no aspirations of making it big someday.
“Lumaki ako parang batang kalye. Batang batuta, Australian version nga lang. I came from humble beginnings. I wasn’t a very ambitious kid kasi very laid back sa Australia parang probinsya lang. Very relaxed. Yung mga peers ko, mga kaedad ko…we weren’t dreamers.”
And, it also didn’t help that they constantly changed residences as they endured “financial issues” and that Teresa needed to transfer locations to get higher paying roles in the company she worked for.
From the hustle and bustle of Sydney, Teresa and her two kids ended up in the quiet, laid-back Perth, where he spent his high school years. In a public high school, Diego ended up taking a drama class where he first showed his potential as an actor.
“I attended drama class (in high school). Yung drama teacher ang nakapansin sa akin na you can act. Pero kailangan mag-seryoso ka. Yun na nga because I wasn’t that ambitious when I was younger,” he said.
He even admitted taking to the Perth streets aimlessly riding his BMX bike, vandalizing walls with graffiti.
But he said his spray painting ways made him discover his inclination to art.
“I even did graffiti before. Doon ko medyo napansin na meron akong direction in art. It’s not painting yet. I brought it up with my dad before sabi niya sa akin ano ba naman yung graffiti, it’s vandalism. Pero (you still learn) drawing, patterns, different ways of drawing. Bumibili ako ng spray cans, palihim pa. So those were the adrenalin rushes nung bata pa ako,” Diego revealed.
As he led this carefree life, a tragic event led to a turning point. Diego decided to go back to the Philippines after his half-brother Angelo Manhilot passed away.
“It was at that time when my mom said siguro oras na rin para makilala mo ang dad mo,” Diego shared.
It was when Diego was 15, after Angelo’s death, he decided to move to the Philippines for good. While he experienced severe culture shock when he first set foot in the country, it didn’t take long before he adapted to living in his ethnic homeland. Diego then campaigned for Cesar in his gubernatorial bid in Bohol in 2010.
While he didn’t plan to enter showbiz at first, such a calling was just too natural for “Cesar Montano’s son.”
A meeting with ABS-CBN execs was arranged and they encouraged Diego to try his luck in acting. Motivated by this, Diego sought his mom’s permission to enter showbiz. She obliged, provided that he would not give up his studies.
“Binilin ng mommy ko na pwedeng mag-showbiz ako pero kailangan matapos pag-aaral ko, which was hard. Ayun na ang Mara Clara, Growing Up. Nasa high school pa ako noon.”
Viewers noticed his potential but sadly Diego said he could not measure up to the demands of the trade, given that he had to juggle time between classes in school and tapings for TV programs.
“Sa Mara Clara, di pa marunong mag-Tagalog, talagang bano ako sa acting. Tapos sa Growing Up, parang di ko nabigay ang 100 percent na dedication ko sa proyekto.”
Then given these difficulties, Diego decided to take a break from showbiz and fully concentrate on finishing his high school studies.
After graduating, Diego decided to make a comeback, but his rise was slow and careful, focusing primarily on improving his acting skills and his ability to speak Tagalog.
While he landed roles in MMK, Wansapanataym, and Mirabella, Diego could not see a fulfilling future in the business. Not until director Cathy Garcia Molina gave him a casting call for Forevermore in 2015 that truly paved the way for marquee success.
“2015 was my lucky year,” Diego said. “Ipinakita ng Forevermore sa akin na ito na talaga ang gusto kong gawin.” As Jay, Diego was the third wheel to Enrique Gil and Liza Soberano’s Xander-Agnes romance and his portrayal garnered much acclaim and attention up to the final episode.
Subsequently, he also got praise for his role as the ill-fated Dave, son of Amor Powers (Jodi Sta. Maria) in the Pangako Sa ‘Yo remake headlined by Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla.
After staying in the background of popular love teams for the longest time, Diego now has his own “partner,” fellow Kapamilya young star Sofia Andres. While they were paired previously and rumored to be dating, their recent appearance on MMK in an episode called “Pantalan” sealed the deal. Diego and Sofia’s portrayal of Jerome and Roselle, best friends who found true love, electrified a smitten nationwide crowd with their onscreen chemistry.
In fact, that MMK episode’s theme song, Jericho Rosales’s song “Pusong Ligaw,” inspired Star Creatives to come up with a similarly titled teleserye of their own. Pusong Ligaw, the upcoming afternoon drama series, will premiere on Kapamilya Gold on Monday, April 24.
This is also an indication that Diego has truly reached the illustrious Kapamilya roster of leading men.
After years of struggle and uncertainty about what path to take in his life, Diego Loyzaga now is so sure of his destiny making a name for himself in this painstaking yet rewarding profession.
“Doon ako naka-relate kay Potpot (Diego’s character in Pusong Ligaw) na he really made up his mind. Nagpursigi na siya sa gusto niyang gawin sa pangarap niya and there’s no turning back,” he declared.