REVISED and updated version of a piece I wrote for MAXIM Philippines in 2008. Yes, Desiree is the wicked mayor's wife in ABS-CBN's top-rated May Bukas Pa, now on an extended run.
SHE’S JUST DRAWN THAT WAY
By EDWIN P. SALLAN
Even though she’s made life difficult for many lead stars on the big and small screens including Nora Aunor and Judy Ann Santos (twice!), Desiree Del Valle insists that she’s really nice. She even admits to going out of her way to make an extra effort to be just a little more friendly when she’s seen in public.
Not that there’s little to like about the acclaimed actress who’s also blessed with one of the most beautiful faces in the business. There’s something about those expressive eyes, that meaningful smile and oh, yeah, those drop dead gorgeous lips that can easily catch and sustain anyone’s undivided attention. In an alternate universe, one that a lot of us would rather live in, Desiree could easily give someone like Angelina Jolie a good run for her money.
Here, many see Desiree as more of a vixen than a virgin. In the now defunct teen drama anthology, Tabing Ilog, her character was in fact the first to lose her cherry and was also the first to break the heart of her then onscreen and later offscreen sweetheart, Paolo Contis. Her portrayal was so good it eventually led to a streak of villainous roles that she continues to do to this day. She’s currently spoiling the party of the beloved Santino in the ongoing teleserye. May Bukas Pa.
While Desiree would be the first to qualify that what you see on film and TV is far from who she really is, there’s something about the free-spirited nature of her Tabing Ilog character that partly mirrors the real her, as also reflected in some of her career choices. Who else would dare accept the role of someone who does circumcision for a living in an acclaimed indie flick called, yes, Tuli?
In any case, if you think Desiree Del Valle belongs to hell, how many of you would still want to go to heaven? Yeah, we thought so, too.
Des, do you actually ask for these contravida roles?
Nooo! They just give it to me because they know I can pull it off. My features alone, if I don’t smile, I look mataray. They’d think when somebody approaches me to talk, I’d yell at them right away. That’s why when I’m out, I always make an extra effort to smile and be really nice. Because they think that’s who you are in real life.
But you like doing these roles anyway?
Yes. Like I was watching what I did in Ysabella. I like watching myself. I think it’s kinda vain but I want to see what’s kulang or sobra about my performance. I feel good when I see myself like in that series, I was pointing a gun at Juday’s character. I feel like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider in that scene, with all those action sequences. I like playing contravida roles, I really do. I like that, yung pumapatay ng mga tao, haha! But I’m not like that at all in real life. I always put my family first and think everything that I do is for them. I will never forget the values that my parents taught me
If you do ever decide to be a bad girl in real life, whose life would you likely make very difficult?
I don't know. I don’t have any enemies. I guess no one in particular but, if the time calls for a little bit of ass kicking I won't back down especially if it involves my family, friends and the significant other. I can very much take care of myself. I don’t think nobody will step on my toes because they'll regret even thinking about it.
Have you always wanted to be an actress, even as a kid?
Yes, I think I have. I’m the little entertainer during parties. I sing and dance for the guests. Sometimes, I play waitress. I give them a menu and I’d ask them what they wanted to drink, even though I can only offer them orange juice and iced tea. And when I was in prep school, I wanted to be a nun.
Desiree Del Valle wanted to be a nun? Sister Desiree?
I don’t know why. It’s kind of weird. I went to a Catholic school and I was active in choirs so I guess that must be why I wanted to be one. But only for a little while.
You first displayed your acting chops in Tabing Ilog. Your character was the first to do things a little different from the others.
My role there was aspiring to be an actress. I’m the one who’s dying to leave our province. Ako yung palaban sa kanilang lahat. That was the year when many young people were into Ecstacy and all those drugs, which was what was happening at the time, aspiring actresses who have to sell their bodies first and we were able to show that in the series.
As an actress, what spurs you to accept the kind of roles that you do? Not just the villain roles but also the ones like you did in, say, Tuli?
It’s certainly not about the money. It’s about doing something different and also about working with some really good actors like Bembol Roco and Carlo Aquino who was really good in this movie. In Tuli, I’m not a contravida. There, my father, Tito Bembol Roco is the town manunuli or the one who circumcises everyone there. Even when my character was a kid, I was already there at his side when he circumcised all these little kids so for me that was traumatizing, because those bagets were about my age and nakikita ko na yung mga pututoy nila.
Would you consider this a bold role for you?
I had a bed scene with Carlo Aquino but I had clothes on.
And he wasn’t circumcised yet at the time of that scene?
Yes, hindi pa sya tuli nun. But he still got me pregnant. After my character gave birth, I finally circumcised him.
All’s well that ends well then. This is the second time you’re doing a sexy photo shoot for a men’s magazine. You were 22 when you first did it three years ago, what was that like?
They asked me and I said yes, sure. I’m very comfortable wearing bathing suits. I love going to the beach anyway. Lingerie is a different matter. I won’t feel at ease wearing it at a shoot. For me, it’s too personal.
Were you nervous?
No, not at all. Everbody was asking me if I feel comfortable. I happen to know the photographer who was a good friend. It was easier because he knows what I can and cannot handle.
It’s been three years since that last shoot, what has changed in you physically?
None, really. I believe in all natural although to each her own. Me, I'm very much content with what God gave me and it's all just a matter of how you carry yourself.
Is sexy more about how you look or how you act?
If one has the confidence, that's sexy. No need for enhancements physically. I think it’s really all in the mind.
Let’s talk about relationships. You’re a battle-scarred veteran of several already. So what exactly do you really look for in a man?
He has to be really nice. It’s important for us to get along because I don’t like fights. As long as we’re on the same page on everything, it’s fine. If there are little arguments, we should talk about it right away. I can say this is what he should and shouldn’t be but in the end, it’s how we are together that counts the most.
The best date you ever had so far? The most bizarre?
My boyfriend and I had our anniversary coming up and we both made secret plans for dinner. We both knew that we were gonna have dinner out thinking not one of us made plans. But, he had reservations and I had reservations at a different place. We were both laughing because we were on the way to Makati. I told him to take a left but he kept going straight. To my surprise he had dinner plans already and the place was set up exclusively for just the two of us, haha. So, we ditched my plan and I told him that it would be my turn the following year. A year later, natuloy din ang plan ko. It's just sooo cute the way we surprise each other pero, lagi akong nahahalata. He also gave me a surprise for my birthday. I didn't have a clue. Again, he succeeded in surprising me as always.
You have other interests or plans you’d like to pursue other than acting?
Well, I love to cook. I might open a restaurant, who knows? But I have to be the one who’s cooking because I can’t teach. And I’m one of those people who are blessed with good taste buds. Like, when I eat at a restaurant, I can recognize the ingredients of a certain dish just by eating. I’d try to copy that at home and it would taste even better. My dad makes the best Chili Con Carne and he would make it really spicy and I love spicy food. I’d watch and ask him how he does it then he told me the ingredients and now I can make my own. Now that’s one of my own specialties.
Can you cook anything approaching an aphrodisiac?
Oysters! Oysters! Oysters! With champagne, chocolate, fondue anyone? You've got to love those sexy strawberries and chocolates. And nuts are good, too.
And here she is, having a swinging time on the dancefloor.