You may know her as Rita Iringan, the Popstar Kids Season 1 champion. Or maybe you know her as Rita de Guzman, the effective villainess from GMA teleseryes (she played Maureen Zalameda on Impostora). But one thing's for sure: the woman now known as Rita Daniela has made a name for herself in many fields of show business—she's a talented singer and actress who can mold her creativity to fit any given project.
And in the next stage of her celebrity career, even after several screen name changes, Rita wants to be identified as someone new: a champion of body positivity. Almost anyone these days can claim to be an advocate of the social movement, but the 22-year-old is as legitimate as it gets when it comes to appreciating and accepting all body types. Her all-natural FHM shoot is solid proof.
"Actually, lahat ng tao, 'Eh, anong preparation ang ginagawa mo?' Parang ako nga lang yata yung di pinipilit yung sarili nung parating na yung shoot," Rita says. "Di ko pine-pressure yung sarili ko sa gym kahit pwede naman akong maging ripped. But that's the thing, it's my advocacy, what I'm promoting. Ang weird naman kung iko-contradict ko. Tsaka I want to savor the moment, being 22 years old—I'm still young. I want it to be natural. And when I turn 27, I could go for toned."
When asked what inspired her to become a full-fledged supporter of the cause, Rita calls herself "one of the bullied ones." She actually got addicted to boxing at the age of 18: "Yun yung panahon na talagang batak ako!" Then it came to a point where she did a complete 180 in terms of her lifestyle, thinking that her gym gains were long-lasting. Suddenly, she went from small sizes to having to go out and buy larger clothes. "Could you imagine kung gaano ka-hirap magkaroon ng show, lalo na you gain pounds on screen?"
Soon, people started noticing, particularly people on the internet. She eventually had to do social media fasting, which Rita realized shouldn't be the case. She explains, "Kasi maganda daw tignan pag payat, pangit pag mataba, especially on Instagram. I want to change that perception. Social media teaches us to be insecure and judgmental, that everything should be altered." For her, simply being confident is sexy, and this is her way of sharing her personal journey.
How does that mindset of self-belief translate into your daily routine?
Ngayon ko lang nagagawa 'to, na nakakapagsuot ako ng gusto ko kahit may flabs ako. As much as possible, mas gusto ko less makeup. Gusto ko talaga mas natural eh, konti yung tago or correction. Tsaka siguro yung maging inspiration sa ibang tao, using the talent that I have. Especially in dancing, kasi madaming mahuhusay na mananayaw na malalaki ang katawan, pero wala silang confidence. Pag nakita mo namang sumayaw, yung iba mas magaling pa doon sa mga fit. I want to be the voice, I think that's my purpose: to urge those artists to show the world what they're capable of.
Is this the sexiest project you've done so far?
Actually, no. Yung kaklase ko, who also shot the album cover for my recent album under GMA Records, kailangan niya bigla ng model. He suddenly asked me, "Rita, gusto mong mag-nude?" At that time, I was like, "Why not?" May kurtina lang dun na puti, tapos ganun ka-bilis. Solid. While I've done kissing scenes, I must say this is the sexiest one because I'm sharing not just a part, but the whole me. I believe that being sexy means being brave.
Was there a conscious effort to reinvent yourself despite your present success?
Meron naman, pero pinangarap ko rin 'to eh. Parang weird kasi when I was younger, mahilig na ako sa mga bagay na sexy like nude paintings. Yun pala, sensual akong tao. Unang beses kong nakakita ng FHM, I thought, "Interesting." Yung mga panahon pa na takip-takip lang, di ba? Si Joyce Jimenez pa yung cover girl, sabi ko, "One day, nandiyan ako."
Could you expound on what makes you a sensual person?
Bakit ko pa ba sinabi yun? Ha ha! Malaking bagay yung music, like I currently listen to Daniel Caesar, but ever since Earth, Wind & Fire talaga. Well, old soul ako, so baka doon siya nag-start. Pagdating sa sayaw, at a very young age, gustung-gusto ko yung burlesque, femme, tsaka hip-hop. Wala pa naman ako naka-relasyon pero nagtataka yung mga tao, bakit kung sumayaw ako punung-puno ng libog. Unti-unti kong na-realize maybe a big part of it is because I'm in love with the art. As in, I can't live without it—painting, poems, everything.
What is your sexiest work of art?
Baka hindi sa kanta, kasi malalim akong magsulat at puro masasakit na salita. Medyo sa hugot side. Sa sayaw, parang given na yun, ha ha! Siguro when I talk to people, I think that's the sexiest. I really like communicating with people. Every time I meet someone, I make sure that there's something to remember me for. I always share a part of me in conversations.
Did those previous contrabida roles help in expressing your sensuality?
Surprisingly, nag-boom ako as kontrabida kahit before nagbigay din naman sila ng ibang roles. In fairness, madami na rin akong nasaktang bida, ha ha! Although exploring and experimenting with the bad guy character had a different effect. Dumating sa punto na I had to quit doing that because I felt that my personal life was being affected. Nadadala ko siya sa bahay, kung saan ako mapunta, and I was losing people. That's why I took a two-year break, and thankfully, I was able to make it back into the industry.
Can you recall a few situations where you went too far while playing the antagonist?
Actually, madaming ganun na cases sa States. Talagang ganun sila magtrabaho, as in beast mode. One time, napagsabihan ako ng kapatid ko, "Uy, di ka na nagte-taping, nandito ka sa bahay." Ang pinakamalala, halimbawa may magpapa-picture, dati chill lang ako. Tapos biglang malayo pa lang yung fan, naiirita na ko. Pero nagigising din ako, parang, "Wala na, sobrang nadadala ko na yung character ko." Ayoko nang balikan yung phase na yun.
We heard that aside from showbiz, you've also been busy with school and tap dancing. How do you maximize your your talents given your many passions?
Well, kinausap ako ng nanay ko, "Kaya mo naman siya, kaya lang masyadong marami." Baka daw kailangan kong mag-focus sa isang bagay. Pero napagdesisyunan ko na naman yun. Meron kasi akong ugali na pag gusto ko yung isang bagay, gagawin ko lahat makuha lang yun. After I graduate from filmmaking, I want to study again. Sa tap dancing naman, I just want to honor my grandfather, Teroy de Guzman.
Who do you consider as your celebrity peg?
Marami. Being a singer, gusto ko yung pinagdaanan ni Ate Rach (Rachelle Ann Go). Hindi niya mabilis nakuha. She started from the bottom. After nung mahabang journey, yun yung worth it. Sa pagiging artista, Jolina Magdangal always. Bata pa lang ako, as in isa siya sa mga dahilan kung bakit ako sumali ng Popstar Kids. Siya talaga, tsaka yung pakikitungo niya sa tao. Una ko siyang na-meet 10 years old pa lang ako, 22 na ako ngayon pero ganun pa rin siya ka-bait at ka-ganda. Lalong tumatagal, lalo kang na-i-inspire sa kanya.
How will being outspoken about your sensuality define the next stage of your career?
[It will define my path] as a sexy singer. I changed my music kasi ito talaga yung sound na gusto kong i-share sa tao. Actually, pati yung songs that I'm about to release, they're kind of revealing in a way. Mas makikilala ako ng tao doon eh, tapos makikita ko kung sino na yung market ko. Sino ba ngayon ang serious sexy singer from this generation? Yun ang target ko.
Photography Andrea Beldua Styling Daryl Maat Makeup Jigs Mayuga Hair Dave Grona Special thanks NDN Resort and Events Place