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Enchong Dee steals thunder in UAAP awards night

By Anthony Divinagracia of uaapsports.com

photo by Dan Avila

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It was the night when the UAAP’s best shared the limelight – at least on stage.

But beyond the dimly lit podium that revered Season 72’s outstanding athletes, young actor and swimming sensation Ernest Lorenzo “Enchong” Dee merited extra – and “unexpected” – attention from spectators and fellow awardees that mobbed him at the sidelines of the UAAP Awards Night on Thursday last week at the FEU Auditorium.

“Medyo nagulat po ako,” said Dee, who was swarmed by a phalanx of fans and on-lookers asking for a photo with the lead star of the soap opera Tanging Yaman after receiving his third MVP award for leading De La Salle University to its first men’s swimming title since 2002.

Dee was among four La Sallians that include Reyne Thraitscka Des Calimlim (women’s badminton), Samantha Nierras (women’s football) and Trudy Gine Amoranto (women’s tennis) to obtain the highest individual award in their respective sports.

The current National Team standout reaped seven gold medals for La Salle during the 72nd UAAP swimming championship in September last year. He topped the 1, 500-m and 800-m freestyle, 400-m and 200-m individual medley, 200-m, 100-m and 50-m butterfly events.

Fellow awardees took time to meet and greet the former Katorse top-biller, admiring his good looks and athletic prowess.

“Mas gwapo siya sa personal,” said softball MVP Aiza dela Torre of UST, who would religiously followed Dee’s character as Jojo in Katorse after training. “Nakakabilib siya kasi hindi lang siya magaling na student-athlete, artista pa. Ang i-manage lang ang time n’ya para gawin lahat ‘yon is already an achievement in itself.”

Women’s taekwondo MVP Richelle Dinolan of FEU who represented the Philippines along with Dee in the 2009 Summer Universiade in Belgrade, Serbia, described the La Salle tanker as “humble” and “friendly”.

“Hindi maiiwasan na maraming magpapakilala at pupuri sa kanya dahil magaling siya, pero despite that hindi mo siya makikitaan ng ere o susupladuhan ka,” Dinolan said, adding that Dee never forgets to congratulate fellow Filipino athletes who did well in Belgrade.

Katrina Tatad, head of the ushers’ committee that whisked Dee away from the crowd of fans trailing him, observed the matinee idol’s “star appeal” unarguably stole the thunder from his fellow awardees and disrupted audience decorum.

“Most of the audience got fixated to see him (Dee) that they forgot to stay on their seats while the awarding ceremonies were still on-going. There was a lot of loitering and unnecessary shouting among the audience,” Tatad said.

Downplaying his “show-stealer” tag in the awards night, Dee bared he too was “unexpectedly caught” by the “warm reception I got from UAAP fans and fellow athletes.”

He then thanked the ABS-CBN management for allowing him to attend the awarding rites despite the hectic shooting schedule of his latest soap opera.

“Nagpapasalamat po ako sa production at pinayagan nila akong um-attend dito kahit may taping pa kami sa Tanging Yaman,” Dee said.