Ronnie Alonte II discovered his love for dancing when he was in third year high school. He was a varsity basketball player at the University of Perpetual Help in Biñan, Laguna, when he and his teammates decided to join a dance contest in the school’s acquaintance party just to try their luck. Their team won first place.
His family was pleased. “No’ng napanood nila ’yon, sinabi nila, ‘O, marunong ka palang sumayaw, e,’” Ronnie recalls. “So para sa ’kin, naano na ako na ‘Ay, puwede na pala ako magsayaw.’”
Being acknowledged for his dancing talent was a welcome thing for Ronnie. In the past, he had hesitated to pursue his interests because the people around him bullied him instead of giving encouragement.
“Kasi ako ’yong tipong bata pa lang, binu-bully na nila ako,” he reveals. “Parang pinangungunahan na nila ’yong gusto ko. Kunwari, gusto kong mag-basketball. Inaasar ako ng mga kaklase ko: ‘Bano! Bano! Bano!’ ’Tapos, gusto ko mag-ayos ng buhok, ‘Ampanget mo. Ikaw pinakapanget dito.’”
The fact that Ronnie still became a varsity basketball player, won a dance contest, and even copied Canadian singer Justin Bieber’s hairstyle proved that he didn’t really mind what other people thought. He did what his heart desired.
And back then, what he desired was to be a seaman. One of his cousins is a seafarer, and the young Ronnie wanted to follow in his cousin’s footsteps. But when it was time to start his training, one thing changed Ronnie’s mind.
“Kaso, no’ng college, kakalbuhin na nila ako,” he says. “Hindi pa ako game magpakalbo no’n. Ngayon, kaya ko na magpakalbo. Pero no’n, sabi ko, ‘Ay, hindi. Sige, business na lang ako.’”
So he took up business management instead, also at the University of Perpetual Help. But he never got to finish the course because stardom beckoned.
While still in high school, Ronnie had won as first runner-up in the Mr. & Ms. Perpetual Help pageant. Buoyed up by that victory, he tried his luck in TV commercials.
“Meron akong manager dati sa Biñan na humahawak ng mga talent, si Gilbert Belan,” Ronnie recalls. “Mga seven or eight kaming lalaki do’n. Nagbi-VTR kami. Nakakabingwit naman ako kahit papa’no ng mga commercials.”
Among the big-brand TV ads he landed were those for Goldilocks, Globe Telecom, Philippine Airlines, and the fruit drink Mogu-Mogu.
When makeup artist RB Chanco, who is Ronnie’s first cousin, asked if he wanted to attend acting workshops conducted by ABS- CBN’s talent arm Star Magic, Ronnie agreed. But even after finishing several workshops, the teenager still found himself unable to score any acting projects.
“Ang tagal ko nang nasa Star Magic pero parang kolorum lang, wala lang. Workshop lang ako nang workshop. Hanggang sa sinabi ng handler ko, si Nanay Nenette Demillo, ‘May grupo dito. Gusto mo ba i-try mag-audition?’ Sabi ko, ‘Sige, try ko na, kasi ang tagal ko na.”
The audition was for the boy group Hashtags, which would be a mainstay of the Kapamilya noontime show It’s Showtime.
Ronnie danced to Justin Bieber’s “Where Are You Now?” during his audition, and he advanced to the final phase. He was in the middle of performing with his fellow finalists when he had an allergy attack.
“May allergy ako sa hipon. Hindi ko alam kung ’yong kanin o sabaw ata ’yong nakain ko na may hipon. Hindi na ’ko nakapagsayaw. Nag-allergy ako, buong katawan, ’tapos di ako makahinga, parang made-deads na ’ko. Dedo na. Diniretso na ako sa ospital.”
After his trip to the emergency room, Ronnie lost all hope of getting into Hashtags. “Sabi ko sa sarili ko no’n, parang hindi yata para sa ’kin. Sabi na ng handler ko, ‘Anak, baka hindi talaga para sa ’yo, baka may ibang trabaho para sa ’yo.’ Kinabahan na ako. Sabi ko, ‘Ito na lang pag-asa ko. Wala na yata.’”
And then came the good news. A week after his ER visit, Ronnie got a call informing him that he was the newest member of Hashtags. “Nakapili na sila ng sampu. Parang alam ko, sampu lang ata ’yong ilo-launch. Bigla akong nadagdag. Nasama ako. Ako ’yong pang-eleven.”
The all-male dance group was launched in 2015, and its members included Pinoy Big Brother alumni Zeus Collins, Jimboy Martin, Tom Doromal, and Jameson Blake. Other members were Star Magic talents and actors McCoy de Leon (who had yet to join PBB at the time), Paulo Angeles, Jon Lucas, and Ryle Santiago. Rounding out the group were It’s Showtime’s Gandang Lalake grand finalists Nikko Natividad and Luke Conde.
Joining Hashtags was a big break for Ronnie, but he knew he was at a disadvantage.
Ronnie had a good reason for letting his dreams of stardom take a backseat for the time being. After all, part of his motivation for just getting into showbiz was to provide a better life for his family.
When Ronnie was a young boy, a motorcycle accident had left his father without a right eye and with a tube down his back.
His father had been drinking, Ronnie recounts. “’Tapos, may angkas siya. Mabilis ang takbo nila. Ginawa no’ng angkas niya, ’tinulak siya. Pagtulak sa kanya, na-out-ofbalance siya. Siguro, kung hindi siya ’tinulak, hindi naman siya maaaksidente. ’Tapos, ninakaw ’yong mga relo niya. Ninong ko pa ’yong angkas niya. Ang lupit nga no’ng ninong ko, kasi ninakaw niya pati wallet. Iniwan lang ’yong lisensiya ni Papa.”
That particular incident turned Ronnie’s world upside down.
“Maykaya naman kami. No’ng una talaga, sasabihin ko na mayaman kami. Pero after maaksidente ni Papa, naghirap kami. Six years old or seven ako that time. Sobrang wala na. Siguro, no’ng lumabas si Papa sa ospital, maski pambili ng soft drinks, wala na kaming maibili.”
Ronnie says they had to sell their properties, including his father’s cars and motorcycles, to pay for the hospital bills and to get by every day.
“Nangungutang na lang kami. Hindi kami pinapautang no’ng mga pinsan namin. Tita ko, meyor sa Biñan, hindi kami natulungan. Hanggang sa nag-adjust na lang kami ulit.”
The family had a water-refilling station, but even that fell by the wayside. “Dumumi na ’yong tubig, kasi wala nang maintenance, e. Hindi na name-maintain dahil wala na talagang pera.”
The family was so cash-strapped that they couldn’t even pay their electricity bills. “Naputulan kami ng kuryente,” Ronnie reveals. “Tatlong buwan, nagda-jumper kami. Kailangan namin matulog ng twelve midnight. Kailangan namin patayin ’yong jumper namin ng five a.m. Kailangan, ligo na kaming lahat no’n.
“Pumapasok ako sa school, baon ko fifteen pesos. Pero grade school na ’ko no’n. Mahirap ’yon, e. Nagtatraysikel ako papasok ng school. Do’n sa traysikel, puro utang pa.”
Ronnie says they were only able to turn things around when a good soul helped
“Lahat sila artista,” he explains. “Kaya inisip ko, parang trabaho na nga lang talaga ito. Work na lang, work na lang ’to. Kasi nga, puro artista na kasama ko, mga kilala na sila. Paano pa ako mag-a-adjust na makilala pa ng ibang tao? So, ’yon. Ginawa ko na lang ’yong trabaho ko.”
their family. “May tumulong sa ’ming abogado para matulungan ’yong opisina namin. So do’n na kami nagtuloy-tuloy. Nakahinga na kami kahit papa’no.”
Those trying times remain imprinted in Ronnie’s memory. Although he initially rebelled because of the family situation, he later woke up to the reality that he needed to help his family recover.
“Sa isip ko talaga, ‘Pag nakatapos ako ng pag-aaral, tutulungan ko sila.’ Do’n ko ginalingan sa klase. Kasi, bagsakin ako no’ng high school. ’Tapos, naawa na ’ko kina Papa no’n. Kasi kinakausap niya ’yong mga teachers ko, hanggang sa pinush ko na ’yong sarili ko.”
Ronnie kept his grades up while being a varsity basketball player. He knew this was his ticket to improving his family’s situation. “May allowance kami dati no’ng varsity ako, three thousand lang ’yon. ’Binibigay ko kila Mama at Papa. Gusto kong maging basketball player sa PBA para magkasuweldo.”
When he started getting commercial gigs, he continued giving his earnings to his parents. “Humihingi lang ako ng one thousand, kasi wala naman akong gagastusin no’n, e. Bata pa ako. ‘Ma, penge lang one K, pambili ko ng ano.’ Mga gano’n.”
Hard work and motivation proved to be an effective combination for Ronnie. As he continued his daily appearances on It’s Showtime, he showed off his singing and dancing skills. The acting workshops that he had undergone were also put to good use when he appeared in the drama anthology Maalaala Mo Kaya ( MMK) several times. He even played himself in the MMK episode “Motorsiklo,” which told his life story.
In August 2016, he released his debut single under Star Music. The song, titled “Love at Website,” written by Gabriel Tagadtad and produced by Rox Santos, was among the Top 30 entries in the 2016 Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs, an OPM songwriting competition. That same month, Ronnie was a guest on Gandang Gabi, Vice ( GGV), the comedy talk show hosted by It’s Showtime host Vice Ganda. Ronnie performed his single and also played the guitar on the talk show—and the episode trended on social media, cementing his title #KiligKing when he tried to make a fan smile by tickling her leg.
Then the big projects started coming in.
Ronnie was in the cast of two entries in the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival: the horror film Seklusyon, directed by
Erik Matti, and the teen romantic flick Vince & Kath & James ( VKJ), directed by Theodore Boborol and starring, in the title roles, Joshua Garcia, Julia Barretto—and Ronnie Alonte!
He first started filming Seklusyon, where he played a troubled deacon. Before that film was finished, he found himself in VKJ, where he was James, a basketball player who doesn’t focus on his studies.
Juggling two movies and a daily show was tough for the rookie actor.
“Sobrang pinagalitan ako sa VKJ,” he reveals. “Kasi sa Seklusyon no’ng time na ’yon, nakapagsimula na kami. Nine days na shooting namin no’n. Parang first day ko sa VKJ, ’tapos nakakasiyam na ako sa Seklusyon. Ang role ko sa VKJ, bad boy. ’Tapos, ang ginagawa kong acting, ’yong pang-Seklusyon. Pari pa rin ako. Pinapagalitan nila ako. ‘Ilabas mo, maangas ka dapat. Dapat bad boy ka.’ Gano’n. Hanggang sa nakapag-adjust naman ako.”
Looking back, Ronnie says he knows he could’ve done better. “Sa totoo lang, pangit nga ’yong kinalabasan ko sa VKJ, e. Aaminin ko na. Parang hindi ko pa feel ’yong character ko. Siguro, dahil sobrang nanibago ako sa ’binigay sa ’king role.”
He admits that the feedback he got, both from the press and the bashers, made him rethink his approach to his work. “Ngayon ’pinapakita ko sa kanila na mas pinag-iigihan ko pa ’yong trabaho ko. Para mapakita sa kanila na hindi naman lahat ng baguhan, magaling na agad. Nag-iiba ’yan, e.”
Despite the bashing and the bad press, Ronnie, according to Wikipedia, got the Male Celebrity of the Night award at the 2016 MMFF Gabi ng Parangal. VKJ itself won the Children’s Choice award, along with two other entries, Saving Sally and Sunday Beauty Queen. Not only that. VKJ also got a grade of A from the Cinema Evaluation Board—which means that the film was adjudged to be of top quality and therefore entitled to a 100 percent tax rebate.
From Ronnie’s point of view, he now has a chance to show his progress to the bashers and critics. He’s currently in the cast of the primetime series A Love to Last, which premiered last January and is set to run until January 2018. He is
once again paired with Julia Barretto in the drama series, which is headlined by Bea Alonzo, Ian Veneracion, and Iza Calzado.
Singing and dancing remain Ronnie’s first love, though. He has had two successful solo concerts, the first one on December 17, 2016, at Kia Theater, and the second one last May 20 at Alonte Sports Arena in his hometown, the city of Biñan in the province of Laguna.
WHILE THE IRON IS HOT
Ronnie understands that a career in showbiz can be fleeting, so he aims to take advantage of the pace that his career has taken. “Gusto kong bilisan hangga’t kumikita ako ng pera,” he says.
Helping his family is still his main motivation. Aside from investing in cars, he has also acquired a rent-to-own condominium in Quezon City, where he stays to be near his workplace. But his biggest investment is a house that he’s building on the Alonte family lot in Biñan.
“Ngayong marami akong projects, may endorsements ako, ’binubuhos ko na sa ’pinapagawa kong bahay. Para after netong bahay na ’to, magbi-business na ’ko. After ng business, business pa ulit or lupa. Para pag kumita na ’ko, nakapundar, ’yong mga business ko naging successful, puwede na ’kong tumigil nang maaga.”
Ronnie explains that, if a part of him wants to leave the industry early, it’s because he misses the freedom he enjoyed before becoming famous. Back then, he could hang out with his friends along their neighborhood’s streets, without inhibitions and without an image to protect. “Kasi ayoko na ’yong buhay ko— private. Laking-kanto ako, e. Gusto ko nakikita ako ng mga tao sa public. Gusto ko magmo-mall ako. Mamimili ako.”
He says he understands that showbiz takes a high toll on stars, who are pressured to remain amiable to fans 24/7.
“Ako, halimbawa, nagmo-mall ako, okey lang magpa-picture. Pero kasi, minsan talaga, totoo ’yong sinasabi nila na nakakapagod. Minsan, hindi mo na sinasadya na masisimangutan mo na sila. So ayoko kasi ng gano’n, e. Ayokong pumangit ’yong tingin sa ’kin ng mga tao, makasakit ako. Ayokong habambuhay, ganito ’yong buhay ko. Gusto ko, hangga’t may pera ako, ilalabas ko para makapagpundar ako sa business, kung ano’ng puwede kong ipundar.”
Ronnie Alonte’s rise to stardom may seem fast and easy to some. But in reality, it has taken years of patience, hard work, and a strong determination to help his family. This handsome boy, who can play the bad boy on the big screen, is really and actually quite a nice young man.
The actor-performer lets YES! Magazine in on a secret about his name, Ronnie II. Most people think it’s only because he was named after his father Ronnie. But there’s more to it, apparently. “Mahilig kasi si Papa sa Star Wars. So kay R2D2 niya nakuha. ’Yon ’yong totoong istorya na hindi alam ng mga tao. Maraming nagtatanong sa ’kin, pero nakakatamad mag-explain, e!” Ronnie’s family and close friends, in fact, call him R2.
Ronnie says that his father’s motorcycle accident was a big eye-opener for him. The aftermath pushed him to work hard and dream of a better life. The accident also had a positive outcome for his dad.
“Bumait na siya,” Ronnie says. “Hindi na siya bad boy. Kasi si Papa dati ’yong maraming baril, maraming sasakyan. Marami siyang mamahaling gamit, saka marami siyang motor. Nabenta na lahat ’yon no’ng maaksidente siya. Dati, konting may umano sa kanya, [ palaban agad siya]. Gano’n siya, e. Pero ngayon, sobrang kabaliktaran. As in, parang isang iglap, sobrang bait niya na. Iba na siya ngayon.”
Ronnie is the fifth of six children. His two eldest brothers, Jerome and Rommel, are working abroad as a radio technologist and a nurse, respectively. His Kuya Ronald is also a radio technologist, but works here in the country.
“’Yong sumunod, si Kuya RA, tapos na siya sa midwifery. Pero nag‑business lang siya sa ngayon. Mahilig siya sa banda, meron siyang studio na business.” The family’s unica hija, Aika, is a psychology student at the University of Perpetual Help in their hometown, Biñan, Laguna.
Ronnie says all of his older siblings have helped out their parents. Now, it’s his turn. “Ngayon, gusto ko… Kahit minsan naiisip ko na hindi na naman nila kailangan, nagbibigay pa rin ako sa kanila.”