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Feature Story

See Enchong Run

He was once the fastest swimmer in his generation, but now, even with his busy schedule as one of today’s rising stars, he tries hard to find the time to race—on land.

By Yves Saint James Aquino, M.D.

Ernest Lorenzo Dee, more popularly known as Enchong Dee, arrived at the studio wearing a warm smile, but his eye bags betrayed his exhaustion. Besides spending long hours shooting a teleserye and doing a weekly variety show, he was also busy organizing a charity event. “First hand ako na nakikipag-ayos sa mga tao, kaya parang taping din,” he says of the event.

Before he became one of the golden boys of star builder Star Magic, Enchong was being groomed to become one of the country’s fastest swimmers, starting his career as a young athlete in his hometown in Naga. He eventually became part of the national team when he was 13 years old, representing the county in regional competitions, including SEA Games and Asian Games. He even held a national record in the 100-meter butterfly stroke, finishing at 56.3 seconds.

After his first appearance as one of the guests of a morning show in 2006, modeling  agencies and advertisers came knocking at his door, pulling him towards the spotlight, which paved the way for fame, and eventually, a change in his career path.

In the past couple of years, Enchong has starred in a number of top-rated teleseryes, making him one of the most bankable young leading men in the country to date. “I have a busy and blessed year ahead,” he says, especially now that he’s a part of the ensemble cast of the latest television drama Magkaribal, which stars Gretchen Barretto, Derek Ramsay, Erich Gonzales, and Bea Alonzo.

Growing Pains

Now 21, Enchong may be over his teen years, but during casual conversations, you can’t help but notice his childlike demeanor as he constantly used honorifics, calling everyone ate or kuya, and peppering his statements with po and opo. Something about the tone of his voice and the look in his eyes that says his politeness is sincere, and not just for show.


But as with any teen transforming into adulthood, you could also appreciate his genuine desire to be treated like a grown up. When asked if he doesn’t mind taking his top off during the photo shoot, he mumbles, “Twenty-one na ako, siyempre pwede na ako maghubad.

He may have the face that reminds you of your 10-yearold nephew, but don’t be fooled, he boasts a set of muscular limbs and an obviously toned core—thanks to years of training in the pool. He maintains his athletic build by going to the gym as part of his workout regimen. “Kasi sinabihan ako mag-gym ng Star Magic. I [go to the gym] three to four times a week.”

The results are clearly seen in the larger-than-life billboards in EDSA that showcase his well-sculpted physique.

From swimming to running

It’s not rare for a professional athlete to enter showbiz, and in fact, like Enchong, other celebrities including Christine Jacob and Angel Locsin were competitive swimmers before they became celebrities outside of their original field of sport.

Right now, Enchong is no longer active in swimming, a fact he doesn’t rue. “Ngayon, I’m more into running compared to swimming. But I still go to the pool every now and then.”

Although he used to run as part of his crosstraining as a swimmer, he never discovered its joys until recently. “I never thought na gusto ko tumakbo, kasi nga mainit tapos nakakapagod, pero now, mas na-appreciate ko siya, kasi gusto ko yung feeling na pinagpapawisan,” he says. Yes, sweating is an alien concept for swimmers.

Like the athlete he truly is, he’s become a competitive runner, besting fellow celebrities in the 5-kilometer male category in the first Star Magic Run held last March.


Living Healthy

Enchong might not look like he has the time to stay fit, but he still goes for workouts that suit his busy lifestyle and enable him to have fun. Asked what he can say about living a fit life, he says, “Look for a sport na mag-e-enjoy ka, hindi ka napipilitan. So when you do it, you’ll do it kasi nag-e-enjoy ka, [and] you’re doing it for your own benefit. You just don’t do it dahil uso, or libre, kasi para sa ‘yo din yun. Pag nag-e-enjoy ka, hindi ka napapagod. Hindi mo naiisip yung pagod.”

We all hope for his kind of youthful energy, and really, it’s not too late for any of us to try.

The full coverstory on Enchong Dee was featured in HealthToday August 2010 issue.

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