In 1991 producer Armida Siguion-Reyna got Dawn Zulueta for Reyna Films` Hihintayin Kita sa Langit, which was to be the first major directorial job of Armida`s son, Carlitos Siguion-Reyna. It was the first time for Dawn to work with heartthrob Richard Gomez.
"There was no way we could have ever been brought together because Richard`s Regal and I`m Viva. The only way Richard will go to Viva is with Sharon. `Buti na nga lang, pinayagan ako ni Boss Vic, pinayagan din siya ni Mother Lily. Kasi Tita Midz talked to both producers."
(In case you just got in from Mars, the persons referred to are Boss Vic del Rosario, Mother Lily Monteverde, and Tita Midz Siguion-Reyna.)
Hihintayin Kita sa Langit, loosely based on Emily Bronte`s novel Wuthering Heights, proved pivotal not only for Dawn`s professional career but also for her personal life.
Armida Siguion-Reyna has said of that tandem: "I have never seen such chemistry on screen. Richard and Dawn are the best thing you will ever see together on a movie screen."
Dawn herself says, "I got to work with such a really good team. Ang dami kong natutunan while shooting that film. And a romance was born out of that film. A romance that I think I`ll never forget."
Of course, she`s talking about her relationship with the tall, dark, and handsome Richard Gomez. "Towards the end of the filming, mag-on na kami."
The romance, however, caused a media frenzy, partly because Richard had just come from a relationship with megastar Sharon Cuneta. Wrongly, the press targeted Dawn as the third party who had caused the breakup of two big stars.
"I felt terrible. I obviously didn`t have any clout, right? Who`s sikat ba here? It`s only the two of them naman that`s sikat, e. Here I was, just a starlet, and I was being lambasted by the press. I got a taste of what it`s like to be on the receiving end. Kaya I really appreciated that there were a few press people who wanted to hear me out. It didn`t matter to them na ang sikat-sikat ni Sharon and all that."
The fans, too, entered the scene. Wherever she went, Dawn says, the fans were screaming: "Richard-Sharon pa rin! Mas maganda pa rin si Sharon sa `yo!"
It was a pretty depressing time: "Parang ang feeling ko, ano ba ito? Hindi ko naman hiningi to be pitted against her. Ina-idol ko nga siya, e."
The pressure affected Dawn and Richard`s relationship.
"We did not have a moment of peace. Every time we would try to concentrate on each other, merong gustong mag-intriga. I was only 21. When I think about it, ang bata-bata ko pa. Parang wala pa talaga akong sense of the world, you know. So mabilis akong maapektuhan. Kung ngayon siguro I have a relationship like that, I think I`ll handle it differently. But at 21, what do I know?"
After two and a half years, the romance went pfft.
Despite the breakup, the two have remained good friends. And that`s not a press release, either.
Even Richard and Anton are on friendly terms. The two had the occasion to get together during the victory party for the cast of Filipinas held three years ago at the Peninsula Hotel.
And best of all, Dawn and Richard`s wife, Lucy Torres, get along. Lucy has bead napkin rings made by Dawn, and she once told YES! editor Jo-Ann Maglipon: "Of all of Richard`s girlfriends, the one I liked best for him was Dawn. I always thought they were bagay. I remember I always got kilig watching them on screen."