Posted at 05/14/2013 7:48 PM | Updated as of 05/14/2013 7:50 PM
Why Wowie-Judai tandem split upMANILA, Philippines -- Before she was paired on-screen with Piolo Pascual and husband Ryan Agoncillo, Judy Ann Santos' "love team" with Wowie de Guzman was among the most popular showbiz tandems in the '90s.
"Noong kapanahunan pa namin ni Juday, grabe ang mga fans talaga. Hindi ko akalain na aabot kami sa ganoong level ni Juday noon," the 36-year-old actor said in a recent interview aired on "The Jon Santos Show."
De Guzman was a member of the dance group Universal Motion Dancers when he was cast opposite Santos in the soap classic "Mara Clara" in 1993.
"'Yung 'Mara Clara' ang pinaka-una kong drama series na ginawa, at nag-audition pa talaga ako para sa role na Christian," de Guzman was quoted as saying in the interview by entertainment news site Philippine Entertainment Portal.
"Tandang-tanda ko pa na kaya ako nakuha dahil natandaan ng isang taga-production ng show yung nunal ko sa mukha. Mukhang babagay daw ako na ka-partner ni Mara," he said.
The ABS-CBN series ran for four years until 1997. By the time the soap ended, de Guzman and Santos were seen as among the most sought after team-ups of their generation.
"'Yun ang masasabi kong pinakamasayang part ng showbiz career ko noon," de Guzman said.
As a member of of a popular dance group who would make frequent appearances on noontime shows, de Guzman was already used to screaming fans. "Pero mas tumindi noong nagkasama na kami ni Juday," he said.
Following the massive success of "Mara Clara," de Guzman and Santos were paired anew in another drama series, "Esperanza," in 1997.
It was in the same soap where Santos and Pascual's on-screen chemistry was tested, which spelled the slow demise of de Guzman's team-up with the actress.
"Hindi ko naman maidi-deny na malaki ang nagawa sa career namin ni Juday… 'yung loveteam namin. Pero siyempre, dumating din ang time na kailangang mag-move on na kaming dalawa mula sa loveteam namin," he said.
He added: "Hindi na rin kasi nagwu-work dahil may iba nang nali-link noon kay Juday at meron ding ibang nali-link sa akin. Ayaw na rin naming maguluhan pa ang mga fans kaya naging desisyon na rin namin ni Juday na tuldukan na ang loveteam namin."
Admittedly, his separation from Santos as an on-screen couple hurt his solo career.
"Hindi madali para sa akin kasi mas na-identify talaga ako kay Juday. Si Juday, nakita ninyo naman, hanggang ngayon ay nandiyan pa siya at kahit na sino ang i-partner sa kanya ay tanggap ng marami.
"Siguro nga, hanggang doon na lang ang pagsasama namin ni Juday talaga," he said.
Still in touch
Although their working relationship had already ended, de Guzman said he and Santos have remained in communication.
The actor said he has also maintained close relationships with their other "Mara Clara" co-stars Gladys Reyes and Christopher Roxas, who are now married.
"'Yung samahan nga namin sa 'Mara Clara,' hanggang ngayon solid pa rin. Silang tatlo ang tanging masasabi kong mga tunay kong mga kaibigan through thick and thin," de Guzman said.
"Lalo na si Juday, akala ko noon after ng love team namin, tapos na. Pero nandiyan pa rin siya bilang kaibigan. Kahit na may sarili na siyang pamilya, maaabot mo pa rin siya," he said.
Santos now has two children with Agoncillo, while de Guzman is married to businesswoman Sheryl Ann Reyes.
The actor, who recently made a guest appearance on the Kapamilya series "Little Champ," is now engaged in his family business, and continues to star in various local theater productions.