By Don Tagala, ABS CBN North America Bureau
New York – It’s been 20 years since Dayanara Torres was crowned Miss Universe, and about the same time that she captured the hearts of Filipinos, who launcher her first stint into the entertainment industry. Now, she is back to doing what she loves best – acting on the big screen.
Torres is starring in a new Puerto Rican film “200 Cartas” or “200 Letters – a bilingual romantic comedy starring Tony Award winner Lin Manuel Miranda who plays a Nuyo-Rican in search of the Puerto Rican girl he briefly met and fell in love with in New York.
Miranda’s character then travels to Puerto Rico for the first time to find the girl of his dreams — Maria Sanchez.
“I am Yolanda, I’m actually the person who helps Lin Manuel’s character go around the island,” Torres said, “That’s the problem, he only knows that her name is Maria Sanchez and she lives in Puerto Rico and when he finds in the yellow pages that there are more than 200.”
200 Letters is produced by Filipino New Yorker Shimmy Floro McHugh — Dayanara’s best friend off-screen.
The New York born Filipino-American whose family owned the Crispa Redmanizer chain of department stores in the Philippines moved to Puerto Rico and fell in love with his new found home.
On his third day in Puerto, McHugh had a glimpse of his future best friend.
“The traffic was just stopped, I just saw a procession going by,” McHugh said, “All of a sudden, it was Dayanara coming down, she just won Miss Universe and she’s waving and she waved at me.”
McHugh finally met Torres when she returned to Puerto Rico after a 5 year entertainment stint in the Philippines.
They’ve been great friends since then.
Torres says, she is hoping to go back to the Philippines to screen her film.
She adds that the story and humor of 200 Cartas reminds her so much of her second home.
“I miss the food, the beautiful islands, I think about it all the time, actually half of my fans in twitter are from the Philippines and I get to talk to the people of Philippines all the time,” Torres said.
“Puerto Ricans like Filipinos have the same little things that they do that nobody else does in the world like “Boss,” and “Psssst” those little things and we got to put them in the movies,” said McHugh.
Torres added that being crowned Miss Universe in 1993 opened so many doors for her including her unforgettable experience in the Philippines.
“I stayed there for so long 5 – 6 years, that’s incredible, because I just felt so at home,”
Torres said, “Those were the best years of my life.”
After 200 Cartas premiered in New York, Torres and McHugh are planning to make more movies together in the near future.