By Gabbie Tatad (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 22, 2017 - 12:00am
Every time Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla face a reporter, they’re asked about whether or not they’re in a real relationship. ‘Supreme’ laid off the aggressive questions and let their presence speak for itself.
MANILA, Philippines - It is almost overwhelming, sitting in the presence of current Philippine showbiz royalty Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla (who, unless you’ve been living in a cave covered in rocks and buried deep under slabs of age-old limestone, you’d know as “Kathniel”). There is the beautiful sunlight that is Bernardo, with her golden, poreless, goddess-bronze complexion (“Nasunog ako sa shoot,” she says with an adorably sheepish smile as we repeatedly sing praises to her tan); and Padilla who, up-close, emanates dark and brooding matched with a kind of sincerity that makes a woman think of leather jackets and intimate poetry.
They run through the photo shoot perfectly, taking direction well and without a single complaint (truly a rarity). They sit patiently, Bernardo having carried her own chair to a more secluded spot, their expressive eyes staring in wait for the usual invasive questioning they’ve come to accept as part of the job. But there is something about them as a pair that is almost a little out of breath, or at least like a big nap wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. And so I ask, “Pang ilang interview niyo na to for the day?” The two exchange a glance, look back at me, and burst out laughing. “Pang apat,” replies Padilla with a tired smile.
The Kathniel Machine
Bernardo and Padilla are here to do the proverbial pole dance for their latest picture, Can’t Help Falling In Love, the ninth film project the two have been paired up for in their last six years as a love team. Directed by Mae Cruz-Alviar, it features Bernardo as Gab Dela Cuesta, the near-perfect girl who has her life planned down to a “T.” These plans include nearing nuptials to her boyfriend Jason, played by Matteo Guidicelli, which are shattered when she realizes that she’s already married to a perfect stranger, Dos. Padilla’s Dos happens to be her extreme opposite: a man who lives in the moment and isn’t fussy about perfection, and who challenges her carefully conceived plans.
The film came to theaters on Black Saturday, not a usually lucrative weekend for the film industry, but the Kathniel machinery and its most dedicated fans saw an opportunity to make history. On its opening day, Can’t Help Falling In Love earned P33 million, which immediately makes it the most successful Black Saturday opening in local film history. It would only take four more days for that figure to climb to P100 million, with 700,000 tweets in the wake of the film’s release. That’s really the thing about partnerships like Kathniel’s: to know them is to know their fan base, and it is one that they both genuinely love.
When we ask them about the craziest thing a fan has done for either of them, they seem hard pressed to find anything singularly surprising. I make a joke about fans showing up at their house, and Padilla in particular shrugs, “Parang wala namang crazy, parang normal na lang. Minsan, lalabas ka ng bahay tapos nandun sila sa may kanto, nakaabang, tapos kapag nakita ka biglang tatakbo. Or yung pauwi ka tapos may nakasunod, nakadungaw dun sa may sasakyan.” Bernardo adds, “Or yung may pupuntahan kang lugar na kahit ikaw hindi mo alam pero sila nandiyan na. Magaling sila! Parang may chip ata sila na nilagay sa amin eh,” she concludes with a laugh. Nonchalance may not be the attitude most people would adopt to describe being followed in their everyday life, but then again, not everyone is Kathniel.
What’s truly admirable is that while they could be complaining about any possible intrusions into their privacy, the two instead talk about how they strive to be better with each project, specifically because their fans have been so good to them. “Feeling namin hindi lang para sa amin ginagawa yung magagandang teleserye tsaka movies, pero para sa kanila na ma-proud sila samin and may reason kung bakit pa nila kami sinu-support. Sa bawat project, iniisip namin na dapat talaga ibigay namin kasi ano pa bang magagawa namin but to thank them by giving them good material to watch,” says Bernardo. “Sa kanila naman, basta yung lagi naming sinasabi is, ‘Huwag bibiglain yung fans.’ Dapat sabay-sabay kami.”
Kailangan pa ba tanungin yan?
We discuss the most tired questions they’ve ever been asked, and Padilla ventures into the ones that are incredibly personal. Each time they face a reporter, they’re asked about whether or not they are in a real-life relationship (to which Padilla says, “Kailangan pa ba tanungin yun?”) and to discuss the details of their romance beyond the screen. This film in particular has given press coverage the license to ask the two to fill in the blanks of “I can’t help falling in love with Kathryn/Daniel because…” which seems largely unnecessary. (We suggest that they come up with outrageous responses like “She snores like an elephant” in response to such a ridiculous question, to which Bernardo almost squeals in delight, wistfully exclaiming, “I wish pwede yan!”)
For the duration of our interview, Bernardo and Padilla are physically familiar — his arm around her, his hand on her knee, her head on his shoulder, and gently addressing each other as “mahal.” None of it is excessive or showy, simply the trademarks of any two people clearly happy to be involved with one another. One only needs to spend five minutes in their presence to know that the chemistry is not one that’s manufactured, and that the connection between the two has a depth that goes beyond simple attraction. They are open about their affection, and whatever they no longer choose to disclose deserves some amount of respect.
The beautiful thing here is that the fans seem to share this sentiment, and have actually demanded that press coverage be a little less invasive. Bernardo divulges, “Sila mismo nagsabi kay Tito Boy (Abunda) na huwag na kaming tanungin, kasi alam nilang hirap na hirap na kami.” Padilla adds with a laugh, “Minsan kasi kapag magpapaliwanag yung mga nagtatanong, parang every day na lang kami nag-v-vow sa isa’t isa.” Which, while a most likely consequence of their supernatural fame, how much of a struggle must it be to feel like you’re facing your most aggressive Titas at your Christmas reunions on a daily basis? Every regular couple has off days and arguments, and constantly being able to deliver onscreen, it doesn’t seem to be too much to ask that the private remain personal.
As far as their public lives and careers go, however, the two maintain an extremely healthy view on what they have and where they want to go. There have been rumors that the Kathniel tandem is coming to a halt, a suggestion at which they both chuckle, given that after this movie comes along a teleserye called La Luna Sangre. A series that, if it’s a hit, could continue airing for months without a clear end in sight. Bernardo and Padilla, however, are the first to concede that this level of fame they now experience will eventually decline. And instead of being disheartened by the possibility, they focus on working as hard as they possibly can, even if it means that rest and personal time have become largely foreign concepts. They instead dream of what they might be able to accomplish now, which for Padilla is a truly epic period love story — the setting reminiscent of Heneral Luna, but with a focus instead on romance — the kind of natural, real and human interaction between characters seen in a film like La La Land.
Practically and admirably so, Padilla and Bernardo have also started planning for that future, for when the industry coughs up its next (though maybe not nearly as compelling) Kathniel, and the projects that are now coming at juggernaut speed begin to slow down. Padilla talks about wanting to start a few businesses, and has a few concepts in mind that may involve music. He is passionate about music and says that even on his rare days off, much of his time is spent around the house, hanging out and fiddling around with his guitar. Bernardo, on the other hand, would like to take a swing at being behind the camera, producing different content. Her eyes sparkle when she talks about wanting to try her hand at commercials, saying, “Ako naman ngayon yung kliyente!”
For two people occupying such a high spectrum of fame, it’s remarkable how grounded both of them seem, and how completely without airs they are as a unit. All they really want to do is produce good work, provide for their families, take care of the fans who love them, and potentially secure a future beyond the life they know now. It would be a stretch to say that they are just like us, but it’s a beautiful discovery to see why people can’t help falling in love with these two: because they are genuinely good people doing their best, understanding the importance, but also the ephemeral quality of the opportunities afforded them. How far and how brightly their candle burns as far as careers go remains to be seen, but whatever the future holds, it seems Kathniel will land, at the very least, on their own feet. And if that falls short, landing in each other’s arms in quiet, delicious privacy might just do the trick.
not mine.credit and source: PHILSTAR