10th kilig Anniversary: KathNiel in the eyes of friends, colleagues, and mentors

Growing Up started it all for Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla. As fate would have it, their journey would indeed bring a lot of growing together as a reel and real-life couple. As we celebrate a decade of KathNiel, people close to the phenomenal loveteam dissect the magic that brought them success and everlasting love.

LQs and Professionalism

Like any other couple, Kathryn and Daniel also have their ‘tampuhan’ days and their friends would easily notice by their actions and facial expression – a sign that their relationship is authentic and never just for a show, “Unapologetic sila, like, ‘Ito kami eh.’ Hindi sila nagpapanggap in front of other people na okay sila. ‘Pag nagtatampuhan sila, talagang mararamdaman mo ‘yung energy,” revealed Ria Atayde.

But as true professionals, they don’t bother anyone on the set. They dazzle with their chemistry once the camera rolls even on their LQ days. “Marunong sila mag-set ng boundaries na, ‘Actors tayo ngayon. ‘Yung mga jowa problems, huwag muna nating dalhin,’” shared Elora Espano, who added that Daniel’s charisma makes even the quarrels so cute to watch.

Everyone would add that the lovebirds can’t go on a day without patching things up. And as much as possible, according to Zanjoe Marudo, Daniel is careful not to offend and hurt Kathryn by his choices and actions. He always thinks of what she might feel before doing anything.

It helps that they’re both calm, emotionally stable for their age. According to Pamu Pamorada, she never heard the couple raise their voice at each other.

The KathNiel Bubble

“Bawat haplos, bawat tingin, bawat paghinga, bawat bitaw ng salita, mararamdaman mo na palaging fresh ang love nila sa isa’t isa,” said Gardo Versoza. Even with thousands watching them, Kathryn and Daniel have their own little world where there’s just the two of them and the love they share.

On set of their 2017 film “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” Director Mae Cruz-Alviar witnessed how Kath and DJ, as their friends would call them, squeeze little moments in between takes. While waiting for their cue for a bar scene, Kathryn and Daniel engaged with the soft music. She was leaning on his shoulder while he was singing and whispering sweet nothings in her ear.

It’s the little things that water KathNiel’s love – both the loud and quiet jams, random slow dance, baby talks (Daniel does it, too!), eating together, and simple romantic gestures such as Daniel cooking for his queen. Sofia Andres mentioned that KathNiel loves to visit her house and they’d ride motorcycles around the village. They also love the beach and food trips. Spontaneous nights are very KathNiel, according to Kathryn’s makeup artist Denise Ochoa.

There are also seasons meant for big, wonderful surprises such as when Kathryn flew to Hong Kong to film “Hello Love Goodbye.” It was their first and longest time to be apart, so imagine the joy when Daniel travelled to Hong Kong to visit his ‘bal’

Breaking apart and growing together

“Hello Love Goodbye,'' where Kathryn was paired with another actor, Alden Richards, is considered a big turning point in KathNiel history. While she was lauded for her boldness and brilliance, Daniel also got his friends and mentors’ respect for allowing his girlfriend to pursue a separate project despite the risks and fears.

“I cannot be your director forever,” Director Cathy Garcia-Molina, who was at the helm of “Hello Love Goodbye” and most KathNiel films, told them before. Loveteam breakups are inevitable because artists eventually have to grow and even KathNiel wasn’t exempted. Direk Cathy laid out two possible scenarios, “Either mag-break kayo in real life or mag-break kayo onscreen.” They obviously chose the latter.

“Ano si Kathryn at Daniel ‘pag wala na ang KathNiel? ‘Yun ang sinasabi ko sa kanila, ‘Do you want that? ‘Pag buwag ng love team, buwag na rin kayo? Forgotten. Bye-bye.’” The good thing about KathNiel is they know how to listen, which is the first step to growing as individuals and as actors.

The King and Queen of Hearts work as a team, bringing out the best in each other. They don’t hinder each other’s growth, proven by Kathryn working with two other leading men twice. “Nagtutulungan sila paakyat. Walang kumpetisyon. Talagang suportahan at protektahan sa isa’t isa. ‘Yun ang tingin kong key para sa long-term relationship,” said Kristel Fulgar.

And their maturity, ripened by time and experience,  also fan their passion and talents as actors. “Gusto nila ‘yung ginagawa nila. Ang sarap panoorin ng journey nila kasi sabay silang nag-explore. Sabay nila tinahak ‘yung journey towards love team and towards real love,” said their Growing Up co-star Julia Montes.

The KathNiel magic

“What you see is what you get,” Dominic Ochoa described KathNiel. Everyone can talk about the lovers’ authenticity behind the cameras. They behave not just to please others but because that’s how they’re raised. People would commend those guiding Kathryn and Daniel for keeping them grounded, family-oriented, humble, and real despite the blinding stardom. 

Then it moves on to chemistry – the number one requirement from a love team, apart from individual acting skills. Kathryn and Daniel are seemingly shy and different people but when brought together create a magic no one could easily fathom. It just works for them. “Perfect complement sila, nagbabalanse. May mataas tapos may kalmado, so pag nag-meet sila, perfect blend. ‘Yung personality nila hindi pareho pero ‘pag nagsama, saktong-sakto,” said Julia.  

Besides fate bringing them together, KathNiel gets all-out support from fans to colleagues and even ABS-CBN Executives like Lauren Dyogi, who promised they will work together to bring KathNiel to greater heights.  

The KathNiel Fandom

“Siguro hindi rin magsu-survive ang KathNiel kung wala rin yung loyalty ng KathNiel fandom,” said Elora, adding that the love goes two ways. After all, people will not look up to Kathryn and Daniel if they don’t see them as good role models.

The tandem is lauded for their big hearts and desire to give back. They use their platforms to inspire change. Julia called her friends good role models for the youth. “Bukod sa magaling sila, ‘yung love nila nagra-radiate. ‘Yung heart nila, ‘pag pinagsama, perfect combination. Lagi kong sinasabi na I’m a KathNiel fan, ang sarap na ‘yung sinusuportahan mo may good hearts, eh both pa sila.”   

Riva Quenery added that the pair always considers their fans’ emotions, careful not to do anything that will hurt them.

Direk Mae said Kathryn and Daniel listen to their followers. In fact, they wanted their reunion project, now confirmed as 2 Good 2 Be True, to be a romantic-comedy series due to fans’ request. As a director, she believes it’s the air of mystery combined with genuine hearts that make KathNiel one of their generation’s most-loved tandems.

Ruffa Gutierrez admires how Kathryn and Daniel are also each other’s best friends, and how they acknowledge their legions of supporters in their journey.

Happy 10th Year, KathNiel!

To celebrate a decade of love and success with KathNiel, ABS-CBN Executives also sent in their warm greetings for the two. Mr. Mark Lopez, Mr. Carlo Katigbak, and Ms. Cory Vidanes greeted Kathryn and Daniel on their 10th anniversary and also thanked them for their loyalty through the years. Ms. Olivia Lamasan wished KathNiel more global success.

More friends like Joshua Garcia, Maymay Entrata, Miles Ocampo, Neil Coleta, Patrick Sugui, and DJ Jhai Ho also spilled ‘kilig’ stories about our favorite love team.

Check out the first and second parts of “Isang Dekada Kasama Ka: KathNiel’s 10 Years” documentary special!