When it comes to Philippine entertainment, three things are essential: noon time shows, awkward celebrity interviews and love pairings. And one in particular holds more emotional space in the heart of the fans.
Filipinos have always been obsessed by onscreen romances, whether they are legitimately in love or not. Just look at your ate’s collection of Marvin-Jolina and John Lloyd-Bea notebooks back in high school. The youth’s obsession with AlDub doesn’t need reiterating; they practically hold the record of being a trending topic for a whole month straight. Like many others, these love teams also fascinated me and one in particular rivaled Larry Stylinson in my shipping heart.
It was in the television hit Princess and I when the ship KathNiel was first created. Kathryn Bernardo took on the role of Mikay and the viewers fell in love with her adorable and quirky personality –– or character, at least. In the primetime soap, she was introduced with three leading men: Enrique Gil (Prince Jao), Khalil Ramos (Kiko) and Daniel Padilla (Gino). Out of the three, only the KathNiel ship sailed. Their effortless chemistry was one thing but it was really the fans that pushed the ship further.
They took their TV romance to the big screen with their first major movie together Must Be… Love. It tells the story of two best friends falling in love, which is practically a sure way to get box office success (because teenagers combined with unrequited love is explosive by nature.) The movie was quickly followed by another romcom TV show Got to Believe. By this time, we started seeing them in their most comfortable. And it wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Kathryn was still the quirky, adorable girl who can do no wrong while Daniel, being a Padilla that he is, was still pegged as the bad boy who needed a little loving. Just like other KathNiel fans, I didn’t mind it. I was still smitten by their pairing and I wanted to see more of their innocent, kilig moments.
The sentiments and #feels of teenagers are changing and the characters need to change with them. KathNiel should realize this quickly before the ship sink completely.
Daniel, unlike Kathryn, also worked on other projects outside the pairing. In Sa Ngalan ng Ama, Ina at mga Anak (also known as the Padilla family project) and Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo, we see Daniel play more roles that are more heroic than romantic. After watching the movie, I remember my friend telling me that KathNiel was no more, that JasNiel (Jasmine Curtis-Smith and Daniel Padilla) was the new thing. As disappointed as I was, what she said definitely got me thinking: Was there a reason why Daniel wanted a few projects without Kathryn? Is the ship about to sink?
And then Crazy Beautiful You happened. Daniel played the role of a humble guy who wanted to help change people’s lives while Kathryn played the role of a self-centered, spoiled brat. It was refreshing to see their roles reversed. However, it was quickly overshadowed by their current TV drama Pangako Sa’yo.
I guess the problem lies in the projects they accept. I like to call it The Michael Cera Syndrome. Like many other teenagers who are worried about their aesthetic, KathNiel –– or at least their respective management –– only accept the roles that are more or less “on-brand.” Their choice of roles might have caused a portion of their fan base to grow bored with their choice of projects. Their rival JaDine — at least in the eyes of their fans — are less scared to step out of the typical soap opera drama path.
In the TV series On the Wings of Love (OTWOL), we see Nadine Lustre and James Reid play the role of two young adults who just want to make ends meet. No one’s a bad boy and no one’s a good girl. They’re not afraid to show their flaws, to make a fool out of themselves and most importantly, to kiss onscreen. Blame it on the honest storytelling or on the power of Jadaone, but there’s a reason why JaDine’s ship is expanding and going strong. And by the looks of it, they’re not about to stop.
The sentiments and #feels of teenagers are changing and the characters need to change with them. KathNiel should realize this quickly before the ship sink completely. It was as if they were pressured to stay perfect; that is if being perfect means staying true to the roles they are known for.
At the end of the day, us KathNiel fans want to see our ship at the top of the pack. And to do that, they need to step up their game or do something completely different. For one, a real onscreen kiss wouldn’t hurt. We’ve been waiting for it ever since the ship first sailed into the world.