Is JaBea the new teen ‘royalty’?

JP Mitog - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - There is no discrepancy in the public and private personas of GMA teen couple Jake Vargas and Bea Binene. Their romance on reel is as real as it gets. “We don’t sugarcoat our actions to impress people,” says Bea. “We don’t try hard to please fans or be nakakakilig. We are just being us.”

Their fans will be more kilig now that the love team is having its big-screen debut in Liwanag sa Dilim, directed by Richard Somes for APT Entertainment which is also behind the award-winning films Ded Na Si Lolo and The Janitor. Showing nationwide starting on  Feb. 11, Liwanag also stars Rico Blanco, Sunshine Cruz, Dante Rivero, Freddie Webb, Julian Trono, Igi Boy Flores and Sarah Lahbati.

Bea successfully transitioned from being a precocious hopeful in StarStruck Kids into a bankable young actress. She’s a Wushu champion, a fashion icon and a budding drama princess. Her boyfriend and screen partner Jake is a Kapuso heartthrob who is German Moreno’s ward.

The authenticity of Jake and Bea (dubbed “JaBea” by their growing fanbase) is the cornerstone of their team-up. The young couple does not subscribe to false pretenses — what you see is what you get. Their updates tend to range from shocking (Jake’s pre-anniversary tattoo of her name on his arm) to sweet (beach and GILAS Pilipinas dates), random (on-set couple photos) to extravagant (anniversary dinners).

“Nakikita naman ng mga fans na nag-eenjoy kami sa ginagawa namin,” says Jake.

This is one of the many reasons why Jake and Bea have successfully rallied the teenage demographic. Since they started their love team in 2012, their lives have been an open book to their fans. Every high and low, every happiness or heartbreak can be glimpsed in a heartbeat. They don’t really mind — says Bea, “We have all these people who support and love us all the way.”

Their soaring popularity became even more evident when they bested top showbiz sweethearts for the Celebrity Couple category at the vote-driven Yahoo! OMG Awards. (And yes, that includes power couple Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera.)

Their massive fanbase also gets them to trend regularly on Twitter. “Clarissa and Gabo (their characters in Strawberry Lane) are trending every night since the show started,” tells Bea of the fan-bestowed hashtag #GabRissa. “Kaya nagpapasalamat kami sa mga sumusuporta sa amin kasi trending kami lagi,” says Jake.

If there’s anything the young couple ensures, it’s to be relatable and accessible to their fans. They hold online Q&A sessions, tease upcoming scenes on Instagram and “post tweets thanking them, so that they know their efforts matter to us and that we appreciate it a lot.” Jake and Bea also occasionally initiate fan club get-togethers to bond with their followers or stay in the loop.

But sometimes, haters — called bashers in the digital vernacular, come pouring in. “As long as we know the truth, we try not to get affected by their words,” says Bea who seems mature for her 17 years. Jake concurs, “Hindi na namin sila pinapansin.” It’s not in their nature to fuel the vitriol.

Bea and Jake’s closeness blossomed in their first starrer, Alice Bungisngis and the Wonder Walis in 2012. Soon, their love team gained traction via Tween Hearts, and amassed a loyal army of followers in succeeding projects. Despite their five-year age gap and a rumored break-up in between, “Naging matatag kami ni Bea,” says Jake. “May mga times din na di kami okay pero bumabalik pa rin kami sa isa’t isa.”

It was a short courtship, which began as friendship. “Nag-click lang kami,” he adds, a little sheepish. “Kahit nasa set kami at walang ginagawa, nag-bo-bonding kami, hanggang sa napamahal na ako sa kanya.”

What endeared Bea to Jake is her down-to-earth personality. “Simple at mabait si Bea, maganda, matulungin sa family, at mature na siya.” In between on-set conversations and — in his terms, “ligawan” — he finally got his crush to say yes. Bea and Jake will soon mark their third official year as a couple.

The real-life sweethearts are together in three shows this season: Strawberry Lane which aired its finale on Jan. 2, Sunday All Stars and Pepito Manaloto. Does being together most of the time take away the excitement?

Bea disagrees. “We don’t really have that sawa factor because we do not do the same things every time. We make sure that there’s something new in all that we do and in the things we talk about.”

They diversify their date plans, if time permits. From malling and movies, to out-of-town trips and surfing, it never really gets boring. And Jake is pretty gentlemanly — he says he often likes to foot the bill. In some dates, the teen couple try their best to involve Bea’s family: “Kasama namin si Mommy at yung kapatid ni Bea,” says Jake. Both agree that it’s important to gain parental trust. Or even more importantly, keep it.

For this year, Jake hopes to have even more projects with Bea, whom he calls his “greatest inspiration,” never mind if there’s a rumor that they are having an LQ (Lovers’ Quarrel).

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