Supreme exclusive: Team Real

Irish Christianne Dizon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - That thing called déjà vu. It has been a year since we shot James Reid and Nadine Lustre for their first Supreme cover, and while a lot has changed (more on that later), one thing hasn’t: As we begin this interview, we find the always-hungry-but-forever-skinny Nadine mooching food off her partner’s plate again.

It’s nearly 4 p.m., and we are at the deserted dining area of 8th Note Studio in Quezon City. James and Nadine are about to start band rehearsals for their first major concert at the Araneta Coliseum, which is happening tonight, by the way. But, before the madness ensues, food. As James drizzles hot sauce on his favorite pesto pasta from Paris Delice, Nadine appears out of nowhere and grabs his favorite Le Europeen sandwich. And just like the last Supreme cover shoot, he does not say anything but just gives her an amused here-we-go-again look.

For the first time in nearly six hours, the two finally get some peace and quiet. They finally are away from the camera flashes and the tough questions from the press and the screams of the fans. (This is a strictly-no-video-greeting zone, thank you very much.) In showbiz jargon, this Tuesday is one of those “segue-segue” days: There was a contract signing with the ABS-CBN gods, a well-attended press conference to drum up their concert and the last two weeks of their hit teleserye On The Wings Of Love, a guerilla photo shoot for this publication, and now, grueling practice for tonight’s production numbers. They are quietly eating, and I feel like a horrible person for intruding, but, hey, I take one for the team.

“So,” I gingerly begin. “What is your official status?” Nadine bites into her sandwich and says nothing. James looks me in the eye and gives me the showbiz answer I am dreading: “She’s my best friend.” Badum-tss. But before I could raise hell, he follows it up with, “Actually, she’s more than just my best friend. She’s my partner.” I turn to look at Nadine and see her turning pink. “Eh bakit ka nag b-blush?” I ask.“May blush-on kasi ako no!” she says, trying to suppress a smile, but is failing spectacularly. “If you say so, Nadine,” I tell her. If you say so.

From team reel to team real?

Ever since JaDine broke into the scene in April 2014 via the sleeper hit Diary Ng Panget, the two have been adamant that they are just good friends. And they really did start out as homies; just buddies who happen to be in the complex business called a love team. Despite the fans’ fervent wish for the two to just fall in love already, they remained firmly on Team Reel ground. In fact, James always drew flak whenever he was spotted with any girl who wasn’t Nadine. And Nadine wasn’t spared either. Late last year, she got bashed over supposedly hosting a party for an ex-flame. (For the record, she says it’s not true.)

“As long as we’re working together, I don’t see us being together,” emphasized James in their 2015 Supreme interview. But the two have recent social media posts and unusual activities in real life that lead us to believe that James’ mind has changed: i.e., that gorgeous three-minute-long video of the two of them frolicking in picturesque Lake Tahoe. Nadine’s one-word caption drove fans wild: “ALWAYS.”

Yun kasi yung title nung song in the background. Always by Panama,” she explains, smiling. She tells me this on our way to the photoshoot, inside her black Chevy. Nadine is riding shotgun and James is driving. (FYI, this is most definitely unusual. James and Nadine used to travel in separate cars.)

The traffic comes to a halt, and James whips out his phone to show me an Instagram video he made with his self-stabilizing Osmo camera. It’s of him, Nadine, and friends, driving a 4x4 on the sand dunes of Ilocos Norte. He tells me they used the same camera to produce the Always video. “She bought one, too. So now, we have two.” (I almost choked when I heard him use “we.” Again: Unusual.) “That [video] says a lot about how we are now. Because that did not come from a director — that was just us being us,” he says, glancing at me via the rear view mirror. “We’ve definitely gotten closer.”

Also filed under James Reid and Nadine Lustre doing unusual things are: holding hands throughout a plane ride to Isabela (“Nangangalay kasi ako,” explains Nadine. “He was massaging my arm.”); shopping for computer games together at Rockwell (On Valentine’s Day. No big deal); and having access to each other’s well-curated Instagram pages. (Nadine let it slip that James recently deleted a photo on her page, a work-related one posted by her senior road manager Miguel Laureta. “He knows your password?” A beat. “He just did it through my phone.”) The dynamics between them has definitely changed, but until they say it outright, this quest is not over. We try a different tactic: Corner the people always around them.

What the people close to them say

Unfortunately, even their road managers Caryl Paraico (for James) and Miguel Laureta (for Nadine) are tight-lipped about the real score between the two. Instead they talk about how much their wards have grown as artists since doing On The Wings of Love. Caryl’s eyes light up when she remembers getting positive feedback from OTWOL director Antoinette Jadaone regarding James’ acting (“Inaaral niya daw talaga mabuti yung script, inaaral niya lahat.”) Miguel, on the other hand, reveals that Nadine’s dedication to her work, especially honoring her commitments to her many endorsements, is what he’s most proud of. “Kung anong ipagawa ko sa kanya, ginagampanan niya.” (In fact, while she was getting dressed for the press conference, we overheard her insisting on wearing Parisian heels “para ma promote ko naman.”) They don’t have a definitive answer as to why their kids have shot to stratospheric levels, but Miguel proffers a theory: “Kung ano yung pakiramdam niyo sa isa’t isa, siyempre mag re-reflect yun. Since maganda ang samahan nilang dalawa yun yung nag re-reflect.”

(The huge group of people who feel the good vibrations between James and Nadine is pretty wide-ranging. You have someone like jeweler to the stars Ms. Dina Castro who calls OTWOL her escape. “Hindi ko na kailangang bumili ng sedative eh. Hindi ko na kailangang pumunta sa psychiatrist. I just turn on the TV.”; to Halik Ni Gringo vocalist Joey Santos who, rock band front man cred be damned, shamelessly requested for a fan sign. He is also a proud owner of a pink mug with Leah Olivar, Nadine’s OTWOL character, emblazoned on it. “I like JaDine mainly because of their songs. My favorite tracks are No Erase, Para Paraan, Bonfire Love Song, Randomantic, and Paligoy ligoy.)

But again, no luck with the road managers. As our day with JaDine comes to an end, we struggle to find someone who could answer the million-peso question of are-they-officially-together, ASAP.

Jadine in love?

In the car en route to dance rehearsals, we asked James, “If you could describe your relationship with Nadine now using a song title from your concert set list, what would it be?” He laughed a sort of Muttley-the-dog laugh before answering. “It’s corny,” he demurred. “If it’s corny, it’s usually true,” I counter.

After a long-winded pasakalye (“Cause Justin Bieber’s songs are negative, like, Sorry and What Do You Mean?), he finally said, “I’m gonna have to go with Love Never Felt So Good.” An enigmatic smile and nothing else.

At the 14th floor of ABS CBN, just outside the network’s in-house dance studio, Jobel Dayrit, head choreographer of the concert, made an offhand quip to her fellow dancers that made our blood sing. “Kaloka tong JaDine no,” she told her fellow G-Force dancers, unaware that a nosy journalist was in their midst. They’ve been teaching JaDine cool dance moves for the past hour and were just on a quick dinner break. “Sabi ko sa kanila, kahit hindi kayo gumalaw, magtitigan lang kayo, buo na yung prod.” Bam. Jackpot. In the next 20 minutes, a photo of James holding Nadine in his arms, all smiles and sparkling eyes, would spread like a virus online, proving the choreographer’s claim true.

Time check: 10 pm. James needs to go home, while Nadine stays behind to continue practice. This is our final chance to make him crack. “James, what’s the real score?”

He says nothing and just keeps walking. It’s over, I tell myself. I’m going home empty-handed. And then, he stops abruptly, spins, and asks, “Why do you think is the concert called JaDine In Love?” And off he went, leaving me with my jaw on the floor.

* * *

Tweet the author @IrishDDizon.



Produced by Irish Christianne Dizon
Makeup by Jelly Eugenio
Hair by Paul Nebres
Grooming by Mac Igarta
Special thanks to Veronique Corpus,
CARYL PARAICO, and Miguel Laureta

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