The hows and whys of a phenomenal breakup called ‘KathNiel’

NEW BEGINNINGS - Büm D. Tenorio Jr. - The Philippine Star
The hows and whys of a phenomenal breakup called �KathNiel�

The breakup between Tinseltown’s young sweethearts Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla is a sociological study.

Every now and then, showbiz personalities part ways and part ways for good, whether amicably or with hostility. But the seemingly dignified KathNiel uncoupling saw a cult reaction from both fans and the nonchalant. The news — and speculations — about their breakup is a constant feed in anyone’s FB and Tiktok account, with memes to boot. From the boardroom to the pulpit, from gated communities to informal settlements, from Batanaes to Jolo to Pinoys around the world, the KathNiel breakup became a hot topic. And how? And why?

To aficionados of local show business, the celluloid world is made glitzier, glossier by the presence of inarguably the most famous love team of Kathryn and Daniel — never mind if many times their films border on being bubble-gummy love affairs. Perhaps that’s the secret of their lasting power in their fandoms — sweet love, young love, what-you-see-is-what-you-get.

The reaction of many people to their breakup was “big” and “shocking” because KathNiel was already family to us and to those whose lives the couple touched with their silver-screen presence. We did not meet them (though I had a good conversation with Kathryn when she was awarded People of the Year by PeopleAsia in 2020). We did not know them personally. We did not break bread with them. But we allowed them in our lives, in our homes by watching their teleseryes and movies.

Their breakup is like a personal experience because they are part of pop culture and in the stream of consciousness — whether one likes them or not, whether one realizes it or not, their ordeal, magnified and made available 24/7 by socmed — they are there, present albeit distantly as celebrities.

Many of the contemporary love teams in the biz split and spawned new lives and barely did people react. Not because they did not have fans but because the KathNiel tandem provided something else — a real, sincere, quiet relationship. An aspirational love story. A relatable tale of the values they projected onscreen. An inspirational tandem because something reel could be so real. Theirs was a love affair so saccharine you would think they oozed with honey every time they had a TV guesting. Of all the cheesiness their tandem emanated, theirs was a mozzarella love affair: gooey, elastic, soft, compact, familiar taste. And yet not everyone could have it.

Until the elasticity of their relationship snapped on Nov. 30, when they both announced their breakup on social media, with Kathryn going public first.

(If my recollection is correct, the last time local showbusiness went agog over a breakup was when Pops Fernandez and Martin Nievera’s marriage headed for the rocks in 1996 and was annulled in 2000. The late Ricky Lo, then entertainment editor of The STAR, once told me that one of the heartbreaking scoop stories he wrote of couples who headed for Splitsville was that of Martin and Pops. He said he received bashing for the story he penned with some people asking him to recant his story. He stood by his tale. And was vindicated subsequently. Same thing happened to showbiz scribe Ogie Diaz who antedated the Kathniel split-up in his platform. He, too, was bashed and his social media account suspended reportedly on the grounds of “child abuse” after his story came out.)

I remember Cinema Evaluation Board chairman Christine Dayrit saying that a KathNiel film could singularly compete with a Hollywood film shown anywhere in the Philippines in terms of its ticket sales and longevity in the theater. Their partnership was stellar, famous, bankable. Their tandem alone rang up a good sale. (Their film The Hows of Us started showing in August 2018 and it stayed for months on screens — with simultaneous showings abroad for Pinoy audiences. At that time, online sources reported, it broke multiple records in the country, including being one of the local films to reach P600 million box-office sales in a span of 20 days. After 50 days in the theater, its earnings swelled to P805 million. And started counting even more after that.)

Their movies were box-office hits. Men, women, young and old, the haves and have-nots trooped to the theater to watch them. Their films were a hit because audiences left the theater with the hope of forever. In other words, their reel chemistry provided an illusion of forever. Who does not like forever?

If you were broken and you watched a KathNiel film, you left the cinema feeling hopeful, re-energized even. Their films were not of any magical realism genre yet they created a fairy tale in your heart and mind. What more their real love story. And in a whiff, although dyed-in-the-wool fanatics of the tandem had an advanced inkling of the split-up, came the breakup. That explains the devastation.

Last Monday, I opened the discussion of the KathNiel breakup in my “Understanding the Self” class at St. Vincent College of Cabuyao and was not surprised at all that most of my students — both male and female — are “still hurting.” Why?

“Kasi sila na po ang bumuo ng childhood ko. Sinundan ko career nila. Umasa na sila na hanggang dulo. Pero naghiwalay. Parang may binawi sa masaya kong childhood (KathNiel made up my childhood. I followed their career. And hoped that it would be them until the end. But they broke up. It was as if something was taken away from my happy childhood),” said Mary Cris Enubay, 19, taking up Criminology, of the breakup of the 11-year KathNiel relationship.

For fellow Criminology students Edgar Mata, 20, and John Errol Enrile, 19, KathNiel and their films were their guilty pleasure. They did not mince words in my class to say they, too, “were affected” by the breakup.

“Because they are regular on the TV at home. That makes them regular in our house,” says Edgar.

“Their breakup is sad because many of us identified with them,” John Errol adds.

That’s the point — identification. The sudden surge of emotion can be traced to the fact that in the lives of the KathNiel pair are also the lives of their fans. The KathNiel breakup is also their fans’ heartache.

To this day, my niece Paula Tenorio, a registered nurse of six years in a government hospital, does not want to talk about the breakup. “I’m not ready to talk about it,” she told everyone in our family Messenger group chat. So everybody respected her. She has been a fan of the love team since she was in high school. In fact, she is a long-time member of KathNiel Spikers (Laguna chapter).

KathNiel has more than a hundred fan clubs in the Philippines and abroad, according to Paula. Each fans club has a chapter in every province.

Imagine the steam and stream of tears the members of these fans clubs shed when their idols broke up: KathNiel KaDreamers, KathNiel Spikers, KNSolidarity, KathNiel Allegiance, KathNiel Vibes, KathNiel Jail, KathNiel Paramedics, KathNiel Tomasino,KathNiel Pelikula, KathCakes, SoliDs, DJFP Smile, KathDevotees, DJP Armies, KathNiel Updates, Daniel Keepers Official, Got KathNiel, KathNiel Protector, KathNiel Solidarity, DJP Global, KATHTropa, DANIEListaz, Dream for Daniel, KDKN Guardian, KathNiel Martians, Stunning KathNiel, KathNiel Royalties, KathNiel Loyalties, KathNiel Luminous, KathNiel Magics among others.

They are the most loyal fans, with some old guard observers saying their fierce loyalty is akin to the loyalty of the Noranians, the fans of National Artist for Film Nora Aunor at the height of the Filipino Superstar’s fame.

KathNiel was astonishing as a love team. Even in their breakup, they were phenomenal. 

vuukle comment






  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with