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One of local showbiz’s longest-running young loveteams in their most romantic shoot in the land of volcanoes, geysers, and the Northern Lights
To start its 25th anniversary celebration, the Philippines’ Best Fashion Magazine MEGA shot in one of the world’s most coveted but rarely visited destinations with one of the country’s longest-running loveteams of this generation, KathNiel. The pair, composed of Kathryn Bernardo, 20, and Daniel Padilla, 21, was first put together in 2011. Since then, they have been in many movies and television shows and have blossomed into one of showbiz’s juggernaut loveteams. This latest shoot in Iceland titled Celebrate MEGA with KathNiel is one of their most sophisticated projects and came at the heels of their most mature movie to date, Barcelona: A Love Untold, which made a whopping 300M gross, worldwide.
Peewee Reyes-Isidro, Editor-in-Chief of MEGA, explains why they chose to go with KathNiel in Iceland. For her, the loveteam has come a long way, growing up in the public’s eye. “We have seen them when they were young and how they have progressed in terms of their craft, career and relationship. The audience grew up with them. They are one of the few loveteams who have made a mark in their generation. Their movies, series, and projects have constantly trended and have remained really memorable. Lastly, their candid and natural rapport is what fans really love about them.”For Suki Salvador, Vice President for Magazine and Print Business of One Mega Group and Editor-in-Chief of MEGA Man, KathNiel has always stood out in the field of local showbiz. According to him, “We’ve always wanted to have a solo Kathryn cover, but we also knew it had to be big, that it had to be special. When we were discussing the campaign for Celebrate MEGA, we thought that Kathryn was the perfect girl—it’s really her who stands out in this generation. And of course, Daniel. He has never been on the cover of MEGA Man. We were waiting for the right time to put him on the cover. Now is the time and I’m really excited that we shot both of them in Iceland.”
KathNiel themselves couldn’t help but show their gratefulness and excitement for the opportunity. “I’m very honored, kami ni DJ,” gushed Kathryn before they flew to Iceland. “We’re very excited, we’re going to Iceland! ‘Di lang kami, pero pati ‘yung team.” Kathryn says they were very happy about the shoot because most of the team were their friends, including photographer Mark Nicdao. Daniel, on the other hand, is very honored since it is his first time to grace the cover of MEGA Man. “Exciting kapag kaming dalawa, tapos first time namin to experience this together,” explains Daniel. “Enjoy kapag kaming dalawa.” He says he is excited for the people to see their shoot because the theme is different. He agrees with Kathryn that since photographer Mark Nicdao is their kabarkada, the shoot was easier. “Mas okay kasi tropa ko ‘yun [si Mark],” he explains.
THE ROAD TO ICELAND
Kathryn says that Iceland was their personal choice. “‘Yung [unang country sana], okay naman, kaya lang nakapunta na kami doon. Iceland was actually Kuya Mark’s suggestion. And we were like ‘Oo nga ‘noh, why not Iceland? Super exotic nung place and wala pang nag-sho-shoot na magazine dun, ever [Except MEGA magazine nung 2012]!”
The road to Iceland was a challenging one, though, with hurdles that included logistics. But finally, Kathryn was glad that they were able to push through. “MEGA is one of the most trusted fashion magazines in the Philippines, and we’re very honored na kami ‘yung cover,” she explains. “Hindi siyanormal cover, because it’s in Iceland. Itong issue na ito, something special talaga and close to our hearts because we personally chose the location.” This being her third cover for MEGA and with such a
special concept, Kathryn says she couldn’t be happier when she was chosen. “Kinilig ako ng sobra, syempre!” she says. “[Tapos] kasama pa si DJ, so lalo akong na-excite! Ang bait-bait din ng buongteam ng MEGA sa akin. So masaya ako na naalala nila ako na mag-grace ng cover na ito.”
Growing closer: KathNiel’s “Special Partnership”
With five years together as a loveteam, Daniel says that their bond is deeper now, more than ever. “I think mas tighter kami ngayon,” he explains. “Iba na ‘yung atake namin sa mga eksena. ‘Di na masyado pa-tweetums.”
Daniel says he is unfazed by the emerging loveteams even if they were one of the firsts five years ago. “Okay lang, ganoon talaga,” he says matter of factly. “Isa rin naman kami sa sumulpot lang din na love team [noon]. Masyadong malaki ang ABS-CBN para sa isang loveteam lang. Kailangan talaga, marami.” With regards to the fans’ loveteam wars, Daniel also keeps his cool and maintains an attitude of maturity towards it. “Syempre kapag nag-aaway, hassle ‘di ba?” he utters. “But I think nandoon ‘yung thrill, e. Sana lang ‘di na masyado mag-away. Pero kung may rivalry, ganoon talaga kasi nasaan na ‘yung excitement kung walang rivalry? Kahit saan naman. Sa basketball, kapag may rivalry, nandoon yung excitement.”
Daniel can’t exactly pinpoint their loveteam’s difference from the others, but does point out some key qualities of KathNiel. “Basta kami ni Kath, masaya kami kapag may work kami,” he explains. “And I think yung [perspective] namin is hindi work, but more of nag-e-enjoy kami.” He is also respectful of other loveteams’ romances, with some confessing to the public that they are officially together. “I think way din nila ‘yun, baka gusto talaga nila malaman ng mga tao,” he says. “May kanya-kanya tayong trip. So okay naman. Abnormal din actually ‘yung trip namin,” he jokes. He says that with KathNiel, “what you see is what you get.” With regards to the pressure due to the emergence of other loveteams, Daniel says he and Kathryn don’t really feel it. For him, they are actually more pressured by their fans. An example was their apprehension when Barcelona was shown, but he is calmed down by the fact that he knows they gave their all.
As an individual actor, Daniel believes in the importance of being true to himself. He is also very thankful for his fans who accept him for who he is. “Kung ano ‘yung trip ko, ‘yun ‘yung sinusunod ko,” he exclaims. “Kung ano ‘yung gusto ko, ‘yun ‘yung gagawin ko. Pero syempre dapat nasa lugar pa rin ako. ‘Di naman pwedeng nakakatapak ako ng ibang tao. Pero kung ano ‘yung ikasasaya ko, ‘yun ‘yung gagawin ko. Ayoko ipilit ‘yung sarili ko para lang mapasaya ‘yung ibang tao, pero ako [hindi masaya]. Binibigyan ko sila, pero ginagawa kong balanced. And ‘yun ‘yung maganda kasi ‘yung mga fans, tanggap kung sino ako. Ang sarap ng feeling—hindi ko kailangan magpanggap. Thankful ako doon. Blessed ako na may mga ganoon akong supporters.” He says being authentic leads to great results.
And since it was his first time on MEGA Man’s cover, what made him a MEGA Man? Daniel finally gave an answer after mulling it over for quite some time. “Siguro ‘yung pagiging laid back ko,” he says.
Kathryn has long been the woman in Daniel’s life for the last five years—who exactly is she for him? “Siya ‘yung nagbabalik sa akin,” he declares. “Siya ‘yung nagbabalik sa akin sa sahig, alam mo ‘yun? Parang kapag masyado na kong makulit, masyado nang magulo ‘yung isip ko. Kapag andiyan si Kathryn, aayusin niya. Siya ‘yung mekaniko ko, e,” Daniel confesses.
As for KathNiel as partners, they are the very essence of the term and not just a showbiz loveteam in front of the cameras. “Companions kaming dalawa,” explains Daniel. “Special partnership—kumbaga. Walang halong showbiz.”
Style-wise, Kathryn says that for Celebrate MEGA with KathNiel, they were dressed in outfits totally different from those that they’ve worn before. “Expert na sila diyan [the MEGA team], so I really trust them when it comes to that,” she explains.
The actress loves the creations of Filipino designers when she is being styled. “Marami kasi tayong local designers na sobrang galing,” she exclaims. “Iba talaga ang Filipino talent. Ngayon, kahit sino ipasuot, basta galing sa Pilipinas, I am very okay with it.” Peewee agrees, and tells that for the shoot, they really went with displaying Filipino fashion in an exotic locale. “We wanted to highlight a different kind of fashion but still championing local designers and at the same time, sharing with our readers a glimpse of a dream destination that is in everyone’s bucket list. That’s what sets MEGA apart from other glossies— the whole production value.”
Jeb Fronda, Associate Fashion Editor of MEGA, also gives her take on why she chose the fashions for Celebrate MEGA with KathNiel. “For Kathryn, I wanted to focus on her femininity,” she enumerates. “Kathryn is a woman who can stand on her own. So it was femininity with masculinitiy in the sense that she doesn’t need anyone and that she can stand on her own as an actress, as a woman.” Jeb admits that there is the risk of celebrities not liking the fashion she had chosen for them, but says that she really goes with her gut. Part of her concept for Kathryn is going from Teen Queen to actual Superstar.
When it comes to her personal style, Kathryn says her way of dressing can depend on her mood. “Hindi siya consistent,” she says laughingly. Comfort is a priority, however. “Kung [saan ako] comfortable, ‘yun ‘yung important. Ayoko isuot ‘yung hindi ako comfortable, kasi maiilang ako agad.” She also leans towards the classics, saying that she loves basic colors, less accessories, and again, whatever is comfortable.
For Daniel, Suki reveals that the actor actually knows his fashion and was very professional when he was made to wear various kinds of clothing. “He wore everything that we put on him,” reveals Suki. “He knew his fashion, he knew what the inspiration of the clothes were—which is very impressive for me for a celebrity who spends a lot of time in rehearsal, travelling, or taping. It was nice that he was actually aware of men’s fashion. From then on, I knew that we didn’t make a mistake of putting him on this special, special cover of MEGA Man.”
A LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES
Since KathNiel were pros, the MEGA team had no problem at all working with them behind the scenes. One Mega Group, Inc. Vice President and MEGA publisher Archie Carrasco shares his experiences on working with the two. “Kathryn is very kind and very thoughtful,” he says. “She’s not a diva. During the entire trip, as long as she and Daniel are in a good spot, good seats, wala kang problema sa kanila. ‘Yun lang okay na silang dalawa.” He also remembers how much of a doting daughter she was during the shoot, given her superstar status. “I remember that morning during our breakfast, she even looked for me and talked to me just to ask a favor ‘Tito Archie, is it okay for you to have breakfast with my mommy? Kasi po magpapa-makeup na ako.’ Can you imagine a superstar who would think of such thing para lang hindi nya maiwan mommy nya. Ihinabilin pa nya to someone else kasi she needs to have her makeup done. Mabait, talagang mabait.”
Daniel on the other hand was a true gentleman for Archie. Daniel also lived up to his last name. “Mararamdaman mo sa kanya ‘yung dugo ng Padilla,” narrates Archie. “He’s very, very much a gentleman. Talagang kahit ano pa ‘yung gender mo, kahit sino ka pa. Matanda, bata, talagang tutulungan ka nya.” He also says that Daniel would really take the time to have photos taken with the fans. “When we were at the airport and we were running late and I was already telling them that we need to walk fast, lahat nang nagpapa-picture sakanya hinihintuan nya at nagpapa-picture sya. Wala syang ini-snob kahit isa. Tapos parati nyang tinatanong lahat ng mga tao ‘Do you need help? Do you want me to carry your bag?’”
On the romance front, Daniel also made sure to take care of his beloved partner. “Never s’yang lumayo kay Kathryn. He always made sure that Kathryn is talking to someone or doing something when he’s not around. Hindi pwedeng maiwan na mag-isa si Kathryn.” Archie says that the two were very sweet offcam, holding hands at almost every moment, from eating at meals, to being at the airport, to riding in vehicles.
Archie attests to how professional the two are, especially Daniel who was persistent to get the shoot done despite some difficulties. He narrates, “Nagkaroon kami ng delays sa flight and ang decision dapat ng MEGA team para makapagpahinga silang dalawa is to postpone Daniel’s scheduled shoot on that day. But Daniel said ‘No, no. I don’t want to cancel it. Ayoko mag cause ng any delay.’ He was like ‘I want to proceed with this. Kilala ko si Mark (Nicdao). Matatapos ‘yan.’ And you know what? Straight from the airport, dumiretso kami sa location and he immediately went inside our trailer and prepped up immediately for the photoshoot. And then the next day maaga syang gumising kahit wala syang tulog. Sinamahan nya si Kathryn sa shoot nya kahit pwede syang matulog ng six hours. Simahan nya talaga si Kathryn the entire shoot. Ganun sila ka-grabe!”
Archie narrates some more kilig moments of the couple during the trip. One was how they always found a way to sit beside each other on the plane going to Iceland, and back to Manila. During the flight to Iceland, it was Archie who found a way for the sweethearts to sit beside each other. But going home to Manila, he wasn’t able to do so, so it was Kathryn who took matters into her own hands. He narrates, “It was Kathryn who approached the business class stewardess and asked ‘Is it okay to sit me there and him there (Daniel). It’s not necessarily that we’re sitting together, but at least we are on the same row.’ And then sabi nya ‘Because I cannot sleep without him near me.’”
He also says how Kathryn doesn’t carry her things because it was Daniel doing it for her. They are also close to each others’ families. He explains the dynamic of their relationship off-cam, “They are very sincere to each other. If they continue it that way and wala talagang hahadlang, they will really last. Daniel is really going to the house of Kathryn to have dinner with Tita Min. Ganong level na talaga sila. And then Daniel is very comfortable of Tita Min as well. And si Tita Min, ipinagkakatiwala nya si Kathryn kay Daniel, so I think malaking tulong ‘yung may basbas ‘yung family nila sa isat-isa.”
For the Iceland shoot, Suki talks about how difficult it could be but the team persevered amidst the challenges, especially KathNiel. “It was difficult shooting KathNiel because we were in the middle of nowhere,” he narrates. “There are no elevators, no ladders, no stairs. When we were shooting, we had chosen a place that had a lot of ice. You actually had to hike about 10 or 15 minutes to get to the ice. So the most difficult part was actually bringing the clothes and changing in the middle of nowhere.”
“When we were doing Daniel’s solo cover shoot, it was a little bit easier because we had arranged a trailer for him near the lava fields of Eldhraun for the hair and makeup, food, etc. That was easy logistically. The only thing we had to do was to be really careful walking on the moss-covered lava because you can fall into the pit and you don’t know what’s underneath there and it could be very dangerous. Thankfully it wasn’t slippery.”
Suki recalls that Kathryn’s solo shoot was difficult because it was behind a mountain, “I wanted her to interact with a big piece of ice, the icebergs that we saw that were washed away from the giant glacier. It was difficult to bring the clothes there and to change in a tent near the ice. And when we were shooting, it was actually raining from time to time so that was the struggle.”
“I found the most difficulty shooting them together because we shot them in a hill. It was actually at the bottom of the mountain. So Daniel, Kathryn, Jeb, and I had to go up and down the mountain to change them in the trailer because the clothes were fur and they were too heavy to carry up the mountain and bring it back down again. We probably went up and down five times. It was like a height of five or six floors. So that was the difficult part,” Suki reveals.
Suki adds that as creatives, it wasn’t difficult to shoot the loveteam because they were listening to what he and the photographer were saying. “They were listening to how we were posing them so it was very easy. Iceland is extremely beautiful. It was easy to make a beautiful shoot, and I’m glad that we did it with them.”
Iceland Covershoot As MEGA’s newest milestone
For Peewee, it was an incredible opportunity doing Celebrate MEGA with KathNiel. “I would like to describe Iceland as nature’s best. While we were there, we witnessed nature’s beauty and power. Everything was in nature’s mercy and it was so raw and organic. We wanted to present the cover stars Kathryn and Daniel at their most natural. It was less is more kind of attitude when it came to their makeup or look. We wanted their real beauty and personality to shine through. They have never been shot this way and we are really happy with the outcome.”
Suki expounds that they did not really want to portray the couple in a different way, “We just wanted to highlight special things about them. Obviously their features, that’s why the makeup of Kathryn is very fresh, we wanted to show her natural cheekbones. The same thing goes with Daniel. We wanted to highlight his natural features that’s why we kept his eye bags and we didn’t remove them in post.”
Jeb adds that the two have really grown up, especially Kathryn who is now all woman as compared to her previous MEGA cover shoots. “‘Yung mga answer niya sa interviews, sobrang profound for her age,” she explains. “Mararamdaman mo talaga na ang dami na niyang natutunan. Malalim siya. Sa dami nang pinagdaanan niya, ‘yun ‘yung mga na-realize niya.” She attests to how down to earth the two are, saying that “pwede mo sila talagang kaibiganin na artista kasi wala silang ere. They are doing it because they love it.”
The Success: KathNiel as the perfect loveteam for Celebrate MEGA in Iceland
For Jeb, the experience was perfect not just because of KathNiel but also because of the team who were very calm and relaxed. “Lahat tumatawa,” she recalls of their time in Iceland. For her and a lot of the team, KathNiel’s Iceland covers were also some of MEGA’s best ever, even going as far as to say that they were “nakakakilabot.” “For me, we [did shots] that were safe, but we didn’t close our door to shots that were pasabog.” Even casual audiences couldn’t help but notice the shots, and said that they were “iconic” and “beautiful,” according to Jeb. For her, the entire experience was “magical.” “Di mo maintindihan kung saan siya nanggaling pero ‘yung universe nagwork at binigay niya ‘yung KathNiel. Binigay niya ‘yung magandang weather, binigay niya si Mark. Binigay niya ‘yung team na magaling. So nakakakilabot talaga. It was really magic.”
Text by Melissa G. Bagamasbad / Photo Courtesty of Mark Nicdao / BTS Photos by Archie Carrasco / Special Thanks to MEGA Magazine