As we reach the end of an era, we revisit their best moments on screen
In the aftermath of the Kathniel split, the separation of screen stars Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla left a void in the hearts of fans worldwide.
In a post loaded with honesty and grace, Bernardo released a public statement confirming the breakup of her partner both on and off-screen, revealing that they had grown apart.
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She expressed how despite the dictations of the entertainment industry, she was lucky to have had room to be authentic, citing “What Deej and I had was real. It was never for show… We were genuinely in love. We grew up together, dreamed together, and saw many of those dreams become a reality.”
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Simultaneously, Padilla posted with a subtle tone that read like a poem, “Ang mga alaala natin ay laging kong baon sa aking puso at magiging liwanag sa mga madidilim kong araw (Our memories will always be in my heart and light my dark days)… Thank you for dancing with me during my highs… Our lives may drift away, but our love will still ride that tide.”
After being in a relationship since 2012, both statements struck the same heartrending cords. Padilla and Bernardo both spoke with consideration to their KathNiel fans, expressing a call for healing, and ending their posts with gratitude. The announcement has garnered significant words of comfort from family and friends.
Yet, amidst this transition, there’s an opportunity to reminisce and honor the unparalleled chemistry and outstanding performances that defined their partnership. We journey through the most captivating moments that cemented KathNiel’s legacy, despite their parting ways.
1. She’s Dating the Gangster (2014)
How can this list not begin with the iconic movie that skyrocketed the KathNiel partnership to the stars? Directed by the renowned Cathy Garcia-Molina, the iconic film is based on the pop fiction Wattpad book by Bianca Bernardino (pen name: SGwannaB).
The story follows the roundabout romance of the bad boy “gangster” Kenji (Padilla) and the nerdy but sweet Athena (Bernardo). Set in the 90s, the film pans out like a fun visual feast, as characters don color-blocked skinny jeans and flannel plaid shirts.
In a setup aimed at getting back the attention of an ex-girlfriend, Athena plays along as Kenji’s fake girlfriend, while Kenji traipses around with an ever-present bandana around his forehead. As their facade begins to evolve into a real kind of love, the teen romcom transforms into that kind of movie that is bound to make you both laugh and cry.
2. Pangako sa ‘Yo (2015)
A personal favorite of mine, the 2015 drama series based on the 2000 primetime series of the same name is a show for the ages. The ABS-CBN story revolves around the fated love of Yna Macaspac (Bernardo) and Angelo Buenavista (Padilla)—linking them in dramatic ways to the spurned romance twenty years earlier of Amor de Jesús (Jodi Sta. Maria) and Eduardo Buenavista (Ian Veneracion).
With the vengeful meddling of Amor Powers and Madam Claudia (Angelica Panganiban), their relationship goes through unexpected twists and turns with both government and family feuds, ultimately ending with love forevermore, for (most) parties involved.
3. Barcelona: A Love Untold (2016)
As their career began to climax, Bernardo and Padilla brought their love overseas, taking on more sophisticated roles. I remember having this film on DVD and seeing La Sagrada Familia for the first time, as Ely (Padilla) gave a romantic spiel as a tour guide.
Much of the film centers on an unseen character, Celine, Ely’s past love who bares a striking resemblance to a new girl he meets, Mia (Bernardo). Mia struggles as a waitress as she begins her life afresh in Europe.
The script is wonderful, such as when Mia asks Ely why he is in Barcelona, and he replies “Baka sakaling tumigil ang walang katapusan (Maybe the never-ending “maybes” will stop).”
Together, the couple begins to embrace life in the sunkissed streets and beaches of Barcelona, taking new steps with an attitude of adventure and courage.
4. La Luna Sangre (2017)
Kathryn and DanPadz took on fiercer roles in this third finale of the horror-fantasy Lobo trilogy. Following the prophecy of the astronomical Blood Moon, the characters wait in the wings for the foretelling that an offspring of a powerful vampire and chosen werewolf will overthrow the vampire reign.
After a victorious battle, the mortal family of Mateo (John Lloyd Cruz), Lia (Angel Locsin), and Malia (Bernardo) live in the fictional San Isidro. But the evil Supremo (Richard Guttierez), determined to stop the prophecy, hunts them down.
Malia, revealed to be the chosen one, meets Tristan (Daniel Padilla) who seeks vengeance for his father’s death by vampires. You can see the pair looking super-cool, as Padilla dons luminescent, powder-white hair, and Bernardo stares with piercing gold cat-like eyes. The 185 episodes in 3 acts develop with many unexpected twists—one of which Tristan becomes a vampire commander. Ultimately, the series ends with Tristan and Malia standing together, victorious against the defeated Supremo.
5. The How’s of Us (2018)
Get your tissues ready with this film. This was the love team’s second collaboration with renowned director Garcia-Molina since She’s Dating the Gangster 4 years prior. The plot unfolds in a similar nuanced, multi-faceted way as their first film together, but more drama than comedy.
The romance follows Primo (Padilla), an aspiring musician, and George (Bernardo), a medical student. We watch the couple follow their shared dream of growing old together—and having these dreams crushed little by little. As they deal with the less-than-ideal realities of life, in the wake of their breakup, this is one film that is bound to come off as a tearjerker.
We are grateful for the history of Kathniel movies and TV series that have made our hearts both sink and swell. But as actress and icon Marilyn Monroe said, “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
Already, you can sense Bernardo’s venture into new realms of expression, such as with her recent groundbreaking film with Dolly de Leon, A Very Good Girl. Meanwhile, we wonder what’s next for Daniel Padilla, if he will continue music-making or venture into more mature screen roles.
As the pages turn in the storybooks of Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla’s careers, the anticipation for their next chapter grows—if not with some sadness, with hope. With each actor’s trajectories poised to break new ground, we wait in eager anticipation of the futures that await both individuals.