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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 October 2018

How Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil became the supercouple of the Filipino entertainment industry

Ahead of the UAE release of Everyday, I Love You, which made Dh7.8 million after screening in Philippine cinemas for only two weeks, we look at the chemistry between the lead actors.
Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil. Star Cinema / Gulf Film
Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil. Star Cinema / Gulf Film

Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil make up one of the most popular supercouples – or love teams, as they are known in the Philippine entertainment industry – that the country has seen in years.

Their latest project, the film Everyday, I Love You, opens in cinemas across the UAE on Thursday, November 12. Directed by Mae Cruz-Alviar, the film features a familiar plot in Filipino romantic dramas: an arrogant city boy falls for a humble provincial girl.

It’s the same trope as the duo’s hit television series Forevermore, which was broadcast from October 2014 to May this year. In the romantic comedy, Gil played the rebellious child of a hotel magnate, Soberano a farmer’s daughter. The couple’s on-screen chemistry attracted a huge fan base that gave them the portmanteau LizQuen.

The programme’s success surprised not only the show’s producers – the network ABS-CBN – but also Soberano and Gil, who were newcomers to the industry. In fact, Forevermore was the first project where they both had lead roles.

From the small screen

Gil, 23, had been appearing in supporting roles in film and television since 2008. His big break came in the 2013 film She’s the One, a romantic comedy also helmed by Cruz-Alviar and headlined by Bea Alonzo and Dingdong Dances. Gil, playing a supporting role, was partnered with Soberano, who was then making her first film appearance.

A year later, when ABS-CBN’s producers were casting for a new television series, they could have gone with already-established love teams, but instead opted to take a chance with two rising talents.

In an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 17-year-old Soberano credited her experience filming Forevermore as a turning point in her career. “I used to clam up,” she said, explaining that the programme’s director Cathy Garcia-Molina taught her “how to open up” during dramatic scenes. “I’m grateful. I’ve waited for this break for a long time and I finally got it. This show boosted my career. Before this series, I was a nobody.”

Soberano was born and raised in California before moving to Manila in 2008. Soon after she was offered jobs in print and television advertisements. Soberano’s agent, seeing her potential to become a star, encouraged her to learn how to speak Filipino fluently so that she could audition for roles in films and for television.

The relationship

Asked in the same interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer about why Gil thought his pairing with Soberano was a hit with audiences, he said: “It’s different when you do things just for work and if there’s really something special between you and your co-star.”

Soberano and Gil had consistently evaded questions about their off-screen relationship, until an interview in the late-night programme Gandang Gabi Vice (Good Evening Vice) in June. Host Vice Ganda asked Gil point-blank: “Is there something going on between you and Liza?”

Gil laughed nervously, before replying: “Yes, there is.” He then clarified that they weren’t a couple. “We’re not yet allowed,” he said. “There are no labels – it just is.”

The fans, meanwhile, continue to delight in the duo’s reel and real relationship. Last week, Star Cinema – the studio behind Everyday, I Love You – announced the film had earned more than 100 million pesos (Dh7.8m) in ticket sales just two weeks after it was released in Philippine theatres.

“It feels amazing,” Gil told reporters. “We never really imagined that it will be successful, to be honest. It’s our first romantic drama. I’m just happy.”

Soberano added: “We really didn’t expect this. We just want to say thank you to all our supporters.”

Everyday, I Love You, which also features Gerald Anderson, Ariel Rivera, Aiko Melendez and Carmina Villaroel, also opens this week in cinemas in North America, the United Kingdom, Austria and Italy.

artslife@thenational.ae