The rise of Filipino stars Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo
The young Filipino stars have found fame as actors and singers, and their professional partnership (they have also been linked romantically) has produced smash-hit movies and television shows – making them two of the most popular celebrities in the Philippines.
Being born into a prominent showbiz family – his father is Rommel Padilla, an actor, model, politician and film producer, his mother is the actress and singer Karla Estrada and his uncle is the action-movie star Robin Padilla – has its advantages and disadvantages. He prefers to focus on the positives, though.
“Of course, people have enormous expectations and there is pressure, I admit,” he said in 2012. “But I would rather be me and just do my best to prove myself.”
Two years later and Padilla is perhaps the biggest young male star in the Philippine entertainment industry.
The 19-year-old can also sing, as proven by the success of his self-titled debut album. He also played bass guitar for the band Parking 5, until they split up this year.
Of course, there are pitfalls to being a teen idol, and Padilla has learnt to be cautious about what he says.
He joked once that his favourite subject when he was at high school was “recess” because he was so bad at all the lessons. While meant in typical tongue-in-cheek fashion, some people criticised him because they felt that such remarks were careless for someone who is idolised by so many impressionable young people.
But Padilla is also admired for displaying remarkable maturity at such a young age. For example, he turned down an offer to play in the developmental league of the Philippine Basketball Association because he felt that his inclusion was merely based on his popularity as an actor.
“My childhood dream was to become a professional basketball player,” he says. “But there are other people more deserving to play in that league. In the first place, my schedule as an actor won’t allow me to commit to the team, and that’s going to be unfair for everyone.”
Padilla’s latest movie is a biopic about the life of the Filipino revolutionary hero, Andres Bonifacio. The producers are hoping that his presence will help attract younger viewers to the film.
“We were very focused on creating something inspiring,” he says. “We want to shake viewers’ minds.”
Bernardo is only 18, but already she is a showbiz veteran of 11 years.
She has appeared in 11 movies, including the blockbuster flick She’s Dating the Gangster, in which she co-starred with Padilla.
She is also known for her love of music – and says she particularly admires the American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift and Filipino singers Sarah Geronimo and Yeng Constantino – but her self-titled debut album, released this year, met with mixed reactions. “I know my limitations,” she says. “That’s why the songs we chose are those that suit my vocal range.”
Bernardo’s fascination with show business began when she was about 7 years old, and she landed her first role in the TV drama It Might Be You.
Talking about the fame that followed, she says she feels “blessed”, while acknowledging the pressure of being a role model for young fans.
She embraces her “Teen Queen” tag and enjoys the wholesome image.
“I’m happy with the girl-next-door roles for now. I don’t want to rush things. When I’m 21, I can do more adult roles,” she told the Philippine daily Inquirer.
Bernardo is excited about her forthcoming TV drama series, which also stars Padilla: a remake of the soap opera Pangako Sa ‘Yo (My Promise to You), which ran from 2000 to 2002 and was popular in the Philippines and abroad, showing in Malaysia, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore and Africa.
She is well aware of the history and popularity of the prime-time drama series and that alone has been a great source of motivation to do the best job she possibly can.
“I need to take more acting lessons for this show,” she said. “This is the first time that I’ll be doing a serious and mature role.”