Perhaps the sweetest thing on the sands of Punta Fuego last March 5 to 7 were Be Bench finalists and ABS-CBN talents Regine Angeles and John James Uy, who spent most of their time under the sun cuddled in each other's arms. The two admitted that they are exclusively dating.
Regine said she did not initially think she would like John James romantically. Speaking to PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) during Day 2 of Camp Nivea in Nasugbu, Batangas, the 24-year old model-actress said she first felt that John James, two years her junior, was "too young" for her.
She also refused to fall for his charms during their stint in Be Bench, the 2007 ABS-CBN model search for the apparel company, in which Regine and Carl Guevarra were declared winners.
"Hindi ko sineseryoso. Una, naninibago ako. Kasi una, alam ko lahat ng baho niya. Alam ko kung gaano siya ka-playboy. Sabi ko, 'Tantanan mo 'ko, please!' Ginagano'n ko siya, pero pabiro. Tapos yun pala, parang, siguro na-challenge siya dun, or I don't know. Kasi sanay raw siya na yung babae ang naghahabol, e siya, nilalayuan ko siya. 'Layuan mo 'ko, ang tanda ko sa 'yo.' Ginagano'n ko siya. Ewan ko kung ano nakita niya," Regine narrated.
But John James was persistent. Regine said the model-actor pursued her again two years later. This time, she did not turn him down.
On October 29, 2009, Regine and John James were both at the ABS-CBN compound for a special press conference for Star Magic talents who had just celebrated or would be celebrating their birthdays. Regine's birthday was in October, while John James's was in September.
PEP attended that press conference and even had an interview with John James. (CLICK HERE) There was nothing going on with the two celebrities then. PEP did not see them talking closely together, only civility passed between them.
Regine told in detail the next events that made them more than just friends.
"I was supposed to do hosting for Wowowee...taping during that time. So dapat may pull-out ako dun sa presscon ng 4 p.m. 'Tapos at the last minute, siguro 30 minutes before, kinansel nila ako. Kasi si Mariel [Rodriguez] parang nagte-tape yata for PBB. So, nairita ako, umuwi ako. Umalis ako ng presscon, hindi ako nagpaalam sa lahat.
"Punta ako ng Talent Center. Maya-maya, tumatawag yung RM [road manager] namin, hinanap ako. Sabi, 'Nasa'n ka? Hinahanap ka ni John sa Wowowee.' Sinundan niya 'ko. 'Tapos chika-chika kami. 'Tapos after nun, sabi ko, uwi na ako. 'Tapos pag-uwi ko, tinext niya 'ko. Sabi niya, 'You wanna hang out later?' Ayun nga, nanood kami ng sine."
Regine told PEP the two of them watched The Hurt Locker, the winner of the Best Picture award in the recent Oscar Awards.
"Sa Gateway kami nanood. Tapos lahat ng tao, kunwari nasa Gateway kami, sasabihin ng mga tao, 'Ma'am, sir, bagay kayo.' Tapos bigla na lang niyang sasabihin, 'Oy, bagay raw tayo.' E, lagi na kaming sinasabihan ng ganun. Pero dedma kami, parang, 'Ano ba, magkaibigan lang kami!' Nakakatawa!"
After the movie, Regine said John James still asked her to go on a "gimik." But she had to refuse.
"Sabi ko, hindi ako puwedeng gumimik bilang may flight ako the next day going to Bora [Boracay]. Kami ni Wendy [Valdez], dapat aalis lang kami. Kaya lang hindi siya natuloy dahil bumagyo. Na-move siya ng November 1," she said.
The canceled flight then gave John James another opportunity to ask Regine out again. And when she refused his offer, he would ask Wendy to help him.
"The next day, October 30, nagyaya na naman siya," Regine said. "Sabi ko, 'Ayoko, may flight ako bukas, ang kulit mo.' Tapos, pina-text pa niya si Wendy sa akin na parang, 'Tara na alis na tayo.' Marami raw kami. Labas kami ulit, marami kami."
But what convinced Regine to entertain John James's advances was the surprise she received in Boracay.
"'Tapos yun, nung November 1, punta akong Bora. Bago ako umalis, parinig siya nang parinig sa akin. 'Dapat may bantay ka dun kasi ganyan-ganyan.' Tapos sabi ko, 'Kaya ko sarili ko.' Dalawa kami ni Wendy, siyempre, pareho kaming babae. Ayun, sumunod siya. Tumbling ako sa dagat. Pagulong-gulong ako. Sabi ko, totoo nga."
MEET THE PARENTS. The Boracay rendezvous was just the beginning of more surprises. Regine's next dates with John James filled her with the same level of admiration.
In one date, the U.S.-born model-actor brought his father along.
"Yung dad niya, na-meet ko na while we were dating during the early parts of our dating pace. Tapos tinext niya 'ko, 'You wanna watch a movie?' Sabi ko, 'Yes.' Pagdating ko, kasama niya yung dad niya," she said.
Regine said they also spent Christmas and New Year together. On December 25, Regine visited John James's parents. On the eve of January 1, it was John James who went to meet Regine's mom and dad.
Regine said she really likes John James's sincerity.
"Di siya yung tipo ng lalaki na... siyempre, kilala na niya yung parents ko pero siya yung, 'When can I go to your house and ask your mom and make you ligaw?' Parang ako, nagulat ako, kasi, di ba, usually ang babae ang mangungulit sa lalake? So ako, never kong ibi-bring up yung topic na yun sa lalake. Pero siya, nag-o-open up ng ganun. In fairness sa kanya, plus points siya dun," she said.
She also appreciates that John James is "sweet" to her.
"Mas sweet siya. Minsan nagagalit siya, 'Ba't hindi ka sweet? You're the least affectionate person in the whole world,' sasabihin niyang ganun. Pero, ewan ko, hindi siguro ako sanay na... Kasi may mga guys na pag sobrang clingy ka, nate-turn off sila. Ngayon lang ako nakakita ng lalaking nagrereklamo.
"Di ba, usually ang lalaki pag hindi nagte-text sa 'yo, hindi mo hahanapin 'yan? Kahit ilang araw na 'yan, hindi nagte-text sa 'yo, titiisin mo na 'wag sila i-text. Siya, talagang, 'Why aren't you texting me?' Ganyan. Nakakatawa, ang haba ng hair ko!" Regine said with a laugh.
BACK TO SCHOOL. John James was beside Regine during most of the interview. Regine was nursing John James, whose right foot got injured during Camp Nivea's first day.
John James told PEP he plans to go back to school for Regine.
"Kasi hindi ko tinapos yung school so, at least, sa wakas. I took two years of college in the States. Hindi ko tinapos. So now I'll take a degree in Interior Design, in PSID," he said, referring to the Philippine School for Interior Design in Makati City.
Regine laughed while explaining John James's decision. "Dun kasi ako nag-i-school. Sabi niya, mag-e-enrol daw siya. Sabay daw kami. Gusto raw niya magkaklase raw kami. Magpapasahan daw kami ng notes, tapos magsusulatan sa ilalim ng lamesa. Sabi ko, 'Ano 'to, high school?'"
Regine laughed further when she explained how she's helping John James polish his Tagalog.
"Di ba, yung people from the States kapag nagsalita sila masyadong malambot? Parang yung 'mountain' nila, 'moun-ain.' 'Tapos yung 'turtle' nila 'tur-le.' So hindi nila ma-pronounce yung 'n,' 't,' 'k,' ganyan. So minsan magbabasa ng script sa akin. 'Alam ko marami ka nang kapapakan.' Gano'n. Yung 'kapalpakan' niya 'kapapakan.' So nagri-reading kami. 'Kapalpakan! i-pronounce mo lahat,'" she narrated.
NO LOVE TEAM. Although the two of them look good together, Regine and John James said they are not an official love team on TV. The only instance they have worked together, they said, was for a cameo role in an episode of Precious Hearts Romances.
Regine said, "Nung tinext kami na magkasama kami sa PHR, tuwang-tuwa lang kami. Tapos nakakatuwa, may kissing scene kami, 'tapos take-six kami. Ang stiff lang namin."
John James said he wishes he can work with Regine again in another show. "Sana magkaroon," he said.
In the meantime, the two are separately taping regular shows in ABS-CBN. John James is doing Tonyong Bayawak, while Regine is doing Precious Hearts Romances Presents You're Mine, Only Mine and Rubi.
Do they feel jealousy over each other's screen partners?
"No," John James said. "Except sometimes, tinanong ko siya minsan, kung may kissing scene siya. Sabi niya, 'No.' Tapos nung day of taping nila, dun ko nalaman na may kissing scene. So, other than that, wala naman."
Regine explained, "It was not really like a kissing scene. It's more like a smack. But no, I'm not the jealous type."
Asked about marriage, the two put up a playful banter.
"Ha? Kuya. Masyado pang bata. He's just 22. I'm just 24!" Regine exclaimed.
John James said, "Kunwari, pag 30 na siya, or 28, that's a good age. Twenty-eight, tapos I'm 26."
"Guys should marry at the age of 32," answered Regine.
"Sige, I'm 32 and you're 34. Gusto mo?" John James asked.
Will Regine say yes up to the very end? Surely, the ending of this love story shouldn't be missed.