Dennis Trillo and Jennylyn Mercado are a fun couple to have around.
They are playful together, like when Dennis gives Jennylyn a piggyback ride as they work through a four-layout shoot with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) for their first Headliner interview together.
They are constanly holding hands, goo-eyeing each other, canoodling.
Ever bubbly and admittedly the mapang-asar one, Jennylyn also keeps heckling Dennis during their interview.
She says, "Kapag magkasama kami, tawanan lang kami, pinaglalaruan namin yung isa't isa.
"Yung pine-playtime ko siya palagi, ganyan. 'Tapos pagtatawanan lang namin yung mga sarili namin.
"'Tapos, si Dennis ano, nakakatawa kasi yung reactions niya kapag nambubuwisit ako. Minsan napipikon siya."
Ever the gentleman, Dennis just laughs off his girlfriend's impish ways; in fact, he finds them adorable.
He says, "Mas lambing kaysa sa diretsahang pang-aasar yung ginagawa niya.
"Nasanay na ako kasi palagi niyang ginagawa. Ganun talaga siya. Gusto niya maging happy at saka tumawa."
It seems Jennylyn has found an effective way to bring out the child in Dennis, who epitomizes the strong silent type of machismo.
Jennylyn shares how she does it, , "Minsan bigla ko na lang kukunin kamay niya, 'tapos magbo-ballroom akong ganyan. Maggaga-ganun ako.
"'Tapos, matatawa siya kasi 'Huh? Saan galing?'"
She never seems to run out of ideas to keep the mood of a moment light.
Of Jennylyn’s impish mischiefs, Dennis grins and bears it all, “Masaya din. Sinasakyan ko na lang. Minsan sumasayaw din ako."
Her high spirits know no bounds, and they've rubbed off on Dennis; he has learned to be spontaneous as well.
Jennylyn adds, “Mahilig kami maglaro. Yung puro kalokohan lang. "
Dennis may not often show it, she says, but he can be very witty when throwing punchlines, “Eto si Dennis, minsan lang siya bumanat, pero nakakatawa!”
For Jennylyn and Dennis, both in their 30s, loving each other has gotten easier this time around, much more comfortable now that they're older than when they first became a pair in their 20s.
Their relationship in their younger years had been rocky. But they smoothed out the rough spots when they got back together five years ago.
And they are dead serious about their commitment to each other the second time around.
Dennis affirms, “Siyempre nung first time, nung unang relationship namin bago kami maghiwalay, 'tapos nung nagbalikan na kami, parang may mga na-miss siguro ako na qualities niya.
“Kaya nung nagkaroon ako ng chance na maging close ulit sa kanya at ayusin yung samahan naming dalawa, pinursige ko nun.”
LOVE CONQUERS ALL
Jennylyn was only 19 and Dennis was 25 when they first worked together on the set of GMA-7's Now and Forever: Dangal, in 2006.
He recalls, “Nung una ko siyang nakita, na-attract ako...”
She interrupts him, feigning embarrassment, “Ano ka ba…”
He presses on, “Pero matagal pa bago kami naging super close.
"Nung unang time na nagkasama kami sa trabaho, hindi pa talaga kami naging super close nun.”
It was because each of them was in a relationship with someone else.
But by time they did the afternoon drama Gumapang Ka Sa Lusak, their third project together that aired from February 10 to June 18, 2010, Dennis and Jennylyn could no longer ignore the attraction between them.
Jennylyn remembers and quips, “Dun niya nakita na, ‘Ang ganda naman niya!”
Dennis, for his part, admits he found Jennylyn “intimidating” in the beginning.
He says, “Siguro ano lang, nahalata ko na nun yung medyo pagkakaroon niya ng strong personality.
"Na-mistaken ko yun para sa kasungitan. Pero nung mas nakilala ko siya, okay naman pala.
"And nagagamit niya nang maayos yung personality na yun para ma-develop niya sarili niya... Sabi ko, ‘Okay ito, ha.'”
They became a couple sometime in April 2010, but 11 months later they broke up after one big fight.
They went their separate ways, got busy with their careers, had occasional romantic flings with fellow actors, but ended up in each other's arms again anyway.
It's different five years hence. Not only have they matured as artists, Dennis and Jennylyn have grown wiser in their outlook on life as well.
Talking about lessons learned from her past folly, Jennylyn says, "Yung huwag nang pagtuunan ng mga pansin yung maliliit na bagay...
"Huwag masyado palakihin yung mga petty na bagay. Kasi sa experience namin, yun yung mga lumalaki."
"Ultimo suot. 'Bakit gano'n, ganyan?' 'E, eto...' 'Tapos ang laki na. Magbi-break. Dahil lang sa suot. Hahaha!"
But beyond brushing aside the petty issues, Dennis says their relationship now is on stable ground because, well, love conquers all.
"Siguro ano, pinakamatinding lesson diyan sa lahat ng partners, or lahat ng nasa relasyon, kailangan isipin mo palagi kung gaano mo kamahal ang isang tao."
"Kung gaano kahalaga para kahit ano man problema niya, kung gaano ka man kagalit sa kanya dun sa moment na iyon, at the back of your mind, 'Uy, ganito ko siya kamahal, e.'
"Dapat laging mananaig yung feeling na yun kaysa sa mga negative na superficial...
"Dami na rin naming pinagdaanan, ilang years na rin relationship namin.
"So, siguro dun sa mga panahon na yun napatibay na namin siya nang husto. Talagang solid na siya."
SECRET LOVERS CAUGHT OFF-GUARD
Dennis and Jennylyn got back together in a most quiet way.
The media only got a whiff of their rekindled romance when identical scenic photos of some beach resort simultaneously surfaced in separate posts of Dennis and Jennylyn on Instagram.
They did not post any pictures of them together, but their respective Instagram accounts showed identifiable spots in Balesin, an exclusive resort and popular celebrity getaway in Polilio, Quezon, accessible by chartered planes only,
It didn’t take long before netizens put two and two together, especially when Dennis showed a photo of a girl, with her back to the camera, standing in front of a floor-to-ceiling window of a dining area overlooking the beach.
There was no caption, but astute celebrity snoops guessed it correctly. The mysterious lady in the photo was, indeed, Jennylyn.
Dennis only confirmed to the press on April 30, 2015—exactly 25 days after their Balesin trip—that, yes, he was with Jennylyn.
But even then, he remained guarded during the interview and described their adventure as just “friends” going out and taking things slow.
It took a year for both of them to go on record in 2016 that they've been “exclusively dating,” and another year would pass before they officially announced their relationship.
PEP.ph asks Dennis, did he court Jennylyn again?
“Hindi ko masabi na ligaw, mas marami lang kaming ibinigay na time sa isa’t isa para mas mag-catch up at mas maging close ulit.”
Jennylyn, one of the prettiest faces in showbiz, was named FHM’s Sexiest Woman during the year she and Dennis became a couple again.
But for Dennis, it wasn't the physical that sparked his feelings for her anew.
He says, “Maalagain kasi siya 'tsaka maasikaso. Isa yun sa mga na-miss ko rin, siyempre, masarap yung feeling na ganun, e."
Dennis adds, “Mas mararamdaman mo yung love tsaka kung gaano ka ka-importante.”
denjen the #COUPLEGOALS
There is no doubt that they are serious about their feelings for each other, but it's because of the easygoing ways Jennlyn and Dennis demonstrate their affection for each other that they are being tagged as "#couplegoals."
Their relationship is anything but dramatic. They are just a happy couple celebrating their togetherness, making each day a joyful one.
Now that they're into vlogging, they've given glimpses of how cute and makulit they are in real life.
Netizens particularly like it when they are singing together or when Dennis capitulates to Jennylyn's crazy antics.
He expresses, "Natutuwa kami na kahit ganun kaliit na bagay nasi-share namin sa ibang tao.
"Siyempre hindi lahat, dahil gusto din namin ng mga privacy.
"Pero yung ganung masasayang bagay, di ba, pag nanonood ka ng masaya, nakakahawa."
Dennis also happens to be an effective and patient coach when it comes to teaching Jennylyn how to play drums.
This has to do with their collaborative videos on YouTube which they call "CoLove."
He makes sure that Jennylyn learns the basics and makes sure he doesn't get distracted by her cheesy antics.
When Jennylyn is getting a little overwhelmed by the lesson, he encourages her by complimenting her good hand-and-feet coordination, which is crucial when playing drums.
"Dati naman naturuan niya ako ng basic," Jennylyn shyly says.
But Dennis assures her, "Yung coordination lang okay na. 'Tapos ni-refresh na lang dun."
Jennylyn insists, "Pero never akong nakatugtog ng isang buong kanta. Lagi lang, 'O, gawin mo eto, eto, tapos na.'
"So kinakabahan ako kasi baka mataranta ako. Kapag may kasamang kaba, yung kamay ko kung saan-saan pumpunta, e.
"Nadodoble yung palo. Nag-iiba yung tempo pag nininerbyos."
Thanks to Dennis, Jennylyn gets to play Hall and Oates' "Kiss On My List" on drums and sing along with him at the same time.
The actor explains, "Namili kami ng kanta na madaling tugtugin, 'tapos medyo catchy, yung mag-e-enjoy siya."
Jennylyn says Dennis's persistence for them to make music together led them to the concept of CoLove Live, their upcoming post-Valentine concert on February 15, at the New Frontier Theater.
She shares, "Ibabalik namin yung mga kanta nung '80s, '90s. Excited kami kasi makakakanta namin yung mga gusto naming kantahin.
"Yung iba galing sa 'CoLove' sa YouTube, yung iba pinag-isipan ng buong team."
To be directed by John Prats, CoLove Live also features a star-studded guest lineup including Alden Richards, Alex Gonzaga, and Carlo Aquino.
The vlogs and social media posts of the Kapuso couple are also filled with snippets of their travels together that, in the words of Dennis, have helped them appreciate each other more.
He reasons that, outside of their comfort zone, they see each other in a truer, though sometimes harsher, light. And if they can accept that, then they're good.
Dennis says, “Siyempre, pag pumupunta ka ng ibang bansa, madalas first time namin mapuntahan, makikita mo dun papa’no ba siya pag stressed na."
Jennylyn, unable to resist the urge to rib Dennis, interjects, “Minsan na-i-stress kami pag naliligaw kami. Ako yun, e, yung sa map. Di ko siya puwede asahan sa lugar.”
The soft-spoken Dennis reacts, “Grabe, ha.”
Jennylyn backtracks, “Hindi naman” and explains, “parang mas matandain ako sa lugar.
"Kunwari napuntahan ko na siya nang isang beses, alam ko na kung paano bumalik.
“Pero kunwari nagti-text ako, may ginagawa ako, ‘Baby, ikaw muna sandali.’
“Maya-maya hindi ko na alam kung saan na niya ako dinala, naliligaw na kami! Ganun!”
She turns to Dennis for confirmation, "Tama?"
Dennis defends himself, "Noon. Pero nakaka-adjust na naman ako."
Jennylyn continues, "Kaya madalas ko siya niloloko, kahit sa mall, kapag nawawala kami.
"'Asan na ba yun? Di ba kanina nandito lang?' 'Tapos siya makakaalala. Minsan lang siya makakaalala.
"Sasabihin ko, 'Ang galing mo talaga sa mga lugar ano?' Hahahaha! Lolokohin ko siyang ganun, 'tapos natatawa lang siya."
Checking Dennis's reaction, she says, "Mamaya mapipikon na iyan."
It's obvious that Dennis's awful sense of direction has become a running joke between them—further proof they've come to accept each other unconditionally, notwithstanding the flaws and shortcomings of the other.
The couple had swam the waters of the Maldives, witnessed the Northern Lights in Finland, and basked in the romantic city of Paris, among many other places.
To be fair to Dennis, he's the one encouraging Jennylyn to be more adventurous in their travels, like when he dared her to eat exotic street food in Bangkok.
He documented her reaction to his challenge and showed it in his YouTube vlog dated October 2019.
In the vlog, Jennylyn is seen being squeamish about sampling the crispy insects that Dennis eggs her to try. She particularly doesn't like the one oozing with "juice," but Dennis keeps pushing her until she gives in.
Jennylyn is still cringing recalling all that to PEP.ph, "Hindi, kasi ayoko nga ng langgam, e. Nagpa-panic na ako ganun lang kaliit na insekto.
"Ipis nababaliw na ako niyan 'tapos kakainin ko pa? Ayoko! Bakit?!
"Low batt na raw kasi yung camera. Bilisan daw! 'Three percent na lang, bilisan mo! Baby, dalian mo!' 'Tapos napipikon. Kakainin ko na lang."
Dennis, on the other hand, is grinning as he relates his version of the story, "Sinasabi ko naman sa kanya, 'O, eto isu-shoot natin, ha? Para sa YouTube.'
"Totoo rin naman na wala nang battery, so para may makunan kami, 'Kainin mo na lang. Bayad na ito.'"
Jennylyn acquiesces, admitting he has a point, "Mahal daw. Sayang."
a mix of love and FAMILY
Another important factor in the growth of Dennis and Jennylyn's relationship is the support of their families.
On their Bangkok trip last year, they were accompanied by Dennis's mom Rita Trillo and Jennylyn's personal assistant Rosie Manansala.
In April 2017, Dennis accompanied Jennylyn when she went to South Korea to meet her biological dad Noli Pineda and bring him back to Manila for good.
Joining them on that trip was Jennylyn's son with Patrick Garcia, Alex Jazz.
On travelling with Jennylyn and other family members, Dennis says, "Iba yung tao kapag nakikita mo siya kung paano siya sa pamilya niya."
Jennylyn adds,"'Tsaka importante rin na mahal ng pamilya ko si Dennis. 'Tapos ganun din, tanggap ng pamilya ko at ng pamilya niya yung isa't isa."
To which, Dennis adds, "Kasi matagal na rin naman, e. Yung turingan parang pamilya niya talaga."
Have their parents sent them feelers about wanting them to get married soon?
Jennylyn jokes, "Hindi, kasi ano, strict kasi talaga yung parents ko!"
But seriously, she says, "Kasi naman ang tanda na namin. Hindi na siguro para... 'Bahala na kayo. Kahit anong desisyon niyo, okay na."
Her adoptive mom Lydia Mercado died in October 2016. But in January 2019, the Kapuso actress reconnected with her biological mom Jinkee Pineda, who is based in London.
Dennis, for his part, admits that his dad Abelardo and mom Rita have asked him on the sly about getting married.
He relates, "Siyempre minsan, natatanong nila. Minsan, 'O, baka nagpakasal na kayo, ha?'"
Jennylyn comments, "Hindi sila na-inform? Puwede ba naman yun?!"
Dennis retorts, "Siyempre, kailangan yun."
He then clarifies that his parents are merely fishing for details about any marriage plan, "Wala, parang pabiro lang naman, kasi medyo matagal na..."
The couple's exact anniversary is not known to the public. They probably can't pinpoint exactly when either, or they just couldn't care less.
Whatever for? As they say, time flies when you're having fun—for Dennis and Jennylyn most of all.
Photographer: Cyrus Panganiban
Art Director: Jeremiah Idanan
Producers: Nikko Tuazon, Rommel Llanes
Stylist: AJ Alberto
Make-Up: Anthea Bueno
Hairstyle: Bianca Anne Vergara
Video Producers: Jean Saturnino, Mart Francisco
Video Editor: John Henri Mariano
Special thanks to Katrina Aguila and Jan Enriquez