Let's talk about love.
“Love.” “Oh, my God!” Nadine Lustre says, looking down, half-smiling. “Love.”
Nadine tells YES! magazine that she has been in one relationship before—“’yong serious, ha.”
She has also had two “almosts,” but she would rather just talk about that one who mattered.
“Huwag na pag-usapan ’yong dalawa,” she politely begs off, still maintaining that slight smile. “Sorry po, medyo ano po kasi sila, bad kasi sila.” From them, at least, she says she learned one thing: “to trust your gut.”
The one relationship that she can talk about freely and affectionately was with a non-showbiz guy. “’Yong kaisa-isa, I learned a lot, kasi,when I was really down, he was there,” she begins. “In fact, everything was working out really good po. Kaya lang kasi… You know, he knew kung gaano ako na-depress, kasi nga nawala na ’yong career ko. Now that it’s back, sabi niya, ‘You have to concentrate.’ Parang nagbigay siya.”
Being understanding and considerate, the guy told her when he gave her some space: “I know you waited so long for this. I know na ito ’yong iniyak-iyakan mo dati. Trust me, I know, because you tell me.”
“We’re still friends,” Nadine declares.
Nadine seems good with heartbreaks. She says it only takes tears for her to get over one: “Iyak lang, ’tapos okey na. One night lang po, ’tapos music lang, ’tapos the next day hang out with my friends na. ’Tapos, wala na. When I’m alone lang po, usually, pero pag may kasama po akong iba, nakakalimutan ko po.”
She muses: “Pag in love, masaya. Pag heartbroken, naka-all-black. Haha!”
We point out that she is currently wearing a black strapless dress. “May gold belt naman po ’yong akin,” she retorts, laughing. “Hindi! Ako po talaga, kaya ako naka-black, kasi gusto ko ’yong black ngayon.”
She’s not romantic, she says, emphatically. But when she’s in love, she describes herself as “mapagbigay.” She’s considerate and accommodating “to everyone naman po, e, even with my family,” she explains. “I guess ako po ’yong type na mahilig mag-alaga.”
On the dating front, Nadine is all about simplicity: “Watch movie, gano’n lang. Chill lang. Play computer games, PlayStation, eat out. Eat out na not dinner na fancy-fancy na mga ano. Kahit Maginhawa lang, okey na sa akin.”
She’s referring to Maginhawa Street, a stretch of road that goes through several Quezon City barangays, including UP Village, Teacher’s Village East, Teacher’s Village West, and Sikatuna Village. Maginhawa has become the city’s go-to food hub of late, lined with small laid-back restaurants serving various types of cuisine.
Although Nadine confesses that she isn’t showy when it comes to her feelings (read: no PDA, or public display of affection), she exerts a lot of effort for the people she cares about. “I would surprise someone,” she reveals.
Last May 2015, she set up a surprise birthday party for love-team partner James Reid. We remind her of this. She beams. “Birthday niya naman kasi, kaya okey lang ’yong effort na ’yon.”
James, Nadine’s “partner in crime,” has become a fixture in her life since that memorable Diary ng Panget premiere night. She can talk about James as easily as she breathes.
The two of them already knew each other before their 2014 movie teamup. They first met on the set for the shooting of the music video of “Alam Niya Ba,” a song from James’s self-titled debut album, released in 2013. In the video, Nadine portrays James’s love interest.
Nadine reveals: “First impression of James? Hindi naman suplado, pero parang tahimik siya, e. Kasi, hindi pa nga kami close. So parang dedma.”
Before they first met, all she knew of him was that he had won the Pinoy Big Brother grand prize. She adds: “Kasi hindi naman po ako maano, ‘Ay, ang guwapo nito, a!’ ’Yong gano’n, hindi naman po ako gano’n. Ano lang, ‘A, siya pala ’yon.’ Parang gano’n lang. ’Tapos, inintroduce na kami. ’Tapos, nag-hello lang. ’Yon lang.”
The music video required them to look like they were in love, so they had to break the ice somehow—and fast.
“Kinausap ko lang po siya nang kinausap,” Nadine recalls. “Kasi sa music video niya, kailangan sweet po kami, so dinaldal ko siya nang dinaldal. Nosebleed! Haha. ’Yon na lang.”
Several months later, Nadine and James started shooting for Diary ng Panget: The Movie. Here, for the first time in their careers, they were asked to kiss in front of the camera.
“I think mga three a.m. po yata ’yon,” Nadine narrates. “Kakagising lang namin parehas for that last scene. Sabi ni Direk Andoy [Ranay], ‘Okay, blocking. Sabihin mo na ’yong line mo.’ Line, line, line, line. ’Tapos, ‘Okay, after no’n, hug, ’tapos hiwalay, ’tapos kiss.’”
Apparently, that kiss wasn’t in the script.
“Kaming dalawa ni James, parang na-shock. ’Tapos, gumano’n si Direk”—Nadine spreads her arms wide open—“‘Bakit? May problema?’ ’Tapos, kaming dalawa ni James, parang, ‘Okay.’ Unang-una, awkward kasi ’yong relationship po namin ni James at that time. We were not really close pa po. So parang, ‘Ki-kiss kita? Hindi naman tayo close.’”
Making things more awkward for Nadine was the presence of her mother, who was standing beside Direk Andoy.
“Ako, awkward talaga!” Nadine recalls. But then she immediately came to a decision. “Let’s do this,” she declared on the set. “Kasi I wanna make this really good.”
Remembering that scene, Nadine sees what she and James have gone through together—and they’ve gone far.
As a love team, they’ve already made four movies. After Diary ng Panget came Talk Back and You’re Dead (2014), also an Andoy Ranay film, adapted from a Wattpad novel of the same name, written by Alesana Marie; and Para sa Hopeless Romantic (2015), a movie adaptation of a novel of the same name, written by Marcelo Santos III.
They also played supporting roles in the Metro Manila Film Festival 2015 entry, Beauty and the Bestie, and at press time, they’re still sharing the small screen in the hit TV series On the Wings of Love, aka OTWOL.
They had their first TV project as a love team in 2014, in the TV adaptation of another Wattpad novel My App #Boyfie, written by Noreen Capili.
Nothing much has changed in James, she observes. “Pumayat siya,” she jests. “Hindi. Pero the role calls for it naman po kasi…Wala po nagbago.’Yong hair lang niya. Sa ugali, wala po.”
James has, however, turned into one of Nadine’s most trusted friends. “He knows everything,” she says.
We ask if there is love involved in their relationship. She doesn’t have to think long to answer our question.
“I guess I have this unconditional love na din po for him, kasi nga, since we do everything together, he knows what I feel. I know what he feels. ’Tsaka parang he’s important to me.”
She adds: “Pero I take care of him din most of the time, kasi nga walang nag-aalaga sa kanya. And he’s very carefree and careless until now. So parang kailangan may nagbabantay talaga sa kanya. ’Tapos po, like tanungin mo siya, ‘O, how do you feel?’ Bigyan ko siyang gamot, bigyan ko siya ng vitamins and all. ‘Are you hungry?’ Sabi niya, ‘Yeah.’ ‘What do you want?’ ‘I want a sandwich.’ Kaya hanap ako ng may sandwich, nagpa-order ako. Kasi, usually po sa taping, gano’n din, bumibili din po ako ng food.”
Nadine says that maybe being generous with her time and effort just runs in her system. “Maalaga po talaga ako kasi, e.”
James and Nadine have also become comfortable with each other, as though they’ve been friends for years. “Kulitan po talaga kasi kami. ’Yong sobrang kulitan na akala ng mga tao, dahil sa sobrang kulitan namin, akala nila kami na.”
Like all love teams in Philippine showbiz, Nadine and James have been incessantly asked about a possible romance. And they’ve consistently said that they’re just friends—“partners in crime,” as she puts it.“
Kasi po, we both know the feeling of losing our careers. ’Tapos, ngayong bumabalik siya, we don’t want to mess this up. E, parang imagine-in mo po pag naging kami, ’tapos nag-away kami. Kunwari lang naman, kailangan sweet kami, ganyan. Ang hirap.”
Although it is clear to us that this is not her intention, the actress has given diehard fans of JaDine a faint glimmer of hope.
“Hindi naman zero ang chance. Kami, talagang hindi po muna namin iniisip. May chance naman po. Huwag lang muna talaga. Mahirap po kasi at saka maganda po ’yong foundation namin ngayon, e. Kung hahaluan pa namin ng gano’n, magigingcomplicated na.”
Nadine herself, even if James isn’t part of the equation, isn’t looking for a romantic interest.
“Wala po akong oras for myself, e. Hahanap pa po ba ako ng ano? Ako po muna. ’Tsaka ano po, kailangan ma-handle muna nila ’yong career ko, kasi feeling ko po, hindi kakayanin, if ever.”
For now, the mystery of the chemistry between Nadine and James will remain only that: a mystery—and a beautiful one at that.
“Hindi po namin alam bakit nagwo-work ang JaDine,” she says, shrugging her shoulders.“Sabi din po ni James, if we figure out kung anuman ’yong thing na ’yon that makes it work, baka mas okey na hindi natin malaman, ’cause ’yon ’yong magic, e. It’s just there. Siguro, I guess, ’yong ibang mga bagay na that’s good, you really can’t explain.
P.S. The two officially became a couple on February 11, 2016.
PUBLISHED IN PEP.ph APRIL 2019
ADOPTED FOR PEP.ph BY JO-ANN Q. MAGLIPON
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN YES! FEBRUARY 2016
Text: Bam V. Abellon Interviews: Bam V. Abellon & Candice Lim-Ventura Photos: Cyrus Panganiban
Editor in Chief: Jo-Ann Q. Maglipon
Executive Editor: Jose F. Lacaba