Oh, wow, what a revelation!
Coco Martin finally confirmed, if a bit inadvertently, what their fans have long suspected about his "not-so-secret relationship" with Julia Montes.
After more than a decade of avoiding to be cornered about the status of their relationship, Coco in an unguarded moment let it slip that he and Julia have been together for "12 years."
This happened during a TV Patrol interview on the sidelines of a media launch of a historic Kapamilya-Kapuso joint teleserye.
Showbiz insiders may have known it all along, and even Coco and Julia themselve have been openly going out together, as any couple would, on vacations here and abroad or at gatherings with friends and colleagues.
One thing about the actor's admission, it showed that he and Julia have reached that stage in their relationship where they are both confident of their commitment to each other.
Here, PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) looks back on the many times Coco and Julia made headlines for their unconfirmed friendship and romance through the years.
2011-2012: launch of coco and julia as love team
Coco and Julia were first paired together in the Kapamilya prime-time serye Walang Hanggan, which aired from January to October 2012.
Pre-production for the project began in 2011.
The onscreen chemistry of Coco and Julia, despite their 13-year age gap, radiated throughout the show such that their launch as a love team was a success.
He was 30 years old and Julia was only 17 at the time.
During their live concert at the Big Dome in October 2012, Coco said he enjoyed looking after her during her first lead role for a romance-drama series.
He described her as "makulit," "baby pa," and "masarap alagaan."
Julia agreed that Coco gave her a lot of valuable advice on how to handle her career and personal life.
About their wedding scene in Walang Hanggan, Coco said it left a lasting impression on both of them.
"Sa lahat yata ng pelikula at soap opera na napanuod ko, ito yung pinaka magandang kasal na napanood ko.
"Sabi ko nga, eh, sana totoo, sana totoong nangyayari kasi madadala ka talaga sa eksena, e.”
To which, Julia added, "Ako, yung pinaka favorite ko, yung naglalakad ako sa aisle, kasi parang ang nakikita ko, malapit na ako doon sa altar kung nasaan siya."
READ: Coco Martin says about Julia Montes: “Baby pa, e. Masarap pang alagaan.”
IN PHOTOS: ON THE SET: Coco Martin and Julia Montes wedding scene
2013: COCO At julia's debuT
Another milestone that Coco and Julia shared was when she chose him to be her escort at her 18th birthday in March 2013.
A month before the occasion, Coco was quizzed, was he courting Julia?
Talking to media reporters, including PEP.ph, Coco clarified, "Si Julia kasi, bata pa.
"Hindi pa naman ako tumatalon! Siguro, kung may liligawan man ako ngayon, si Lola muna."
Coco was referring to Julia's grandmother Flory Hautea who raised the actress.
He added, "E, gusto ko munang i-enjoy ni Julia ang pagiging bata niya..."
But Coco, even way back then, seemed to be already seeing a future with Julia.
He said, "Pero, sabi ko nga this time, mas inaano ko muna na mas tumibay ang pagiging magkaibigan namin.
“Malay mo, balang-araw, meron yun puntahan. Pero at least, matibay na ang pundasyon namin bilang magkaibigan.
"Alam ninyo, sabi ko nga, tayo, e, paabang-abang lang.
"Kumbaga, waiting-waiting lang at hinihintay pa natin ang tamang pagkakataon para kay Julia.
"Malamang nito kami rin ang magkakatuluyan!"
READ: Coco Martin on escorting Julia Montes on her debut: “Malamang nito, kami rin ang magkakatuluyan!”
READ: Julia Montes on Coco Martin pursuing her: "Ang feeling ko kasi ngayon, ang nililigawan niya, lola ko!"
2015: JULIA ON HISTORY WITH COCO
Julia, for her part, had consistently asserted that she and Coco were just close friends.
In an March 2015 interview, Julia explained that she and Coco had gotten along so well because they shared the same humble beginnings.
Both of them joined showbiz to provide for their family, she said, and it was only as they gained more opportunities that they came to appreciate their craft more.
Both of them were also raised by their lola.
READ: Julia Montes admits Coco Martin is the standard of her ideal guy
The nearest thing Julia was willing to admit about her relationship with Coco was that he was her closest "boy friend."
In an exclusive interview with PEP.ph dated May 2015, Julia said, "Siya yung laging nakakausap ko, natatanungan ko, lalo na kunyari kung magkasama kami sa isang event, kumustahan.
"Siya yung masasabi kong kumportable ako. Kasi, ang tagal ko talaga siyang nakatrabaho."
Not everyone knew that Julia and Coco had known each other long before they worked together in Walang Hanggan.
She elaborated: "Fourteen years old pa lang ako, katrabaho ko na siya, until now… so, six years.
"And lagi nga namin sinasabi, wala pa kami sa ABS-CBN, close na close na kami.
“Yun, iba ang pinagdaanan namin before. Nung nasa ibang channel pa, nag-o-audition pa lang kami, pay-after pa before.
"Yung friendship together, at yung experience talaga, strong."
She reiterated that romance was the last thing on her mind because her priority was her work and family.
READ: Julia Montes denies being more than friends with Coco Martin
2015-2018: GROWING SEPARATELY
After Walang Hanggan, Coco and Julia both starred in the 2013 movie A Moment in Time and in the 2014 Kapamilya prime-time series Ikaw Lamang.
From there, they moved on to do leading roles in separate projects with ABS-CBN.
Now established as one of the network's reliable drama actressi, Julia did Halik Sa Hangin, Doble Kara, and Asintado at the same time that Coco dominated the prime-time block of ABS-CBN as the lead star of the long-running series FPJ's Ang Probinsyano.
Meanwhile, the rumored romance between the two persisted, but to no avail as both Coco and Julia deftly parried any question about it.
READ: Julia Montes not rushing to level up special friendship with Coco Martin: "'Wag po nating madaliin."
READ: Julia Montes on Coco Martin being a perfect boyfriend: "Kung as a boyfriend, yes."
2019: JULIA AND COCO REPORTEDLY HAVING A BABY
In April 2019, word had gotten out that Julia gave birth, and Coco was identified as the father of the baby.
Citing showbiz insiders as sources, PEP.ph reported that Julia gave birth at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City sometime in late March.
READ: Showbiz insiders confirm Julia Montes has given birth
The speculation about Julia's alleged pregnancy began when she took a break for a few months in Germany right after the conclusion of her teleserye Asintado.
From October 2018 to early 2019, the Kapamilya actress posted on Instagram some photos and videos showing her spending time with her German father Martin Schnittka.
There was no reaction from Julia and Coco amid all the gossip about Julia reportedly giving birth to Coco's child.
But on April 21, 2023, Coco wrote in an Instagram post about how he had had enough of busybodies poking into his private life.
An excerpt from his post (published as is): "Ang hindi ko pagkibo at hindi pagpatol sa mga bagay na hindi kauunlad ng ating bayan ay hindi kabaklaan
"may kanya kanya tayong buhay at tayo ang may dedesisyon kung pano natin patatakbuhin ito at sa aking palagay wala akong nagawang masama sayo kung sino kaman hindi ko kailangan ang mga masasakit na opinion mo!
"Nagtatrabaho lang ako at may meron din akong pribadong buhay wag nman sana ang buhay ko ang pagkwentuhan nyo dahil hindi interesado ang buhay ko."
READ: Coco Martin finally breaks silence amid controversies
2020-2022: all that fuss about COCO-JULIA RELATIONSHIP
Avid fans of Coco and Julia were convinced that the two were very much an item.
In December 2020, eagle-eyed netizens spotted a feeding bottle on Coco's kitchen counter while he was preparing a sumptuous noche buena at his Quezon City mansion.
They also noted that the crystal goblets seen at the dining table groaning with the festive meal Coco had prepared were the same ones that Julia uploaded in a separate Instagram post.
They concluded that Coco and Julia celebrated Christmas 2020 together.
More than that, there were speculations that they had gotten engaged, pointing to the ring that Julia has been wearing since 2020.
READ: Is Julia Montes wearing an engagement ring?
READ: Julia Montes spotted wearing an engagement ring anew?
READ: Julia Montes flashes huge diamond ring; netizens ask, "engagement ring ba yan?"
2021-2022: COCO AND JULIA OUT IN THE OPEN
Coco and Julia still kept silent about their relationship.
But they had gotten more relaxed about being seen together in public places during the pandemic than they ever were.
In March 2021, while on vacation in Boracay, they accommodated fans who asked for a photo-op.
READ: Coco Martin, Julia Montes spotted getting cozy in Boracay
READ: Coco Martin, Julia Montes confirm Boracay trip through video greetings, photo-op at airport
Coco and Julia reunited onscreen for FPJ's Ang Probinsyano, which served as Julia's comeback project after taking a break from showbiz.
She was Coco's "huling pag-ibig" in the series.
After announcing the project, Coco did an interview with ABS-CBN where he revealed how he courted Julia when she was 14 years old.
He said, "Ano pa siya noon, bagets. 13 or 14. Ako siguro, mga 21 'tapos nagtangka ako sa kanya—nagtangkang mambola. Na-reject ako," Coco recalled.
Talking about their first project together in 2011, he added, "Tapos noong nagkita na kami noon sa Walang Hanggan… dahil na-reject ako before, ‘Ah ganun, ha!’ Siyempre, masungit ako noong promo shoot."
He clarified it was also his way of making Julia feel comfortable about connecting with him in a very real sense as this was important if they were to depict their characters convincingly as besotted lovebirds in Walang Hanggan.
READ: Why Coco Martin was "masungit" to Julia Montes the first time they were cast as a love team in a teleserye.
May 2023: THE UNEXPECTED REVELATION
On May 20, 2023, Coco and Julia attended the premiere of ABS-CBN and GMA-7's joint project, Unbreak My Heart.
In their interview on TV Patrol, Coco said they came to support his former leading lady Jodi Sta. Maria, who is among the lead stars of the show.
This was also the same interview when Coco was asked bout his relationship with Julia.
At first, Coco said he didn't have to be explicit about the real score between him and Julia as they have always been a "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" kind of couple.
But when Coco let it slip about valuing what he and Julia have been having for the past "12 years," MJ Felipe of TV Patrol asked to the quick: "So 2011 ang anniversary?"
Caught off guard, Coco admitted with a laugh, "Ang galing mo, a!"
Smiling, Julia exclaimed it was Coco who went shooting off his mouth about how long they've been as a couple.
What's next for these lovebirds? Will their dreamy Walang Hanggan wedding scene in 2012 turn into reality? More pointedly, walang hanggan nga ba for Coco and Julia?