Creating a love team in Philippine showbiz is pretty much a hit-or-miss affair.
While onscreen chemistry plays a huge role, it’s never a guarantee for success.
Some necessary elements need to come into play for a love team to flourish in the hearts of the adoring public.
For young stars Alexa Ilacad and KD Estrada, endearingly called KDLex by their fans, the success of their pairing following their stint in Pinoy Big Brother: Kumunity Season 10 in 2021 caught both of them by surprise.
Stepping outside Kuya’s house in 2022, little did they know that the hit reality show would serve as the catalyst that would launch them as one of the hottest love teams today.
Alexa told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) in recollection, “We didn’t have any idea pa what was going to happen next or anything.
"Although we had an ASAP guesting where the two of us sang, it wasn’t announced yet that we were going to be paired as a love team."
Trying to remember exactly when it happened, she said it must have have been after that ASAP guesting, “I don’t remember the exact date, pero not too soon after that."
KD, meanwhile, recalled, "Siyempre, surprised, excited, thrilled, felt very weird kasi hindi naman inakala na ganun pala yung reach ng PBB at that time kasi akala namin walang nanonood.
"Siguro walang nanonood nito masyado or siguro konti lang nanunood kasi nawala rin yung free channel (ABS-CBN) sa TV tapos sa Kumu lang kami or nakikita lang online.
"Pero ang laki pala nung reach so paano pa kaya pag nasa TV na ito no?
"Pero excited, exhilarated, thrilled. Super weird pero it’s an experience that I think helped both of us."
The ASAP guesting of Alexa and KD was soon followed by other appearances.
Their guesting in By Request, an ABS-CBN fundraising concert where they were able to raise substantial donations for the victims of typhoon Odette, particularly proved their growing popularity as a team.
They also appeared in the romantic television mini-series Run To Me that aired in June 2022 on Kumu and iWantTFC.
Network executives by then had already taken notice of the growing fan base building around the two talented stars.
Alexa said, “I think natuwa ang management. So after nun, sabi nila that we will be paired.
"But apparently, months after, marami na po kaming nagawa, parang someone told us na, ‘Actually, sa PBB (Pinoy Big Brother) pa lang, we really were eyeing for the two of you,’ and we had no idea about it.”
KDLEX: DESTINED TO MEET
Call it fate, but the PBB house was not where Alexa and KD first crossed paths.
There were instances in the past when the two would be in the same room at an event but totally unaware of each other’s presence.
These previous encounters, according to Alexa, “were always very short” and “hindi mo masyadong maaalala.”
KD confirmed this, saying, “Marami kaming event na magkasama kami, pero hindi kami nagkikita, hindi kami nagkakausap.
“So ayun po, it’s just very fitting lang na sabi ng universe, ‘Ay, hindi muna kayo magme-meet,’ ganyan.”
“So matagal na pala kami nagkakasama hindi lang namin napapansin. As in nasa likod ko lang siya, nasa tabi, pero hindi namin napapansin.”
So what was their first impression of each other when they finally met in the PBB house?
Alexa smilingly described KD as, “Very shy, quiet boy, which is true naman hanggang ngayon.”
KD, meanwhile, painted Alexa as “confident” and a “strong woman.”
He continued, “I get that people would say na parang mataray siya, pero, ako, hindi.
"Yung first impression ko talaga sa kanya is strong woman, pero I think there’s something deeper sa kanya.”
Coincidentally, KD saw the movie Four Sisters Before the Wedding prior to entering PBB, and had liked the character of Bobbi portrayed by Alexa.
As he got to know her, KD observed some similarities between Bobbi and Alexa.
He revealed, smilingly, “Nagkataon lang na ang favorite character ko talaga was Bobbi.
“Ayun nga, she [Bobbi] gets misunderstood. Meron din siyang soft side kahit paano even if the other peope don’t see that.
“That’s what I like about dun sa character niya, and she [Alexa] is also like that in real life.”
As it turned out, Alexa and KD’s personalities were complementary that they would both turn to each other for comfort and strength during their PBB tenure.
Who would forget Alexa consoling a heartbroken KD after his feelings were turned down by fellow housemate Anji Salvacion?
The episode saw KD personally asking Kuya if Alexa could accompany him in the confession room.
Upon entering the room, Alexa immediately hugged a crying KD.
She told him, “Let’s not let this affect you getting better, okay?
“Ilabas na natin si Anji sa buhay mo. Let’s focus on you and only you, okay?
“I know this sucks, I know this hurts more than anything in the world right now but it will make you stronger.
“It will equip you for the next special someone in your life.”
Viewers instantly saw there was chemistry at work there, even if neither Alexa nor KD was aware of it.
KDLEX it is
Alexa is no stranger when it comes to love teams.
She was paired with Nash Aguas way back in 2013, with fans wittingly calling their team up NLex.
Their onscreen tandem ended in 2018, putting Alexa in a position to explore roles and projects without a love-team partner.
But PBB happened and fans clamored to see more of her and KD together.
Alexa has no problem being paired with a co-actor again, believing that she is at the point of her career where she can thrive both as a solo artist and with a love-team partner.
"No reservations naman because I believe that if that’s what management gives me, I’m sure they thought hard about that," she said.
"That’s what they see fit, that’s what they see will help me and my career, and kung anong makakabuti sa akin.
"But I also have no problems establishing myself as an independent actress."
She stressed that what she has now with KD is different and should not be compared with her previous screen partner.
It's worth noting that Alexa and Nash had a falling out and went their separate ways not on the friendliest of terms.
"Well, I’m very blessed with KD 'cause I can really be myself. I don’t have to hold back on my thoughts or my suggestions," said Alexa.
"I’m not throwing shade naman to anyone or anyone from the past, but I would say that with KD, I feel a lot freer and heard, and that’s something I really, really appreciate."
KD AND ALEXA: FROM REEL TO REAL?
There’s nothing more thrilling for fans than to see their favorite love team fall in love with each other for real.
KDLex fans felt that for sure after the pair confirmed in November that they were “exclusively dating.”
How is KD as a manliligaw?
Alexa beamed, “Sweetest person I’ve ever met in the whole world.”
She continued, her eyes glinting with kilig, “I thought I was sweet, but he’s like on another level.
"Sweetness amplified to the max. He’s so thoughtful and he’s such a gentleman.
“Sometimes I feel bad na sinasabihan na siya na, ‘You do too much for Alexa, baka naman magmukha ka nang tanga sa ginagawa mo’ and he doesn’t care at all.
“Wala siyang pake, gusto niya talaga. He wants to carry everything for me. Basta ayaw niyang mahirapan ako, gusto niya laging comfy ako.
“Ako sobra akong nata-touch. Kasi ako I’ve been an independent woman for the longest time.
"I can take care of myself, sabi ko. But it's nice din naman pala to be taken care of. Nakaka-pretty siya.”
When did she know about KD having serious feelings for her?
“Oh, since the beginning. Even inside PBB, I never felt na what he was showing me or anyone was staged or fake.”
Alexa was emphatic when she described KD as the “most transparent person” she has ever known.
“Hindi niya kayang itago ang nararamdaman niya. Kung naiinis siya, he will show all of that.
“So ganun din siya sa kanyang love languages. He’s very authentic. Sobra siyang transparent.
“Hindi niya kayang i-fake yung nararamdaman niya and you would feel that din naman.”
KD, for his part, realized how much Alexa meant to him after their PBB stint.
He explained, “Yun nga yung thing e, pag nasa PBB stuck kayo sa isang bahay, so hindi talaga maiwasan na magkagusto ka sa isang tao kasi kayo rin ang magkasama sa loob.
"Pero paglabas mo mawawala rin. I think yun yung ultimate test.
"Paglabas namin ni Alexa, we could have stopped talking to each other, we could have stopped communicating with each other. Pero hindi.
“Nagkatuluyan pa rin kami ng usap, makipagkita, makipag-hang out, so hindi nawala yung communication.
“Hindi yung parang sa bahay kayo close na close tapos paglabas mo [wala na].”
Getting down to specifics, KD painted Alexa as “maalaga,” “has a big heart for people and animals,” and “honest.”
He contined to praise her, “Sobrang genuine niya. ‘Pag may mali or I do something wrong like sa acting or flat yung note ko sasabihin niya, ‘Uy ,you went flat there.’
“She’s very honest and I appreciate that because you don’t get a lot of honest people in this industry.”
Both are introverts by their own admission and are not showy about their affection for each other. They are not openly expressive that people around them would often wonder if they are indeed close friends in real life.
Laughed Alexa, “Sobra kaming nakakatawa kasi people always ask us when they see us together. Sobrang tahimik lang talaga kami pag kami magkasama.
“Hindi kami nag-uusap so people are always wondering anong pinag-uusapan ninyo?
"Kahit kami hindi namin alam. If mabasa mo yung messages namin, 'Hi, how are you?' Paulit-ulit pero comfortable kami.
"It’s peaceful when we’re together, and we don’t speak.
"For me yun yung pahinga ko after all the noise, and it’s nice that he accepts that. And he’s like that as well. Hindi kami makuwento, ganun.
"Kaya nga nung nasa loob kami ng PBB, ang dami palang nangyayari, ang dami palang chikahan inside.
"Paglabas namin, pareho kami, 'Bakit hindi namin alam?' 'Ah kasi tulog kayo.' 'Di kami nakikinig sa ganyan, ganun lang kami pareho."
KD did not fail to mention their shared passion for music and how it has bonded them together.
He said, "We're both musically inclined. We don’t really go to parties, hindi kami nagpapa-party ganyan. We don’t really go to a lot of places.
"Music festivals, yes, we do love concerts. Yun pareho kaming mahilig sa music.
"Nagsusulat siya ng kanta tapos I make music. Kaya rin kami nagkasundo because we both love singing, we both love music."
On the other hand, Alexa paused a little when quizzed about their glaring opposite traits.
She said carefully, "I’m the type of person na kapag pagod gusto ko ng alone time. I need time by myself to recharge and kelangan sa akin tahimik.
"Si KD naman pag pagod siya, he needs comfort and he appreciates affection. Yung kakausapin siya, ganyan.
"So dun kami sobrang opposite na at the beginning, medyo nahirapan kami kung paano magku-compromise.
"Dun ko na-realize na I just have to be honest na kapag bad trip ako sasabihin ko ano, 'I need time muna alone.'
"Nire-respect naman niya, give naman niya yun sa akin."
KD interjected, "Siya yung very organized ako yung very spontaneous.
"Kasi ako, example, during sa traveling, gusto niya araw-araw may gagawin kami or may mga plano na naka-set, like, 'At this time dapat dito na tayo.'
"Tapos ako naman spontaneous naman, 'Sige, kahit saan ninyo gusto,' sama lang ako, ganyan, or 'Kung may makita tayo, sige punta tayo.' Ganun ako, e.
"But we learned how to work off each other so she becomes more spontaneous tapos ako nagiging organized naman ako."
Given that they are on the courtship stage, we dared ask Alexa alone: "Atin-atin lang naman, may pag-asa ba si KD?"
Alexa again laughed and asked back, "Atin-atin ba talaga iyan?"
Then gamely, she replied sweetly, "Oo naman. Lahat sila walang pag-asa, si KD lang."
Dealing with bashers and criticisms
The advent of social media has allowed celebrities to market themselves as well as directly interact with fans and supporters.
But there's also a trade-off as this makes them vulnerable to rude comments and harsh criticisms.
Alexa seemed unfazed, declaring even her love and respect for KDLex fans and giving them credit for the success of their love team.
She said, "For me, it was a big deal and how they would always make us trend, even our jokes they make them trend, so sabi ko, 'Grabe ito.'
"They’re on another level. Yung iba nagpapa-tattoo ng name namin. Sabi ko, 'Uy, grabe! This is crazy na.'"
Fans, as supportive and dedicated as they are, can also be overly protective, possessive even, when it comes to their favorite love teams.
Alexa confided that the fan wars prevalent online, such as pitting one love team or artist against another, have been stressing her out.
She said, "Recently ko lang natanggap na it’s part of the job. I didn’t really understand why that had to happen, why it doesn’t stop.
"But then I realized that it’s like part of the culture, it’s part of showbiz, it’s part of the industry.
"Hindi talaga mawawala kahit anong mangyari. Hindi lang sa amin pati sa ibang artists.
"That’s something I’ve been having trouble dealing with because it really hurts me when I see them fight.
"When they get hurt, of course, given na sometimes we get hurt.
"But I know that para silang, you know your mom, sabi, when you get hurt, 10 times yung mommy mo? Para silang ganun.
"When we get hurt, mas sila ang nasasaktan coz they want to protect us.
"They want to shield us all the time and grabe nila kami ipaglaban. So yun yung medyo nahirapan ako to deal with."
Alexa further disclosed she has reached the point of altering her social media routine for her sanity
"I used to be addicted to reading [comments] coz once you start, you cannot stop.
"It’s so hard to stop and there was a point where my comments were just full.
"I would block five people in the morning because, I don’t know, a lot of people have so much hate in their hearts.
"But, yeah, there was a time that I started feeling negative, it was getting to me and ruining my mood.
"And I said, 'This is not right. They shouldn’t have power over me. They do not know me, I do not know them.'
"So that’s when I started laying off in social media a bit. I really worked hard to do that kasi it was so hard.
"I figured I was so addicted to checking on the online world kasi every second there’s a new update, a new mention on Twitter, a new photo you’re tagged in and I was so obsessed with looking at all of that and monitoring everything.
"So after that sabi ko, 'This is not healthy anymore.'
"I now schedule my usage. I don’t post as much, I keep myself busy.
"I think it’s the best thing to do. I was able to keep myself busy with other things.
"And now I also learned how to make dedma, yung totoong dedma ha. Kasi minsan sasabihin mo ‘Hindi, dedma,’ pero totoong na-hurt ka.
"Well, that’s human nature, kung masakit talaga, masakit talaga.
"Pero ngayon, I know who I am. I’m maturing and being around such great people who support you and are so good at being your shield and shoulder to cry on. So ayun, that really helps."
KD too has had his own brushes with rude and insulting remarks online.
He said, "Well, of course, may mga criticisms din, may bashings din, that’s one of the things.
"Because some people would say, 'Ah, parang brother-sister lang kayo sa PBB, di ba? Pero hindi ganun, e.
"I don’t think yung mga people na nagsasabi ng ganun, hindi nila nage-gets, hindi lang sila nakahanap ng connection sa isang tao.
"So I hope sa mga basher diyan, look for love.
"I used to read comments a lot kasi, siyempre, bago ako. Naninibago ako, sinasagot ko talaga minsan.
"Pero I let it go na lang kasi they know so much about my life, I don’t know theirs, so it’s unfair for me to say something din.
"Wala, sa mga bashers, I would just ignore na, ganun stop na."
He refrained from using the word "possessive" when describing ardent fans.
KD too defended his relationship with Alexa and debunked doubts being floated around by some that they've only been faking it to please their fans.
"What me and Alexa have is genuine naman. Hindi siya yung parang sige i-pair kayong dalawa tapos tingnan natin kung magki-click for the sake lang ng public. Pero hindi talaga.
"Even before, kahit hindi kami i-love team or solo-solo lang kami, I think magiging same pa rin yung connection namin dito sa totoong buhay."
KDLEX HITTING THE STAGE
Alexa and KD are currently doing the stage musical Walang Aray under the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA).
Walang Aray is based on Severino Reyes' classic zarzuela, and is now making a stage comeback.
The stage musical made its debut last February 17 and will run until May 14, 2023.
Set during the Spanish occupation period, the story centers around secret lovers Julia (Alexa) and Tenyong (KD).
Julia is a popular zarzuela star admired by everyone in her town.
Tenyong is a simple boy next door who admires Julia despite their differences in class and status.
Conflicts start to unfold after Julia's mother insists on pairing her up with the town's most eligible bachelor.
Tenyong, meanwhile, has to choose between his love for Julia and his devotion to the country as war starts to break out between the Katipuneros and the abusive friars.
As Tenyong decides to answer the call of duty, Julia starts to doubt if love is enough to keep them together.
The theater is a different kind of beast even for an experienced actress such as Alexa, who, along with KD, experienced the rigorous demands of stage acting from rehearsals to actual performance.
She relayed, "Everything was challenging for me. Kasi yung character ko has ninety percent of the lines, ninety percent of the songs, and the quickest changes running everywhere so it was really hard for me and the rehearsal was every day.
"And when they rehearse, they do it all out. They never do it na parang whispering —it’s like a show. I wasn’t used to that.
"We would rehearse from 1 to 10 p.m. every day.
"I would get sick sa sobrang pagod, talagang fatigue. But I understand now that it was all worth it."
Delivering the dialogue in straight Filipino proved to be a challenging task for KD especially at first.
He said, smiling, "Siyempre nung una nahirapan talaga ako kasi nabubulol ako sa mga lines ko sa mga dialogue ko.
"Kasi I don’t really speak Tagalog. Kahit sa bahay namin, English, e.
"Pero nasanay naman. I think for me it’s just a matter of time kasi hindi ako yung one take, ok ako, e. It takes me a few takes, it takes me a few tries.
"So ganun ako bilang tao, parang bigyan mo ko ng time ipe-perfect ko naman."
Like Alexa, KD also looked back at the rehearsals with both dread and fondness.
"'Pag nag-rehearse kami hindi iyan part by part dapat, isang buo iyan every day, tapos napapagod din kami.
"Yung isang rehearsal namin na full, naiyak si Alexa during the middle kasi na-overhwlem siya. Ako din I was a bit overwhelmed during rehearsals.
"Pero pagdating ng opening night, lahat yun naging worth it kasi sobrang nag-improve kami sa craft namin and sobrang confident na kami sa stage."
Added Alexa, "It’s been so tiring but also so rewarding. Pantay siya—sobra siyang rewarding and fulfilling.
"Now I understand what they say na maaadik ka, maha-high ka [sa theater].
"There’s a certain high that theater gives you. I didn’t understand that before. Kasi how could you love something so much? But now, I understand completely."
Can they see themselves in the characters of Julia and Tenyong?
"Si Julia kasi pinaglalaban njya yung mahal niya, and ganun din ako, pero willing din ako magpalaya just like her, kung kinakailangan," replied Alexa.
She added, "Let’s say my partner wants to spread his wings and try other things, I will support [him] and I'm willing to wait."
As for Tenyong and their similarities, KD said, "Yung pinaglalaban niya talaga yung mga loved ones niya pero ibang way, e.
"He’s also fighting for our country, for Julia.
"And for me, we are similar that way kahit hindi yung ganung grand scale. I would defend my loved ones with all my heart."
If anything, performing in a theater musical like Walang Aray illustrates how talented, diverse, and unique the love team of Alexa and KD is compared to their peers.
Alexa, very pleased, commented ."Something I’m proud to say, hindi naman sa pagbubuhat ng bangko, pero hindi lang kami yung mga artista na pinakanta lang.
"We are singers, we are musicians, and, for me, love your own, I really think that we are good at what we do.
"Of course, that’s an edge, added talent. And I don’t think other love teams have really explored that path, yung doing music, performing as well.
"So yes, it is an edge for us."
SHOOT PRODUCER: Karen Pagsolingan, Nikko Tuazon
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Igi Talao
PHOTOGRAPHER: Stephen Capuchino
PHOTOGRAPHER'S ASSISTANT: Jobo Antonio Nacpil
FOR ALEXA ILACAD:
- STYLIST: Patty Yap
- MAKE-UP: Mariah Santos
- HAIRSTYLIST: RJ Dela Cruz
FOR KD ESTRADA:
- STYLIST: Rain Dagala and Em Millan
- GROOMING: Aimee Grey
- HAIRSTYLIST: Chino Maniquiz
VIDEO PRODUCERS: Rommel Llanes, Jino Del Mundo, Richford Unciano
TIKTOK PRODUCER: Nikko Tuazon
Special thanks to Thess Gubi and Nick Gonzales of Star Magic
- Alexa Ilacad, KD Estrada reveal struggles playing lead roles in PETA's Walang Aray
- Alexa Ilacad, KD Estrada deliver kilig as Julia and Tenyong in Walang Aray
- Alexa Ilacad, KD Estrada use photo booth props to express love for each other
- KD Estrada posts cozy moment with Alexa Ilacad at Disney California Adventure