I’m convinced that Filipinos are in love with the idea of love. Big romantic gestures, love confessions, kissing in the rain—that just does it for us. We are so into kilig culture that, for the longest time, love teams have existed in the sphere of Filipino cinema. From Guy and Pip (Nora Aunor and Tirso Cruz III) to Kathniel (Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla), the Philippine entertainment industry has operated with made-up celebrity pairings. Why is this?
There’s no concrete answer for this, as much as I tried to look for one. The overwhelming response from my research has been ‘it’s because Filipinos are hopeless romantics’. Maybe that is the case and we’re all a bit mushy inside, but this begs for another question: do we really need love teams?
Joshua Garcia and Julia Barretto | From Joshua’s Instagram (@garciajoshuae)
This is how love teams are set up: a network or an agency finds two people who look good together and run with it. They’re instructed to go to places together, be cute together, do sweet things for each other, all for the sake of entertainment.
It doesn’t have to be on camera either. Whether the pair develops feelings for each other is entirely up to them. However, when they eventually break up, that’s when things start getting messy.
Love teams amass huge followings and when these love teams fall apart, fans are usually caught in the middle of it. Some would pick sides, some would still ship the pair, and others would swear off the two people altogether. When a love team ends, the fantasy does, too. While there are love teams who have prevented themselves from being in a real romantic relationship with each other—the prime example being Bea Alonzo and John Lloyd Cruz—most are swept into the role they’re playing.
Bea Alonzo and John Lloyd Cruz | From John Lloyd’s Official Facebook
However, there’s been a trend going on lately where love teams have started evolving, maturing; no longer are two actors bound together exclusively but they’ve been free to take on projects without their partners. ‘Ulan’ with Nadine Lustre comes to mind. It was Nadine’s first outing without her love team partner and real-life partner, James Reid. In her recent movie, ‘Indak’, Nadine again flew solo without James.
Meanwhile, Kathryn Bernardo recently launched the film ‘Hello, Love, Goodbye’ where she was partnered with Alden Richards. Both Kathryn and Alden come from huge love teams. While AlDub—Alden and Maine Mendoza—has professionally separated, Kathryn and her other half, Daniel Padilla, are in a real-life romantic relationship. Still, the fans don’t seem all that phased with it. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that they’ve been supportive of the actors in their new endeavors.
Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza | From Maine’s Instagram (@mainedcm)
Of course, there are some fans who would still prefer seeing their favorite pair on screen, but this deviation from the traditional love team set up is a start of a new era of entertainment culture in the Philippines. Besides, there have been a lot of actors who have gone on to lead successful careers without love teams.
If you look at the bigger picture, the Philippines is the only country that has a prescribed love team for its entertainment industry.
Even the Korean entertainment industry doesn’t have love teams despite its premium on kilig content. Sure, actors get paired up once or twice, but they’re not built like how our love teams are. Actors are not paired up off-camera.
Nadine Lustre and James Reid | From Nadine’s Instagram (@nadine)
Are love teams bad for the entertainment industry? I suppose it’s not bad per se, but it doesn’t necessarily provide long-term benefits; not for the actors and certainly not for the audience that consumes media. As artists, being confined to one acting partner is very limiting. Working with other people and learning from them gives people the opportunity to grow. As an audience, our favorite actors not sticking to love teams offers us variety and, thus, more entertainment.
Love teams are a Filpino staple and I don’t see it going away anytime soon. But perhaps with the rise of these changes in the entertainment industry and people demanding for more diverse pairings, we can do without them eventually.
What do you think? Does the Philippine entertainment industry need love teams?