LIZA SOBER­ANO & EN­RIQUE GIL

YES! (Philippines) - - In This Issue - in­ter­views by anna pingol & gabby reyes libar­ios text by gabby reyes libar­ios Pho­tos by paolo pineda ad­di­tional Pho­tos COUR­TESY OF STAR CIN­EMA

En­rique Gil be­lieves that he met his cur­rent on­screen love-team part­ner Liza Sober­ano for a rea­son.

“If I didn’t meet Liza, life would have been dif­fer­ent for me,” says the 25-year-old heart­throb. “My ca­reer, in fact, would have been dif­fer­ent. I might have taken a dif­fer­ent path. But when she came along, we clicked. And she’s an amaz­ing per­son to be with. And ano, we just fell in love. Ev­ery­thing hap­pens for a rea­son, and what­ever hap­pens to my ca­reer, to my life, all from God ’yon, dahil naka­plano la­hat ng ’yan.”

For her part, Liza, the comely 19-year-old ac­tress, can’t imag­ine how her ca­reer and her life would have turned out if she hadn’t crossed paths with En­rique.

“Ac­tu­ally, hindi ko alam what would hap­pen kung wala akong ka-love-team,” she says. “Sa gen­er­a­tion kasi ngayon, pa­tok ang love team. But I think I would still be the same. I would still work very hard for each and every project that I would get. Pero hindi ko ta­laga ma-imag­ine na walang ka-love-team.”

Be­fore she can say an­other word, we ask her again. This time, we re­phrase the ques­tion: “Do you love him?”

Liza opens her mouth to say some­thing but stops her­self. Her lips then curl into a smile—a sweet, in­no­cent smile. Like that of a child who is about to spill a se­cret.

An awk­ward si­lence falls into the room. Even the hair­styl­ist, who is busy pre­par­ing his para­pher­na­lia be­side Liza, stops and waits for her to an­swer.

Is she un­com­fort­able? Does she want to laugh out loud? Is she up­set? We can hardly tell.

Look­ing down at the makeup kit neatly laid out on the table in front of her, Liza takes a deep breath and then smiles again. This time, her smile con­veys some­thing more rec­og­niz­able: hap­pi­ness.

“Yes, I do,” she says as she looks up and gazes into the mir­ror. Upon see­ing her own re­flec­tion, her eyes light up.

The lucky re­cip­i­ent of this con­fi­dent young woman’s love is no less than En­rique Gil, her on­screen love-team part­ner. She calls the Ka­pam­ilya ac­tor her “big ball of sun­shine,” the one who can make her laugh, the one who an­noys her with his end­less an­tics, the one who makes her feel safe, con­tent, and, most im­por­tant of all, happy.

But how and when did it all start? When did their reel love be­come real love?

THE BE­GIN­NING OF LIZQUEN

The “Liz” in LizQuen is Hope El­iz­a­beth Sober­ano, who goes by the screen name Liza Sober­ano. Born on Jan­uary 4, 1998, in Santa Clara, Cal­i­for­nia, U.S.A., to a Filipino fa­ther, John Castillo Sober­ano, and an Amer­i­can mother, Jac­qulyn El­iz­a­beth Han­ley, Liza was a shy girl grow­ing up.

“I never saw my­self be­ing in front of the lime­light and per­form­ing for peo­ple,” she says, smil­ing. In­stead, the young Liza dreamed of be­com­ing some­one who could make a dif­fer­ence in the world. “My first job pref­er­ence was to be a nurse. And then, even­tu­ally, I wanted to go in the army, ’cause my grandpa was a vet­eran of the navy. And then, even­tu­ally, I de­cided I wanted to be a lawyer. And then, dito po ako bu­magsak, pero I’m en­joy­ing this.”

Dito, as ev­ery­one knows by now, is show­biz.

Liza’s life took a sud­den turn when her par­ents parted ways—a rather bit­ter­sweet event that led to the then 10-year-old daugh­ter mov­ing to the Philip­pines with her fa­ther. Liza, how­ever, never lost the zest to dream and to live.

She re­mem­bers the time she was en­thralled by the life of mod­els. “I was al­ways fas­ci­nated with mod­els no’ng bata po ako. I would al­ways watch Amer­ica’s Next Top Model and ev­ery­thing, ’cause natu­tuwa po ako sa kanila. But I wouldn’t say it was a dream of mine.”

Life, how­ever, has a funny and mys­te­ri­ous way of lead­ing peo­ple to their des­tiny. Liza was 13 when she was dis­cov­ered by a tal­ent scout on Face­book. At the time, she had al­ready done a few TV and print ads.

Liza’s present- day man­ager, Ogie Diaz, re­veals in his YES! in­ter­view that he was not the one who dis­cov­ered Liza: “Siyem­pre, hindi ko na­man aakuin ’yong credit. Credit goes to Dudu Unay. Siya ’yong dis­cov­erer ni Liza. Siya ’yong nag­dala sa akin kay Liza. Si Dudu Unay ay parang raketera din, may mga tal­ents din siya, nag­dadala ng mga artista sa mga probin­siya. Ini­lapit niya sa akin si Liza.”

Ogie re­mem­bers that be­fore Liza be­came his ward, the girl was con­nected with GMA-7, the ri­val of Liza’s cur­rent home net­work, ABS- CBN. “Nakapirma siya no’n sa GMA ng one year. Sabi ko, saglit. ’Ta­pos no’n, when I saw the agree­ment, nakita ko na ‘you have 30 days grace pe­riod to back out.’ Oh, so, mga one week pa lang siya no’n [with GMA], nagpa-re­lease na.”

The tal­ent man­ager then took Liza to the other camp. At the time, the young girl went by the name Hope Sober­ano, us­ing her first name. (It was Malou San­tos, the chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of Star Cre­atives, a divi­sion of ABS- CBN, who would later give Hope El­iz­a­beth Sober­ano the screen name Liza Sober­ano, us­ing part of the young girl’s sec­ond name.)

At the Ka­pam­ilya net­work, Ogie pulled a few strings. He made a call to Car­lina dela Merced, one of the pro­duc­tion man­agers of Dream­scape En­ter­tain­ment Tele­vi­sion, ABS- CBN’s TV pro­duc­tion unit. At the time, Dream­scape was putting to­gether Kung Ako’y Ii­wan Mo, the 2012 day­time drama se­ries top­billed by Jake Cuenca, Shaina Mag­dayao, and Bangs Gar­cia. Car­lina agreed to cast Liza—who was still us­ing the screen name Hope Sober­ano—as Claire Ray­mundo, the sis­ter of Jake’s char­ac­ter Paulino Ray­mundo.

Ogie re­mem­bers be­ing im­pressed with Hope’s work ethic, even though she was then a fledg­ling ac­tress. “Pinag-work­shop ko siya ng dalawang be­ses,” he re­calls. “Si Liza kasi, pag hindi siya kun­tento sa act­ing, hi­hirit pa ’yan sa akin: ‘Puwede pang isa? Puwede akong mag-voice-lessons? Puwede akong mag-gui­tar-lessons?’”

As Hope’s man­ager, Ogie took the new­bie’s lit­tle re­quests as a sign of her ded­i­ca­tion to her job. “’Binibi­gay ko, kasi gusto ko ’yong mga gano’ng at­ti­tude ng bata. Siya kasi, alam niya kung ano ang gusto niya. At ta­la­gang mararam­daman mo ’yong pas­sion niya. Kaya ’binibi­gay ko kahit may gas­tos ’yon. Okey lang sa akin. Siyem­pre, gawain na­man natin bi­lang man­ager, re­spon­si­bil­i­dad natin.”

But what made an im­pres­sion on Ogie was the def­er­ence that Hope would give to her fel­low ac­tors. He re­counts sto­ries told to him by Glo­ria Diaz, whom Ogie refers to as Tita Glo. The for­mer Miss Uni­verse was also in the cast of Kung Ako’y Ii­wan Mo.

“’Kinukuwento nga ni Tita Glo, ‘Alam mo, nakakatuwa ’yang si Hope. Hindi mareklamo ang batang ’yan. Pag in­aan­tok ’yan, sasan­dal lang sa tent, makakat­u­log na. Wala kasi siyang up­uan. Kaya bibil­han ko siya ng up­uan.’ The next tap­ing day nga, meron na siyang up­uan.”

Glo­ria also told the tal­ent man­ager: “Alam mo, Og, she prop­erly in­tro­duced her­self to me. Og, bi­hira ang gano’n. ‘Hello po, tita. Ako po si Hope Sober­ano. Bago lang po ako. Nice meet­ing you po.’ Natuwa

“Do you like him?” With her pretty brown eyes, Liza Sober­ano looks at the voice recorder and, with­out miss­ing a beat, says, “I do. I think that he is…”

si Tita Glo sa kanya. At hang­gang ngayon, bit­bit ni Tita Glo ’yon.”

The fol­low­ing year, when Hope al­ready went by the screen name Liza, Ogie also got a call from Ar­lene Muh­lach, Liza’s co-star in the 2013 movie Must Be… Love. “Og, alaga mo pala ’tong si Liza Sober­ano,” Ar­lene said.

Ogie re­calls the rest of his con­ver­sa­tion with Ar­lene: “Ako na­man, ‘Bakit, mare, may gi­nawa bang mali?’ Sabi niya, ‘Hindi. Nakakaaliw, nakakatuwa na­man itong batang ’to. Ta­la­gang she went out of her way to go to my tent to in­tro­duce her­self for­mally.’”

It’s for this rea­son that Ogie never ran out of pa­tience when teach­ing his young ward about the im­por­tance of pro­fes­sion­al­ism, hu­mil­ity, re­spect, and “pakik­isama” in show­biz.

“Kaya ayaw na ayaw niya ’yong paglaki ng ulo, kasi madami akong ’kinukuwento sa kanya na mga ex­am­ple ng mga artis­tang lumaki ang ulo na may narat­ing pero umikli lang ang ca­reer. Nawala sila be­cause of paglaki ng ulo. So lagi kong ip­inaaalala kay Liza ’yan.”

It was not only Ogie who saw Liza’s po­ten­tial. Joni Lyn Castillo—Liza’s aunt, who prac­ti­cally stood as her sec­ond mom when Liza lived for a time in Asin­gan, Pan­gasi­nan, and then later on in a rented house in Project 8, Que­zon City—gave up her job so that she could be with Liza and take her wher­ever the young ac­tress needed to be.

“Si Tita Joni, ’yong pin­san ng dad niya, ang ta­la­gang tu­may­ong nanay niya,” Ogie ex­plains. “Ginive-up ni Tita Joni la­hat ng tra­baho niya, kasi ang lakas ng pani­wala niya na si Liza could make it big. Lalo na ’yong bata, kasi masyadong pur­sigido. Ang tiyaga-tiyaga no’ng bata.”

Over time, Liza proved to be worth her salt. She soon earned the nod of ABS- CBN ex­ec­u­tives, who gave her a chance to be in­cluded in the cast of Must Be… Love, the 2013 Star Cin­ema ro­man­tic movie and the launch­ing pad of Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo, the love team that would later be known as KathNiel.

That same year, Liza landed a sup­port­ing role in the movie melo­drama She’s the One, an­other Star Cin­ema of­fer­ing, fea­tur­ing Ding­dong Dantes and Bea Alonzo. It was through this movie that she would cross paths with the boy who would in­flu­ence the course of her show­biz ca­reer: En­rique Gil, the other half of what would even­tu­ally be­come the com­mer­cially suc­cess­ful LizQuen tan­dem.

En­rique Mari Gil, nick­named Quen, the son of En­rique Amadeo Gil III and

YES! first wit­nessed the off-cam sweet­ness of LizQuen when we vis­ited them on the set of Forever­more in Pan­da­can, Manila, some­time in Fe­bru­ary 2015.

Aside from con­duct­ing joint in­ter­views, we also in­ter­viewed Liza and Quen sep­a­rately that day. It was dur­ing Liza’s in­ter­view that Quen, who has al­ways been a prankster, snuck up on Liza and lis­tened to her every an­swer in­tently.

And in case you haven’t no­ticed, that was the time Quen wore his hair long, which al­lowed him to sport the “man-bun” quite hand­somely. At that time, the “man-bun”— where the man’s long hair is pulled back and tied into a coil at the back of his head—was the trendy hair­style. Bar­bara Anne Ba­cay Gil, was born on March 30, 1992, in Cebu, but grew up in Manila.

Much like his on­screen part­ner, Quen didn’t grow up fan­ta­siz­ing about star­ring in movies, per­form­ing be­fore an au­di­ence, or ap­pear­ing on tele­vi­sion. Like Liza, he was timid.

In the April 2014 is­sue of YES! Mag­a­zine, Bar­bara Gil said of her son Quen: “Mahiyain ta­laga siya. I couldn’t get him to do any­thing in front of the cam­era. He would en­ter­tain mga maids, mga friends niya, when­ever we were on a road trip. He would make ev­ery­body laugh. He could do voices of Shrek and all that. But when we would ask him to do it again for us, for me and my hus­band, ayaw ta­laga. Maski ano pa’ng gawin mo, I tell you, ayaw ta­laga.”

Quen was so shy that he turned down of­fers to do com­mer­cials for print and TV. “A lot of peo­ple wanted to take him na for com­mer­cials,” Bar­bara re­called. “Pero wala, e. Mahiyain.”

It was only af­ter grad­u­at­ing from high school that Quen be­gan to come out of his shell. Sud­denly, he agreed to do a com­mer­cial for a fast-food chain.

“One of those small bit roles,” Bar­bara said in her 2014 in­ter­view. “He told me that he wanted to do it. I asked him, ‘Are you sure?’ Kasi nga mahiyain siya.”

That com­mer­cial led to Quen sign­ing up with the tal­ent agency Stages Tal­ents Group and then, later, with Star Magic, ABS- CBN’s tal­ent-man­age­ment arm. His first real act­ing gig was his sup­port­ing role in Pi­eta, the day­time Ka­pam­ilya soap that ran from Oc­to­ber 2008 to May 2009.

Since then, Quen has en­joyed a steady stream of TV projects, big and small: Ge­orge and Ce­cil (2009), Ros­alka (2010), Maynila (2010), Good Vibes (2011), Mula sa Puso (2011), Bu­doy (20112012), and Princess and I (2012-2013), among oth­ers.

There are many piv­otal projects in Quen’s show­biz ca­reer, but per­haps the life-chang­ing one came in the form of a Star Cin­ema movie ti­tled She’s the One (2013). Why? Be­cause that’s where he first met Liza Sober­ano.

She’s the One, di­rected by Mae Cruz, had Ding­dong Dantes and Bea Alonzo in the lead roles, but a re­port posted on the ABS- CBN So­cial Me­dia News­room (ab­scb­npr.com, Oc­to­ber 16, 2013) an­nounced that “mak­ing this movie a po­ten­tially big­ger au­di­ence draw is the ad­di­tion of a sec­ond new screen tan­dem”—namely, En­rique Gil and Liza Sober­ano. In the re­port, En­rique was tagged “The Next Ul­ti­mate Lead­ing

Man” and Liza was de­scribed as an “emerg­ing ‘It Girl.’” And, well, the two, in their ma­jor sup­port­ing roles, por­trayed good friends who be­come a cou­ple by the end of the movie.

LOVE: FROM REEL TO REAL

The thing about Liza and Quen’s love story, how­ever, is that it has no def­i­nite be­gin­ning.

If you at­tempt to trace where and how it be­gan, you could start here: on the set of Forever­more, their hugely suc­cess­ful Ka­pam­ilya prime­time se­ries that ran from Oc­to­ber 2014 to May 2015.

Forever­more was Liza and Quen’s first big break as a love team. In the se­ries, di­rected by Cathy Gar­cia-Molina, Liza plays Agnes Calay, a sim­ple provin­cial lass who dreams of a bet­ter life for her fam­ily. En­rique plays Alexan­der “Xan­der” Grande III, the son of ho­tel ty­coon. Their lives in­ter­twine when Xan­der, while en­gag­ing in a form of ex­treme parachut­ing sport known as base jump­ing, ac­ci­den­tally falls into the straw­berry farm of the Calay fam­ily.

It was dur­ing the sleep­less tap­ings in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion shoots that Quen and Liza got to know each other bet­ter. And be­fore they knew it, they had de­vel­oped feel­ings for each other.

Quen has al­ways been vo­cal about his at­trac­tion to Liza. In an­other is­sue of YES! (April 2015), he was quoted as say­ing: “Every day magkakasama, so nalala­man ko na ’yong buong pagkatao niya, buhay niya, ev­ery­thing. ’Ta­pos, na­pansin ko na lang, pag wala siya sa lo­ca­tion, palagi ko na siyang hi­na­hanaphanap. ‘Anong oras sila pupunta dito?’ Sabi ko, ‘Parang gusto ko na ata ito.’”

In the same re­port, Quen ad­mit­ted that his lead­ing lady al­ready knew about his true feel­ings for her. “Well, sin­abi ko sa kanya na gusto ko siya. At alam niya ’yon. At alam ko na­man, sin­abi niya sa akin na parang, ‘Oh, yeah, I like you, too. Crush kita.’ Pero sabi niya, she’s only seven­teen. So sabi nila [the peo­ple around them], ‘Wait, wait muna, hindi pa puwede.’”

At the time, when Liza was just 17 years old, Quen was 23. Know­ing that she was too young to be in­volved in any ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship, Quen kept his dis­tance.

Liza pre­ferred to keep things be­tween her and Quen that way. She had her sights set on many goals. A ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship at the time would only have been an un­ec­es­sary dis­trac­tion.

“I need to fo­cus on that and also sa pag-arte, to make my­self bet­ter and to ready my­self as a young woman,” she said in the April 2015 in­ter­view with YES! “I don’t want to rush get­ting into a re­la­tion­ship na hindi ko man lang ma-han­dle, kasi if I wanna be in a re­la­tion­ship para ma-try ko lang, ayoko na­man ng gano’n lang.”

But Liza later re­vealed to YES! that if she were to have a boyfriend and her age were not an is­sue, Quen would most likely be the guy that she would choose. “If there’s any­one that I want to be in a re­la­tion­ship with,” she said, “it’s some­body that I know and some­body I can trust. Out of all the guys I know, I trust him [Quen] the most.”

Their feel­ings for each other didn’t change over the years.

In his May 2017 in­ter­view with YES!, Quen con­fesses that he’s hope­lessly in love with Liza. “Yeah, I’m su­per in love,” he says, barely con­tain­ing a laugh. “Sure, you get crazy about it also, you get hopeless some­times. But that’s why she’s Hope [re­fer­ring to Liza’s real name], I am never hopeless. That’s how I feel. I mean, that’s how you feel when you’re in love.”

He ad­mits that this is the first time he has felt a love this real and strong. “Yeah, that’s why I know it is love. I mean, you can com­pare it to your exes be­fore. I am not say­ing you didn’t love your exes, but some­how, true love is deeper than just say­ing ‘I love you,’ or ‘I love you, too’ to each other. It’s deeper than that.

Quen, who has pre­vi­ously dis­closed that he had three “puppy-love re­la­tion­ships” be­fore Liza, goes on: “Like now, if you’re think­ing about your ex, do you still miss her, care about her, or nag-aalala ka pa ba sa mga ex mo? No, di ba? You loved her, but you weren’t in love like that kind of love. It’s a dif­fer­ent kind of love.”

He pauses for a sec­ond, be­fore say­ing, “This is the real love.”

The fair-skinned ac­tor goes so far as to say that when he thinks about the fu­ture, he can see Liza in the pic­ture. “Yeah. It’s her. And I tell her that na­man. And it’s the first time I tell that to any girl, so I guess she’s the one.”

Would Quen want to spend the rest of his life with Liza?

“Yes, yes, yes, of course. That’s one hun­dred per­cent sure.”

Quen goes on the record to say that he and Liza are in a “re­la­tion­ship with no la­bels.”

He says that at this point, given the way they treat each other, a “boyfriend-girl­friend la­bel” is no longer nec­es­sary. “Yeah, it’s just a la­bel. Just wait­ing for her to turn 21. When she’s 21, ‘Yeah, tayo na.’ But right now, parang tayo na rin, e.

Sure, you can’t say na ‘Yeah, we’re boyfriend-girl­friend,’ but how we are to each other is no dif­fer­ent. I don’t think of it as a big deal.”

And peo­ple around them know that they are “ex­clu­sive” to each other.

“Yeah, peo­ple see it na­man,” Quen says. “They see that I care for her, she cares for me. She’s spe­cial to me, I’m spe­cial to her. And that spe­cial-ness is only be­tween the both of us. Peo­ple see it. Ev­ery­body sees it.”

This means that Liza is taken and that no other guy can ask her out on dates or take her out to din­ner or the movies. “I don’t think so,” Quen points out, chuck­ling. “I mean it’s clear enough. I think when peo­ple see her, they know that she wants no­body else but me. Right? Ha­lata. Sig­uro na­man ha­lata. O, hindi ba?”

With a smile that is both in­trigu­ing and in­fec­tious, Quen adds, “Ha­lata na­man sig­uro na in love kami sa isa’t isa, di ba?”

Later, on a dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sion, we seek con­fir­ma­tion from Liza about this “re­la­tion­ship with no la­bels.” With­out hes­i­tat­ing, she agrees with what Quen has shared with us: “Yeah, we treat each other kind of in that man­ner, pero I don’t know, I don’t know. Not ev­ery­thing… We don’t do ev­ery­thing that peo­ple in a nor­mal re­la­tion­ship will do yet, but we’ll get there, as soon as we get the ap­proval of my lolo, my daddy, and of course, we’re just wait­ing for the right time.”

Even with­out the la­bels, Liza treats Quen the way a girl would treat her guy.

“It’s true,” she says. “I feel like na­pa­param­dam ko na­man ’yon sa kanya. And I al­ways make sure that he feels dif­fer­ent from ev­ery­body else. I don’t wanna treat him the way I treat ev­ery­body else. There should be a fine line that makes him dif­fer­ent from ev­ery­body else, just so that he feels spe­cial.”

Liza ad­mits that she knows that a lot of peo­ple, most es­pe­cially from the press, can hardly wait for the two of them to an­nounce that they’re of­fi­cially in a re­la­tion­ship.

“Prob­a­bly be­cause it gives them some sort of as­sur­ance?” she says. “Parang when you say that some­one is your boyfriend or your girl­friend, it’s kind of, like, you’re claim­ing, you’re own­ing them, and you’re as­sured that no one else can get near or ap­proach them in that sort of man­ner. So sig­uro, that’s why peo­ple like to la­bel things.”

Un­like Quen, Liza has never been in a re­la­tion­ship. Yes, she’s had crushes, but

she has never emo­tion­ally in­vested in a guy. For many young girls who have never fallen in love or who have never had their hearts bro­ken be­fore, this is a scary thing. But not for Liza. The young ac­tress knows that get­ting hurt is part of fall­ing in love. And she’s ready for it.

“I don’t think love should be a scary thing,” she says in a soft voice. “And I don’t think peo­ple should be afraid of try­ing new things. Sig­uro, ang ki­nakataku­tan lang natin is parang that change in your life, parang the shock. Pero, you know, you should never be afraid of try­ing new things.

“And sig­uro, it’s nor­mal. It’s nor­mal to fall in love and to get hurt, so you should ex­pect it al­ready. But you know, you wouldn’t know what it feels like to get hurt if you don’t love some­body that much, and to love is, like, one of the best feel­ings in the world.”

If Quen and Liza truly love each other, why still main­tain a “no la­bels” kind of re­la­tion­ship? Is she afraid that once they ad­mit that they are in a re­la­tion­ship, the mys­tery of the LizQuen tan­dem will fiz­zle out?

“I ac­tu­ally never thought about it that way, na parang may mys­tery ang love team,” Liza replies. “But sig­uro also, para hindi rin mag­ing bad in­flu­ence. Okay, not na­man bad in­flu­ence. I’m not say­ing it’s bad in­flu­ence to have a re­la­tion­ship at this age.

“But of course, there’s a lot of younger chil­dren look­ing up to us, and we want to show them that love can wait and there’s a right time for ev­ery­thing. We want them to know that and we want to show them that.

“And I wanna show to younger girls that be­fore you have a boyfriend, you should re­ally make sure that guy is the right one for you. Hindi lang ’yong mag‑boyfriend ka lang dahil gusto mong mag‑boyfriend.”

EV­ERY­ONE AP­PROVES

Ev­ery­body seems to be happy for Liza and Quen—or at least, ev­ery­one who mat­ters to the two stars.

Ogie Diaz, who has been keep­ing an eye on his beau­ti­ful ward, is fine with Quen as Liza’s boyfriend. “Alam mo, wala akong alam na nanlili­gaw kay Liza kundi si Quen.”

The tal­ent man­ager is con­fi­dent that Liza will not let her­self get into some­thing that would com­pro­mise

ev­ery­thing she has worked so hard to achieve.

“Kahit si Liza isang half-Filip­ina, half-Amer­i­can, ta­la­gang nararam­daman ko na con­ser­va­tive pa rin siya. At wala na­man din akong na­bal­i­taang ma­landi si Liza o ano. Siyem­pre, hindi ko na­man alam kung si­lang dalawa na. Hindi ko alam kung nag­ba­ban­gayan ba kayo, kung nagba-Bi­ble-study ba kayo or some­thing, sila na ’yon. Pero ’yong pagka-con­ser­va­tive, ta­la­gang lu­tang kay Liza. So­bra siyang ano, ’yong fam­ily val­ues niya.”

If in­deed Liza and Quen are in a re­la­tion­ship, Ogie would not mind at all.

“Kung sila ay ex­clu­sively dat­ing, wala na­mang prob­lema. Kung sila man, wala rin na­mang prob­lema sa akin, dahil mas masha-shock ako kung ang mag­ing jowa pala ni Liza ay ibang ac­tor na hindi ko na­man nakita’t naba­bal­i­taan, ’ta­pos biglang sila na pala.

“Si Quen na­man ay okey sa akin, mabait na­man. Kasi una ko na­mang naki­lala si Quen, hindi na­man si Liza. So, ki­lala ko na si Quen.

“Ang im­por­tante ay nai-prove na ni Liza ’yong kanyang worth as an ac­tress, na ‘O, at least hindi mo pin­ri­or­i­tize ’yong love life over your ca­reer.’ Ta­la­gang ang pri­or­ity niya, ca­reer. So, sig­uro na­man, de­serve ng bata na mag­ing masaya puso niya, di ba? So, ibi­gay na natin sa kanya ’yon.”

Ogie has seen Quen’s pos­i­tive ef­fect on Liza. For in­stance: “She ad­mires Quen pag­dat­ing sa pagse-save ng money. So meron siyang mga in­spi­rasyon na nakuha niya kay Quen.”

Liza’s long-time road man­ager, Maquie Raquiza, and her guardian, Tita Joni Castillo, are also fine with hav­ing Quen around.

Quen is “masayahin, parang cool sa kanya la­hat ng bagay,” Maquie says. “Hindi siya prob­lem­atic. ’Tsaka ang ma­g­a­nda kay Quen, nagso-sorry siya ka­pag nale-late siya. Ayoko kasi ng late. Mabait sila. Be­tween sa kanila ni Hopie [Liza’s pet name], si Hopie ang parang nanay. Si Quen, parang bata.”

Liza’s Tita Joni couldn’t agree more. “Mabait si Quen,” Tita Joni says. “Unan­guna, love niya ang fam­ily niya. ’ Yon ang im­por­tante, e. Kum­baga, pag may malasakit at love ka sa fam­ily, siyem­pre ma­g­a­gawa mo ’yan sa next ano mo. Mahilig siya sa bata. ’Ta­pos, ma­g­a­lang din siya sa mga lola, ’no?”

Quen’s fam­ily, ac­cord­ing to Liza, has been warm to her: “His fam­ily is very wel­com­ing. Tita Bambi, she’s re­ally nice to me. Basta, they’re re­ally a good fam­ily, and you can tell that they’re okay. I can’t ex­plain it, ’cause it’s dif­fer­ent from my fam­ily. I grew up with my par­ents sep­a­rated al­ready, so hindi ta­laga nag­ing nor­mal ’yong fam­ily ko. Pero sila, nor­mal na­man, ex­cept, of course, mi­nus the fa­ther, be­cause his fa­ther passed away. But you can still feel that they’re all on good terms.”

With a gig­gle, she adds, “Plus, he’s a big mama’s boy.”

We’re putting this out there: They don’t want to put a la­bel on their re­la­tion­ship yet, but Liza Sober­ano and En­rique Gil are brave enough to ad­mit they are madly, deeply, hope­lessly, in love!

“If that’s what they think, yeah!” Quen says. “Basta kami, ka­pag kami na, kami pa una mag-a-an­nounce sa In­sta­gram. Wala nang press­con... walang gano’n.”

Liza then cracks a loaded joke that should put all the talk to rest: “Malala­man n’yo na lang kung kasalan na. Malala­man n’yo na lang, mag-wo-walk na po ako [ sa aisle]. Joke lang.”

“That’s why I’m in­vest­ing a lot so we don’t have to work any­more in the fu­ture. Ayoko na la­hat ng oras ko nasa work ko that I’d lose time with my fam­ily. I want to spend time with my fam­ily. I want to in­vest in a busi­ness so that I can be at home while my busi­ness is on­go­ing. That’s it.” — En­rique

“Big ball of sun­shine” is Liza’s pet name for Quen. She chose that cute moniker be­cause she finds him bub­bly and jolly. “He’s able to light up a room,” she ex­plains. “For some rea­son, when he goes in­side a room, parang he com­mands at­ten­tion. It’s like ev­ery­body looks at him and he brings joy to ev­ery­body. That’s why I call him ‘big ball of sun­shine.’”

“Mon­key,” on the other hand, is Quen’s pet name for Liza. “Kasi, when I was a kid, fa­vorite stuffed toy ko was Abu, ’yong mon­key ni Aladdin,” he ex­plains. “Hang­gang sa tu­manda ako, kasama ko siya. ’Ta­pos, nakuwento niya [ Liza] sa akin na meron din daw siyang stuffed toy na mon­key. Pare­has kasi kam­ing merong gano’n.”

“Big ball of sun­shine” and “Mon­key” have al­ready ex­changed “I love you’s” on so­cial me­dia. When Quen turned 25 last March 30, Liza posted a birth­day mes­sage for him on her In­sta­gram with those three magic words.

Liza clar­i­fies: “Para sa akin, ang ‘love you,’ hindi na­man para sa magkas­in­ta­han lang. Puwede na­mang for any­body, like my friends. I love them.”

And what did Quen feel when he read those words?

“Siyem­pre, it felt good. Iba rin kasi when you say ‘I love you’ to some­body. It’s a big word. It’s also good to say ‘I love you’ kahit sa barkada ko. ‘I love you, bro.’ Hindi mo kasi alam kung ano mangya­yari pag‑alis niya. Malay mo, last time na kay­ong magkikita, sana sin­abi mo man lang.

“Well, she’s been there for me, the clos­est amongst ev­ery­body. I’ve been through a lot. So, it means a lot to me. I’ve be there for her too, through­out ev­ery­thing na pinaghi­ra­pan niya, mga prob­lema niya.”

Not many peo­ple know that Liza has her own in­se­cu­ri­ties to deal with, Quen says. “Min­san, she feels that she’s not pretty. Peo­ple think that she’s su­per. But she’s a nor­mal per­son. She doesn’t feel pretty, even if it’s not true, no. Just like other girls, there are some days na she’d go ‘I feel ugly to­day,’ parang gano’n. Ini­isip ko tu­loy, ‘Seryoso, gal­ing ’yan sa ’yo?’ And that’s what peo­ple don’t know about Liza. She’s also a nor­mal per­son.”

En­rique proudly says that he has changed a lot since he joined show busi­ness some 10 years ago. He’s no longer the wide-eyed boy who would just let the peo­ple around him dic­tate how he should han­dle his per­sonal af­fairs. He now has his own voice and iden­tity.

“Now I un­der­stand more how show­biz works, the ins and outs of show­biz. Now you know how to make choices, and you have a voice for your­self. Dati, feel­ing ko, parang what­ever they say, you do na lang.”

En­rique takes pride in the fact that he can now make de­ci­sions on his own, some­thing that he never got to do in his younger years. “Ha­bang tu­mata­gal, you know that you can also han­dle your own ca­reer. Kasi dati, ang alam ko, kung ano’ng sasabi­hin nila, you just go with the flow lang. Through the years, I no­ticed na you can also choose the path you want, alam mo ’yon?”

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