TO SAY that the Kath-Niel breakup took the Philippines by storm would probably be an understatement. The story took center stage in the country’s leading newspapers, became the number one trending topic in all social media platforms and merited more-than-the-usual coverage on primitive television news. The bitter ending in the eleven-year romance even eclipsed news stories of national interest and global impact. For days, many Filipinos found themselves glued to the juicy details behind the highly-publicized love story. Knowing our penchant for such drama, this would probably continue for the months or even years to come.
More than knowing the real reason behind the break-up, what I find really interesting is the way people have been reacting to the story. The manner by which people are taking their sides, putting the blame on some assumed third-party and even investing so much of themselves into this showbiz saga is, to my honest belief, a reflection of their own personal values and priorities.
Let us take the case of the solidly loyal and highly-affected Kath-Niel fans who immediately turned their collective rage on the two girls who are supposedly the reason for the break-up. Without even an ounce of veracity on their side, they were quick to blame and bash these girls. Who knows, the two were probably made to believe, convinced or even sweet-talked by Daniel that the relationship has already ended and that he was already free to move on with his life.
Second, those who were loyal to Daniel including some of his family members, defended him by claiming Kathryn was too-focused on her career, choosing to accept more projects than to spend quality time with her boyfriend. Why even the so-called “Pinoy machos” joined in the discussion saying such indiscretion was “normal” for men and that these two-timing men would still come home to their “originals” anyway, so why make a big fuzz over a one-night stand?
In the midst of all these speculations, only a handful questioned Daniel’s loyalty. Some resorted to slut-shaming the two girls who are supposedly the cause of the breakup, while others criticized Kathryn for being too-career oriented. Call me an honorary feminist but I think this archetypal viewpoint of justifying male chauvinism puts us several steps back to the Dark Ages. If it takes two to tango; then there is no reason to exonerate one and convict the other.
A good friend of mine who has been based in the US for the longest time commented in our group chat that in the Philippine showbiz industry, it is highly common to “build” a love team to be able to sustain the fans’ interest and loyalty. This is a tried-and-tested formula from Gloria-Juancho, and Nestor-Nida in the 60s; Guy-Pip and Vilma-Bobot in the 70s; Sharon-Gabby, Maricel-William, Snooky-Albert and Pops-Martin in the 80s; and today’s power love teams as “created” by leading television studios and film companies. The more successful the love teams become in terms of box-office hits and multiple endorsements, the more difficult it is for any of the duo to break away from this team and build a name and a career as a solo artist. While there have been many artists who were successful in moving out of the shadow of their onscreen partners, many lost their careers when their love teams ended.
Of all the memes that followed after both Kathryn and Daniel confirmed the breakup, one stood out – “Mabuti pa ang KathNiel umabot ng 11 years pero ang P125M, 11 days lang.” Don’t you just love how Filipinos can be creative to find humor in almost anything in life? This one hits the spot if only for its powerful message to remind us that there are more pressing concerns in our society than the Kath-Niel break-up.
Can you just imagine how things would turn out differently in our country if the millions of Kath-Niel fans and followers would be as engrossed and invested as they have been for eleven years in demanding for accountability and transparency from our elected government officials? Eleven years of following every movie, TV show, guesting, mall tour, concert and even news article of their beloved showbiz couple – translate this into keeping an eagle eye on every directive, order, law, pronouncement and budget spending of our honorable officials even for just one full term of office. How do you think this new-found vigilance would impact our unending quest for a significant and lasting change in our country? Well, your guess is as good as mine.