Dissecting kilig: How does KathNiel do it?

How does kilig work for the pair? And are they switching up their formula?

Tristan Zinampan

4:0:0am August 18, 2018

7:6:20am August 23, 2018

KATHNIEL. Kathyrn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla star in 'The Hows of Us.' Screenshot from YouTube.com/ABSstarcinema

KATHNIEL. Kathyrn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla star in 'The Hows of Us.' Screenshot from YouTube.com/ABSstarcinema

MANILA, Philippines – On August 29, the newest movie of the Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla love team (fondly called KathNiel by fans) will be premiering in Philippine theaters nationwide. Directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina, The Hows of Us will be KathNiel’s 7th movie together.

Releasing a movie yearly since 2012, the pair looks to have found an effective technique in making a mark on Filipino fandom.


Skyrocketing to the top

In a survey conducted by The Nerve, the pair was voted second for “greatest love team of all time.”

Most of the respondents (42.78%) chose them for their chemistry or kilig factor.


Ace Antipolo, a member of a KathNiel fan club, explains how kilig works for the KathNiel pair.

“Natural yun chemistry nila… Sila yung nagsisilbing channel namin sa pagiging hopeless romantic — two good-looking, perfect individuals falling in love with each other. Yun yung fantasies ng fans, sila yung parang personification yun”

(They have natural chemistry. We channel our being hopeless romantics through them: two good-looking, perfect individuals falling in love with each other. That’s what fans fantasize, and they are the personifications of that.)

Finding this electric chemistry early on is a fluke. It’s a common practice in the entertainment industry for newbies to paired up in the hopes of creating palpable chemistry. If that does not fly, they’re re-shuffled until hopefully, they find the right match.

Only having started in 2012, KathNiel already comes in second in most number of films together. This strong streak has made them outliers as they have never paired up with anyone else but each other for a romantic movie.

(Way Back Home, the film in which Star Cinema tried pairing Kathryn Bernardo with both Sam Concepcion and Enrique Gil does not count as it is listed as a family drama, romance taking the backseat.)

Possibly also a factor to this palpable chemistry is the pair’s off-screen ambiguous relationship status (coming in at 23.89%). KathNiel has been notorious for keeping coy on what’s reel vs. real. This blurring of lines is a typical tactic love teams in the Philippines employ to amp up the kilig.

Taking a cue from Bea-John Lloyd

For The Hows of Us, KathNiel looks to be mixing up their formula, possibly in an attempt to further sustain and even cement their love team’s status.

The pair, as well as Cathy Garcia-Molina, have gone on record to say that for this film the tandem will be moving beyond kilig and will showcase acting skills.

We have observed before that a reason for Bea-John Lloyd’s strength as a love team is their combination of kilig and great acting. Skills supported by multiple awards, including a Gawad Urian, under their respective belts.

Based on its synopsis, the Hows of Us will be dealing with “millennials’ tendency to give up on relationships.” A mature theme as compared to the duo’s previous very bubblegum roles.

The James and Nadine duo JaDine previously made the same transition, moving away from the teeny-bopper romcom genre and deliver a gut-wrenching look into adults in a long-distance romance with the film Never Not Love You.

 When asked about the transition of his favorite love team, Ace Antipolo had this to say “Hindi naman pwedeng stuck sila sa pa-cute roles forever.” (They can’t be stuck to cutesy roles forever). – Rappler.com

Editor's Note: The survey cited in this story was conducted by The Nerve, a data insights company, in partnership with Rappler between July 16 to 24, 2018. It is not incentivized and is served only to readers who visit the Rappler site when the survey is being served. Given the 3,447,600 who visited Rappler within the time period, to achieve at least a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error, the sample needed is 384. All the survey questions have more than 384 respondents.