One of Joshua Garcia’s first posts on Instagram with Julia Barretto was that of him and the actress donning a sort of focused stare while on the set of “Vince & Kath & James.”
It didn’t particularly hold any poignant meaning. He just wanted to highlight their cheeks. But looking back, it may as well be an accurate depiction of where their relationship stood then.
Both had just been given roles in the Metro Manila Film Festival 2016 entry — their first together. It was the big break the two had been looking for since entering showbiz — and both were not about to let the chance pass up.
Barretto has had many headlining projects before but none really took off. Garcia, a product of a reality show, was looking to be another unfortunate forgotten young talent, drowned out by tight competition.
He and Barretto were not really thinking about falling in love with each other. Their eyes, much like in Garcia’s photo, were firmly on their job and not messing up their chance at making it big.
So what changed? What was the turning point that made Barretto, who was adamant in downplaying her relationship with Garcia as just being close friends, now say that she is giving the actor “exclusive rights” to date her?
Well, here’s a look back at the “kilig”-filled months that followed their “Vince & Kath & James” stint which may help fans get a sense of how the two fell for one another.
In an episode of “ASAP” just after “Vince & Kath & James” emerged as the most successful entry of last year’s Metro Manila Film Festival, Barretto gave Garcia a kiss on the cheek during a skit in which her onscreen partner pretended to have a toothache. Again, it was nothing particularly meaningful unless you look at it in hindsight, knowing that a few months later it would be Garcia’s turn to comfort Barretto after she was hospitalized.
Mid-January, Garcia interestingly joined Barretto’s family in celebrating the 80th birthday of the young actress’s grandmother. It appears to be one of the early moments Garcia got to introduce himself to Barretto’s kin, especially to her mother, Marjorie. In a recent interview, Marjorie said that he likes Garcia because she sees him as a family-oriented man. “Nakikita ko kasi very makapamilya siya. Important sa amin ‘yun. He likes being with our family. Parang he looks like a good son.”
Being cast for an episode of “Maalaala Mo Kaya” meant that the two got to spend even more time with one another. They played lovers who were torn apart unfortunately after one of them figures in an accident. It had Barretto posting a photo with Garcia with the caption: “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
After working on “Vince & Kath & James” and “Maalaala Mo Kaya,” the two have grown considerably closer –and they weren’t afraid to show it to friends. Videos of Garcia helping celebrate Barretto’s 20th birthday, and him and her slow-dancing to the theme song “Beauty and the Beast” during a party began to surface online. Garcia was quick to downplay the clips, saying that he just wanted to make Barretto feel special that night because she was too busy entertaining her guests.
In the months that followed, Garcia and Barretto have become comfortable being seen together in public. The two watched a Coldplay concert and caught a UAAP volleyball finals match. At the time, Garcia stressed that he was not courting the actress but has begun hinting about his plans to do so. “Sayang kasi ‘yung trabaho. Eventually. Sana naman. Nandoon pa kami sa nagtatrabaho kami, kasi gusto muna namin mag-focus. Sayang ‘yung opportunity,” he explained.
Back in June, Garcia ramped up the rumors about his romance with Barretto when he surprised her with a candle-lit dinner. His sweet gesture came just days after he visited Barretto at a hospital, which had the actress telling him: “You sure do know how to make a sick girl’s bad day a good one.”
For Father’s Day, Garcia was with Barretto as she spent time with her dad, Dennis Padilla. In an interview, Padilla shared that Barretto didn’t use any labels when she introduced Garcia to him. He added that Garcia was left dumbfounded when he grilled him over whether he was courting his daughter. “Basta nung medyo matagal na kaming nagkukuwentuhan, tinanong ko lang si Joshua, sabi ko, ‘Pare, nanliligaw ka ba dito?’ Hindi siya nakasagot. Tapos, si Julia tinanong ko, ‘Nanliligaw ba sa iyo ito?’ Hindi rin sumagot.” Nevertheless, Padilla believes Barretto would not have brought Garcia to their celebration if he is not someone special. “Happy naman ako dahil happy naman ang anak ko,” he said.
Early August, Garcia and Barretto were seen cuddling up at the birthday party of the latter’s sister, Claudia. As if the matching outfits in Toronto didn’t already get the rumor mills running, Barretto appeared content as she posed for a photo while her leading man wrapped his arms around her.
And here we are, with their new movie, “Love You to the Stars and Back,” now in cinemas, Garcia has finally admitted to courting Barretto. “Sobra kong nae-enjoy ‘yung presence niya and sobra niya akong napapasaya,” he said. And it appears Barretto is enjoying his presence as well, saying: “If I’m being very honest, I’ve learned to prioritize my work but he’s become such an important person in my life and it’s not like nakakasagabal siya sa trabaho ko.”
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