Only for reel: Barbie Forteza and David Licauco set love team boundaries
Barbie Forteza used to think that she would already be married by the age of 28; her screen partner, David Licauco, at 27. But as they near—or reach—those stages in their respective lives, they’ve realized that settling down is something that will have to wait.
The two actors are riding the wave of success of their love team in the hit fantasy series “Maria Clara at Ibarra (MCI).” And they intend to strike while the iron is hot. With a growing list of things they want to achieve in show biz, they agreed that prioritizing work is the logical step for now.
Barbie, who’s in a five-year relationship with Jak Roberto, said: “Back then, I hoped I could settle down at 28, so I could still have a couple more years to enjoy our marriage as a couple, before starting our own family. But now, with what has been happening every year, I feel like I want to maximize my career first. Nag-iisip ako kung kailan bubwelo.”
Besides, the 25-year-old actress said, marriage is a life-changing decision—not some stunt to elicit “kilig” from fans.
“It’s something that you have to be ready for. Marriage is no joke. I know this from my sister, who has her own family. You have to be physically, mentally and financially prepared. It’s a new chapter in life that shouldn’t be rushed,” she said at her and David’s recent launch as endorsers of the beauty brand Ishin.
David is now 28—a year past his initial target. Still, no wedding ring in sight. He’s single, he revealed, but not actively seeking a partner.
“When I was 22, I said I would get married at around 27. But now, parang hindi pa!” he said, laughing. “I’m at an age where almost all my friends are either getting engaged or married. Of course, that can make you feel pressured. But everyone has his own box,” he said.
“The kind of opportunity I have now in show biz isn’t something everyone gets. I’m trying my best to maximize my career. And only then will I be ready to settle down,” David added.
Not yet ready
Aside from acting, David also runs multiple businesses, from restaurants to gyms to online stores. He has so much on his plate and there’s no space for romance at the moment. “My time is limited… And when you have a girlfriend, you have to devote enough time to her. And I don’t think I’m ready for that,” he said. David and Barbie’s tandem is called “FiLay” —from their respective “MCI” characters, Fidel and Klay. While they have already worked together in previous projects, it wasn’t until recently that viewers got to fully appreciate their rapport. Their characters’ initial cat-and-mouse dynamic was endearingly funny. They got hooked and have since followed Fidel and Klay’s development.
And as the series wore on, Barbie became more comfortable with David. “Even if we’re shooting scenes where we’re not the focus, even offcam… inaalalayan niya ako. Ramdam ko ‘yung alaga niya as leading man,” she said of David, whom she described as having that oppa or Korean actor look. “He’s shy and reserved, which adds to his appeal.”
David, meanwhile, finds Barbie “pretty, bubbly and lively.” “Barbie has already proven a lot as an actress, so I was a bit shy with her at first. I didn’t know how to approach her. I’m an introvert, so I was grateful that she was the one who opened up to me,” he said.
But as charming Barbie and David are together, the fans understand that FiLay is just a screen partnership—nothing more. And for that, the two actors are grateful. “They respect our respective personal lives outside the love team. It’s good to know that a lot of fans these days are smart. They’re just happy for FiLay and don’t expect anything else,” Barbie said.
Barbie and David are the first celebrity ambassadors of Ishin, which offers whitening, immunity-boosting food supplements, as well as skincare products. The company was founded by Shirleen and Miguel Bautista.While they’re not overly conscious about their looks, the GMA 7 stars said that, as public figures, it’s important that they put an effort into taking care of themselves and looking presentable, despite their busy schedules.
“Lack of sleep is part of our job. And of course we still want to look like we didn’t just cry for five hours!” Barbie said. “I’m very grateful that brands are noticing and putting their trust in our love team.”
Because of Barbie and David’s undeniable chemistry, some observers couldn’t help but wonder about Jak’s thoughts on FiLay and if he ever get jealous. “It’s a big thing that we’re both actors. We’re in the same industry, so he knows how things work,” Barbie said of Jak. “I don’t have to explain anything to him. He understands.”
“I never felt the need to reassure him. He trusts me. He’s patient,” she added. “I’m lucky to have him.”
And despite the love team’s success, the fact remains that Jak has been by her side for years and has held her hand through ups and downs. “Success won’t just make me forget that one person who has been making me happy for the past five years and counting; the person who was with me during the pandemic; the person I can share my struggles and victories with,” she said.
Besides, David isn’t one to make a move on women in committed relationships. “I was never like that. I know my boundaries. I respect their relationships. Barbie and I are good friends, and we know our boundaries. Work is work. And we love our work,” said the actor, who’s also on good terms with Jak.
“I have big respect for Jak. He’s a kind person. I have worked with him and found him to be a genuine and hardworking man,” David added. INQ
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