TAGS: alex gonzaga, mikee morada

Photography: Stephen Capuchino

 

 

They could be just sitting beside each other and having a casual conversation, say about food, and they would end up laughing. That’s because actress, TV host, and vlogger Alex Gonzaga and her boyfriend Mikee Morada have unmistakable chemistry that shows in the way they look at each other, converse, and make an instant connection.

While love may come more than once in a person’s lifetime, there could only be one great love that will last forever. The couple seem to be headed that way after having a series of suitors for her and two girlfriends for him, and now, they’ve started talking about marriage.

In an exclusive interview with StarStudio.ph one fine Wednesday afternoon at Zoomburst photo studio in Quezon City, Alex and Mikee tell us how their story began, what keeps it going, and why they are really meant for each other.

 

 

Mikee remembers making the first move by asking his friend, actor and TV host Piolo Pascual to introduce him to Alex. Piolo and Alex are cohosts in the Sunday noontime musical-variety show, ASAP. While waiting for an introduction, Mikee, an entrepreneur who hails from Lipa City in Batangas, followed Alex on Instagram.

“Natutuwa ako sa kanya,” he says of the showbiz star known for her funny antics. “Feeling ko lang magkakasundo ko ’to. Gusto ko maging friend, makilala lang.” There was physical attraction, too. “Siyempre, looks nandiyan,” he admits.

 

HELLO, IT’S ALEX

 

 

Catherine “Alex” Gonzaga initially got the public’s attention as the younger sister of actress, singer, and TV host, Celestine “Toni” Gonzaga. But since costarring in the youth-oriented sitcom, Let’s Go, in 2006, Alex has, over the years, steadily built a career by trying out different fields in the entertainment industry.

In 2014, she authored the book, Dear Alex, Break na Kami. Paano?! Love, Catherine, which became a hit, and she followed it up two years later with Dear Alex, We’re Dating. Tama, Mali?! Love, Catherine. Alex teamed up with Toni in writing the book, Sissums, which was released last June. 

Alex also maintains a popular vlog on YouTube with more than 1.6 million subscribers and runs the milk tea business, Happy Cup, with Toni.

But, of course, movie and TV work remains her core preoccupation. Last September, she starred in the hugot romance flick, Nakalimutan Ko Nang Kalimutan Ka, by debuting filmmaker Fifth Solomon, a former housemate in the reality-TV show, Pinoy Big Brother. Then there’s ASAP.

Speaking of ASAP, Alex recalls hearing about Mikee from her cohost Piolo Pascual during a show in November 2015, when the actor/singer/film producer came up to her and said: “Uy, meron akong friend, gusto ka makilala.” To which, she replied: “Ah, talaga? Sa lahat sa ASAP, ako gusto makilala? Sigurado ka ba?”

 

The Matchmaker: Sharing a good laugh with Piolo Pascual, who introduced Mikee to his 'crush,' Alex. 

Photo from Instagram (@cathygonzaga)

 

She now explains to us her disbelief then: “Parang ang dami naman sa ASAP, mas magaganda.” But, she adds, Piolo was quite persuasive and told her: “Hindi, ikaw talaga!”

Intrigued, the impish Alex replied to Piolo with a request: “Patingin muna ng picture.” Piolo readily showed Mikee’s photo, and Alex liked what she saw. “E nakyutan ako.”

Unfortunately, Alex was still dating someone else at that time, but she assured Piolo that if things didn’t work out with her suitor then, she was willing to meet Mikee.

Fast-forward to March 2016: Alex and Piolo got to talk again on ASAP, with her picking up from where they left off four months earlier. She told him, using his nickname, “PJ, ano na, single ako. Nasa’n na ’yung ’papakilala mo sa akin? Di ba may cute kang friend?”

Piolo gave Mikee’s number to Alex, who didn’t waste time in getting in touch with his cute friend. For Mikee’s part, he had no idea that Piolo was already talking to Alex about him. “Kaya nagulat ako no’ng isang araw na biglang tumawag siya,” he says of Alex.

 

Alex, ever the girly-girl, is simply lovelier beside Mikee

Photo from Instagram (@cathygonzaga)

 

 Mikee remembers one typical Sunday afternoon with his family. They had just lunch and were walking around a mall, when suddenly his phone rang. He took the call, and it was Alex on the other line.

“Sabi niya kung gusto ko siyang ma-meet, gumawa daw ako ng paraan,” he recalls Alex telling him. “So kinuha ko ’yung number kay Piolo, ’tapos ’binigay naman sa akin. Then I asked her kung kailan siya free. One ASAP Sunday, sumama ako kay Piolo.”

 

SOMETHING’S TELLING ME IT MIGHT BE YOU

 

 

When Mikee went to see ASAP live, Alex was so busy working as one of the show’s hosts that they literally ended up just seeing each other. Later that day, Mikee texted Alex, telling her: “Uy, sorry, hindi nakapag-usap, pero just let me know, I’m available.” He didn’t have any expectations, he admits.

The following day, Monday, Mikee got a reply from Alex, asking him: “San ka?” That simple text exchange led to their first dinner date.

Alex tells us that the dinner date started off on the wrong foot and drove her to the edge of boredom. “Election ’yun,” she says of the presidential polls that took place in May 2016. “Nagkakaroon na kami ng mga debate sa mga presidente, so hindi na ’ko natutuwa sa dinner.”

 

Goofing around with Mikee

Photo from Instagram (@cathygonzaga)

 

She then turned her attention to her cellphone and sent a message to a friend. “Sabi ko do’n sa friend ko, ‘Kilala mo ba ’to?”—referring to Mikee—“Sabi niya, ‘Oo, kilala ko ’yan, Cathy! Mabait ’yan.’ Ganyan, ganyan, ganyan.”

Still, Alex had reservations then about being more than friends with Mikee, noting he’s so much like her. “Pasok naman siya na, ’yung mga gusto ko na sa lalaki, nasa kanya,” she remarks. “Pero ’yung the way siyang magsalita, para ko siyang barkada. So parang sabi ko, kung ganito mag-ano, na jologs, mga ganyan, pa’no kami magwo-work nito? Kasi, ano ba ’yan? Jologs na nga ako… Pa’no pag nagkaanak kami? Maximum jologs na!”

Alex also felt at that time that she had to sort herself up as she just stopped dating another guy. She also saw the wisdom in her Ate Toni’s advice, which went like this: “Huwag ka muna mag-date. Focus ka muna sa career mo.”

 

Alex & Mikee only have eyes for each other

Photo from Instagram (@cathygonzaga)

 

 So she decided to be honest with Mikee, who now recalls to us that Alex told him “hindi pa niya kaya” and that “she needed to be by herself.”

Alex agrees with Mikee’s recollection of their conversation. “Friends lang talaga,” she says. “I need to be alone. I need to be single.”

“Kasi parang no’ng time na ’yun, January ako na-single na talaga,” she adds. “’Tapos parang March pa lang ’yun, or April.”

Mikee replied rather sarcastically to Alex’s statement back then: “I don’t need friends. I have lots of friends.” Then he stopped texting her.

Attesting to the old adage, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” Alex had this realization: “I miss that guy.” So she texted him. In return, she got somewhat formal replies ending with “God bless.”

 

Happy together

Photo from Instagram (@cathygonzaga)

 

 Before Alex continues with our interview, she turns to Mikee. “Parang inano kita,” she says on how she got in touch with him through text messaging. “The next day, tinext mo na ’ko. Ang alam ko, ikaw ’yung nag-text. May tinanong ka, ’tapos nag-‘God bless’ ka na naman. ’Tapos, sabi ko, ‘Ang OA ng God bless, God bless, ah! Nakakabuwisit ka!’ Sabi ko, ‘Arte mo, puwede naman tayo maging friends.’”

She then concludes: “’Tapos, do’n na nagsimula.”

Alex goes on sharing why she finally warmed up to Mikee. It begins with Mikee’s habit of hugging her and whispering comforting words, such as these: “Huwag kang matakot. Hindi kita pababayaan. Aalagaan kita. Hindi ako gano’ng tao. Huwag kang matakot. Nandito lang ako para sa ’yo. Aalagaan kita. Maniwala ka.”

Mikee cuts in our interview. “Totoo naman ’yun, e,” he says.

Honesty has been the foundation of their relationship, so they never had pretentions about each other. “Never naman ako nagpa-impress… best foot forward lagi,” he points out. “Lagi kung sino ako, ’yun na. So hindi ako nagpa-impress talaga.”

Mikee is likewise unaffected by Alex’s celebrity status. “I didn’t see her that way, na celebrity siya,” he explains. “Normal. As much as possible, I wanted to treat her like a normal person.”

He admits that getting the courage to meet Alex was a “leap” for him. But once he got to know her, he saw how very much true she is as a person. This transparent nature of Alex is a big part of what he loves about her.

“She’s a true person,” he says proudly. “Kung ano siya sa TV, gano’n din sa… Wala siyang ’tinatago. She’s just very true.”

So true that during the early stage of their relationship, she talked openly to him about her ex-suitor. He, in turn, saw this an opportunity to get to know her even more and respected what he observed then as a “confused” Alex.

“The whole time, she was talking about her ex,” Mikee says. “For me, imbes na mag-ano ka, parang nasa isip ko, natutunan ko kung ano’ng klaseng tao siya. Kung sino siya, Kasi ine-explain niya kung ano ’yung… Kasi parang confused lang siya no’n. ’Yun ’yung naiisip ko.”

For seven months in 2016, Mikee courted Alex. Each month, he asked her if they could be a couple—except in October. Because she told him that her past romantic prospects that began in October didn’t flourish. On the first day of November, which happens to be All Saints’ Day, he asked her again. This time around, she said yes.

 

 

It’s been nearly two years since they became a couple, and they both feel secure and happy with their relationship. When they are together, even little things like eating fast-food and doing YouTube karaoke become extra special and bring them so much happiness.

“Nag-a-acting kami,” she says. “Nagfi-feeling kami,” he adds.

Alex goes on wearing her heart on her sleeve. “With Mikee talaga, talagang honest to God, I find peace talaga,” she beams. “I mean, I found peace sa relationship. I can sleep at night. Kasi dati talaga… Pag natutulog ako, may struggle talaga.

She remembers having these troubling thoughts in the past: “Hindi kami nito. Hindi kami nito. Shucks, baka bukas hindi na kami. Or pinipilit mo na ‘Hindi, hindi, okey pa rin ’yan. ’Tapos ang ginagawa mo, inaano mo sa sarili mo, ‘Hindi, kasi ang arte mo, Catherine, e. Ang taas ng standards mo.’ ’Yung parang… Basta, very confused ako.”

“Siguro part of growing up,” she says in reflection. “When I found Mikee, talagang may peace. Parang I can sleep at night. Even if we don’t text each other, parang I know at the end of the day, it’s us.”

 

I’M BETTER BECAUSE OF YOU

 

 

Alex and Mikee emit positive vibes during our interview, underscoring how their relationship makes them happy and feel better.

Alex, for one, is learning how to compromise for the sake of their relationship. “Kasi dati pag nagko-compromise ako or nag-a-adjust ako, utang na loob talaga ’yun,” she explains. “Ngayon, nagko-comprose ako because willing ako. Okey sa akin.”

She happily reports that she has now become sensitive to the feelings and needs of her boyfriend. For instance, if she sees that Mikee is already tired, she just asks her driver to pick her up instead of making Mikee drive for her. Also, when she’s angry, she now chooses her words.

“Dati pag masama loob ko, sasabihin ko lahat ng salita na alam kong masasaktan ka,” he admits. “Normal babae. Ngayon, with Mikee, ano ko na, ayoko siyang masaktan. ’Yung inaalala ko, feeling niya… Baka masaktan si Mikee. ’Tapos mari-realize ko naman after no’n na mawawala naman ’yung galit ko.”

 

Alex’s crazy antics

Photo from Instagram (@cathygonzaga)

 

And unlike before when she let her love life distract her work, she finds her career flourishing even more now. She has found her niche in showbiz and is getting more projects. Her relationship with the Lord improved tremendously as well. 

Then again, no relationship is perfect. Mikee, for one, admits to being “very protective” and has set a few restrictions. “Ayoko ’yung mga maikling suot,” he says. He also perishes the thought of seeing his girlfriend in a kissing scene with a costar. “Baka hindi ko kayanin ’yun,” he confesses.

One small thing that triggers their occasional quarrels is Alex’s inability to finish eating her food. This practice ticks Mikee off because he grew up in a family that’s somewhat strict, thus requiring its members to never leave food on their plates.

Overall, though, they haven’t seen major challenges in their relationship. “Siguro hindi pa kami sinusubok ni Lord,” she says. “Pero with the grace of God, sana naman [huwag]. If ever mangyari is nandiyan si Lord to help us. Pero as of now, talagang it’s really okay.”

Both Mikee and Alex look up to their parents as relationship pegs. “Sabi niya,” Alex says of Mikee, ‘’O, nakita mo ’yung Mommy sa Daddy ko? Dapat gano’n ka rin sa akin.”

When asked if they envision each other at the altar, exchanging I do’s, the couple, who are past their 20s, both openly say they do. Mikee points out that at their age, there’s no point in having a relationship with someone if you don’t see a future together.

 

 

So, is a proposal coming soon?

“At the right time,” replies Mikee. Alex adds that though they are already having “major, heavy talks” about marriage, their parents aren’t pressuring them to settle down pronto. 

Alex turns philosophical. “When the right person comes along, everything will fall into place,” she says. “Dapat swak. Dapat smooth sailing. Wala kang gray area sa relationship na, ‘Gusto ba niya ako?’ Ano na mangyayari sa ’min?”

She admits not being secure in her past relationships. “Dapat lagi ’kong ka-text,” she recalls. “Kapag hindi kami nag-usap, ‘Shucks, may problema kami! Shucks, kailangan makausap sa phone!’ ’Tapos kapag umalis, nagi-ibang bansa, ‘Oh, my gosh, miss na miss kita! Mag-Facetime tayo!’ As in all my life, parang naka-gano’n ako sa cellphone ko.”

“With Mikee,” she smiles, “as in, sabi ko sa ate ko, ‘Ba’t gano’n?’ Parang kung hindi kami magkita ni Mikee ngayon, okey lang. Kung makatulog siya. Kung makatulog ako. Hindi kami makapag-Facetime. Okey lang.”

“You make it work,” she avers. “But if it’s too much work—like in your career, in your passion—parang you’re getting tired. Kapag nahihirapan ka, if it’s dragging you na, ‘Ugh, ayoko ’tong trabaho na ’to.’ Baka hindi ’yan ang passion mo, baka hindi ’yan ang career for you.”

When Alex confided to her Ate Toni about having such realization in her relationship with Mikee, Alex notes that her older sister concluded that Mikee may be The One. She remembers Toni telling her, “Ganyan rin ako kay Paul,” referring to Toni’s husband Paul Soriano, a film director and producer.

Alex has this advice to the lovelorn: “Wait for someone that God really prepared and destined for you. Pa’no mo malalaman ’yun? It will just come. Wait mo. Kasi pag dumating na ’yung para sa ’yo, hindi mo na kailangan masaktan para lumigaya.”

She turns once again to her beau, and asks him, “Nakikita mo na ba ako sa future?"

 Without blinking, Mikee answers Alex’s question: “Oo naman!”

 

 

Art Direction: Alfred Amado
Makeup: Denise Ochoa
Hair: Jerry Javier
Styling: Cath Sobrevega
Photographer's Assistants: Tony Valete, Ryan dela Cruz
Shot on location: Zoomburst Studios