The love team of Vivoree Esclito and Charles Kieron, more popularly known as Hashtag CK of the boy group Hashtags, is replete with so much youthful energy, it can spread across a room full of busy people.
Vivoree, 18, and CK, 20, known by their uni-name ViCK (formerly KierVi), arrive separately at the studio one afternoon for their first photo shoot for StarStudio.ph. Their enthusiasm obscures the crazy Friday traffic along the busy street of Tomas Morato in Quezon City. It’s the kind of vibe—unforced and guileless—that drew the admiration of their avid fans. (As of this writing, Vivoree has more than 730, 000 followers on Instagram, while CK has more than 380,000.)
Photo from ABS-CBN Entertainment
Vivoree and CK first met each other at a time when they were both still trying to find their place in the big world of show business. Vivoree was then fresh out of her stint in the reality TV show Pinoy Big Brother: Lucky Season 7 (PBB), where she ended up in sixth place. (That PBB season had its finale in March 2017, with Maymay Entrata emerging as the Big Winner.) CK had just been introduced as one of the new members of Hashtags, the resident boy band of the noontime show, It’s Showtime.
Photo from Instagram (@hashtag_ck)
The meeting happened during the auditions for the TV series Precious Hearts Romances Presents: Araw Gabi, which starred JM de Guzman and Barbie Imperial, and ran from April to October 2018. Vivoree and CK were eyeing the role of Nica and Red, respectively, who were boyfriend and girlfriend in the series.
CK recalls that day, and jests, “No’ng una ko siya nakita, sakto lang. Haha! Hindi, happy kasi first time ko mag-go-see na as a love team.” Vivoree reminds him, “Uy, pinanood mo ako sa PBB sabi mo.”
CK, who is sitting beside Vivoree at the dressing room of the photo studio, looks at his love-team partner, and laughs, “O, inamin ko, pinapanood kita before. Ayun, siyempre hindi naman ako na-starstruck. Joke lang! Siyempre nagulat din ako na siya nga ’yung ipe-pair sa akin na pinapanood ko lang dati.”
Photo from Instagram (@hashtag_ck)
And the kulitan between the two, which lasts the entire interview, begins.
Unlike CK who was familiar with Vivoree’s work, Vivoree was unaware of who CK was. “No’ng nakita ko siya, wala, nakita ko lang siya,” she recalls, laughing. “Medyo matangkad ’tapos medyo malaki ’yong built ng katawan niya. Hindi ko pa kilala ’yung mga bagong Hashtags talaga, as in wala akong clue or idea kung sino sila. Kasi ’yung kilala ko ’yung mga original na Hashtags. Si CK talaga, nakilala ko lang sa go-see.”
The two were introduced to each other because as Vivoree recounts, “Parang naghahanap sila ng ipe-pair sa akin, so ang daming mga lalaki din na artista na nag-go-see. Excited ako pero at the same time parang curious and medyo kinakabahan kasi hindi ko alam kung ano ang magiging outcome ng audition.”
When they received their script, the two fresh faces, who barely had any experience in front of the camera yet, had to act like they were in love. It was, for both of them, awkward.
“Di ba, gagawin pang love team ’yung acting, so sa una, medyo ilang kasi first time namin mag-meet ’tapos may mga hug-hug, as in face to face,” CK says, as Vivoree concurs: “Medyo awkward. Siyempre we had to be professional. Kailangan gawin namin ’yung work namin.”
The Araw Gabi roles eventually went to Ysabel Ortega and Paulo Angeles. But the audition for those roles started a now-flourishing friendship for Vivoree and CK. Months later, they were cast in the “Gapang” episode of the legal drama anthology Ipaglaban Mo. The episode aired in June 2018, and their unmistakable chemistry sparked an interest among fans, who immediately took to social media to ask if they were a love team. At the time, there was no KierVi yet.
A little while after, Vivoree started taping for the romantic-comedy-drama series Since I Found You, which starred Piolo Pascual and Arci Muñoz. Then, the management decided to give Vivoree’s character a love-team partner. “Naghahanap kasi sila ng ipe-pair sa akin. May nag go-see doon. Hindi siya nag-go-see, pinili siya,” Vivoree says, pointing to CK.
When she learned that CK would be joining the cast, she only felt happiness: “Excited na happy ako kasi parang ’yong mga kasama ko doon, sina Papa P [Piolo], sina Ate Arci, Ate Alex [Alessandra de Rossi], ’tapos parang hindi ko sila masyado nakakausap kasi iba ’yung aming ano, ’yung generation. ’Tapos ayun, masaya ako kasi may nakakakuwentuhan na ako.”
It was through these conversations that they realized how similar they are to each other. First—and they keep mentioning this throughout the shoot—they both love BTS, or Bangtan Boys, a popular South Korean boy band.
Photo from Twitter (@BTS_twt)
Second, they love music and are both musically talented people. (Check out on YouTube their rendition of the song Rewrite the Stars, originally sung by Zendaya and Zac Efron in the 2017 movie, The Greatest Showman. The video was published on July 13, 2018 on CK’s account, Charles Kieron, and has almost 2 million views as of this writing.)
And third, as Vivoree puts it, “Makulit kami, e. ’Tapos masayahin, positive, mapagmahal sa family.”
The promising young stars are also, hard as it may to believe, self-confessed natural introverts, who were brought by their talents in front of klieg lights and crowds. This is why they both share a common misconception about them.
“They say, hindi siya namamansin,” Vivoree says, talking about how some people misinterpret CK. “Hindi naman nila alam na medyo introvert din siya. Hindi siya ’yung type ng tao na, parang, ‘Hey, yo, what’s up?’ He’s just being himself.”
CK adds: “’Yun din sasabihin ko sa kanya. Parehas kasi kami ng ugali. ’Yun nga, ’yung mga tao minsan napagkakamalan siyang suplada. Kasi minsan, kaming dalawa, ’pag sa set, minsan hindi kami bumabati kasi nahihiya talaga kami. Hindi namin alam kung paano i-approach.”
Vivoree nods, “Na-a-anxious ako. May social anxiety po kasi ako, e. Nami-misunderstand ng mga tao ’yung galaw. Pero siyempre kailangan pa rin hindi maging gano’n palagi. Kailangan pa rin may times na talagang dapat mag-approach ka.”
And while they are both very much alike, they also have a few different quirks.
CK reveals, “Hindi siya masyado expressive sa nararamdaman niya. Ano, moody!” Vivoree agrees, “Yeah, medyo ano ako, para akong bulaklak na talagang naka-gano’n [curl]. Moody din.”
We ask them to describe how her mood changes.
CK begins his story, which, he says, happened while they were taping for the weekly fantasy anthology series, Wansapanataym.
And then another round of kulitan ensues.
Vivoree tries to stop him from telling his story, “No, no, no,” she mutters. But CK goes on nonetheless, with a huge grin on his face. “Kuwento ko ’to. Kararating ko lang sa set. ’Tapos niloloko ko siya, ’tapos sabi niya, ‘Hindi nakakatuwa.’ May sinabi lang ako na isang bagay…kasi binabaan niya ako ng cellphone.”
Vivoree protests, “Hindi! CK, alam mo, hindi ko sinasadya ’yun. Hindi ko alam kung anong nangyari. CK!” She turns to us to plead her case. “Hindi po, ang version ko po, kasi ayun tumawag siya sa akin. ’Tapos biglang nag-end-call. Hindi ko alam po talaga kung anong reason, kung bakit.”
CK interrupts, “Pinindot ng tenga niya.”
“No, hindi ko alam,” Vivoree corrects him. “’Tapos nagbigla ako kasi akala ko parang naputol lang ang network or baka naano lang.”
He presses on: “No’ng kinakausap kita no’n…” He turns to us this time. “Boses niya, pabulong. Parang pabulong. Hindi ko marinig. So akala ko sobrang tagal niyang hindi nagsalita. ’Yun pala na-drop-call.
Vivoree hollers: “CK!”
“Sobrang tagal mong hindi nagsalita,” he tells us.
“Sumagot na ako no’n ’tapos biglang nag-end-call,” she explains.
Take note, they’d rather call each other than text each other because as Vivoree puts it, “tamad siyang [CK] mag-text. But also concludes: “Pero mas okay din kasi ’yung call.”
What was the reason behind the call in the first place, we ask.
Vivoree answers, “Hinahanap niya lang ako. Haha!”
CK rebuts, “Galing ako ng Showtime or taping. ’Tapos diretso ako rehearsals ng ASAP. ’Tapos after ko mag-rehearse, sobrang gabi na ako natapos. E siya [Vivoree] ang aga niya natapos. ’Tapos no’ng on the way na ako sa Folded and Hung [clothing brand] event, tinawagan ko siya kasi ang sabi sa akin ng management, kasama ko daw siya doon. So tinawagan ko siya, sabi ko, ‘V, nasaan ka na?’ ‘Nasa condo.’ ‘Ha? Kasi pupunta ako sa event ng Folded and Hung, akala ko nando’n ka kaya pupunta ako. ’Tapos ayun, no’ng sinabi ko ayun, hindi siya nagsalita. ’Tapos biglang nag-drop-call.”
We inquire: You call her V?
CK says, “Opo. Tapos tinatawag niya akong baby boy.”
“Hindi po!” Vivoree interjects. “Siya talaga nagtatawag sa akin baby girl, baby girl.”
When Vivoree has had enough of CK’s teasing and stops speaking, it’s CK who approaches Vivoree first.
“Siyempre ako kapag nararamdaman ko na nagsusungit siya, tumitigil ako. ’Tapos hindi niya talaga ako kinakausap buong araw,” he says.
“That’s the consequence,” Vivoree points out.
“Usually, ako una mag-sorry,” CK admits. “Kasi minsan pag nilalapitan ko siya, poker face lang talaga siya kasi hindi mo siya makakusap nang maayos dahil doon sa ginawa ko. ’Tapos may times na sobrang sungit niya sa akin sa morning, ’tapos pagdating ng gabi, nakipagkulitan ako, nakipagkulitan din naman siya sa akin.”
But all the teasing and bantering aside, the love-team partners have admitted that they know they can lean on each other when the need arises. CK says, “Sinabi naman namin sa isa’t-isa na kapag may problema kami, puwede naman magsabi.”
What You See Is What You Get
No, CK is not courting Vivoree at the moment. It is a statement worth mentioning as some of their fans got confused during their guest appearance in the late night talk show Tonight with Boy Abunda last September 2018.
In one of the segments, host Boy Abunda asked, “Yes or No, CK, nililigawan mo ba si Vivoree?” CK answered, “Darating po kami doon, Tito Boy…Ngayon po ano, ine-enjoy po namin kung anong meron and ’uong pagsasama po namin lagi. And ayun po, happy naman ako na kasama ko siya lagi.”=
Then Tito Boy followed it up with another question, “One to ten, ten being the highest. Nasaan ka sa pakikipagkilala o panliligaw kay Vivoree?”
While the audience were screaming in excitement, CK answered, “Ten po Tito Boy.”
In their interview with StarStudio.ph, CK clarifies his answer: “Scale of 1 to 10, 10 na darating kami doon. So parang ’yung dating kasi sa kanila na ngayon na ’yun. Kasi ang daming dumarating sa aming dalawa na blessings. Parang doon muna kami magfo-focus.”
Vivoree seconds, “Parang ine-enjoy lang namin ’yung friendship namin.”
When asked if real love could happen in the future, Vivoree smiles and answers, “We’ll cross the bridge when we get there.” CK admits, “Puwedeng mangyari.”
It is this kind of truthfulness that puts them above many fellow celebrities of their generation. “Kasi kami, hindi namin iniisip ’yung competition,” CK says. “Hindi namin pinipilit maging in sa mga tao.”
Vivoree concludes, “We’re just being natural. ’Yung difference lang siguro is ’yung friendship namin, iba. We’re starting to get closer talaga. ’Yung friendship namin, talagang mas naging comfortable kami sa isa’t-isa.”
This natural chemistry in evident onscreen, such as in their first movie Petmalu, which was released in September 2018, and they consider it as one of their most memorable experiences today as a love team.
CK recalls, “Masaya kasi parehas naming first movie. Nagtulungan kami. Actually, siya lagi tumutulong sa akin. Kasi di ba walang akong experience sa workshop? Sinasabihan niya ako kapag monotonous na ako.”
Vivoree says that the acting workshops that she had taken before helped them both a lot in making the movie: “Ako, nagwo-workshop ako. Gusto ko siyempre i-share din sa kanya kasi since love team kami, kailangan magtulungan kami. So sinasabi ko, kunwari, ‘More emotions sa mukha.’ Gano’n.”
Their chemistry and their love for their work are also felt by their fans, to whom they have the biggest gratitude. “’Yung fans po talaga, sobrang supportive nila,” Vivoree says. “Siguro kunwari ibang tao ako ’tapos may friend ako na sobrang fan ng ViCK, ’tapos i-introduce ako ng friend na ’yun sa ViCK, I think talagang maho-hook din ako. I think it’s the way the fans react, really.”
To give back, they make sure that they engage with them, at least online. CK shares, “Tinuturing namin sila hindi as fans, kundi as family, friends.” On the set, Vivoree says they do make it a point to interact with their visitors: “Pag binibisita nila kami sa set, we really show them na we appreciate them.”
The ViCK love team has just begun, and with the way they progress, more and bigger projects will surely come their way. To express how they feel about the team-up, we asked the two singers to tell us the songs they would sing for each other.
“I Like Me Better by Lauv,” Vivoree answers, and sings one of the lines from the song, ‘I like me better when I’m with you.’” And explains: “Kasi parang lumalabas ’yung kulit ko kapag kasama ko siya.”
CK pauses before he says, “I Love You So Bad by LANY. Kasi mas na-e-express ko ’yung sarili ko ’pag kasama kita. Kasi ako bihira ako talaga magkaroon ng kaibigan na talagang ’yung ma-express mo sarili mo. Kasi minsan kapag nakaka-meet ka ng mga tao na kapag sumobra ’yung way na i-show mo sarili mo, mami-misinterpret nila ’yung mga galaw. Ako ‘to, e. Napapakita ko kung ano ako sa kanya. Love ko na kasama kita.”
Photography: Stephen Capuchino
Art Direction: Alfred Amado
Hair & Makeup: Jean Pineda
Shoot Assistants: Miguel Broño, Ryan dela Cruz
Shot on Location: Zoomburst Studios