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Photography: Stephen Capuchino

In Xian Lim’s new movie, Hanggang Kailan, which opens on February 6, he plays a character named Donnie, who’s on the verge of breaking up with his girlfriend Kath (Louise delos Reyes). But instead of simply taking separate ways, they travel together for the last time, in Japan, to formally end their relationship.

In real life, Xian’s relationship with his girlfriend Kim Chiu is doing just fine. For starters, the love-team partners known as KimXi have confirmed being a couple after fending off rumors and speculations of their off-screen romance for years.

Xian shares the full story with StarStudio.ph during a recent photo shoot and interview. He begins by recalling his and Kim’s first onscreen team-up in My Binondo Girl, a primetime teleserye that ran from August 2011 to January 2012.

The TV series, which tackled Filipino-Chinese culture, wasn’t just a breakthrough for KimXi’s career as a love team. It also served as a jumping-off point for their real-life love story. But Xian now reveals to us that he’s had his eye on Kim long before they worked together in My Binondo Girl.

“When I moved to the Philippines noong 2008, wala akong masyadong kilalang artista,” recalls the actor who spent his early life in the U.S. “I only knew a few kasi I don’t really watch TV. I just like staying at home and playing video games. I was like the kid in the corner that doesn’t talk.”

“So when I moved to the Philippines to pursue my basketball career, I saw her billboards,” he continues, shifting the topic to Kim. “Ang dami niyang billboards, e, ’tapos sabi ko, ‘Ohhh, cute!’ I mean, I really thought, ‘She’s so cute.’”

And speaking as an admirer of the actress from faraway, he adds: “Siya ‘yung tipong, parang ’yung feeling na mukhang ibang klase siya magmahal.”

Photo from Instagram (@kimberlyalexander01)
A publicity photo from My Binondo Girl.

Xian finally met Kim on the set of the actress’s 2008 teleserye, My Girl (opposite her love-team partner then, Gerald Anderson), in which he had a bit role.

“In the last episode when they’re getting married—her character and Gerald’s character—I was in the background. I was in the background holding a camera,” he says, laughing at the memory of his nonspeaking role as a photographer.

A few months later, Xian got to work with Kim and Gerald again, this time in the “My Only Hope” episode of the drama anthology, Your Song Presents. He took the chance to have a photo taken with Kim—their first ever!

“Iba ’yung pakiramdam,” he beams. “Hinahangaan ko kasi siya, e. Sabi ko [before], ‘This girl is so cute. Hopefully one day I’ll meet her.’”  

His wish became a reality when My Binondo Girl came along. Kim played the lead role in the teleserye, and the story required her to pose as a boy. Xian, on the other hand, says that his character, Andy, was supposed to be the gay brother of Matteo Guidicelli, who, in turn, was falling for the boy Kim. But as fate would have it, Matteo and Kim’s other leading man, Jolo Revilla, became busy with other projects, so Kim ended up with Xian’s character.

“I didn’t tell anyone this parang ngayon I have the guts,” he tells us.

Photo from Instagram (@friendsofkimxiusa).

A fan-made collage of KimXi kissing scenes.

Xian happily reminisces further: “We had moments na parang we had our first onscreen kiss, so I was, like, ‘Kilig ’to, ah!’ And after that, we just kept on doing scenes together. I wasn’t slowly falling for her. I was quickly falling for her. Do’n nagsimula.”

Then he started giving Kim surprises like teddy bears.

Photo from Instagram (@xianlimm)

Xian posted this photo, tagging Kim, with a caption: “Right now. Tomorrow. And every single day after that.”

He doesn’t give the exact date when their relationship became official, but Xian says they took time to make it public for good reason.

“We were just trying to protect what we have,” he explains. “Once we go public, saying it right away, people are gonna be like, ‘Oh, may pino-promote or may pakulo ’tong loveteam na ’to.’ We’re not trying to keep up with other people, we’re not trying to be relevant. I mean, it’s so just natanong siya, and sinagot na lang. Both of us were ready na aminin siya.”

On His Love for Art

Another love that Xian vocally speaks about is his passion for art. “I started painting when I was in high school,” he says. “I already love drawing. Ang dami kong drawings no’ng bata pa ako, e, and my mom would keep it. My passion really started when I was in high school. I just kept on drawing and drawing and drawing, and I would just always keep it to myself.”

Photo from Instagram (@xianlimm).

On Xian’s post he captioned: “As long as you’ve got passion, faith, and the willingness to work hard, you can do anything you want in this life.”

Xian has successfully mounted a couple of art shows in Japan, such as in the cities of Osaka and Tokyo, in 2018. Here in the Philippines, he’s had exhibits in places like Pinto Art Museum.

“Recently, siguro mga 2 years ago, I started doing shows,” he recalls. “Parang maybe it’s time to do an exhibit, but not really promote it in a commercial way.”

Xian signs his artworks with Alexander Lim, as his full name is Alexander Xian Lim.

Photo from Instagram (@xianlimm)
Photo from 2015: Xian posed with Kim, and behind them is his “Rizal” painting.

To Xian, art is not a hobby but something that he really wanted to do, plus music on the side. “I took classes,” he says. “My whole high school years was art and band, even in college.”

On his spare days, he usually goes to National Museum with some friends to get more inspiration.

Photo from Instagram (@xianlimm)

Xian making a portrait, sometime in 2015.

“I love seeing the works of this one person. His name is Damien Deroubaix. He’s a German artist,” Xian says. As for Filipino artists, he looks up to a couple: “I love the works of Malang and Ben Cab. I’ve always been a fan of their works.”

On His New Breakup Movie

The irony of Xian’s happy love life and heartbreaking movie isn’t lost on the actor. He’s just as excited with this big-screen project with Louise delos Reyes.

Photo from Instagram (@xianlimm)

Behind the scenes of Hanggang Kailan, shot in the Japanese city of Saga.

Xian says that there are “no grand gestures” in Hanggang Kailan, and it’s not a “dialogue-heavy” film either.

He then goes on narrating: “It’s a story of Donnie [Xian] and Kat [Louise]. It’s what maybe their last four days in the relationship, sa Japan. Sa mga nakapanood ng trailer, we were just having the time of our lives in Japan. But one night, she heard me talking to someone. I was saying ‘I love you’ to that person.

“When watching this film matatanong mo talaga [ang] sarili mo, ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ Hanggang kailan ko ba kayang mag-tiis? Hanggang kailan ko kayang magsakripisyo? ‘Hanggang kailan ba magtatagal ’tong ginagawa ko?’ So ayun, this is a love story. But masakit na type of love story.”

Xian recalls that he and Louise were awkward to each other at first. “Kasi there are times na parang magkakilala na kayo, like, you guys see each other at times, like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ But in this case, ngayon lang. We read the script, we were aware na parang they’re in a 2-year mark na in the relationship. So ’yun parang mga naging challenge namin. Our only chance [to get along] was one or two workshops ’tapos ’yung flight namin sa Japan.”

Eventually, the two stars warmed up to each other. They then were able to play their characters and bring life to the story of Donnie and Kath.

Art Direction: Alfred Amado

Hair & Make-Up: Jean Pineda

Photographer's Associates: Ryan Dela Cruz and Tony Valete