Photography: Stephen Capuchino
Now it can be told: Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil have been together for five years not just as love-team partners but as real-life sweethearts.
In Liza’s interview with Boy Abunda in the late-night talk show, Tonight with Boy Abunda (TWBA), aired on Valentine’s Day, she was asked how long she and Enrique have been officially together. She replied, giggling, “Since 2014.”
She previously told Vice Ganda in the Sunday-night talk show, Gandang Gabi Vice, on its February 10 episode, that their romance began in October more than two years ago. It turns out that the relationship of the pair known as LizQuen goes far back to five years.
Liza and Enrique, nicknamed Quen, first worked together in the Bea Alonzo-Dingdong Dantes starrer, She’s the One, which was released in October 2013. He played David, a college dude who falls in love with an older woman (Bea), and she was his best friend and admirer, Gillian. In the end, David sees Gillian’s true worth, and they end up as a couple.
The young stars made such a lovely pair onscreen and showed that they also have good chemistry together. That’s why their mother network, ABS-CBN, gave them their own teleserye, Forevermore, which ran from October 27, 2014 to May 22, 2015.
Set is Baguio City, Forevermore is a love story between hotel heir Xander and a strawberry farmer’s daughter named Agnes. Little did the show’s viewers know that the lead stars were already in a romantic relationship for real.
In Enrique’s TWBA interview, aired on February 11, he was asked by host Boy Abunda to tell the story behind a photo of him and Liza that was taken on the set of Forevermore in 2014. “Kung saan na-in love siya sa akin!” he said, laughing. But quickly added, “Joke lang!”
He reconsidered his reply, and gave this answer instead: “Kung saan nagsimula ang forever namin. Hundred percent.” When asked for an explanation, he said: “It’s weird. Like before I met her, I had my past girlfriend, but, you know, after that, sabi ko, ‘Di ako mangliligaw. Di ako maggi-girlfriend till I find this girl. Siguro, she’ll just come.’ You know?”
“If you’re searching for something, you’re searching because you want to search,” he added. “But sometimes, if you don’t search, it just comes, and you don’t know. And you don’t have a reason why.”
Enrique said that it wasn’t in Baguio where he and Liza first said “I love you” to each other, but in Australia, where he was then doing a series of shows with the likes of Gerald Anderson. “Coming from taping, I had a tour with sila Gerald, and we went to Australia,” he recalled. “For some reason, I just couldn’t stop thinking about her. Sabi ko, ‘Iba na ’to!’”
“I called her up on the phone,” he added, and went on sharing how their conversation went. “It’s kinda cheesy. I just couldn’t stop thinking about you. Sabi ko, I think eto na yata ’yun. I don’t know, ha, pero baka eto na.”
And Liza’s reaction? “For two seconds, three seconds, she didn’t say anything,” he replied. “And then she said, ‘I think I like you, I love you, too.’ And I was in Australia. I gotta go back home!”
For her part, Liza told Boy Abunda, “Well, of course, I was 16. It was pretty young to have a boyfriend, but I guess…” (Liza turned 21 last January 4, while Enrique turns 27 on March 30.)
Boy got her drift. “But you’re mature,” he told her. “I always tell to people every time I talk to you. Then you were 16, you were thinking like 25.”
He then picked up from an earlier topic, and inquired, “Isinoli mo talaga ’yung flowers and chocolates?”
“No, I kept the chocolates,” she said, “The flowers I couldn’t take home. But, like, I ate the chocolate on the set.”
FAST-FORWARD TO 2019
For the third time since becoming a couple in October 2016, Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil will be celebrating Valentine’s Day together. This year, just like in February 2017, when their movie, My Ex and Whys, was released a day after Hearts Day, they will hardly have time to fix something up.
That’s because the love-team partners, who are known together by their uni-name, LizQuen, have a new movie, titled Alone/Together, which will open in cinemas nationwide on February 13.
“Puno na ang schedule,” says Enrique, nicknamed Quen, explaining why he and his ladylove can’t have a grand V-Day celebration.
Liza chimes in to announce: “Our Valentine’s Day date is our fans because we’re going to several block screenings on February 14.”
From Liza’s IG
But, who knows, Liza and Enrique may squeeze in some couple moments in between those block screenings. “Maybe,” she says. “I don’t think of a whole grand celebration. Maybe a little simple Valentine’s Day date.” To which, he agrees wholeheartedly.
Getting each other a gift for the special occasion is another story, though.
“Wala pa, e,” they admit, almost in unison.
She then explains, “But I don’t think it’s all important. If you guys have been together for how many years already, parang basta magkasama kayo, ’yun na ’yun.”
Out in the Open
It’s Thursday evening when LizQuen have their photo shoot and interview with StarStudio.ph. Three nights later, they guest-starred on Vice Ganda’s talk show, Gandang Gabi Vice. Part of their appearance had them participating in the “Kuryentanong Challenge,” a segment in which they answered questions (for each other first and then from Vice) while one hand is strapped to the lie detector apparatus.
From YouTube (ABS-CBN Entertainment)
At one point during the segment, Vice challenged his guests to come up with “’yung matinding tanong, ’yung magigimbal kaming lahat, gano’n.” So, Enrique asked Liza, “Tingin mo ba talaga, tayo na forever?” His question sent the show’s host and audience in kilig frenzy, especially when Liza answered, “Oo,” and the polygraph test proved she was telling the truth.
When Enrique’s turn came, Vice announced that he’d be the one to ask the question. “Kayo na ba?” the comedian-host coolly inquired. But Enrique only laughed, so Vice repeated his question, “Kayo na ba, yes or no?” This time around, Enrique answered, “Yes.” Vice squealed in excitement and ordered Enrique to take his hand off the lie detector machine. “Sapat na sa ’kin ’yun!” he announced, and went on teasing his two guests, who, until then, had been mum on the real score between them.
Next came Liza’s turn again, and she was asked by Vice, “Matagal na kayo?” Liza played coy, and asked back, “Define matagal.” Vice replied, “More than two years.” Liza then shyly admitted, “Oo.” Vice engaged the couple in a chit-chat before probing into his guests’ relationship, and asked, “Anong month?” Without missing a beat, Liza answered, “October.”
Photo from Liza’s IG
On October 24, 2018, Liza posted an Instagram photo of her and Enrique in a romantic date setting complete with heart-shaped balloons and confetti. She wrote in the caption:” Happy Anniversary Forevermore!” It turned out that they were celebrating their two years as boyfriend and girlfriend.
Photo from Liza’s IG
Liza posted another photo from the same occasion, this time a solo shot of her beloved Quen with this caption: “Never rush something you want to last forever. Grateful to have someone like you in my life.”
For his part, Enrique posted a snapshot of Liza and captioned it this way: “What is life without love? Nothing that’s why you’re my Everything.”
Photo from Enrique’s IG
On the night of LizQuen’s photo shoot and interview with StarStudio.ph, the couple impress everybody with their beauty, energy, and authenticity. Hands down, Liza and Enrique make the loveliest pair in and out of showbiz. Her Amerasian features and his Spanish mestizo attributes match just right to create a picture-perfect image of them.
But Liza, 21, and Enrique, 26, are much more than their physical qualities. They reveal themselves as level-headed, sensitive, and intelligent in our interview as they talk about themselves in their movie, Alone/Together, and in real life.
In the romantic drama directed by Antoinette Jadaone and produced by Black Sheep, Liza plays an idealistic University of the Philippines (UP) student named Christine, while Enrique tackles the role of Raf, a laidback University of Santo Tomas (UST) student.
Both Liza and Enrique joined showbiz at a young age, so they had to put their education on hold. They agree that filming Alone/Together, mostly around the UP Diliman campus, got them thinking about could’ve been university studies.
“It’s at the back of my mind,” Enrique says about picking up from where he left off from a semester in college. “Pero the course that I took up before, now I realized na it wasn’t really me. I really want to take up a course that’s linked with animals, the nature, the environment kasi we have to take care of our planet and the animals with it, too. Since I was a kid, do’n talaga ako. I was really fascinated with it. The beauty of our planet. Do’n talaga ako super, super inclined.”
Given the opportunity, Enrique says he’d like to take up marine biology or herpetology, which is the branch of zoology concerned with replies and amphibians. He’d like to follow in the footsteps of his idol, American biologist and wildlife conservationist Jeff Corwin.
For her part, Liza admits feeling out of place (OP) among her friends, who had all gone to college: “Actually, all the time, especially last year, my best friend graduated from UST. My other friends are graduating this year. Minsan, naiinggit ako or nao-OP ako when they’re talking to each other. And they talk about college life, and I can’t relate at all to their terminology. There are times na nanghihinayang ako na hindi ako naka-graduate on time with them. But I’m also blessed to be having this job, and working at such a young age. To be able to provide for my family.”
She happily reports that she has resume her studies, and is now taking up BS Psychology at Southville International School.
Just like their characters, Liza considers herself as idealistic as Christine, and Enrique is as laidback as Raf. Liza adds, though, that Enrique “has his moments also where he can also be a Christine.” He agrees, “Yeah, both ways,” and goes on explaining, “Hindi naman kami, like, siyempre the characters have to be far apart, black and white. I think in real life, it’s a mix of both of us. Some parts of us are a mix of both characters.”
Photo from Enrique’s IG
In the movie, the characters of Christine and Raf grow up to become more rooted in reality. The lead stars themselves are quite realistic about certain matters, such as in Liza’s words: “Showbiz isn’t forever.”
Enrique concurs: “Showbiz isn’t forever. Life is not forever. I mean, our earth is not forever, so we take care of it. I’m not really blinded by everyday schedule and stuff. I understand that there’s a bigger picture behind all of it.”
Liza supplies an example: “The value or the importance of our lives…”
“Our lives,” Enrique reiterates. “’Yung planet natin, and the people, and family. People kasi it’s all work, work, work for your family, but you don’t really get to spend time with them. Sometimes you work hanggang may sakit ka na. Are you working to get sick or are you working for your family? So parang it’s hard, but in the business, it’s parang you’re away from your family. It opened up my mind and my eye to give importance to the little things. Not just, you know, saving money, saving money.”
But in their heart of hearts, they’ve remained idealistic about certain matters.
“I would say graduating right now,” Liza points out. “I mean, it’s not the most practical thing for me to do now. Like, even though I’m tired from work, I still have to go to school sometimes. But it’s still a dream of mine to graduate and make my Lola proud, so that’s one thing I’m working on.”
Enrique is bullish about starting his own business that will also benefit his family and allow them all to spend more time together. “In the future, sana,” he says, crossing his fingers. “So habang nagtatrabaho ako ngayon, I’m using it just a stepping stone, a foundation, to have business opportunities for the future. ’Yun lang, just to be secure, you know. I really want to spend time with my family and my loved ones.”
“’Yun ang number one sa ’kin is time with them,” says Enrique, whose father succumbed to cancer in 2008. “If you lose a family member, or close to you, you wish na you could spend more time. When it happened to me, it just dawned on me that as much as I can. I know I have to sacrifice a little bit. You have to do what you have to do.”
Photo from Enrique’s IG
In Alone/Together, Liza and Enrique’s characters Christine and Raf break up after two years of being together and they lost touch. Eight years later, they see each other in New York. We then ask LizQuen this question: Do you think that people need to grow apart for them to take their owns paths and become their true selves?
“Depends po sa situation, e,” Enrique replies. “Some people may bring you to the wrong path, might influence you to go to the right path. It really depends.”
Liza is more decisive with her answer. “I don’t necessarily think you have to grow apart from someone, or a relationship from someone, just to discover who you are,” she explains. “If it’s really a healthy relationship, and you guys should be able to grow together.”
Enrique nods in agreement, as Liza continues her explanation. “And discovering things together and individually without having to sacrifice the relationship. If it’s really toxic and you notice that this person is not helping you grow or helping you fly, reach your goals in life, then maybe it is about time you go on separate ways.”
In the end, she agrees with Enrique. “It really depends on the situation,” she says. He interjects, “Depends on the situation. It depends on the relationship, to me. I mean, both ways, you can fly freely with another bird beside you. If someone’s dragging you by the leash… I think the same, depends po.”
Photo from Liza’s IG
When asked how they describe their relationship as a love team, on-and-off-screen, Enrique takes a moment to reply with, “Yeah!”
“Bakit may hesitation?” Liza reacts, mildly chiding her beau with a chuckle.
Enrique is quick on the draw. “No, of course!” he says. “I’m always there for her, and she’s always there for me. If someone’s feeling down, we bring them up, and we tell them to stay on the right path. We help each other out. I think that’s the most important thing. I think communication, knowing what she wants, and not just what I want. What’s good for us, not only what’s good for the other person.
Alone/Together is Liza and Enrique's fourth movie overall. They first worked together in the Bea Alonzo-Dingdong Dantes starrer, She's the One (2013). Since then, they've headlined their teleserye, Forevermore (2014-2015), which officially launched their love team, LizQuen. Two more teleseryes, Dolce Amore (2016) and Bagani (2018), and three solo movies, Just the Way You Are (2015), Everyday I Love You (2015), and My Ex and Whys (2017), LizQuen have remained a top and avidly followed love team.
Liza and Enrique share more insights into their new movie and characters. “They’re different because they’re more mature,” she points out. “Mature in terms of the problems that they’re dealing with. It’s not the kind of problems that our previous characters had to deal with, like, for example, in My Ex and Whys, Cali and Gio were only fighting over like cheating. Stuff like that, but Tin and Raf have bigger problems.”
He adds, “More than just love.” And she goes on explaining, “You know, needs more thinking. You really have to think before you decide.” He thus concludes, “Mas mature ’yung nagkakaproblema ng gano’n. You have to mature to make these decisions.”
Liza points out that Alone/Together is their first movie that’s not a rom-com.
Enrique concurs, “Yeah, it’s not really a rom-com, ’tsaka feeling ko, lahat makaka-relate. Even if you’re young, like there’s a lot of young people now, I think a lot of old people, they still don’t know what they want to do in their life. Parang, ‘Eto na ba ’yun? Parang hindi pa.’ Even for the older people, for sure, may mga dreams sila no’ng mga bata sila. Natuloy ba ’yun? If not, are you still happy? If not, may regrets ka ba? So the point is, it’s never too late. Don’t think of who you are. Think of what you can still be. It’s never too late, as long as there’s time.”
They both believe that like their characters, they’ve also matured as individuals and as a love team. Enrique sums it all up. “We’re maturing, getting older every day,” he says. “Ako kasi, they say, the older you get, the more mature you have to be. I think it’s the other way around. The older I get, the more I should enjoy, take it easy, less stress. I’m not saying to be reckless, still be mature enough and, you know, just take it easy on yourself. It’s still a long road to go, so don’t be hard on yourself now.”
Art Direction: Alfred Amado
Photographer's Associates: Ryan Dela Cruz, Tony Valete