Photography: Stephen Capuchino
According to Kisses Delavin, that’s the first word she could recall Donny Pangilinan telling her when they first met at a Star Cinema go-see sometime in 2017. Kisses, the 19-year-old Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) Lucky Season 7 Big Second Placer, explains that Donny, the 21-year-old VJ from MYX, was asking for a photo op at that time, and the former happily obliged.
Kisses and Donny sure enjoy having their photos taken, just like on their joint photo shoot with StarStudio.ph one fine Monday afternoon.
In this interview, they look back on their first close encounter, and consider it as a simple yet heartwarming way of forming a new friendship.
They hasten to add, though, that they never thought their newly formed friendship then would lead them to becoming the popular DonKiss love team that they are today.
IN THE BEGINNING
Donny and Kisses agree that their love team began right after her 18th birthday party, which happened almost two years ago on her actual birthday, May 1, at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati.
Photo from Instagram (@niceprintphoto).
She had him as her first escort after her fans expressed their support for their pairing during the “Push Now” segment of the entertainment news website push.com.ph. Her Star Magic manager, Luz Bagalacsa, who’s also called CaptLuz in showbiz circles, made the pairing possible.
“They should thank CaptLuz kasi [siya] ’yung nakakita kay Donny ’tapos [tinanong] niya kung puwede akong i-escort pababa ng stairs,” Kisses narrates. “Then, Donny said yes.”
However, after enjoying the big hype of their rising partnership, they did not cross paths for several months. Their supporters got worried and clamored for their return to the limelight. Their prayers were answered when acclaimed movie director Jose “Joey” Javier Reyes cast DonKiss in his millennial film, Walwal, along with other Kapamilya young stars.
Photo from IMDb.
Kisses can’t forget that it was February 2018 when she received a text message, asking if she would be interested in playing a geeky girl in Direk Joey’s movie. She liked the idea, so she immediately said yes.
Two days later, she found out that she got the role through a tweet by Direk Joey himself, who also confirmed Donny as her onscreen partner.
Screengrabbed from Twitter (@DirekJoey).
While working in the movie, Kisses and Donny’s friendship began to blossom. She now considers the time he treated her with sticks of fish ball quite memorable. She elaborated on the story on her and Donny’s guesting on Magandang Buhay. “Nakakita siya ng nagtitinda ng fish ball, and then ibinili niya po [ng fish ball] siya at ako,” she told hosts Melai Cantiveros, Jolina Magdangal and Karla Estrada.
Photo from ABS-CBN Entertainment.
The tandem then tell us that they have a shared fondness for food and internet memes. “We both love eating and laughing,” the love-team partners say in chorus, chuckling.
When asked to describe each other in one word, Donny replies that Kisses is unique. “Wala siyang kagaya sa buong mundo,” he beams. She looks at him with a smile, and tells him how sweet he is for saying so.
Kisses, on the other hand, praises Donny at how he treats his siblings. (Donny is the second in the brood of five of actress Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan and TV host Anthony Pangilinan.) And how he treats her, too.
“Mabuti siyang kapatid,” she remarks. “Mabuti siyang kuya sa mga kapatid niyang maliit, at mabuti siyang little bro sa ate niya. And he’s a gentleman [because] every time naka-gown ako, he helps me with it ’tapos pag naka-heels ako, aalalayan niya ’ko.”
For his part, Donny treasures the special bond that he’s formed with Kisses. “Ang dami naming pinagdaanan in a short span of time,” he points out. “First teleserye, first movie, at first movie sa MMFF, kaming dalawa ang magkasama. To go through that with someone, it’s so special. We did all of that.”
Since their first movie, Walwal, was released in June 2018, #DonKiss was cast in the afternoon TV drama series, Playhouse, which premiered three months later, and in the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) 2018 entry, Fantastica.
BIG TV DEBUT
Donny and Kisses consider working in Playhouse, with Angelica Panganiban and Zanjoe Marudo as lead stars, both a challenging and learning experience.
Photo from Facebook (Universal Records Philippines).
He mentions some hardships that he encountered at first, like finding the right emotion for one specific line and how to work with actors he is not familiar with.
“It was very new,” he says. “Iba talaga ’yung teleserye. It’s very different, and the pressure is different, but because of the cast and everyone behind it, it became very fun to do.”
After hurdling the initial challenges, DonKiss got to enjoy more working on the teleserye. They feel very blessed to be working with Angelica and Zanjoe, whose kindness they wholeheartedly appreciate.
“I feel very blessed na parang naging pamilya na sila,” Donny says. “We’ve learned so much from them, watching them, being down-to-earth, welcoming you.”
“Actually, may natutunan akong maganda kay Ate Angelica,” Kisses adds. “Ang gist ng sinabi niya ay huwag mong kalimutan tumawa. Na-amaze ako [na] nakakatawa siya sa dami ng pinagdaanan niya sa buhay kasi kung malalaman mo ’yung story about Ate Angge, ma-i-inspire ka na she still manages to smile. Wala siyang grudge. Masaya pa rin siya, and I feel inspired about that.”
Photo from ABS-CBN Entertainment.
Playhouse likewise inspired DonKiss in many ways, particularly in improving their acting skills, which they take note of when watching their past episodes.
“We were so clueless,” Donny recalls of their acting in the first episodes. “Parang hindi namin alam kung ano ginagawa namin. Parang nagsasabi lang kami ng lines. It’s good because it shows improvement, how much we’ve gotten more confident and comfortable with acting. It was really nice to use Playhouse as a perfect training ground.”
“Doon mo ma-re-realize na life is a process,” Kisses interjects. “You can’t jump into being the best immediately. It’s a process.”
DonKiss are awed by their participation in the MMFF top-grossing entry, Fantastica, whose all-star cast was led by one of the biggest box-office draws today, the Unkabogable Star Vice Ganda.
Photo from IMDb.
“It’s an MMFF movie,” Kisses says of the annual filmfest that runs during the Christmas season without competition from foreign productions. “I think every actor and actress wants to be [part of it] kasi it’s a unique experience.:
The young actress admits, though, that she was nervous at first at how her MMFF acting debut would turn out.
Photo from Star Cinema.
She explains, “Alam mo ’yung when you’re so excited for something, you want it to turn out great so you’re so nervous. So iniisip ko, ‘This should be good! This is my one chance!’
“So iniisip ko na sana maganda ’yung kalalabasan. Pero at the end of the day, I realized that if you just enjoy it, just give your heart out, makakaya mo. Then, trust the process.”
Donny has only gratitude for his fellow actors in Fantastica for being humble and helpful on the set, especially the award-winning actress Jaclyn Jose, as well as the established stars Dingdong Dantes, and Richard Gutierrez.
Photo from Star Cinema.
“It’s just an amazing experience to learn again from these people,” Donny says.
Kisses goes on narrating how lead star Vice Ganda had been on top of everything during the filming process. “Very hands-on siya sa set—sa script may input siya, sa wigs [naming princesses] on set inaayos niya,” Kisses recalls. “Siya ang puso ng pelikula talaga.”
The duo concludes the interview by narrating their experience during the MMFF Parade of Stars, which took place on December 23 and around some areas in Paranaque City. It was raining so hard, and Kisses loved it because her childhood dream of getting wet in the rain finally came true. She also commends the DonKiss fandom for braving the heavy rain to show their support to them.
Indeed, Donny and Kisses have left a special mark in the hearts of their fans. As they go on with their love team and their individual careers, their huge fanbase would always be there, cheering them on as they rise, ever so surely, to the heights of success.
Art Direction: Alfred Amado
Hair & Make-Up: Jean Pineda
Photographer's Associate: Tony Valete