In Philippine media, one formula that may not fade away anytime soon is the use of love teams. It is perhaps the backbone of any film or TV show with romance as its genre or subplot.
Love teams have become so prevalent in the Philippines that they have turned into a cultural fixture among viewers, which in turn, has further fueled the showbiz industry to milk our favorite pairings in their marketing and merchandise.
Some of the most popular couples that have dominated the media in the past few years include Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, Nadine Lustre and James Reid, as well as Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil. Because of their time spent working together on various projects, it was perhaps inevitable that some, like them, have turned their on-screen relationship into a real one.
As someone who frequently ships fictional characters with each other, I can understand the joy found in knowing that your favorite pairing from the TV show or film that you like has decided to pursue their romantic chemistry beyond the script and the cameras.
Some people, however, tend to become overly devoted to their love teams that they could blur the lines between what's real and what's fictional. They forget that the on-screen couples they are rooting for are still merely actors trained to entertain them, and that they should not be forced to turn their fictional sparks into a real one if they choose not to and if they are in relationships of their own off-screen.
The most recent love team that has been making waves is that of Barbie Forteza and David Licauco, which was brought about by their impeccable chemistry and flawless performance in the hit fantasy teleserye Maria Clara at Ibarra. It also helps that the two of them take on the classic enemies-to-lovers trope, in which Barbie's strong and resilient character Klay manages to change the sexist and misogynistic views of David's Fidel.
Unlike Kathryn and Daniel's case, however, two of them can't turn their on-screen romance into a reality, as Barbie is currently in a relationship with her celebrity boyfriend of nearly six years, actor Jak Roberto.
Despite this, many are seemingly choosing to ignore this fact. The pair had been featured in an episode of Fast Talk with Boy Abunda, wherein Boy asked David if he would court his co-star if she were single, to which he said yes.
That little question became a feasting ground for Barbie and David shippers, with some forcing onto Barbie that she has better compatibility with David rather than Jak.
One user wrote, "Naiinis nanaman ako, hanggang kilig nalang ba talaga? Sana naging sila nalang, mas pogi si David. I feel sorry for Jak Roberto."
Another one said. "Barbie, mas comfortable ka at may chemistry kayo ni David, and the way that he made you smile like that. Happiness is a choice, baka your home is with him."
"Jak Roberto, alis ka nalang sa buhay ni Barbie," a social media user commented in their video.
Celebrities should never have to feel controlled by their fans and inhibited from pursuing the person that their heart truly desires.
As I encountered more comments like these, I could not help but wince at the lack of respect for Barbie and Jak's relationship. It is important that viewers escape from this delusional bubble that they've trapped themselves in and pin it into their brains that love teams are there to merely entertain.
If the actors involved fall in love with each other, then so be it, but you should not force your romantic excitement onto them and pressure them to get together.
It is understandable that some fans are just too entangled with the lives of their favorite on-screen pairing. This is likely due to a condition called "celebrity worship syndrome." According to Psychology Today, this is described as an "obsessive-addictive disorder where an individual becomes overly involved and interested with the details of the personal life of a celebrity."
My sentiments echo that of an opinion column by Daily Titan, a student publication of the California State University, which stressed that this kind of obsession "has the power to hurt celebrities" and that there has to be "boundaries between fans and celebrities' lives."
Have we learned nothing from what happened to Maine Mendoza and Alden Richards?
To recall, Maine and Alden became the dominant love team from 2015 to 2016 after being paired in Eat Bulaga. However, their on-screen romance never came to fruition, and they eventually went their separate ways, opting to pursue solo projects. Maine revealed in November last year that she is still being bothered by "delusional" fans who think that she and Alden are married and have kids.
This is quite a bothersome reality in the Philippines. Celebrities should never have to feel controlled by their fans and inhibited from pursuing the person that their heart truly desires.
The hard-to-swallow truth is that celebrities are real people, and you cannot have a say in who they love.
You must always remember that love teams are merely a strategy used by the showbiz industry to boost their projects. These pairings have no obligation to make their on-screen romance real, just as you don't have the power to force it.