John & Heart: More than meets the eye
By: Maridol RaŮoa-Bismark
From: Philippine Star   [October 18, 2003]


    They remind you of a simpler time and place when the ultimate adolescent thrill was walking in the park, hand-in-hand, with your very first love. When a call (okay, text, in this GenX day and age) was enough to make your heart go flippety-flop.

    John Prats and Heart Evangelista are the modern-day Romeo and Juliet Star Cinema is banking on to set hearts aflame and fastforward the Valentine season to this month via One Love, first episode of the twinbill presentation First Romance.


    Itís easy to see why John and Heart were plucked out of ABS-CBNís roster of talents to bring on the sighs and send dreamy-eyed teenagers off to the Land of Endless Romance.

    The attraction is palpable, even electric. Itís far from put-on. This much the two admit.

    "I miss John when heís not there. It gets difficult when I donít see him for a week," relates Heart.

    Not to be outdone, John comes up with just as syrupy statements: "Love Marie (he calls Heart by her real name)? Iím willing to give her my name!" Figures why hopeless romantics jump the gun and say, "A-ha! Theyíre already an item!"

    But, incredible as it may sound, Heart brushes off these conclusions with a nonchalant "yes, weíre more than friends, but weíre not yet there."

    Itís MU (mutual understanding), in the young unsí parlance. Consider: John, bereft of things to do after watching all the TV shows at 3 a.m., calls Heart, just to hear her voice. At another time, he calls again and wakes her up, never mind if she mumbles unintelligible words in her half-dreaming, half-awake condition.

    Heís also willing to take her, warts and all.

    "I actually find her kakulitan endearing," he admits. "Iíve learned to accept this as a part of her."

    And, if meetings with family are any gauge of how far a relationship has gone, anyone will conclude that John and Heart are indeed that way with each other.

    John has gone fishing with Heartís father, Rey Ongpauco, owner of the Barrio Fiesta chain of restaurants. Heartís knowledge of Johnís family is not just confined to younger sister Camille, but his parents as well.

    The young swain is careful about his behavior though, knowing how protective Heartís Dad is of his only daughter in showbiz. John even makes a joke of it, "Her Dad said he will turn me into a fishing bait if I rub his daughter the wrong way!" referring to their fishing expeditions.

    Daddyís Little Darling is doing her part, though. Heart says she has sung Johnís praises before her Dad, who only allowed her to entertain suitors and have a boyfriend this year, when she turned 18 (John is two years older).

    Ever careful lest she upset dear ole Dad, Heart even told John she wants their relationship legal and out there in the open, not something they must hide from anyone, especially her family.

    "My Dad even cautioned me to go slow about getting involved, not that he has anything against John. Itís just that my father wouldnít want to see my relationship break up just because I happen to be young and new in matters of the heart," she adds.

    Thatís fine with John, whose reply can make any girl swoon: "Thatís ok. I can wait 10 years for her!"

    Swooning is how Heart must have felt when John agreed to watch what turned out to be their favorite movie, the classic Somewhere in Time, upon her insistence. Her regard for him even doubled when she observed what a gentleman John is, in the moviehouse or outside it.

    Can you blame her then, when she pledges solemnly, "I will give John my whole heart, even as she cautions him to Ďplease be careful with my heartí?"

    So let John and Heart continue with their sweet nothings, their frequent exchange of playful pranks, their occasional little spats inevitable, for someone thrown in each otherís company, day in and day out, for the past four years.

    The lines separating work and personal life are inevitably blurred, and it takes a ton of sensibility to differentiate whatís real from whatís reel (e.g. if that heart-melting stare, or those honeyed words are sincere or not).

    Hopefully, John and Heart, incidentally both Valentineís day-born, can tell the difference. That way, they can give adoring fans the kilig factor they want, without falling into the trap of letting everybody elseís expectations rule their hearts and minds.


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