Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo's test pairing in 2012 via "Princess and I," where the actress had two other leading men, proved a massive hit with primetime viewers and has since become arguably the most successful "love team" of their generation.
That year, according to 22-year-old Padilla, was also the beginning of their "long-term relationship" — a term the army of "KathNiel" fans had yet to hear from the actor, nor 22-year-old Bernardo, as they've never gone on record to confirm being an official couple.
Padilla and Bernardo's shared experiences over the past six years have become a well for them to draw from, specifically for their latest film, Star Cinema's "The Hows of Us," about why couples choose to stay together over a long period of time.
"Itong storya na 'to, malapit sa amin mismo ni Kathryn," Padilla said. "Kasi parang na sa long-term relationship na rin naman kami ni Kathryn, 6 years."
Padilla was seated beside Bernardo and Cathy Garcia-Molina, who will direct the film, in a huddle with reporters shortly after the project's story conference Wednesday night.
He continued: "Kami mismo, nagtatanong kaming dalawa ni Kathryn. Minsan, magtatanong ka rin, ano nga ba ang rason? Hindi lang namin kami iyon, I think. Sa lahat talaga, merong struggle, hindi naman palagi masaya. Itong movie na 'to, tuturuan tayo, kami rin ni Kathryn -- ano nga ba 'yung mga dahilan?"
The two revealed that this was the topic of a conversation they had while on a recent vacation in Thailand -- a heart-to-heart talk of sorts.
He explained: "Kasi 'yung iba, nagkakaroon na ng family, so nagkakaroon na ng something to hold on to. Hawak ng asawa mo 'yung baby niyo. Iba 'yung epekto noon, e. Ito ang pamilya ko, e. Pero hindi pa kami doon, so ano pa?"
"The Hows of Us," written by Carmi Raymundo, will explore this apparent tendency of the younger generation -- of easily giving up or losing interest, when it comes to a job or a relationship.
By Padilla's admission, he and Bernardo are no strangers to going through different phases of a long-standing relationship. Like any other, they've experienced the so-called "ligawan stage" and "honeymoon phase" -- and also what comes after those.
After the huddle with reporters, Padilla explained to ABS-CBN News online why he could readily dissect the concept of the film.
He said: "Kaya may hugot, dahil iyon naman ang nangyayari sa amin ngayon. Six years na kami, mag-si-6 years na kaming magkasama, 'yun relationship namin mismo. Ano nga ba ang pinagdadaanan?
"Ako, may pinagdadaanan ding questions. Ako, bakit nga ba? Minsan, hindi mo na nga ba mahal ang taong ito? Tama ba na tigilan namin ito? Kasi may mga tanong na gano'n, e."
Agreeing on the perceived tendency of millenials to be fickle in numerous aspects, he continued: "Sa panahon ngayon, the problem is, ang bilis na natin bumitaw talaga. Parang, 'Hay, hindi na ako kinikilig or something, ayoko na, tapusin na natin.' Gano'n agad. Pero, hindi na ba dapat ito pinaglalaban?"
Padilla went on to tackle the central question of "The Hows of Us" -- on what reasons there are to stay after many years of being a couple before marriage. (Listen to the full audio clip below.)
Applying the question to his own personal experience, Padilla said: "Kagaya kami ni Kathryn, ako nag-isip ako, 'Ano pa puwede gawin namin?' Ang dami pa naming mga bagay na hindi nagagawa nang magkasama. So kailangan tingnan ang big picture.
"Kailangan mong i-feel na itong tao na 'to, partner ko na 'to. Naniniwala ako na someday magiging partner ko na siya habang buhay. So kailangan mo ang bigger picture all the time, kung paano mo tinitingnan ang sitwasyon. Para sa akin gano'n lang."
For Padilla, the answer also lies in remembering the sacrifices and good things the partner, in this case Bernardo, has done for the other person in the relationship.
"'Ano nga ba ang ginawa ng taong ito para sa akin?' Iyon ang lagi mong tatandaan. Ako, gano'n ako. Huwag ka lang makakalimot. Lagi mong tandaan ang utang na loob mo sa taong iyon, and I think doon nanggagaling 'yung love na sinasabi. 'Yung pagmamahal na aksyon, hindi lang the word itself. 'Yung actions mismo," he said.