MANILA -- For the past weeks, "Kath & Vince" has been trending on social media. It has flooded newsfeeds of major social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
"Kath & Vince" has become a common expression referring to the viral love story of a college beauty queen and a varsity player. Behind this story is a 21-year-old mother, who spends most of her time singing lullabies and breastfeeding her children.
The birth of 'Kath & Vince'
It was a typical morning when Jenny Ruth Almocera, also known as Queen Ely, decided to play Mozart's "Lullaby" as she cradled her 7-month-old daughter to sleep.
The baby slowly fell asleep as the warmth of the sun intensified. Mozart's music continued to play, inviting the young mother to hum with it. She used to be a great singer. She was the grand champion of a campus-wide talent search when she was still an engineering student in Mapúa Institute of Technology.
As she placed her daughter on her crib, she picked her phone and skimmed through dozens of unread messages in her inbox. Nostalgia struck her as she typed the keypad. She suddenly remembered sweet messages she received from her many suitors during her college days. Recalling the sweet texts, she then decided to simulate a conversation through the mobile app YASSY.
It took her an hour to finish the story. It was quick because she was "full of inspiration" as she was typing every word. The young mother is an expert in texting. She was in her teenage years when SMS boomed.
So, in that warm morning, the viral story of "Kath & Vince" was published on the Facebook page Life and Social Media. According to Almocera, she had no intention of making the story go viral. All she wanted was to share her thoughts.
"Kahit sino naman kayang gawin 'yon," she told ABS-CBN News.
According to her, it was not the first time that she attempted to write a story. She occasionally writes short stories, which she bases on personal experiences. Her past stories, however, did not receive much attention. But this time, she broke the Internet with a story that aims to bring back the "kilig" to her readers.
"Usually, gumagawa talaga ako ng mga short stories. Kaso iyong mga stories na 'yon may ending na agad," she said. "This time, pero gusto ko 'yong hindi pa certain ang ending. 'Yong makaka-relate ang lahat, 'yong ibabalik mo ang kilig."
Meet the mother, writer
Almocera is a full-time mother to her children and a doting wife to her 36-year-old husband, who works as a call center agent. She met her partner when she was still working as a freelance model.
Born in Quezon City, her family decided to relocate to Bacolod when she was only seven years old. Years after, she returned to Manila to continue her studies in MAPUA. But she had to stop because of financial problems.
She has eight siblings. Her father left them when she was very young.
Almocera wanted to return to school but her plans did not materialize. Life had better plans for her.
Three years ago, she met the man who would make her feel "like a princess." In an interview with ABS-CBN News, she recalled the "kilig moments" that her partner did for her.
"Isu-surprise niya ako bigla sa work na may dalang maraming bulaklak tapos magtitilian 'yong mga kasama ko dahil talagang sweet siya," she recalled. "Kung anong gusto mong kainin, ihahanda niya talaga. Kahit ayaw niya."
They are now living together in Quezon City. According to Almocera, they have plans of getting married, but "that will come soon."
Her past experiences have guided Almocera in writing the story of "Kath and Vince." Although she does not really like reading books, the young writer uses her imagination and her friend's stories to create "kilig" lines.
"Galing 'yong story sa mga random people na nakilala ko sa buhay ko. Simula noong college ako, sa mga kaibigan, sa mga umiyak sa akin, sa mga kilig moments nila," she said. "Lahat ng mga kwentong napakilig at napaiyak ako, 'yon ang naging inspiration ko."
According to her, Vince is the typical campus heartthrob: tall, dark, handsome. Kath, on the other hand, is the college beauty who is looking for genuine love.
"Sa totoo lang, 'yong asawa ko siya 'yong Vince. Siya ang pinaghuhugutan ko kung gaano ka-sweet si Vince. Sobrang sweet niya talaga," she added. "Lahat ng ginawa ni Vince, ginawa niya 'yon lahat."
She also said that she sometimes writes the stories with her partner.
"Sinasabi ko 'yon sa kanya habang sinusulat ko 'yong story. Sinasabi ko, 'babe ikaw 'to oh,'" she said.
As of this writing, the page Life and Social Media has close to 900,000 followers. More people are expected the follow the page as she releases the story's 12th chapter.
Despite her growing social media community, Almocera revealed that she has also been receiving a number of negative comments and messages from people. But she only laughs at the negative feedback.
"Simula noong inumpisahan ko 'yong page, sinabi ko na sa sarili ko na hindi maiiwasan 'yong mga ganyan so huwag nalang pansinin. Tinatawanan ko na lang," she said.
According to her, she has many supporters who send her messages of appreciation and gratitude. Some are teens and young adults, while others are middle-aged housewives.
"May mga nagsasabi na 'Ma'am, ilabas niyo na po 'yong istorya. Sobrang kinikilig ako. Please, ilabas niyo na po. Eto na lang po ang nagpapakilig sa akin," she revealed.
There are even messages coming from OFWs working in as far as the Middle East. Almocera said she dedicates a lot of time in responding to comments and messages. Her personal Facebook account receives over 500 messages daily, while the page receives over 1,000.
"Hindi po ako nagbabasa ng ganito, pero dahil dito sa story na ito, kinikilig ako," one of her readers told her.
According to Almocera, she wants to inspire and change people with her story. She noted, however, that she is not asking all men to be like the character of Vince.
"Hindi mo kailangan maging perfect or maging mayaman parang si Vince. Kailangan lang mag-effort ka," she said.
She also has a simple tip to men, who want to make their partners feel extra special: "Never stop courting your girl, everyday, Never stop. 'yan ang gusto ng mga babae. 'Yong mga biglaang moments, biglaang kilig, biglaang surprises. Huwag ninyong ititgil. dapat consistent ka."
What's next for Kath, Vince?
Now that the story is close to its ending, Almocera told her readers that there will be a big surprise that will be revealed in the next chapters.
"Abangan talaga nila! Napag-isipan ko na kung paano ko gagawin ang story," she teased. "May talagang nakakakilig na part. Kahit ako kinikilig ako habang sinusulat ko."
According to her, she has also been receiving offers from small film production houses that want to turn the story into a movie. She is now looking for people who will portray the character of Vince and Jake. She herself will be Kath.
Almocera also shared that she will pursue a career as a writer. She is set to write another story, which will focus on the value of family. Although she admits that she has yet to learn many things, her burning desire to bring back "kilig" and hope to her readers will keep on pushing her to write more stories.
"Hangga't may magbabasa pa at kikiligin sa stories ko, I will keep writing," she said.