MANILA -- Set to retire in 2019, box-office director Cathy Garcia-Molina is counting down to her last four films, starting with her fifth major project with two young superstars she considers her "anak-anakan," or children in the industry.
That project is the upcoming Star Cinema movie "The Hows of Us," which was formally announced Wednesday shortly after a story conference with its lead stars Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla.
Molina first directed the tandem dubbed "KathNiel" in 2013, in the monster hit "Got to Believe" which ruled its primetime slot for seven months. That was followed by another collaboration a year later, this time for the big screen, with the romance-drama "She's Dating the Gangster."
Two more projects reuniting the trio aired in 2016 and 2017, although Molina's involvement was to a lesser extent. She directed the respective pilot weeks of "Pangako Sa 'Yo" and "La Luna Sangre," both starring Bernardo and Padilla.
This latest reunion, for "The Hows of Us," already takes one slot out of Molina's final four films. Another, she earlier revealed, is reserved for a Piolo Pascual-starrer. Yet announced are the cast of the remaining two, but with Bernardo and Padilla bagging this countdown project, Molina is seen to tap new talents or perhaps other frequent collaborators, like John Lloyd Cruz, Sarah Geronimo, or Bea Alonzo, as her next leads.
Speaking with ABS-CBN News, Molina explained why she considers important having "KathNiel" among the last stars she will direct the big screen, before her retirement.
"Since 'Got to Believe,' I have learned to love the two, not just as actors, but parang anak-anakan ko. Sabi ko nga, ito, bunso ko 'to," she said, gesturing towards Padilla, who was seated beside her.
She added: "But beyond that, I really believe in the talent that these two have. And I know that in my want to make stories and tell new stories, ikalulungkot ko kung meron akong ikikuwentong maganda, at hindi sila ang gaganap."
That story, written by Carmi Raymundo, will explore the perceived tendency of millennials to easily give up or lose interest, when it comes to a job or a relationship.
Specifically, its focal point will be couples and their reasons for choosing to stay together after several years in a relationship, and having gone through the "ligawan stage" or "honeymoon phase."
Molina explained: "This is one question that I've been meaning to ask the millennials. I've been doing research, and I have heard this so many times, and nalulungkot ako.
"Gusto kong gawan ng kuwentong ito, at gusto kong maniwala na meron pang reason to stay in a relationship, for a long time, just like how I have always wanted."
Circling back to having her "children" star in one of her final projects, Molina added, "If there are two people who I would want to direct, or to give life to the characters that this story has, itong dalawa."
"Children," her actual ones, was also Molina's answer in a recent interview aired on "Tonight with Boy Abunda," explaining her decision to retire as early as next year. A mother of two, the filmmaker said it was time to divert her attention to them, having done enough throughout her decades-long career to ensure a comfortable life for them.
"They need me. Twenty-five years of my life, para sa show business, 24 years para sa ABS-CBN. Siguro tama na 'yun. More than half of my life, I have served; it's time that I serve my children," she said.