As a kid who grew up in the 90’s, I was one of those little fangirls who finished their assignments immediately so I could watch Pinoy telenovelas at night.
Even on weekends, the television set was reserved for me in the afternoons to watch teen-oriented shows in the hopes that one day, I would be able to hang out with good friends, travel and of course, meet that someone special to serve as my inspiration (how idealistic, right?).
The 90’s was an interesting era for Philippine TV. Due to the influence of Mexican telenovelas, the two giant networks gambled and produced their own teleseryes shown during the primetime slot.
With leading ladies portraying relatable characters, it was also the time when several ‘boy-next-door’ turned leading men emerged. Eventually, loveteams were born. Social media wasn’t a thing back then so fans had to buy magazines, printed posters and photos in order to satisfy their fangirling needs. Fanwars were done thorugh tabloids, fan magazines, and even in person.
Now that I am in my 30’s, it‘s nice to reminisce about some of the Pinoy TV loveteams who made a mark and find out what they’re up to these days. Some stars had box-office movies under their belt while others even fell in love for real at some point.
Are you ready to feel that 90’s kilig again? Let’s gooooo!
NOTE: Many loveteams surfaced during this decade, but we will focus on the tandems who appeared in top-rating primetime teleseryes with box-office hit movies.
Judy Ann Santos and Wowie De Guzman
Before Piolo Pascual and Ryan Agoncillo entered the picture, Wowie De Guzman always had a special spot in the hearts of loyal Juday fans.
I remember clearly watching Judy Ann Santos in Mara Clara during its original afternoon timeslot. I pitied her character Mara every time Clara (Gladys Reyes) fought with her. Back then, these two characters needed some time off from their personal grudges and family issues. The management decided to add a new character to serve as Mara’s inspiration to do better in life.
Though ABS-CBN had a number of talented male talents back then, they picked a charming dancer from Universal Motion Dancers or UMD to be her romantic partner in the show. Enter Wowie De Guzman who played the role of Christian.
The Juday-Wowie tandem was a big hit even after Mara Clara ended in 1997. The two starred in movies produced by Regal Films and Star Cinema: Sana Naman, Kung Alam Mo Lang, Mara Clara: The Movie, Wow Multo, Paano Ang Puso Ko?, Muling Ibalik Ang Tamis Ng Pag-ibig, Nasaan Ka Nang Kailangan Kita? My Pledge of Love, Kasal-Kasalan (Sakalan), Esperanza: The Movie and Dito Sa Puso Ko and Luv Text, among others.
In an interview with Startalk, Judy Ann admitted that she and Wowie became an item. Right after doing the teleserye Esperanza, Juday was paired with Piolo Pascual and we all know how successful their onscreen partnership turned out. On the other hand, Wowie’s projects weren’t received as well by fans and eventually, he stepped back from the limelight.
NOW: Judy Ann Santos still appears in TV and movies occasionally, though she has reached that stage in her career where she chooses quality projects and prefers to concentrate on her family life. If you miss her, you can follow her cooking vlog at Judy Ann’s Kitchen on YouTube.
Meanwhile, Wowie De Guzman is now working as a Zumba instructor and devotes his time taking care of his daughter as a single dad. He appears on TV occasionally to dance with his former group mates. Is a one-off reunion project still possible? We hope so!
Angelu De Leon and Bobby Andrews
If ABS-CBN had Judy Ann Santos, I can safely say that Angelu De Leon was GMA and Viva Television’s bet for stardom in the late 90’s.
Starting her showbiz career as a cast member of Ang TV, Angelu eventually signed up with Viva and starred as the lovely Peachy in the Saturday youth-oriented show T.G.I.S (Thank God It’s Sabado) on GMA. With Angelu being the more senior member in terms of popularity, choosing the right onscreen partner for her was crucial. With a bunch of good-looking co-stars, Angelu had the best chemistry with Bobby Andrews, who played the role of Wacks.
Because of the impact of the Bobby-Angelu loveteam, the two were given their own primetime teleserye Ikaw na Sana in 1998. They also starred in box-office movies like Takot Ka Ba Sa Dilim, TGIS: The Movie, Laging Naroon Ka and Wala Na Bang Pag-Ibig?
Back then, fans of Bobby-Angelu and Judy Ann-Wowie often bickered in fan magazines. Yes, fans had to wait for their letters to be published in print magazines! It was that hard!
However, the tandem’s rise to stardom was cut short when Angelu De Leon announced that she was pregnant with her then-boyfriend Joko Diaz (a popular 90’s action star). Though she made a showbiz comeback with movies Ang Lahat ng Ito’y Para Sa’yo and Bulaklak ng Maynila, she wasn’t really able to regain her status. Back then, the showbiz industry was not as open-minded as they are now.
So, were Bobby and Angelu an item back then? The answer is NO. Bobby Andrews admitted that he had a crush on Angelu, but he never really pursued her off-cam. Angelu had a brief relationship with T.G.I.S. co-stars Michael Flores and Onemig Bondoc before the show started.
Bobby and Angelu also call each other ‘soulmates’. The two were paired in the early 2000’s in the teleserye Sana ay Ikaw na Nga as second leads to Dingdong Dantes at Tanya Garcia. They also starred in GMA-7’s afternoon series Buena Familia much to the delight of their loyal fans.
NOW: Both Bobby and Angelu are still active in showbiz. The pair reunited in the TV5/Viva series ‘Di Na Muli shown in 2021. Both stars entered politics and ran for councilors in different districts for the May 2022 polls. Angelu de Leon topped Pasig's 2nd district. However, Bobby Andrews failed to win a seat in the city council of Quezon's City's 4th district placing 8th in the official count.
With viewers craving for nostalgic films, we wouldn't be surprised if Viva will soon produce a reunion movie project for them. I mean… please?
Jolina Magdangal and Marvin Agustin
With TV loveteams whose projects are focused on dramatic storylines, the birth of Jolina Magdangal and Marvin Agustin’s tandem was a much needed breath of fresh air. For me, they were THE original primetime TV romantic-comedy sweethearts.
Their chemistry was apparent when Jolina became a cast member of the Saturday youth-oriented show Gimik as the bubbly Ese where Marvin, who played Joey, was already part of the mainstay cast. The development of Joey (Marvin) and Ese’s (Jolina) love story was relatable.
To test their fanbase, the two were chosen to star in Flames: The Movie in 1997 appearing on the first episode titled ‘Tameme’ (the second pair was Rico Yan and Claudine Barretto in ‘Pangako’) which became a huge hit. During those days, Jolina released a number of OPM songs which ignited every young girl’s dream to meet their own 'Prince Charming.'
Star Cinema paired up the duo in more young adult romance comedies like Kung Ayaw Mo, Huwag Mo!, Labs Kita…Okay Ka Lang? Gimik: The Movie and Hey Babe!. Eventually, they were given their own primetime series ‘Labs Ko si Babe’, which had a lighter storyline compared to the projects of their contemporaries.
In an unexpected turn of events, Jolina Magdangal transferred to GMA-7 in 2002. Marvin Agustin followed in 2006.
GMA-7 was aware of Marvin and Jolina’s strong and loyal fanbase so they paired them anew in TV and projects like I Luv NY, Iglot, Adik Sa’Yo and the Sunday drama anthology show Dear Friend.
Eventually, the two moved back to ABS-CBN in 2014 and starred in the afternoon series Flordeliza playing more mature roles as parents.
Though Marvin and Jolina were the ‘almost perfect’ romantic-comedy pair, the two didn’t have a formal romantic relationship, although there’s no doubt that they had a mutual understanding. Earlier this year, the two even shared photos traveling around Singapore, which sparked a wave of nostalgia among fans.
NOW: Apart from his occasional acting gigs, Marvin Agustin is now a successful restaurateur. Jolina Magdangal is currently one of the hosts of the Kapamilya morning show Magandang Buhay with Melai Cantiveros.
Before the pandemic, there were rumors that a Marvin-Jolina movie reunion project was under development. We’re patiently waiting…
Claudine Barretto and Rico Yan (+)
Got to believe in magic… tell me how two people find other in a world that is full of strangers…
The reel-to-real partnership of Claudine Barretto and Rico Yan made a lot of young fans long for their own special love story.
When the two first met on the set of the ensemble film Radio Romance in 1995, Claudine Barretto was already an established teen actress considered showbiz royalty. Rico Yan was that cute commercial model who captured the hearts of many (mine included).
There was a time when ABS-CBN tried to pair Judy Ann Santos with Rico Yan, but the former was already identified with Wowie De Guzman. Claudine Barretto was being groomed to be a competent drama actress and needed a good partner who she could build a natural onscreen relationship with.
Claudine Barretto and Rico Yan became household names and fan favorites when they starred as Via and Gabriel in Mula sa Puso in 1996. In those days, Claudine even became a threat to Judy Ann’s reign as the drama princess of ABS-CBN. The success of Mula Sa Puso led them to be paired once again in Saan Ka Man Naroroon, where Claudine played the role of triplets with contrasting personalities.
The two were paired in movies like Madrasta, Flames: The Movie (‘Pangako’ episode), Mula sa Puso: The Movie and the iconic romantic drama Dahil Mahal na Mahal Kita in 1998, where the two showcased their acting prowess and undeniable chemistry.
Perhaps, Pinoy movie fans best remember this tandem in the 2002 romance-comedy movie Got 2 Believe and for a time, it was the most successful Pinoy rom-com movie.
Unfortunately, Rico Yan passed away while on vacation at the Dos Palmas Resort in Puerto Princesa, Palawan in March 29, 2002. The actor’s untimely death at the age of 27 due to acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis broke a lot of hearts.
Claudine Barretto’s showbiz continued to flourish when she appeared in teleseryes of ABS-CBN like Sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan, Marina, Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin, Walang Kapalit and Iisa Pa Lamang. She also did shows for GMA-7 and TV 5 like Iglot and Bakit Manipis ang Ulap?
In terms of movies, Claudine starred in iconic Star Cinema movies like Anak, Kailangan Kita Milan, Dubai, Nasaan Ka Man, Sukob, In Your Eyes and Etiquette for Mistresses.
NOW: Though it took some time, Claudine Barretto moved on with her life and married fellow actor Raymart Santiago in 2006. They parted ways in 2013.
Claudine reunited with ex-boyfriend Mark Anthony Fernandez on the Vivamax movie Deception early this year. She also ran for city councilor of Olongapo City in the 2022 elections but failed to get a seat.
From time to time, Claudine still posts about her unending love for Rico Yan, who would’ve turned 47 years old this year.
There's no doubt that these four loveteams left a mark in the hearts of avid Pinoy teleserye and movie fans. Isn’t it nice to reminisce about these romantic pairs?