In a label-less Generation, young superstar couple Gabbi Garcia and Khalil Ramos define their relationship to Mega Entertainment Editor G3 San Diego, talk about 5 years of being together and refusing to be called a “love team”.
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They first met at Julia Barretto’s star-studded 18th birthday party. Khalil was single, Gabbi was not. But the first sight of her made him coax Kathryn Bernardo to introduce him to her.
“I saw her first. ‘Yung kuwento niyan, I was single for a long time na nu’ng gabing ‘yun, and I was with my friends—sina Kathryn, Daniel, Pat Sugui… and I was sitting at the table with all of my friends who have their significant others. I was the only one there na single. At that time, I was single for two years na. So, I was maybe intentionally trying to find someone to talk to at the debut. ‘Yung mga friends ko din, kinakantsiyawan at inaasar nila ako na, ‘Ikaw lang ‘yung single sa table na ‘to!’ so they would introduce me to people. And Gab is also friends with Kathryn,” Khalil remembers.
“Nu’ng debut ni Julia, nagkita kami ni Kath du’n. Si Kath, hinila ako, dinala ako sa table nila…” Gabbi recalls.
“Ta’s pinakilala ni Kath si Gab sa ‘kin,” Khalil finishes the story for her.
Introduced by Kathryn Bernardo at the party of Julia Barretto. How many lovers can say that of their very first meeting?
“I was actually the one who asked Kath. Tinanong ko kasi si Pat, ‘Uy, sino ‘yun? I saw her from afar.’ And then sabi ni Pat, ‘Um, ‘di ko alam pero nag-hi si Kath sa kanya kanina so baka they’re friends.’ So, I asked Kath ‘Kath, sino ‘yung friend mo?’ Then she didn’t say anything; ang sabi niya, ‘Dali, halika, papakilala kita!’ kasi she was so atat to introduce me to people,” Khalil continues.
“Then from afar… ‘Di ba parang as a girl, you would know kapag may nag-aasaran sa ‘yo? So, from afar, I can see the boys making ‘yung mga ganyan-ganyan, ta’s parang ako, ‘Sino ‘tong mga ‘to?’ [chuckles] Tapos, ‘yun, pinakilala na ako ni Kath kay Khalil,” Gabbi now finishes for Khalil.
“Then Khalil approached me. Sabi niya, ‘Oh, so you’re Gabbi?’ Ta’s nag-small talk-small talk. Siya ‘yung nag-initiate. And then surprisingly, we have so many common friends, we have parang… Kasi he’s from CSA, I’m from St. Paul so medyo connect siya, and then ‘yun na, nag-go on ‘yung conversation namin until sabi niya, ‘I’ll help you look for your classmates.’ So, we roamed around the ballroom, kaming dalawa, looking for my classmates, and then we were just talking. And when I found my classmates na, he didn’t leave na. The whole night, he was just there.”
That was in 2015. And since then, Gabbi’s fans were quick to remind her and dig up a tweet she once posted.
“Ever since naman, I know of Khalil. I mean, I even had a tweet in 2013. Parang my tweet was something like, ‘Why do I find Khalil so cute when he’s cheering for Julia’ something like that,” Gabbi confesses.
“Parang hinalungkat lang siya ng fans, ta’s nu’ng kami na, tawa ako nang tawa na, ‘Oh my god, so ibig sabihin I found you cute before pa?’” [chuckles] Khalil teases.
Talk about law of attraction right?
“He didn’t get my number pala—the next day, he messaged me,” Gabbi recalls.
“Galawang torpe. [chuckles]] Galawang torpe na message; pahabol, kasi daw I was drunk kahit ‘di naman,” Khalil jokes.
But they didn’t officially get together until 2017, two years later.
“I wasn’t ready ’cause I was trying to fix my previous relationship pa at that time. I was single that time because we were on a ‘break.’ Parang feeling ko magulong break. Parang break siya na parang I was really trying to fix it pa so I wasn’t ready for an official break-up. So, ‘yun ‘yung sinabi ko agad sa kanya the next day. ‘Hi. Sorry, ah, parang I’m still trying to fix my previous relationship. I hope you understand,’ something like that,” Gabbi explains.
“When she told me that, ang sabi ko lang, ‘Oh, no, it’s no problem.’ Sabi ko, ‘I just like talking to you,’ gan’on. We just started texting from then. Sabi ko naman I don’t have any intentions, but sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Let me know if I’m getting in the way,’ so I’m still trying to be respectful,” Khalil declares.
The correspondence between them lasted for just a while but eventually died down. But then, two years later, Gabbi would make a move that would lead to the resumption of their undefined relationship.
“After two years…Basta ‘yun ‘yung time nu’ng ‘Enca’ na parang ang dami nang nangyayari. So, 2017 ng February, I saw this trailer on Facebook, ‘yung ‘2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten.’ And that time, I was so intrigued with the trailer. It’s something new kasi at that time, eh, ‘di ba, na parang, ‘Wow, nag-BL ‘yung Philippines,’ And then I saw na nag-show pala siya last year sa Cinema One and then may rerun siya that time. Kaso, I couldn’t find tickets. Parang ‘yung isa yata, wala nang tickets. So, my sister and my friends said na parang, ‘Di ba you’re friends with Khalil? Why don’t you ask him? Tara, nood tayo.’ So, parang ako, ‘Okay.’ So, nag-text lang ako sa kanya after two years na super random lang na parang, ‘Hi, Khalil, it’s Gabbi. I saw your trailer,’ blah, blah, blah. ‘I was wondering where I could buy tickets.’ Ta’s ‘yun na, nag-reply agad siya and then nagsabi siya, ‘Oh, of course I remember you,’” Gabbi narrates.
“Ta’s ‘yun. So, that night, nagsabi siya kung saan makakakuha ng tickets; ipapasok daw niya ako. Sa dulo, ‘How are you na? It’s been so long.’ May follow-up question; ‘yung may sundot na gan’on. Ta’s parang ako, ‘Ha? Eh, okay naman,’ And then after that, from that day on until present, we didn’t stop talking na…” Gabbi adds.
DEFINING THE RELATIONSHIP
Like many in their generation, there wasn’t really a courtship involved in the romance of Gabbi and Khalil.
“It wasn’t like an official ‘puwede bang manligaw?’ and we don’t have like an official date also na ‘will you be my girlfriend?’ We don’t have like that. Parang siguro for us, the big difference is we just felt na parang things are in the right place, the connection is okay, so let’s work it out. Parang gan’on lang,” Gabbi explains.
“But of course there was a point that we had to talk and define the relationship. Nag-DTR naman na, ‘Okay, are we in a commitment?’ pero wala na ‘yung parang may flowers, na, ‘Uy, be my girlfriend,’” Khalil says.
“Walang ganyan,” Gabbi adds.
But, unlike many in their generation, the official start of their relationship involved Khalil asking for Gabbi’s dad’s permission to become boyfriend-girlfriend.
“Late 2017, he talked to my dad—may gan’ong moments. I was in London, (my mom is a flight attendant kasi so she’s out of the country also, my ate has work, so my dad was alone lang in our place so he invited him over for a beer). Ta’s ‘yun ‘yung parang defining moment na nagpapaalam na siya,” Gabbi shares.
“Sobrang kabado ako!” Khalil chuckles.
“And siyempre, I have high respect for him also, and we talked about it. Sabi niya (Gabbi) ‘Down the line, you have to tell your intentions to my parents.’
“Yeah, and I came from a rough relationship kasi before so I didn’t want to ruin what’s gonna happen to us. So, sabi ko parang I wanna do it the right way. So, we have to bring it up to my parents, gan’on. So, he did it while I was in London para wala rin akong sakit sa ulo. Semi traditional, semi-modern din talaga,” Gabbi clarifies.
“Yeah. I guess parang a perfect mix of both. That conversation was as in parang, I guess, sort of relief to me kasi I’m not one to confront my feelings outright. Sobrang kabado ako when I talk to people, in general. So, that day for me, I had to really prepare what I will say and everything. Pero it turned out, si Tito, when he talked to me, cool at chill lang. So, I guess from then on, parang naging…” Khalil continues.
These days, young people don’t really involve their parents when it comes to romantic entanglements but it was very important to Gabbi and Khalil that they had their parents’ blessings in order to move forward with their relationship.
“Puwede nga ring isipin na you don’t actually need it, but then kahit na hindi siya – let’s say to your perspective – kailangan since you guys are adults and everything, it just removes so much burden,” Khalil explains.
“We really made sure. Kasi we felt na… ‘Yun du’n sa mom lang niya, dinala niya ako sa house niya, then his mom cooked for us lang, and then, wala, nagpakilala lang ako, chika-chika, ganyan. So, parang, ‘Hi, I’m here.’ Parang just introducing myself lang talaga na, ‘You’ll see me around during these days.’ ‘Yun nga, kasi since nga we don’t want to repeat everything, ‘yung mistakes namin sa past relationship… Kasi we felt that we had a strong connection.
“Yeah. I think it was a conscious decision for the both of us to have a really healthy and smart relationship.” Khalil stresses.
LOVE AND SOCIAL MEDIA
With a combined social media following of 10 million on Instagram, Gabbi and Khalil are two of the most followed on the platform and they are not shy in sharing couple photos on both their feeds. It has been the perennial debate on whether or not public personalities share their most private moments on socials but the celebrity couple have found the balance.
“I think because the both of us really understand how social media works in the power of our influence, parang we never really talked about it kasi there was never really a situation where we posted something too private,” Khalil opens up.
“Parang we’re both responsible naman. So, pagdating sa mga pag-post, wala, we don’t talk about it, we don’t say also or inform na, “I’m gonna post this tomorrow,” or like that. But we kinda have this, ewan ko, connection na we know also what not to share and what not to post.] Yeah, kasi we both share the same view on it naman na siyempre we don’t want to release everything about us kasi we wanna cherish some for the both of us. The line kasi is very clear to us.
Parang kumbaga, if you guys look up to us, sana we could influence you guys to also treat your relationship that way. Pero siyempre, we have, on the other side naman, our own lang; sa ‘min na lang ‘to, but you guys would probably understand,” Gabbi says as for their followers who are inspired by their relationship.
For almost all young couples, social media has become a huge part of their dynamics and it has become an indication of the status of their relationship. “First of all, Khalil doesn’t care if I post him or not. [chuckles] Sa kanya, parang, ‘Bahala ka.’ Ako ‘yung, ano, not the one it will never affect our relationship, but alam mo ‘yung mga hirit na lambing; ‘yung mga cutesy na parang, ‘Post mo naman ako…’ mga gan’on,” Gabbi admits.
“Mga, ‘Hindi mo na ako pino-post. Why don’t you post me anymore?’ gan’on lang; malambing lang.] But it’s not like an issue or it would affect anything,” Khalil clarifies.
When I ask Gabbi if Khalil is allowed to like other girls’ posts, she talks candidly.
“To be honest, I can’t see all his likes and everything so I don’t know what’s happening. Parang never naman. Sometimes, parang one time I would make a joke na parang, ‘Why did you like her post?’ ta’s sasabihin niya, ‘Seriously?!’ ta’s tatawa lang kami kasi alam naming parang baduy, panget; parang gan’on lang. Pero it was never something serious,” Gabbi jokes.
“Pero ako, in my perspective, I’m seeing some friends kasi fight over it. I think, subconsciously, parang naa-apply ko siya at hindi ko na lang ila-like kasi baka… Iniiwasan na lang. Parang naging ugali na lang na ‘wag na lang,” Khalil plays on the safe side.
When I ask them both if they’re “required” to like each of their posts, they laugh.
“Wala siyang pakialam talaga. Ako, minsan lolokohin ko siya na, ‘Uy, you didn’t see my post?’ ‘yung mga ganyan. Pero parang asaran lang,” Gabbi coyly admits.
NOT A LOVE TEAM
In October of 2020, Khalil transferred to Gabbi’s home network of eight years, GMA. And though the couple is co-starring in a movie titled Love You, Stranger slated this May, they are quick to say that they are not officially a love team.
“I guess that’s why we couldn’t call ourselves a love team—the both of us, we’ve been part of love teams before. Pero parang there’s a conscious effort kasi in a love team na every single time ‘di ba kailangan naming magpakilig, kailangan parang ganito ‘yung approach mo, the way people see you ganito dapat. So, that’s why we can’t technically ourselves a love team. So, when we’re on the set, we’re mainly co-actors lang talaga. When we started out working together, at first we did not want to work together at all,” Khalil explains.
“We made it clear talaga. Ako, coming from a trauma—I can call it a trauma—na parang [working with an (ex) boyfriend…Yeah, si Ruru]. Parang ‘di talaga healthy. It’s not really healthy if you work with your jowa ta’s love team kayo. Sabi ko, “I don’t wanna work with you ever.” Gabbi shares.
“Nu’ng na-feel na namin na we’re stable naman na pala, I guess we can. ‘Tsaka when we work together, parang ang dami pa pala naming pwede gawin,” Gabbi discovered.
“Mas naging creative collaboration kami. Like, it’s a whole new world in our relationship na, ‘Ah, okay. Jive naman pala tayo so why not?’” Khalil found out.
A YOUNG AND LASTING LOVE
From the Baby Boomers that married young to the Gen X that married much later in life to the Millennials, Gen Z and Gen Y that now want to marry young again, Khalil and Gabbi are part of a new breed that thinks about marriage even at their young age.
“Ako kasi, whenever I get into a relationship, I’m the type of guy who dates to marry talaga. I have friends who date to marry. I hope it’s not rare.
When I ask Gabbi if Khalil is the person she wants to marry, she answers quick and enthusiastically.
“Oo naman! Wala namang iba. Ano’ng itsura niya? Masayang masaya siya? Sana. [laughs] Oo naman. Knowing Khalil, I could imagine nakatayo siya du’n ta’s may hawak siyang film cam.”
Five years is short if you think about a lifetime commitment like marriage, but these two still have so much time and possibilities before they can even think about settling down with each other. As to the secret of their smooth-sailing relationship, Khalil and Gabbi share what they do right.
“Communication talaga. From the get-go, from the start of our relationship until now, we always sit down and communicate our feelings. For example naiinis ako sa kanya or naiinis siya sa ‘kin, we would sit down and, ‘Alam mo, nainis ako sa ‘yo earlier,’ or, ‘I didn’t like what you’ve been doing lately.’ So, we really talk about our feelings and we never let a fight na matapos nang wala man lang nag-explain kung ano ‘yung feelings ng isa’t isa,” Gabbi states.
“We both believe in communication,” Khalil agrees.
“Dati nagagalit siya sa ‘kin kasi sabi niya, ‘Hindi ako magician na kaya kong mag-read ng minds.’ Before kasi, it would be often na, “Dapat alam niya ‘yun.” Pero hindi, eh—you have to communicate it,” Gabbi adds.
“For me, purpose and intent is also important. I think the usual na pinagmumulan ng problems—with also my past relationships—is that nagkaka-fallout because nawawalan na ng gana, nawalan na ng respeto and everything,” Khalil shares.
“‘Yung iba kasi ‘di ba nafa-fallout kasi wala nang kilig. Pero ano ba’ng intention ng relationship? Magkilig lang ba? ‘Di ba companionship? It’s reminding yourself of the ‘why,’ the reason, and the intent,” Gabbi explains.
“‘Cause sometimes things get boring also for us, ah, sa sobrang tagal na namin. So, wala, we always just go back to, ‘Ano ba’ng purpose nito? Date-date lang ba? Kilig-kilig lang ba?’ Hindi naman gan’on ‘yun. Another is friendship. For me, friendship is really important. For us kasi, we started as friends. So, I feel like a person whom you can keep as your best friend is really, really important kasi you guys can just hang out mainly. ‘Yun talaga—you guys get to know each other on a much deeper level if you’re best friends,” she believes.
“I think for me, one thing that I do super love about our relationship is the enjoyment, the fun. I’ve also experienced it before and I could see my friends really resent their partners na parangumaabot sa point na, ‘Ayoko siyang makasama kasi lagi na lang kaming ganyan.’ For us,whenever we’re together, it’s always fun. it’s always a time when we could have fun and bond. Ako kasi, my love language talaga is kulit, eh. I always make her kulit,” Khalil admits.
“Last siguro ‘yung individuality. Parang it’s not all about your partner. I feel like you can’t depend everything on your partner. Kailangan you respect his individuality and he respects my individuality as well. So, when it comes to our work, ‘di niya ako pinapakialaman, ‘di ko rin siya pinapakialaman sa pagtatrabaho niya or sa passion niya or sa passion ko. So, ‘yun, respect for your own individual space also,” Gabbi learned.
“My last one, nakakabit din du’n. I guess a more general term for it is just really respect in all forms to her—her values, upbringing from her parents, her emotions. Yeah, it’s just respecting and understanding each other,” Khalil decides.
When I ask the young, promising couple how loving each other changed them, they answer openheartedly.
“Ako kasi, before meeting Gabbi, I would have some sort of roadmap in my head where I’m going, but then really my personality, I’m more of a passive person. Though I do know where to go, nandiyan lang. Whatever comes to me, go with the flow lang. Gab, when she came into my life, she taught me how to really go from this point in your life and move forward; you have to be intentional, you have to know your purpose, and you have to know what you love doing. You have to just really wake up everyday with the intention to grow, with the intention to live and to be with your partner. So, it’s being more active rather than just going with the flow, kasi I’m a go-with-the-flow type of person. So, when I met her, parang, woah, 180 na parang I’m more active in life now not only physically—not just really going out and doing things—but really active in how I approach things this time,” Khalil shares.
“It’s the exact opposite for me. He taught me naman how to be calm and he taught me how to listen, to sit down, and to listen to the people around me. He taught me that life can also be lived in the moment. I have a very active mind, I tend to plan things a lot, so Khalil taught me to, “Hey, sit down. Live in the moment. Enjoy the current situation and enjoy the present time.” Khalil taught me that. And Khalil also taught me how to have the right mindset when it comes to approaching things. He also taught me—kasi ako din, very emotional akong tao—how to be chill and just really not control the things I can’t control. He would often tell me that. ‘Can you control that? No? So, let it go.’ He taught me how to just really be calm and live in the moment,” Gabbi smiles.
When I ask them both if they both are 100% sure about each other, they both answer a simultaneous and resounding “Yeah!”
So for a love a young as theirs, Gabbi & Khalil has shown that a relationship, even with the stakes of stardom and social media, can be slow, steady and sure. And that is a kind of love that lasts.
This story on the 5-year relationship of Gabbi Garcia and Khalil Ramos is also seen in MEGA Entertainment’s February 2022 issue available in Readly, Magzter, Press Reader and Zinio
Photography JERICK SANCHEZ
Art direction NICOLE ALMERO
Makeup JASON DELOS REYES assisted by RAQUEL DELOS REYES
Hair MARK ROSALES assisted by KRISTINE CAMBA
Styling DARYL MAAT (GABBI), and DAVID MILAN assisted by NIDA MARU and SANDRO DELA PEÑA (KHALIL)
Shot on location at BALARA CONTENT STUDIO
Shoot coordination KZ FRANCISCO and MJ ALMERO
Special thanks to MS. EIRENE ARCELAO