Prepared To Be A Queen: The Emergence of Kathryn Bernardo As A Formidable Primetime TV Royalty

The rise of Kathryn Bernardo, highly considered as this generation’s Teen Queen, is nothing meteoric, but a slow painstaking process that involved several falls and pauses from what could be a series of rise and climb.

Her entry to the entertainment industry didn’t make headlines the way winners of reality and talent searches usually do, nor did she make waves across the internet through viral videos or photos; she started rather quietly.

She began with the primetime soap, “It Might Be You”, as the the younger version of Bea Alonzo’s character, Cielo. At the time, Alonzo was paired with John Lloyd Cruz, and both were deemed as emerging superstars in television; later on, they would respectively become the king and queen of the philippine movie industry.

Bernardo, then, struck as a mere experiment of the network–a child actor that could either break out into stardom or just fade out like many aspiring young talents did. It is worth noting, and intriguing, that Bernardo’s journey towards becoming the teen queen and a box office queen, herself, began with playing the younger versions of veteran queens, before her.

This brings the question: ‘Is she a prepared queen?’.

Did ABS-CBN particularly groom her to become her generation’s biggest star? Could be unlikely, but the assumption is utterly absorbing, more convincing even, now that she looks poised to become the other half of a seemingly inevitable primetime television royalty–KathNiel.

Crosschecking this possibility for Kathryn requires less effort, as she’s been in the business longer than Daniel, and she has quite made an arguably more laudable resumé for her 14-year old career. Daniel, on the other hand, had the stars ostensibly aligned for him, even before his quiet entry to the chaotic world of showbiz, that his celebrity parents and relatives have bravely embraced.

Bernardo’s journey is practically set in an entirely different path; it is rigorous and rough, but with a reward in the end that is singularly appropriate for the colossal artistic effort she managed to deliver in the past decade.

Young Bea Alonzo (This Generation’s Movie Queen) in “It Might Be You.”

Kathryn’s first TV appearance was as the young Cielo in John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo’s sophomore television starrer, “It Might Be You”, after their breakout success in “Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay”.

The stint for then 7-year old Kathryn, was memorable, albeit short, and it quiet left an impression about her commendable talent. But the talent was raw, and it needed more polishing which her subsequent projects would provide.

Young Maricel Soriano (The Diamond Star) in “Vietnam Rose”.

As the young Carina, who would later on grow into an adult played by the diamond star, Maricel Soriano. Again, she was playing the young version of a ‘queen’ here, and the acting chops she managed to deliver was nothing less than regal.

Young Gretchen Barretto in “Magkaribal”.

Kathryn’s appearance in the fashion-drama, “Magkaribal”, was a bit controversial, as she just came from playing the younger version of Marian Rivera’character in the rival network’s program, “Endless Love”.

Her stint on the said TV show was a bit longer, but playing as the young Gretchen Barretto in “Magkaribal” arguably gave her better opportunity to showcase her dramatic capacity as an actress. It can be recalled that she was supposed to transfer to GMA Network after playing the young Jenny in, “Endless Love”, but was cancelled because of an offer to go back to ABS-CBN.

The comeback would later on pave way for more challenging projects for the young star. Note that in “Magkaribal”, two queens–Bea Alonzo and Gretchen Barretto–were playing the lead roles.

Young Marian Rivera (Kapuso Primetime Queen) in “Endless Love”.

As young Jenny in the Philippine adaptation of the hit korean drama, “Autumn In My Heart/Autumn Fairytale”. Topbilled by then Kapuso primetime royalty, Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera, Kathryn was paired with fellow ex-Kapamilya/Star Magic artist, Kristoffer Martin, who opted to stay in GMA Network after Kathryn decided to come back to ABS-CBN.

Mara (originally played by Queen of Teleserye, Judy Ann Santos) in “Mara-Clara Remake”.

Following her successful kapamilya comeback in “Magkaribal”, Kathryn was tapped to topbill the remake of the 1992 classic, “Mara Clara”, where she starred alongside Julia Montes, and got paired with Albie Casiño, who was then envisioned to be her longterm screen partner.

The partnership was cut short in the wake of the latter’s paternity fiasco about Andi Eigenmann’s child (who was later on proven to be Jake Ejercito’s daughter), but to Kathryn, who wasn’t new to abrupt love team break-up (she was paired with Kristoffer Martin in “Endless Love”), the unexpected end of ‘KathBie’, was also the start of a greater, groundbreaking team-up with then newcomer, Daniel Padilla–KathNiel.

Note that the original Mara Clara catapulted Judy Ann Santos into superstardom, and made her become the one and only Queen of Pinoy Teleserye

Yna Macaspac (originally played by Kristine Hermosa, Teen Queen of her generation) in “Pangako Sa ‘Yo Remake”.

The reincarnation of another television classic of the same title, ‘Pangako Sa’yo’ marked KathNiel’s third television team up after the phenomenal success of both ‘Princess and I’ ( 2012) and Got To Believe (2013).

The remake’s 44.5% finale rating reported by Kantar Media was the loveteam’s highest rated episode since their team up began. It can be recalled that the original tv series was also achieving phenomenal numbers during its time, giving way for Jericho Rosales and Kristine Hermosa’s ascent to stardom.

Honorable Mention: Kathryn played as the young Claudine Barretto (The Optimum Teleserye Queen and 4-time box office queen) in the Chito Roño film, “Nasaan Ka Man”.

“La Luna Sangre”. The third installment in the ‘Moonstone’ series (two of which starred Angel Locsin with Piolo Pascual and John Lloyd Cruz, for “Lobo” (2008) and for “Imortal” (2010), respectively), “La Luna Sangre” marks the onscreen couple’s shift to more mature tv roles.

Note that the lead stars for the first two installments are royalty in their own right. In film, the two had an earlier shift to maturity with last year’s “Barcelona: A Love Untold” which gave them their first ‘Box Office King/Queen’ title.

Currently, the vampire/werewolf themed tv series is in a seesaw battle in TV ratings with long time leader, “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano”, as the two shows take turns in leading the AGB Nielsen ratings chart, while being separated by slim margins in ABS-CBN subscribed Kantar Media ratings.

Interestingly, “La Luna Sangre” airs on a later timeslot that is traditionally vulnerable to lower ratings. The show’s predecessor, “My Dear Heart” seldom got past the 30% mark in Kantar ratings, whereas the Kathniel-starrer, so far, never attained lower than 32%, its peak being at 36.2%.

An Inevitable Coronation: Notice that in almost every project given to her, Kathryn was either playing the younger version of the lead actress, or a role in a remake that made the original actress, famous, and eventually a ‘queen’. She was the young box office queen. She was the young diamond star.

She played the roles that made the Teleserye Queen and Teen Queens before her, queens. This could be an absurd and totally baseless supposition, but the uncanny appeal is just inescapable.

Now with records in television ratings slowly depicting a change in primetime supremacy, questions whether KathNiel should be called the new King and Queen of Primetime, are surfacing.

“FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano” star, Coco Martin, currently holds the ‘Philippine Primetime TV King’ title, and while there are some alluring suggestions about an inevitable shift of ownership to the primetime throne, the young couple’s claim to the highly-coveted label, could demand an affluent amount of scrutiny.

And what could this mean to Kathryn, who was hailed this year, by a popular entertainment magazine, as the prettiest face in show business, alongside Daniel Padilla? Is she about to get the crown that seemed to be purposely prepared for her? And as these rumors begin to circulate and gain volume, we might as well be just waiting for an official announcement. (Jeremiah Cabebe)

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