By Cherie del Rio
All-time Favorite Love Team on Movies and TV — this description of the Richard Gomez-Dawn Zulueta tandem is not without basis. They have a roster of movies and television projects as well as a massive fan base to prove it, and best of all, they carry the title as a legitimate award. The onscreen tandem was recently crowned as such in the recently concluded 44th Box Office Entertainment Awards of the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation, Inc.
In the face of hugely popular love teams from the younger generation, such as Kim Chiu & Xian Lim and John Lloyd Cruz & Sarah Geronimo, it came as a bit of a shock that a “mature” couple surfaced and stole a bit of the showbiz spotlight. In the Philippine industry, budding love teams of teenyboppers usually take center stage (for instance, Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla). When the popular 90s tandem of Richard and Dawn bounced back on a Kapamilya teleserye, audiences were happily surprised that the former real-life lovers still had the magic. And it seems that this magic will continue.
After their successful team-up last year in the soap Walang Hanggan, Richard and Dawn will reunite for two movies and another soap opera in the next two years. “Then there is another movie that we’re working on,” Dawn disclosed in a recent interview, “which will be coming out for release naman next year.” Dawn says that she feels as though she and Richard are classmates — having the opportunity to see each other every day because of their work schedules. These projects will be under the umbrella of Star Cinema. The soap opera, Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin, also stars Gerald Anderson and Cristine Reyes.
They have magic together
Perhaps no other contemporary love team has achieved what they have accomplished in recent years. Although fans are more than happy to welcome the two back on screen, viewers are still left to wonder about where the magic of the Goma-Dawn tandem comes from? What makes their pairing still so popular even after two decades later? What makes them click?
The Eternal Love Team – as their loyal fans call the tandem – had its beginnings in the early part of 1991 when they were paired in the movie Hihintayin Kita Sa Langit, the 1991 Pinoy adaptation of the English novel Wuthering Heights. From reel lovers, they soon became real-life sweethearts.
Their chemistry was undeniable — one that, up to now, is apparent on screen. With older personas and more mature roles and stories, the magical chemistry of Richard and Dawn continues to mystify fans from all across the age groups and social classes. Even Richard’s wife, Lucy Torres, is a fan of the love team. “Kahit pagbalik-baliktarin mo, meron talaga silang magic together,” says Lucy.
Why they split
In an interview early last year as they were promoting their last teleserye, Walang Hanggan, Dawn recalled how both of them were so young when they got involved. She revealed that she could have ended up with Richard if he had stayed faithful.
“We had potential,” she said. “Unfaithfulness takes a toll on the girl in any relationship. She doesn’t know where she stands. It’s possible that the guy loves her but can’t help himself. He probably doesn’t have emotional attachments to the girls he dates on the side. Still, that’s hard to accept. That was how I felt.”
They were on the brink of separation while working on their 1994 hit movie Saan Ka Man Naroroon. Dawn recalls going through a painful breakup. “We’re trying to be sweet-sweet, pero galit na galit ka sa kanya, gusto mong sakalin,” she said, smiling. The two attribute the failed relationship to their young age, the surrounding publicity, and attendant showbiz intrigue.
Reliving the past
According to her, Richard, as an actor, has become “more well-rounded now… more mature in the way he attacks his roles.” Asked if she reminisces the old times, Dawn said, “A little. We had a lot of memorable experiences, especially when we traveled together. I had to refresh Richard’s memory about how we broke up. He had forgotten (laughs).”
Dawn, now married to Davao del Norte Rep. Anton Lagdameo Jr., said she was glad Richard settled down with Lucy, now a congresswoman representing Leyte. “It takes a certain kind of a woman, like Lucy… she has so much confidence to allow her husband to work with an ex. He’s so lucky,” Dawn said.
Despite all that has happened, the Eternal Love Team has maintained its lustre and loyal fan base as shown by the phenomenal success of their last teleserye. To their multitude of fans, it does not matter that their idols are now happily married to their respective spouses. What they look forward to and never tire of watching are the kilig moments as the two recreate their romance, even only in the small screen.
They look good together
If there is one simple explanation for the enduring popularity of the Richard-Dawn team-up, it is perhaps because they just really look good together. Both have aged well and they look as bagay now as they did 22 years ago. Their physical appearance blend; their good looks complement each other.
Another thing going for them is their acting skills. They are so effective in lulling the audience into believing that they remain deeply in love up to this day. Having been real-life lovers, Richard and Dawn perhaps needed only to recreate their past to be able to convince their loyal fans that they have not left during all these years. Their fan base is 20 or so years older but it has stayed on. Many of today’s younger love teams can learn a thing or two from Richard and Dawn on how to maintain their aura and chemistry as well as the loyalty of their fans. But then again, not all love teams are created in heaven and destined for eternity.