Hearts of gold

My mother Tinna Bonifacio of StarStudio with KathNiel at a mall show last April 2.
About a month or so ago, my mother Tinna Bonifacio—StarStudio magazine’s Senior Editor, who’s recovering from a hemorrhagic stroke she had last June—received a visit from my Filipino-British best friend Tim Macardle and his mother Alma Macardle-Money. We spent hours catching up over pizza and Tita Alma’s pasalubong for me and my mother (she arrived in Manila from the UK a few days before their visit).

As they were getting ready to leave, Tita Alma invited me and my mother to go to the mall with her and Tim. “Let’s have lunch and watch a movie,” she suggested.

Since my mother’s speech therapist had said that it would be good for her to get out of the house more often, I agreed to ask my Lola Bu for permission to take my mother on a trip to the mall. So the following day, the five of us (me, my grandmother, my mother, Tim and Tita Alma) had lunch at Bigoli, an Italian restaurant at TriNoma. Afterwards, we watched the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, which starred Emma Watson as Belle.

L-R: Tim Macardle, me, my mother, my Lola Bu Bonifacio and Tim's mother Tita Alma Macardle-Money.
As we were filing into TriNoma Cinema 7, Tim told me that Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla had a show at the TriNoma Activity Center that same day. “I saw a poster back there that said they’d be here later, around four o’clock. I think they’re going to promote their new movie or something.” 

The wheels in my head started turning. Months ago, KathNiel helped our family settle my mother’s bill at St. Luke’s QC, but they hadn’t seen her since before they went to Spain to shoot Barcelona: A Love Untold. I thought it would be nice for them to see her again because they played a part in her recovery. Apparently my mother thought so too, because when I asked her if she wanted to watch the KathNiel mall show after watching Beauty and the Beast, she nodded.

“Gusto ko magpasalamat sa kanilang dalawa,” she said, haltingly but clearly.

After we left the movie theater, I wheeled my mother into an elevator and down to the first floor, with my grandmother, Tim and Tita Alma in tow. The crowd got thicker as we neared the TriNoma Activity Center, but thankfully, once people realized my mother was in a wheelchair, they scrambled to let us pass. I went right up to the backstage entrance and talked to the burly man standing guard there. He almost didn’t let us in, but caved when I showed him my mother’s ABS-CBN access card and explained our situation. He and another guard even escorted us to a spot near the stage, which they said would afford my mother a great view of the show and the backstage goings-on.

We had barely settled into our spot when a bunch of our colleagues from ABS-CBN approached us, one after another, to hug my mother and exclaim how glad they were to see her up and about. Sir Mico del Rosario of Star Cinema even instructed his staff to make sure that my mother would get to see and talk to Kathryn and Daniel. (Thank you, Sir Mico!)

I was able to duck into the artists’ holding area, where the cast of Can’t Help Falling in Love—Devon Seron, my former Star Magic Workshops classmate Hannah Ledesma, and KathNiel, of course—all greeted me with enthusiastic handshakes and hugs. When I told Kathryn that my mother was there and wanted to see her and her mister, she said, “Nandiyan pala si Tita Tinna? Sige, puntahan ko siya mamaya. Promise.”

If there’s anything people should know about the Queen of Hearts, it’s that Kathryn is a woman of her word. Just before she hit the stage, she stopped to say hello to my mother, give her a quick hug and pose for a photo with her, which you can check out below.

Kathryn Bernardo with my mother, aka the woman whose life she helped save.
While Kathryn was onstage, we were approached by her mother Min Bernardo. I said hi to Tita Min and introduced her to my grandmother, Tim and Tita Alma.

My Lola Bu shook Tita Min’s hand and said, “Naku, thank you very much po sa tulong niyo sa amin nung na-ospital itong si Tinna.”

Tita Min smiled warmly. “You’re welcome po, pero idea po talaga ng anak ko na tumulong sa inyo. Sa kanya po kayo dapat magpasalamat.”

That’s true—at last year’s Oishi Snacktacular, Kathryn pulled me aside and asked for an update on my mother’s condition. At the time, she was still in the Neuro Critical Care Unit of St. Luke’s QC, so that’s what I said to Kathryn. She then whispered something into her mother’s ear. The next thing I knew, Tita Min was pressing a check into my hand. I was so touched I almost burst into tears right then and there.

Daniel and his family actually came into the picture before Kathryn and Tita Min. Daniel’s Tita Ana Lim read my blog post asking for financial help. She showed it to Tita Karla Estrada, who showed it to her son, who made a donation to my mother’s medical fund without hesitation. (“Wow” doesn't even begin to cover it.)

Now that I think about it, I shouldn’t have been surprised that he did that. Daniel has always had a soft spot for my mother because they were both born on April 26. That’s probably why, as soon as Daniel finished singing, he allowed Kathryn to pull him over to my mother, who postively beamed when she saw him. Despite the fact that security was telling him to hurry up, Daniel took his own sweet time talking to my mother.

Years ago, Daniel joked, “Juls, mas mahal ko nanay mo kesa sa 'yo.” Obvious naman eh. Hehe.
I don’t know what he told her, but I didn’t need to know—the huge smile on my mother’s face said it all.

Kathryn and Daniel are being touted as the Philippines' premier love team. In fact, as I write this, they’re being feted at the 2017 Box Office Entertainment Awards. They were named Box Office King and Queen for Barcelona: A Love Untold. I do think they deserve those titles, especially since their latest movie, the aforementioned Can’t Help Falling in Love, grossed P300 million in 24 days.

My mother and I have known Kathryn and Daniel since before they were onscreen partners. But given the success they’ve had, OK lang kung hindi na namin sila maabot. Nasa rurok na kasi sila ng tagumpay. But the fact that Kathryn and Daniel took time to help my mother says a lot about them. It’s nice to know they remained down to earth and kind as their careers soared.

Kath, DJ, thank you very much. Your donations to my mother’s medical fund are partly why I got to spend another Mother’s Day with my mother today. No wonder the KathNiels can’t help falling in love with you—you both have hearts of gold.


The old Julian can't come to the phone right now.


  1. God bless KathNiel

  2. Thank you for sharing this, Sir Julian. I'm a KathNiel fan and no words can express how proud I am right now (I'm always proud of them)😍💙

  3. Thank you for sharing this to us 💙😍😭 No words can express how proud am I right now 😭 I will be always proud of them. 💙💗

  4. Waaaa. Nkakaiyak po.. Sna po patuloy ang paggaling ni mother.. Pray hard to Jesus. Our Greatest Healer

  5. Awww naiyak ako. Thank you for sharing. Mahal na mahal namin ang KN. God bless you and your fam. Happy Mother's Day to your mom.

  6. I can't help falling in love with them.

  7. Yan siguro yung di makita ng mga bashers ng kn. They have have a heart that is gold. So proud of my "parents". Hindi kami nag kamali ng sinuportahan