If Gabbi Garcia and Ruru Madrid could take a break right now, they’d jet off to a private beach somewhere just to relax. But as two of the rising names and faces in entertainment and youth culture today, they may have to pencil that beach getaway sometime in the slightly distant future.

In Full Swing

Together and separately, Gabbi’s and Ruru’s schedules are full. There’s Sherlock Jr., the drama/crime series on GMA-7 that they both star in, which has the latter doing a lot of action scenes. “So when I’m not busy with work, I’m always at the gym, working out,” the young actor says; he plays basketball and does parkour, mixed martial arts, muay thai, kick boxing, boxing, and soon, jiu jitsu. “I had always wanted to be an action star, and since Encantadia, I’ve been playing roles that let me do that. It’s great that I’m getting to do what I want.”

Meanwhile, Gabbi has school and music to keep her occupied whenever she’s off-camera. A college freshman taking up music business management, she’s working hard on exploring her artistry and creating more music and more digital content that she can share to the world. “The bottom line in this industry is that if you want to make a mark, you create; you don’t just follow what the management tells you to do,” the 19-year-old reflects. “I want to innovate and change the people’s limited perspective on artistas, that we can do only certain things. I want to show the audience that we can create and do our own thing, too.”

Their Own Terms

It’s a sentiment not frequently heard from local love teams who have to sell an image of constant togetherness, of being joined at the hip both for reel and for real. But Gabbi and Ruru have never been plagued by the same pressure. In fact, the two had “cooled off” for a while with their love team to pursue their own projects: Gabbi with her music and Ruru with his solo career. Yet despite the brief separation, the two came back together as a stronger team. “It took us just a bit of adjustment,” Gabbi admits about their love team’s “reconciliation.” “The separation actually made us stronger individually and together. We matured a bit—I can’t say that we matured fully, but we learned a lot of things while we were working on our individual projects. They taught us how to work more seriously than before.”

Despite the demands of work and of the public, there is an obvious willingness between them to let each other just be who they are: Whereas Gabbi is vocally expressive, Ruru seems to be more of a guy-of-a-few-words type. But they joke with each other with ease, even when they have a difference in opinion. Take their answers on which pairing is their favorite love team:

Gabbi: The love team that really made me kilig was Richard Gomez and Dawn Zulueta. Also Sharon Cuneta and Gabby [Concepcion]. Their new commercial is super nice, very cute!

Ruru: Hindi ako madaling kiligin ehhaha!

Gabbi: Ako oo, kinikilig ako, ewan ko kay Ruru!

Ruru: I love watching romcoms pero sobrang bihira akong kiligin. Kinilig ako ng konti kina Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis sa Friends With Benefits. [Pause.] Siguro ‘yung GabRu, haha!

Gabbi: Hahaha, GabRu talaga?!

Individuality Is Key

Maybe it’s the fact that they’re wholly themselves, sure of what they want and how to get it, that make the GabRu team-up click.The friendship is real and not forced, and the romantic angle isn’t a hard sell at all. “We’re spontaneous,” Gabbi explains of why their love team works. “We don’t limit ourselves to being just a love team. We help each other explore our own individualities, and that helps us grow in this industry. We don’t really try to change ourselves just to serve the love team angle.”

Ruru adds, “We’re supportive of each other. Kung ano man ang gawin namin, either together or separately, we have each other’s backs. I think that’s the secret to a great team-up.”

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