MANILA -- While they refused to confirm whether they are officially a couple, Kim Chiu said she considers onscreen partner Xian Lim as special, referring to him as her "only friend in showbiz."
The 23-year-old actress made the statement during a press conference held Tuesday for Star Cinema's "Bride for Rent," her second film co-starring Lim which hits theaters on January 15.
"Masaya kami sa isa't-isa," Chiu said, when asked about the status of her relationship with the actor. "We're happy kapag magkasama kami, komportable kami sa isa't-isa. And I'm very thankful na nandiyan si Xian para sa akin, sa lahat ng mga nangyari sa akin. At saka siya lang 'yung matatawag kong kaibigan ko rito sa showbiz."
Answering the same question, Lim said, "We're just comfortable... We are just enjoying every moment together. Siyempre nagta-trabaho parin po. We can't lose our focus."
Chiu was later asked why she singled out Lim as a genuine friend among her colleagues, to which she responded, "Ngayon po kasi, natatakot na po kasi ako makipagkaibigan."
Lim cut in and volunteered to answer for the actress, saying their relationship is "special" because of his close ties with Chiu's family.
"I think dumating po ako sa point na nakilala ko 'yung buong pamilya nila, 'yung buong pamilya ni Kim. Dumating po ako sa point na [naging kaibigan ko] 'yung mga kapatid niya. Dumating ako sa point na nakakausap ko 'yung tatay niya," he said.
"So I think that's one of the reasons she singled me out, kasi meron kaming certain connection na hindi lang basta 'Hi, hello,' napadaan lang, na 'Hey!' parang acquaintance. Ito, more on the personal side, nakikilala ko si Kim eh," he added.
'At home' with Kim
When her mother passed away in June last year, for instance, Chiu credited Lim for helping her cope, saying he had been a constant presence despite his packed schedule.
Lim and Chiu's "love team" took off in 2011 via the hit series "My Binondo Girl," which was followed by another TV team-up in 2012 with "Ina, Kapatid, Anak."
"Bride for Rent" marks their second movie together after the 2013 blockbuster hit "Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo."
Over the years of working together, Lim explained that his close personal ties with his leading lady and her family "sort of just happened."
"Pag pumupunta po ako sa kanila, for some reason I felt warm, I felt at home," he said. "Pag nasa bahay po ako nila, napapakain naman po nila ako nang mahusay. Okay naman po sila, mabait naman po 'yung pamilya niya. Tinanggap po nila ako. So it would be disrespectful if I didn't give it back to them."
In explaining why she decided to place trust in Lim as a friend, Chiu alluded to a past controversy involving TV stars Maja Salvador and Gerald Anderson. Chiu and Salvador, who co-starred in "Ina, Kapatid, Anak," were known to be close friends until the latter admitted being in a relationship with Anderson, Chiu's former boyfriend.
"Ako kasi, after nung nangyari, parang mailap na ako mag-effort na makipagkaibigan," Chiu said. "Parang masaya na ako na nagta-trabaho ako at nandiyan 'yung mga kapatid ko, pamilya ko, mga pamangkin ko. Parang masaya na ako do'n -- work and family. Ayoko na [mag-effort] na makibagkaibigan. Natatakot na kasi ako."
"Tapos, si Xian, siya 'yung nag-effort na makipagkaibigan [pati] sa family ko, kung nasaan 'yung comfort zone ko. Siya 'yung lumalapit... Nag-ri-reach out siya," Chiu said.
Later in the press conference, Lim and Chiu were asked once again to confirm whether they are in a relationship. They were pressed to only answer with a "yes" or "no". The actress, in a statement met with mixed reactions, told off a reporter by saying, "We don't owe you any of our personal lives."