The author, Amy Schlanger (far left), with Daniel John Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo when she visited them on the set of “Pangako sa ‘yo” in San Narciso, Zambales.

Contributed to the Filipino Reporter

Show business is in his blood.

It’s not a cliché because Daniel John Padilla is an offspring of two very talented performers.

His father is former action star and character actor, Rommel Padilla.

His mother, Karla Estrada, is a sensational actress and singer.

Daniel (aka DJ), grew up in what he called a “rock ‘n roll world” but considers himself an “old soul.”

This explains his refreshing persona in the ego-driven entertainment industry where he has comfortably positioned himself for the past five years.

In this progressive civilization one notices the diminishing practice of important virtues like consideration, respect and kindness, especially from the young generation.

However, to those who know Daniel, these virtues exist.

I had the opportunity to witness this young man’s attitude last summer while on location for his currently high-rated primetime teleserye “Pangako sa ‘yo.”

Here’s a kid who’s real.

He’s well grounded, comfortable, confident, yet very considerate and respectful.

A TV or film production set is a hectic place where people are constantly coming and going, sometimes more than 24 hours straight.

Daniel’s interaction in this swarm of activity is delightfully punctuated by “please” and “thank you” and ending every sentence with “...po” and a smile.

His polite speech is almost unique.

Even talking to Daniel is an unusual treat.

He listens intently and responds in a soft-spoken manner almost with a trace of shyness.

He speaks only when he’s asked and stays focused on the topic being discussed.

He’s often misunderstood as being elusive, aloof and arrogant.

On the contrary, he is open, honest and friendly to people he trusts.

Daniel is also kind and generous to his family, friends, peers, and even a stranger like me, who’s just visiting from Arizona.

While on break, Daniel was handed a bowl of his favorite snack, green mangoes.

The moment he took the bowl, he graciously offered some to me and said, “Tita, gusto niyo po?”

Then he teasingly smiled and continued, “Pero talagang maasim po ito. Gusto ko po kasi ng maasim.”

This kind gesture was unexpected and his consideration was endearing.

After offering to me, he proceeded to offer some to everyone around him before taking one for himself.

At age 20, Daniel is a responsible young man.

Stardom did not come easily to him.

He was painfully shy when he entered show business but developed professionalism very early in his career.

He worked hard as an actor, evidenced by his well-performed portrayal of characters in his blockbuster movies like “She’s Dating the Gangster” and “Crazy Beautiful You.”

He connects with audiences just as well on the small screen.

I remember watching his heartbreaking scene as Gino in “Princess and I.”

That caught my attention and emotionally affected me.

It’s remarkable to watch Daniel develop his acting skills as he grows in the industry.

He has matured into a seasoned actor who’s taking on bigger roles like Joaquin/Ryan in last year’s hit show “Got to Believe,” and now as Angelo in the highly-rated teleserye “Pangako sa ‘yo.”

His accomplishments are not limited to his acting talent.

He is also a gifted singer with double platinum music albums and sold-out concerts.

Daniel Padilla has earned the title of Teen King to millions of his loyal fans.

He is dedicated to his fans the same way that he is dedicated to his art.

He is deeply grateful and humbled for the affection that he gets from his adoring public.

The satisfying thing about his concerts is that it connects him to his audience directly.

He savors and looks forward to that time when he can share his music with them.

In return, his audience loves him.

This mutual affection is as important to him as the music itself, and you can feel that almost like electricity.

I was fortunate to experience this when I watched his “Most Wanted” concert on June 13 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila.

The energy inside was electrifying.

Daniel’s song selections are old time favorites (Isn’t She Lovely, Moon River, What a Wonderful World, For Once in My Life, among others).

He’s very charming and had great stage presence.

Seeing him on stage and surrounded by tens of thousands of fans, I saw a superstar.

He owned that stage and it was overwhelming.

Though this is his third big concert, he claimed, “I’m still not used to it, or just getting used to it.”

When he’s on stage, you can’t tell that this is the young man who’s shy and would rather observe and listen.

Staying on the sidelines is something he is comfortable in doing.

Passion born from inspiration is a wonderful motivation for an artist.

His inspiration is instinctive because it comes directly from his stunningly beautiful on-screen partner, Kathryn Bernardo.

During the concert when the fans spotted Kathryn sitting in the audience, they started chanting her name; “Kathryn. Kathryn. Kathryn...”

The chanting stopped when Daniel announced that her time on stage will come soon.

It’s clear that they are all enthusiastically anticipating to see them together.

And as the saying goes, “save the best for last.”

That’s what happened in the last segment of his concert.

Daniel got off stage and escorted Kathryn from the audience to go on stage with him.

The crowd went wild.

It was a hair-raising experience.

It took awhile for the audience to contain their excitement.

I don’t blame them.

The moment Kathryn and Daniel (aka KathNiel) took center-stage, they immediately looked into each other’s eyes and it felt like the world around them became blurred and the chemistry was undeniable.

This is the magic that creates super-kilig when we see them on-screen.

I remember watching a TV interview, when asked how their first encounter was.

After a brief introduction, they just said “hi.”

When they started working together, after his scene, he will just stay in a corner.

It was Kathryn that pulled him out of his seclusion.

Thus, the core of their friendship was established.

That’s why they are so comfortable with each other.

It seems like anyone who shares their space is put in a trance and is KathNiel-zoned.

Soulmates, that’s what their adoring fans hope they are.

It’s meant to be.

Circumstances of their pairing in a TV show blossomed a loveteam that recently marked their 4th anniversary.

From my brief interaction with them, I am convinced that they are the best of friends.

In the world of make believe and uncertainty, one can attest to the fact that they genuinely care for each other.

The status of their personal relationship is like the big elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.

It is enough to see them happy together.

It was a fun experience for me and I am grateful for the opportunity.

I walked away from the arena with souvenirs.

In the car on the drive home, I listened to his fourth music album “I Feel Good,” which was the perfect way to end an unexpectedly satisfying evening.

The last track on the CD that I was listening to, “Ikaw ang aking mahal,” had a catchy upbeat tune that I found myself humming it as I walked in the house.

Feeling like a young girl, I greeted my 90-year-old mother who’s been touched by Alzheimer’s.

I showed her one special souvenir, a pillow with Daniel’s face printed on it.

My mom’s face lit up when she saw it and said, “Gusto koyan,” then she extended both her arms trying to reach the pillow, “...akin na, akin na iyan. Ang amo ng mukha. Ang ganda ganda, gwapo talaga!”

Then she happily hugged the pillow.

Thank you DJ for putting the smile back on her face for just being you.

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