MANILA — Joshua Garcia and Julia Barretto have managed to become "best of friends" as they finally confirmed on Friday, after weeks of speculation, that they are no longer officially a couple.
Speaking with ABS-CBN News' MJ Felipe, the love team popularly known as "JoshLia" said they recently went through a rough patch, but are now on good terms.
"May pinagdaanan lang kami. Normal couple na pinagdadaanan, pero okay kami ngayon. Masaya kami ngayon," Garcia said.
"For now," Barretto added, "Babalik muna kami sa pinagsimulan namin. We're now best of friends. We managed to be the bestest of friends and if the fans are worried, we can assure them that there is nothing to worry about. JoshLia is very much alive."
The former couple, in fact, appeared comfortable as they shared the stage at the 2019 ToyCon at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay where they promoted the zombie film "Block Z," their fifth big-screen team-up in just three years.
The two also addressed malicious rumors romantically linking Barretto with actor Gerald Anderson, her leading man in the romance film "Between Maybes" released early this year.
"No, absolutely not," was Barretto's response to whether there is any truth to the allegation.
Garcia even came to his leading lady's defense, adding: "Hindi naman totoo 'yun. Hindi naman magagawa ni Gerald 'yun. Parang kuya ko na si Gerald."
Anderson, 30, is known to be in a relationship with fellow Star Magic artist Bea Alonzo.
Garcia similarly denied that his ties with a female talent from a different network had caused the rough patch, saying: "Hindi po totoo 'yun, kaibigan ko lang po 'yun. Alam niyo naman po dito sa showbiz, nabibigyan ng kulay lahat."
Garcia, 21, and Barretto, 22, shared a light moment when asked if they can date other people, given their status of being "best friends."
"Malay mo, yayain niya ako makipag-date!" Garcia quipped.
"Oh my, ako na pala ang manliligaw this time, ako na 'yung i-effort, 'yung magpa-pa-choir!" Barretto added.
The two declined to give a serious answer as to the reason behind their change of status, with Garcia saying, "Bigay niyo na lang po 'yun sa amin."
Barretto had initially hinted on an apparent breakup in early June, when she spoke candidly of being "in love with the peace I have gained just recently," adding that the feeling was not directed for a particular person.
Garcia's subsequent cryptic tweet — saying he's a "thinker, not a talker" — was taken by their legion of fans as a sad confirmation that the relationship was on the rocks.
"JoshLia's" meteoric rise to fame traces back to 2016, when they were first paired in the Metro Manila Film Festival entry "Vince and Kath and James."
The tandem proved to be a hit, spawning several more major projects, including the primetime drama "Ngayon at Kailanman" in 2018.
Their onscreen romance translated into real life, with frequent sightings of the two sharing affectionate moments.
While they never gave direct confirmation of being officially together, Barretto would refer to Garcia as "boyfie" in several posts online.