MANILA — Reuniting onscreen a year after their split, Julia Barretto and Joshua Garcia admittedly still felt familiar as co-actors, despite the project being done virtually amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In roles echoing real life, Barretto and Garcia star as ex-lovers Tin and Benj in a short film, “E-numan,” which will air Saturday on Kapamilya Online Live.
Tin, a scriptwriter, and Benj, a reporter, come face to face through a catch-up video call with their college “barkada,” after months on lockdown.
The short, directed by Dado Lumibao, is streaming back-to-back with another one-part drama, “Hook Up,” under the program “Love Unlock.” The latter stars Gerald Anderson and Arci Muñoz.
Barretto, 23, and Garcia, 22, once formed halves of the popular “JoshLia” tandem. The two co-starred in a teleserye and five films starting in 2016.
They broke up in mid-2019, signaling the end not only of their real-life relationship, but also their love team. They were most recently seen together in January, for the promotional tour of their zombie flick “Block Z.”
Being paired anew, both agreed, felt like gears clicking back in place.
“I feel like iba ang pagkakaintindihan namin ni Josh pag umaarte na kaming dalawa,” Barretto explained. “Iba ‘yung connect namin pag umaarte na kami. It was so easy to do the scenes. Bawat take, bawat break, naiintindihan na namin kung ano ang magiging atake namin. Everything came so naturally.”
Amid the perceived “awkwardness” between the former partners, they both clarified on Tuesday that they are on good terms and in fact have not lost touch.
“Ang kinakatuwa namin parehas is ‘yung friendship na mini-maintain namin. We have such a good friendship right now and we’re both really at ease with each other. Nakakapag-asaran pa kami,” Barretto told reporters during a media conference for “E-numan.”
Just a night prior, Barretto and Garcia surprised their followers with a playful exchange on Twitter about the actress once un-following her ex-boyfriend on social media. The tweets, to “JoshLia” fans, were the first solid indication that their idols have indeed managed to keep warm ties.
“It’s so nice to have that,” Barretto said. “I think being good friends and being at peace with each other is the reason why we’re both in a really good place right now. It’s because we’re OK, because we’re really good friends.”
Garcia agreed, saying: “Simula noong naghiwalay kami, hindi naman kami nawalan ng connection sa isa’t-isa. Palaging nagkaka-text naman kami. Nagpunta pa ako sa bahay niya before.”
The actor surmised that they were effective in their roles as exes Tin and Benj not only because of their similar history, but because of the friendship they continue to enjoy despite the breakup.
“It takes two to tango,” Barretto said. “It’s from both of our ends. It’s from my end and Joshua’s end. We really saved the friendship. We really chose to save the friendship. Kasi sayang, e.”
“We had a lot of really good memories together, and we were also friends before we became lovers. So we wanted to just go back to that and save the friendship.”