Julia is in love. As a matter of fact, much of why she’s happy these days is because she is in love. And she’s finally admitting it for the first time ever.
“Yeah for sure,” she says with a small but sure smile when I ask her if the reason she’s happy is love.
“Would you say that it’s love?” I ask. “Love, yeah,” she answers.
“It’s love?” I ask again.
“Yeah,” she says.
“Would you say you’re in love?” I ask a third time, for clarity.
“Yeah,” she answers with certainty.
For everything she went through the past year, Julia Barretto has finally arrived at a place where she’s weathered the storms and is now perfectly still. “Still and anchored. It’s been like the anchor for me,” Julia says of the love she has in her life now.
And so, everything seems right again in Julia’s life now, not just personally, but also professionally.
Today Julia has been living independently in her new house for almost a year now and is under new management. Two factors led to her decision of moving from her home base of Star Magic to Viva Artist Agency. The first,
of course, was the closure of ABS-CBN.
“I felt really broken. It was like a nightmare. That was the day the Congress had to make a decision. And when they made that decision, I rode my car immediately and went straight to ABS because it felt like, it was the only right thing to do at that moment. It just felt like we were all floating and lost at some point. And yeah, like, I can’t even put into words, exactly. It was like a nightmare, like it didn’t seem real.” Julia recalls of that fateful day of July 10 when her home network, ABS-CBN failed in its bid for a franchise renewal.
The second factor was Head of Star Magic, Mariole Alberto’s announcement of her retirement.
“When she announced her retirement, it was also the time when I had to do a lot of thinking for myself, like, I’m sure a lot of us came to that phase during this whole season, and with the shutdown, we really had to rethink everything, and just figure out which direction we want to go, or what do we really want? What do I want for myself, as a person as an actress, you know what I mean? I was already at that point. And then Viva came up to me and asked to be listened to and I did, and I feel like this is the time to really see all your opportunities out there and just give it a listen, because you don’t know, right? There’s nothing wrong with that. And so I did, and I really, like, you know, how they plan things out for me and what they had in store for me. And I like the direction that they wanted me to go. And I liked how they were supportive of the things I loved. And, yeah, so they supported everything that I had envisioned for myself. And I really like that. So I mean, it was a lot of things. And, you know, it was an easier transition for me, because it was something that Ms Mariole (and Mr. M) supported. And they approved of it. And they really supported me and really believed in my move. So, you know, it was an easy transition,” Julia says of her decision process.
But even as it was an easy transition, it wasn’t an easy decision to arrive at for Julia.
“I think that just leaving Star Magic, you know, I had been with Star Magic since the age of six. So I mean, it was very hard and I really had to think through that decision, because it’s a major move, right? It’s such a bold move that I had to really think it over every night, every morning. But then again, it was an easy transition, because everybody in that home supported it. If they had not, I’d be really feeling heavy now. But they were so open about that idea of me moving as really just a way of me looking after myself, and thinking, ‘What’s best for me?’ I mean, they really supported that. And that’s why I can’t be any more thankful. That’s just how we were raised in Star Magic, you know, just support each other wherever one flies.”
Armed with that permission and this new peace, Julia has a lot to be excited about and a lot to look forward to at Viva. Like she said, she is ready to fly.
“What I wanted for myself were the things they also wanted. And it’s great because, they’re gonna make it happen for me,” an enthused Julia exclaims.
“I can take on more mature roles now. Especially that, you know, I’m growing up. And, you know, I’m a risk taker now. Like, I like to take the jump now. And, you know, it’s just after so many things that have happened. I just feel like I’m more brave. Yeah, I just want to grow up.”
At 23, Julia Barretto has done a lot of growing up in the past year especially with the death of the Barretto patriarch, Miguel, the seemingly never-ending feud in her family even involving the President of the Philippines in a scuffle that transpired at her grandfather’s wake, and quite personally, the end of her relationship with her second boyfriend and “love team” Joshua Garcia.
“I knew that both of us had a lot of growing up to do, he (Joshua) had a lot of growing up to do, and we both had a lot of maturing we had to do. So I had to do the painful thing for the two of us thinking that later on, he will realize that I made the right decision. And I’m sure now he sees it because when we caught up many months back, he told me of a lot of things that he had improved with himself, and when he told me about it, I was just listening and I just felt so proud knowing something good came out of a decision that I had to make that, in the beginning, really hurt the two of us. And so yeah, that’s what happened. I had to do it. For the both of us. It wasn’t just for me, just for us not to damage each other further. I was thinking more about us as people than as a love team. I really didn’t think about the career aspect at all,” Julia explains.
Of course before they broke up, the love team collectively known as JoshLia was a result of a very intentional partnering after Julia had been previously paired with the likes of Julian Estrada, Enrique Gil and Inigo Pascual—Joshua Garcia was, finally, the right fit.
Together, Joshua Garcia and Julia Barretto reached the peak of their careers with their blockbuster hit Vince and Kath and James, the highest grossing movie at the MMFF (Metro Manila Film Fest) that year, a success that led to three more films starring their then already very established love team, Love You To The Stars And Back, Unexpectedly Yours, and I Love You Hater.
And if success, fame and recognition weren’t enough, somewhere in their reel life, Julia fell in love with Joshua for real.
“I wasn’t really looking for love at all. And that’s why I was really able to focus on Vince and Kath and James because, you know, I was just thinking about myself. There was so much pressure on me, first of all, and so I just wanted to give justice to whatever I have to give justice to. So it was always just about like, I just want to make this work, and I just want to be recognized as an actress. But then, you know, throughout filming, and then we started working more together, we became such good friends and it was such a good foundation for a relationship. Uhm, but he was the one who had feelings first…” Julia confirms.
From the moment she turned 18, Julia knew she had to step out of the shadows of her famous last name and prove to be an equally talented if not a more talented actress than the generation that came before her including her mother Marjorie and her aunts Gretchen and Claudine, who ruled show business in the ’80s and ’90s.
Julia was so focused and she was able to prove herself worthy of a spot in show business, independent of her famous family’s previous successes because she was so single-minded and thought of only only herself.
Until, of course, she fell in love.
“Nakuha talaga ako sa tiyaga. And then later on, I fell in love,” Julia recalls of Joshua’s courtship of her. “And then it became such a passionate relationship. Like we felt everything. Like, when we love, you felt love. When we fight, we really fight. When someone’s jealous. It’s like super selos. So it was like passionate love,” Julia remembers. Her passion, once exclusively in proving herself as a legitimate actress, now became a passion for her relationship with Joshua. “I woke up one day and I’m in love with him. It really does happen! It wasn’t like I’m starting to like this guy like… I woke up one day and I’m like, I like this guy! And I remember that moment. It was my birthday party. He asked me to dance and I was so caught off guard. I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, let’s dance.’”
The next day, Julia woke up in love with Joshua.
But to make things official, it was Julia who had to make the move.
“I think we became together because I kissed him. He was too shy so I just did it and then when we kissed, that was the anniversary. Like we were in the car. And then he dropped me off.”
As sweet and seemingly ordinary that first kiss was that solidified their relationship and put JoshLia in the love team arena alongside KathNiel, LizQuen and JaDine, both things had to end just three years after that when Julia decided it was time to call it quits.
“With that decision, uhm, I mean, I was with him not because he was my love team. I was with him because I genuinely loved the guy. So when I broke up with him, I never thought of the career angle or the love team aspect. Because in my head was I thinking, to save ourselves from damaging each other more, I had to do it. Because he wasn’t going to do it.”
“With a love team it was never talked about that it was going to end. I think it just ended when our relationship ended,” Julia says of the two things she lost when she made her decision.
And as normal as how their romantic relationship started, how it ended was very far from normal because Julia broke up with Joshua in the middle of shooting Block Z together and still had to finish filming.
“I think it was hard in the aspect that, you know, there was so much familiarity at work and then outside of work, like just the sense of familiarity was there, and then you break up and then there were so many adjustments, right? But I think what helped the process of healing was because we were friends, like we were okay,” Julia recalls of how she handled still seeing Joshua even after they had broken up.
Block Z showed earlier this year at the end of January and is Julia’s last movie to date. What was intended as another JoshLia starrer was repositioned into an ensemble movie. Even their kissing scene was edited out of the final cut.
“I think it was easier for me because I now only had to make decisions for myself, not for two people. And so I was just, you know, when I would be pitched a story, it was easier for me to think like, ‘Yes or no?’ because when you pitch to me, if I were in a love team, and you pitch to me a story that involves somebody else, and not the person I’m paired up with, it takes a lot of talking and planning with the love team, and not only with the love team, but also with management. But if you’re alone, you can just be like, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna, yeah…’ because you don’t have to think about the love team. You know, when you have to be paired up with somebody who’s not your love team, you also have to think about his feelings as your boyfriend, more as your boyfriend, not just as your love team, so it was a lot.”
And because the shooting schedule for Block Z was on and off, Julia was able to make another movie with Black Sheep called Between Maybes opposite Gerald Anderson. “I was filming Block Z and then I went to Japan (to shoot Between Maybes) and I went home to continue filming Block Z and then doing that every day,” Julia talks about the overlap in her last two movies.
Between Maybes was released in May of 2019, so at the time of filming, Julia was still very much with Joshua and had his approval in the choice of her co-star.
“Management met with me, and Josh, then they asked us if we wanted to be more open to working with other people. So Josh and I spoke about it and we made the decision to you know, stay as a love team. Stay as a love team, but be able to work with other people and be like, you go home to your love team. Okay. And then, uhm, I told them na I prefer na lang somebody that’s much older than Josh and much older than me just so wala lang conflict with Josh. And he was more accepting of it. And oh, yeah, so it was something that Josh and I really spoke about at the time and collaborated with management. So that was my first project outside of the love team. And then he was also going to do a project that wasn’t going to be with me. It just so happened nauna lang yung sakin because he was going to start pa lang something that I wasn’t kasama. So parang that was the direction we were gonna go to na and yeah, so I talked to him about like who my leading man was gonna be in that movie and he was fine with it. Like he was happy.”
So production started on Between Maybes and Julia flew to Saga, Japan to begin filming with Gerald Anderson.
“Just coming into that film, I was like, I want to do good. I want to be as natural as possible. And this is my first movie without my love team so it was like I want this movie to work. And you know, it was just so easy because I was doing my best and my co-actor was doing his best and yes, he had already been in the industry for so long so it wasn’t something that was hard. It was like I was doing my part and he was doing his part. And it just worked out so well,” Julia talks about her working relationship with Gerald.
Throughout filming, Julia never really thought of anything else but making the movie work.
“I was still with my boyfriend at the time we were filming so I wasn’t like entertaining the thought of this guy as anything more than a friend…I wasn’t, really. I was really just there to work and I was just really there to give my hundred percent. When we were in Japan filming, I wasn’t in the state of mind of like or pressuring myself to find attraction just to make the movie work. I just wanted to do my job as an actress and he’s doing his job as an actor and then just make the film work.”
But Julia admits being excited about working with Gerald.
“I think one of the things that I really learned about him when we were filming was he was such a genuinely good person. What was more important to me was he wasn’t just nice to me, he was so nice to everybody on the set and treated everybody the same way he would treat me. So if he would like help me or be like a gentleman and help me with stuff, he would do the same thing for the cameraman, for our audio man. He would do the same thing for the prod (production). You know what I mean? So I think one of the things that was so nice was just his genuine kindness to other people and his service. I think one of the things I also observed of him was he truly finds joy in serving other people and that says a lot about a person. It’s so hard to come across people like that. And he’s fun! He was so much fun on the set and he was entertaining everybody, and he was such a positive energy,” Julia says of her co-star.
After her movie with Gerald wrapped, Julia went back to shooting Block Z and that was when the breakup with Joshua happened. Julia had to juggle three things at once: her breakup with her boyfriend, filming Block Z and doing promo for Between Maybes.
Between Maybes turned out to be a hit and Julia didn’t see Gerald after that. She was resolved in finishing Block Z.
It was only until photos of Julia and Gerald coming from the same birthday party of a mutual friend, Rayver Cruz, surfaced online that rumors started to swirl. Julia was with her sister, her husband and their cousin at the party so she really didn’t think anything of it.
“There was actually nothing at all in the photo so that’s why I just shrugged it off and because I didn’t think people are gonna think much of it because what was in the photo actually, right?” Julia claims.
But the days following that, an entire narrative formed involving Julia who, at the time was already going through a painful breakup, and her co-star Gerald who, at the time, had also broken up with his girlfriend Bea Alonzo.
“I think when everybody had their own side of the story, when they started making up stories with that photo, it just blew out of proportion, like there wasn’t anything actually, G. When you look at it, like nothing is even going on in the photo,” Julia explains.
In the chaos that resulted from a single photo, Julia chose to stay quiet about all the mean and hurtful things being said about her online even as her closest and dearest prodded her to speak up.
“As much as I wanted to say my side of the story, I couldn’t as respect to the two other parties involved. I just didn’t feel like it was right to speak for the two of them. It wasn’t my story to tell. I knew saying my piece would have to include what I knew at the time, but again, it wasn’t my story to tell,” Julia reveals with complete honesty.
So Julia chose her silence but fought the way she felt she had to at the time to protect herself.
Through it all, Julia helped herself heal from her breakup, quiet herself from all the things that were being said about her, and remove herself from that situation.
She started to build and she started to gain her own independence. She went back to her core, she went back to what makes her, just Julia.
And now, a year after, the dust has settled and she now sees very clearly what’s ahead of her, without having to look back on what happened, but remembering the lessons she learned through the pain of growing up in the past year.
“I think nobody understands the kind of trauma of having a relationship so public, and then also have a lot of people see when your relationship fails. Like it’s so traumatizing for me because I genuinely cared about this guy, I genuinely loved this guy, and then I shared so much that when we broke up they thought they knew the whole story. They thought they knew my pains, they thought they knew my joys, they thought they knew everything—all the reasons that caused the breakup. But nobody really does. So one of the things I made myself confident in when it comes to my personal relationships is that, I’m in control. I am in total control of how much I am only willing to share and how much I am only allowing people to know. I’ve already come to realize how important it is to protect your peace and privacy—and that both go well together,” Julia bares her heart.
So even now that Julia admits that she’s in love, just being in love is all she’s ready to share right now.
“I’m just contented. It’s just a fulfilling emotion—the feeling of contentment and I’m able to arrive in that place in my life at such an early age. I’m content and I’m secured and it just came so unexpectedly. It may be misunderstood by many but it makes so much sense for me and that’s all that really matters,” Julia happily admits.
“I’m so excited for the future. I think everything is just coming together.” And Julia’s right. Because in every falling apart, there is always a coming together.