Navigating a haunting story of loss and love, Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla access a tender and aching vulnerability in their creative collaboration with Ben&Ben, Jorel Lising, and Juan Miguel Severo for Sa Susunod Na Habang Buhay.
“Sino ang nasa panaginip mo?” asks Kathryn Bernardo, her gentle eyes piercing through Daniel Padilla, who seems to be looking on over her into the distance. While his gaze does not necessarily meet hers, their consciousness however seemingly meet as the emotionally packed, “Ikaw,” tumbles from his lips.
There is barely any sun draping through the contours of their faces in this rather terse exchange, which is a definite far cry from the previous scene that opened up this freshly dropped Ben&Ben music video, Sa Susunod Na Habang Buhay. In the beginning, our premeditated focus is broken by the rumbling of the sea, as well as of the eventual crashing of the waves on the shore. While the forces of nature are hard at work, pulling back the water that tries desperately to cling to the lips of the sandbar, we see Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla intertwined to each other as they walk against the backdrop of pink and orange. Even with their backs turned, you can sense a strong surge of calm and content from the two, which is a visual that lends itself well to his oral overture.
“Palagi ako nananaginip, at pag gising ko, para akong nagluluksa sa pagmamahal na ‘di ko pa naman nahanap.”
“Palagi ako nananaginip, at pag gising ko, para akong nagluluksa sa pagmamahal na ‘di ko pa naman nahanap,” he says, and then a sharp shift is felt. Suddenly, they are two separate souls; both troubled, but with their sights set on different directions. “May nalimutan yata ako, may naiwan sa daan, may biglang pag gaan ng mga balikat ko na ‘di ko naiintindihan—pero sa sobrang gaan, masakit.”
The orchestration of Ben&Ben begins to fill the scene, this time taking us back to the very beginning. Here begins a journey of clarity and enlightenment, as we see our protagonists at the cusp of a new beginning, clearly in an abundance of love. Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla are all grown-up, as we have seen them live out in their previous film, The Hows Of Us. But this time, there is an added layer to their relationship as they begin to build their life as a family with the allusion to a baby as realized in a pair of tiny booties and the blissful wrapping of their arms with each other.
“Kaya namang makayanan / Kahit pa na nahihirapan /Kahit lungkot dumaraan /Pag natuyo na ang luha,” the 9-piece band begins to sing. Before it even begins to settle, it becomes clear that the pair is caught in a time loop. However, despite our predilections for the scientific, this one is more feeling. “Parang nahipan / Ang ‘yong kandila / Init ay wala.”
Stopping right on its tracks, this is no happy ending. Instead, Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla confront a circumstance that is perhaps beyond their emotional bandwidths outside the Juan Miguel Severo-penned narrative. With a grief much bigger than anything they’ve tackled together before in television, film, and presumably outside the gleam of show business, they keep a firm grip on the decay of what was once ideal and is now being feasted by the anxiety and anger that come with a loss of any sort, much more one that involves an unborn child or in the words of the story, a love that they haven’t met yet.
“It’s always nice to create something with friends,” writes Juan Miguel Severo on social media prior to the premiere. A creative collaboration that is effortless, it definitely shows in the music video of Sa Susunod Na Habang Buhay. Moored by a tender and aching song about the promise of hope and the enduring power of love, this poetic detailing about the complexities and realities of an adult relationship is a fitting next chapter in the continuing story of Ben&Ben, as they now been fully ingrained as a standard in the soundtrack of this generation.
In this profound unraveling of romance in varying frames of time, jumping from different points of beginning, middle, and end, there begins a conversation that many still struggle with today. Who completes the equation of in the capacity to love? The element of time only heightens this understanding, especially with the premise of something that goes beyond the physical bounds, as described in the song and fleshed out by the screenplay of this short film. “Hindi ba, pangako mo nung una / Tiwala’y iingatan / Baka naman sa susunod /Na habang buhay,” the track goes. “At kahit nabago na ng oras / Ang puso ma’y nabutas / Ikaw pa rin / Sa susunod na habang buhay.”
“What if every time one dies, they go back to their first date with one of them carrying memories from their previous run,” and so goes the idea of writer Juan Miguel Severo as he brought it to life with director Jorel Lising and Ben&Ben. It could have been another mishandling of emotional baggage if brought to life by someone else, but in the presence of Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, the pain and passion was perfectly balanced, beautifully expressed, and given justice by the compassion they both have in abundance.
As the haunting ballad soared into its final trail and the loose ends were knotted in place in its respective realms, the message of the song was really underscored in the cinematic exposition: “Ikaw pa rin / Ang pipiliin / Kong mahalin / Sa susunod na habang buhay.” Truly, the promise of love knows no bounds—no matter how you see and define its limits.
This time, Daniel Padilla asks Kathryn Bernardo as their last embrace fades out: “Sinong nasa panaginip mo?”
No answer, just an unspoken understanding that somehow pacifies their soul in their great beyond.