Darren Espanto and AC Bonifcaio have been friends for almost a decade now, after first meeting in 2015. Both hailing from Canada, the two bonded over their shared roots and pursuing a career in the entertainment industry. The multi-talented duo can sing, dance, and act! It’s giving triple threat.
After all of that, it’s true that they have chemistry—but not in the way you think! Because even if people do ship them together, the two have repeatedly firmly established that they are just great friends. Their energy together is always fun, fresh, and playful, and it’s always refreshing to see wholesome platonic friendships in an industry that always wants male and female stars to get together.
And that was on full display when they, along with a slew of Kapamilya stars, went to Milan for ASAP Milan had tons of fun. From orchestrating group TikToks with icons like Piolo Pascual and Regine Velasquez to pretending to be IG livesellers, best friends AC and Darren totally made the most of their trip to Italy! So, to show off this great friendship, we compiled a few moments to show you what these besties were up to in their European adventures.
Darren and AC opened up Instagram Live for a few minutes on September 13 and pretended to sell products live in an outlet store in Milan, imitating live sellers that were surprisingly doing it for real in the same store. The two showed off shoes, hats, bags, and joked around the exact way friends goofing off do, complete with Darren showing off a pink gradient bag and comparing it to AC’s own currently red hair (he even called her “bes“)!
What’s a trip without countless selfies? AC showed off her .5 photo-taking skills in both of their Instagrams, showing everyone first their comfortable digs on the plane and then the ornate surroundings and skyline of Milan.
Even before the pair landed in Milan, Darren and AC were already having fun filming TikToks and taking photos on the plane. A clear favorite, they did the famous “Sandy Super Bass” TikTok trend again while in the air—their third time in three weeks!
STAR OF THE SHOW
Listen, when you look this good, sometimes you just need to crop your bestie out of the photo. Kidding aside, this cropping is such a bestie move and so representative of Darren and AC’s playful friendship.
You can always count on young artists like Darren and AC to have absolutely fire drip. Their outfits in Milan, often matching and always set against the beautiful backdrop of Italy, were the epitome of casual chic, and the pair showed them off the with, what else, a TikTok.
In a dig at all those shippers, Darren and AC made a TikTok proving to everyone that guys and girls, especially in the showbiz industry, can just be friends. AC even shut down a commenter under the TikTok who said “No I want you guys to be [a] couple 😢” by responding “sana ok ka lang.” The pair have shared before that they really never had feelings for each other, and that they’re more like siblings—they know everything about each other, they’re always down for a fun TikTok or two, and they’re always there to support each other.
What does it take to make a friendship work? Best friends Vivoree Esclito and Kaori Oinuma talk all about the power of female friendships and how it takes time, effort, and commitment to sustain something beautiful.
Someone once told me that there’s nothing like female friendships. A connection between two people—founded on trust, forged in laughter, strengthened through shared experiences over time—is nothing short of magical.
Female friendships are beautiful and complicated. Even if they come from different backgrounds or upbringings, a bond between girls is unique in that no one else understands what it’s like to be a girl in this world except them. They’re strengthened by every sleepover, side-eye, debrief, rant about relationships, and yes, even petty fights.
Chainmail dresses used as top by La Glamour Queen, Denim skirts by Levi’s
But of course, female friendships are also prone to trouble. Jealousy, competition, serious fights, and drifting apart as lives shift and change can alter the trajectory of a female friendship forever. But at the core of female friendships lies a girl’s feelings of being seen, heard, and validated. They can help her keep going.
So for Gen Z artists Vivoree Esclito and Kaori Oinuma, it’s wonderful that being young, genuine souls working in the same industry got the stars aligning for them to build a friendship. The two friends worked together on hit teen shows He’s Into Her and Tara, G!, slowly forming their friendship while also cementing themselves as talented young women making a name for themselves.
The two are the epitome of kind. On cover shoot day, Kaori, the half-Japanese actress whose hype-worthy projects A Very Good Girl and Fractured air this September, came into the room smiling as she went over to our little NYLON Manila staff table in the studio and shook all of our hands, introducing herself with grace. And when the bright and glammed-up Vivoree entered the studio for the podcast shoot, she held the door open for everyone and laughingly said, “Acts of service po love language ko, eh!” The singer and actress released three singles this year and is currently filming In His Mother’s Eyes.
All throughout the long day, Vivoree and Kaori exuded a sparkling warmth that brought a smile to everyone in their vicinity. From leaning on each other to exchanging laughter and high-fives, the love and affection inherent to their friendship was unmistakable.
While the two would cross paths later in life, they did get their start similarly, as contestants on Pinoy Big Brother. Vivoree was on the seventh main season that ran from 2016 to 2017, while Kaori entered the house one season later in 2018. Soon after, the two found themselves crossing paths more frequently, and—as they say—the rest is history.
Vivoree and Kaori didn’t start off as besties immediately. Their friendship, like all great ones, took some time and effort to be as wholesome as it is now. They first met at a go-see for He’s Into Her, but they admitted that they watched each other’s seasons of PBB and admired how kind and genuine the other was.
Planet print coordinates and boots by Just Bonita by Bonita Penaranda
The pair got the chance to bond when they were roommates during the filming of He’s Into Her season 2 and Tara, G! in the same year. They learned quite a bit about each other, like how Kaori is more organized than Vivoree, and how Vivoree inspired Kaori because the former could shower anytime, even with cold water!
On a more serious note, early on in their friendship, the two were able to bond over how they’re not the kind of people who open up to others easily.
“Since hindi talaga kami nag-oopen up sa ibang tao, parang nagkaroon kami ng connection to open up to each other,” Vivoree shares. “Parang may trust na nabui-build, which is something nice. Iba yung friendship ko talaga with Kaori.”
It’s often difficult to find someone on the same wavelength as you are—someone who you can relate to, trust, and be yourself with—especially in Vivoree and Kaori’s unique line of work. But a big part of many friendships is owed to having shared experiences and offering unwavering emotional support through it all.
From their respective stints in Big Brother’s house to working on the same projects, the pair bonded over their experiences as young women in showbiz.
Vivoree explains, “It’s rare to find a friendship in showbiz… people come and go.” She adds that sometimes you get to work on a project with great people, but afterwards, the friendship doesn’t grow to be anything more than work acquaintance.
But with Kaori, through all of the acting work, hosting stints, and baking vlogs, they kept the embers of their friendship burning, despite the lightning-fast pace of the entertainment industry.
SUPPORT AND SISTERHOOD
However, sharedexperiences don’t guarantee the strength and longevity of a friendship. Women and young girls are constantly compared and pitted against each other, especially in the entertainment industry, both internationally and locally. Picking sides over media-amplified issues about boys, artistry, superficial stuff—it’s like we can’t allow more than one young woman to be happy and successful. And sometimes, all that outside pressure causes a deeper rift between them.
So in this world where young women are constantly pitted against each other, it’s refreshing to see Vivoree and Kaori’s friendship be pretty different. They’re generous with their praise for one another and firm in their desire for each other to succeed.
“Super genuine ng soul niya,” Kaori raves about the singer-actress. “Lagi kong sinasabi sa kanya na isa ako sa mga naniniwala sa kanya, and happy ako na nakikita ko siyang nag-grow and, as in, lumalayo yung nararating niya.” She cites Vivoree as one of her inspirations, a sentiment born of watching her on PBB.
Vivoree was also full of praises for the young star. “Ang warm ni Kaori. She’s not hard to love as a friend, as a person.”
The faith and trust they have in one another is undoubtedly strong. And it’s great to witness how these two young women constantly uplift each other and prove that they’re each truly a girl’s girl.
“Yun ako as a person,” Kaori explains. “Ayoko masira yung tiwala sakin ng tao, lalo [pag] babae, of course. Tayo tayo lang nagkakaintindihan.”
The two align like stars when it comes to listening and understanding where the other is coming from, given their shared experiences and how far they’ve come to trusting each other. Staying as each other’s support system despite their high-speed careers necessitates all that faith and trust, and a commitment to love.
“Yun nga yung magic with my friendship with Kao,” Vivoree gestures to Kaori. “Kasi even if may kanya-kanya kaming life or projects, we still look out for each other. Kinakamusta pa rin namin yung isa’t isa, and we still support each other, which is is something na talagang importante sa friendship for me.”
Kaori refers to Vivoree as someone who’s like family to her, like a sister. They are kindred spirits. They listen wholeheartedly to each other’s stories, providing a safe space of comfort and validation whenever they needed it. “I promised naman sa kanya na kahit anong mangyari, makikinig ako sa kanya.”
Although their busy schedules keep them from seeing each other all the time, Vivoree and Kaori do have some secrets to sustaining their friendship—one of which, they agreed on, is being a good listener. They strive to be understanding and open to trusting, and they strive to make time for each other.
“Pagka mayroong oras na kaya naming magkita, makapag-usap…gagawin namin,” Kaori assures.
The pair, having had their share of both good and bad experiences with people, have learned a few things about life and friendship. Vivoree advises people not to trust blindly. “Basahin mo yung tao, kilalanin mo muna slowly.” When you believe you can develop the bond and solidify the connection, you can trust someone deeply and openly. Kaori shares similar sentiments.
“Kung gusto mong pagkatiwalaan ka ng tao…magtiwala ka rin,” she says. “Matuto ka magtiwala.” Kaori herself was apprehensive about trusting people, particularly in showbiz. But when she met Vivoree, she felt that her colleague was open to trusting her, and so she, in an act of faith, reciprocated.
But when it comes to toxic friendships, Vivoree advocates for knowing that you have the freedom to leave the relationship. “Not everyone deserves your space, deserves your time and attention. Yung tendency niyan, you’ll be the one who’s gonna get drained. Ikaw yung mauubos, tapos sila, puno sila nang puno.”
On the other hand, Kaori draws on what she admires about Vivoree and urges people to just be kind and authentic to everyone. “Maging genuine ka na lang sa lahat ng makakasalamuha mo, and then kung ma-reciprocate yun, that’s good. Magkakaroon ka ng friends. Pero kung hindi…siyempre di mo na kailangan i-overthink yun.”
Thoughtful, loyal, and wise, these two young women exemplify the power of genuine female friendship—how it’s often hard to come by, how it provides shelter in the raging storm of life, how it makes life better and just that much brighter. Not everyone can come into a strong female friendship outright. It’s not enough to have the same interests and experiences—you have to work on powering through pressure, examining and reevaluating your relationships, and genuinely growing as friends as well as people. So when I remembered someone telling me that there’s nothing like female friendship, I realized that Vivoree and Kaori’s genuine, love-filled friendship was nothing short of magical.