‘She’s Dating the Gangster’: Evolution to the big screen

Alexa Villano

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‘She’s Dating the Gangster’: Evolution to the big screen
Author Bianca Bernardino talks about the experience of seeing her own work, originally a story published on Wattpad, come to life on the big screen

MANILA, Philippines –  Emotions play a big part in our lives. And for She’s Dating The Gangster author Bianca Bernardino, strong emotions led to the creation of her story, which has been adapted into a major movie.

The Book

THE BOOK. 'She's Dating The Gangster' became popular through Wattpad. Cover from Goodreads.com

It was mostly hugot from experiences (personal and friends). Parang naging way siya i-vent yung feelings ko nun. Na-compose siya dahil sa emotions,” she told Rappler via Facebook. 

(It was mostly from experiences. It became a way to vent my feelings that time. It was composed because of emotions.) 

In an interview with Pinay.com, Bianca said that she was inspired by Korean dramas at the time she was writing the story.

Avid readers know that the story, which gained popularity on the social media publishing site Wattpad, was turned into a book by Summit Media.

Set in the year 2006, the plot revolves around Athena and Kenji. Kenji initially asks Athena to pretend to be his girlfriend to get his ex-girlfriend with the same name jealous. The two don’t expect to fall in love, but as they became closer, their love is put to the test. 

The Movie

Fans of the book are thrilled that the story has been turned into a movie starring Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo. Directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina, the movie is part of Star Cinema’s 20th anniversary presentation.



When asked what made her say yes to the movie version, Bianca said it was because of the readers themselves.

Some of my readers were asking for it. I thought that maybe it would be nice to see Athena and Kenji on a big screen, that way you won’t have to imagine how they look because they will be right in front of you.”

THE AUTHOR. Bianca Bernardino (center) with Creative Manager Ms. Carmi Raymundo and writer Yayen Bernardo during the presscon of the movie. Photo from Instagram

Bianca also understood that when she was approached about the idea of turning the book into a film there would be changes. Director Cathy Garcia-Molina addressed differences between the book and movie during the movie’s press con.

The creative team, producers, and direk Cathy set a meeting with me and informed me about how not everything on the book will be shown on the movie,” she said. 

“It has to be adjusted for other age ranges as well and not just for teenagers (as they are my target age). So I understood and asked them if they can keep the important scenes on the book that the readers like. They did.”

Prior to casting Daniel and Kathryn, Bianca previously said that she had Kim Chiu and Gerald Anderson in her mind if the movie would ever pushed through. (READ: KathNiel to star in film version of ‘She’s Dating the Gangster’)

“Since the story started last 2005/2006 the teenagers that I can see that have the potential to be Athena and Kenji are Kim and Gerald. Things changed, if the two will portray the characters they’d be too old for them. When the book was released (no movie offer yet), I was asked again, then I remembered Kathryn and Daniel. I was positive that they can fit the roles perfectly,” she said.

Bianca has also visited the set a few times, and she said she was happy with what she saw.

“I dropped by on the set for a few times. I’m actually very happy with the trailer, I even cried the first time I saw it. I know the team put all their effort into making the movie.”

When asked if she has follow-up to the story of Athena and Kenji, Bianca said she is still in the process of writing, so readers will just have to wait to see what’s next from her.

Asked what viewers can expect from the Athena and Kenji’s love story, Bianca said: “Siguro their story. It is about sacrifice para sa great love mo (It’s their story. It’s about sacrifice for your great love).”  – Rappler.com

She’s Dating The Gangster opens July 16

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Alexa Villano

Alexa is one of Rappler's Lifestyle and Entertainment reporters, covering local entertainment news to a wide range of topics from beauty pageants to reality shows.