In The Mood For Love With KD Estrada And Alexa Ilacad
We're celebrating the love month with KDLex, local showbiz's breakout love team and "Hottest Musical Pair," as they mark the first anniversary of their love team
To be labeled "trending" these days is no small feat. The local entertainment and social media landscapes are teeming with remarkable artists and influencers, and to take up a significant part in the pie chart, graph, or analytics of buzzmakers is indicative of one's power to captivate an audience.
But to make people stop and notice is one thing一to keep them interested and even turn them into adoring fans is another.
With all the trending hashtags sparking conversations about KD Estrada, Alexa Ilacad, and their love team KDLex, it's hard to miss this tandem's growing popularity. Every time the Twitterverse explodes with posts about them, the curiosity intensifies and their fandom seems to get bigger.
Welcome to KDLex's world.
The intangible metrics are then translated into tangible proof of rising stardom, with fans going beyond "engaging" on social media to support whatever project the two are part of.
Take, for instance, KDLex's "Closer" digital fan con back in February 2022: the SVIP and VIP tickets were sold-out in an hour! Clearly, the buzz the two generated has been instrumental to the birth and growth of KDLex, the marriage of their names and the ship name that has sailed from Big Brother's house to overseas.
What is KDLex all about? Why are they dubbed as a breakout love team that was even christened as the "Hottest Musical Pair?"
The unexpected team-up
Philippine showbiz is known to thrive with love teams. Some of them were deliberately paired up, while some were just formed organically. For KDLex, we can say the case is the latter.
KD Estrada一an industry newcomer who only began his career in 2019一joined Pinoy Big Brother: Kumunity Season 10 as a housemate, where he was introduced as "Ang Musical Wonder Boy ng Parañaque." Before this stint, the 20-year-old actor and singer was a member of The Squad Plus, a group that was an off-shoot of The Gold Squad that young stars Andrea Brillantes, Seth Fedelin, Francine Diaz, and Kyle Echarri were popular for.
On the other hand, by participating in this 2021 reality show, Alexa Ilacad, now 22, was navigating a new side of the industry she grew up in; and, with the moniker "Ang Smartista Unica Hija ng Pasig" on PBB, she opened up about deeply personal stories, allowing herself to be vulnerable which endeared her to many viewers who resonated with her journey.
It seems that it was by getting lost in their emotions that KD and Alexa found each other in Big Brother's house. As both were candid about their mental health struggles, they established an emotional connection that made them inseparable inside the house.
From mere housemates, KD and Alexa evolved into the best of friends, always uplifting each other's spirits and serving as each other's confidant.
"What I saw in Alexa," KD previously told us, "she's really very caring as a person… and also very nurturing. Despite fighting her own demons as well, she still manages to care for other people."
"To see how he [KD] was willing to fight," Alexa shared with us is what she found most inspiring about her partner. Moreso, it was "[seeing] how he fought his demons inside so that he could be brave and so that he could use his new platform to spread awareness" that made her admire KD.
With a friendship so warm and genuine showcased on-screen for viewers to appreciate and be inspired by, unbeknownst to KD and Alexa at the time, the "outside" world and cyberworld had started to notice their chemistry.
When it was time to end their respective PBB journeys, KDLex was just about to get started.
Breakout love team
Once they were out of Big Brother's house, KD and Alexa's team-up kept making hearts flutter. All the time they spent together eventually led to making KDLex an official love team.
Young as their team-up may be, they've proven enough to be dubbed as a "breakout" tandem that has amassed such a huge following in a fairly short period of time.
Impressively, when ABS-CBN initiated the online "By Request: A Benefit Fan Concert" early last year to help out those who were affected by typhoon Odette, 100,000 people watched KD and Alexa's livestream. And by the end of the episode, the estimated total donations the two helped raise amounted to Php425,692.47.
Acknowledging the popularity of KDLex's love team, their network gave the green light to two projects for them shortly after: the "Closer: KDLex Fan Con" and the rom-com drama miniseries Run to Me that was released in May 2022.
It was through Run to Me, their first-ever digital series together, that they got to showcase their chemistry as co-actors. It likewise gave them the opportunity to test out their harmony in making music, which is something they are both passionate about. Back when they were housemates, they were already making sweet music together, even writing and composing the song "When I See You Again" which they later got to record. But working on their show's OST must've been exhilarating. The OST features four tracks that they performed together ("Misteryo," "When I See You Again," "Hiwaga," and "Palagi") and one by Alexa titled "Kasi, Kung, Kahit."
Shortly after the soundtrack album was released, KD and Alexa made headlines again as their collaborations dominated and topped the iTunes Philippines chart. "At one point," ABS-CBN News reported, "seven out of the top 10 songs on iTunes Philippines were from KDLex."
These milestones wouldn't have been possible if KD and Alexa don't enjoy working with each other in the first place.
Alexa couldn't stop praising KD: "As a colleague, I like that he's very open to my suggestions, my criticism… I would say he's very open and he doesn't get offended when I correct him or when I try to teach him something else or when I try to guide him, which is nice 'cause hindi mataas 'yung kanyang pride at hindi malaki ang kanyang ego. So, I really appreciate that 'cause I'm someone who speaks her mind, especially if I think that it's for the better, I will tell you. I will give you some advice, maybe. Some people can get offended with that or take it in a wrong way. He doesn't."
KD also had great things to say about Alexa: "What I like about Alexa as a colleague—she's very honest. When we're singing together, she tells me, 'Okay, you're flat. You're sharp!' [I was] like, 'Oh, okay! Sorry, my bad!' I take it because that's honesty… No one else is going to tell me that I'm going to be flat or sharp because I'm not sure if they're [nahi]hiya or they just don't care or they just want to see me fail, but she tells me if I'm doing something wrong or not even wrong, just like a very minor mistake. Those little critiques helped me as an artist and as a person."
It's no wonder fans have also dubbed them the "Hottest Musical Pair"一it's just the perfect way to describe their harmonious relationship. This partnership has led to milestones like Asia's Most Promising Love Team of the Year at the 6th Asia Pacific Luminare Awards and the fan fave for Best Couple and Best in Costumes (Male and Female) in Metro's poll for the first-ever Star Magical Christmas event last year.
On this title, the two are thankful but they naturally feel the pressure that comes with it, too. KD said, "It's like… kilig!"
Picking up from his statement, Alexa shared, "Kilig, but also sort of pressure."
KD continued, "Na-pre-pressure rin, but honored—[I] definitely feel honored to think na me, I was just a guitar player a few years ago and now, I'm half of one of the 'hottest musical pairs' and it's with Alexa pa. Everybody was surprised when Alexa could sing, and she's just a great singer. She's very underrated in that aspect."
"It’s really kilig for me because all my life, I’ve loved music. I’ve lived music, but I've never really been able to show other people, so I guess I really don't know what happened in PBB—why all of a sudden, it's all we did—sing, write music," Alexa opened up. "That's the place where I learned that 'Oh, I can write music pala.' All this time, I thought I was just a singer, not a songwriter—a so-so singer, 'cause I've never really explored that much. So when they started calling us 'Hottest Musical Pair,' I was like, ‘It has a good ring to it. I like it, I like it!' But, that just means that we have to get better and show that we are rightful to the title."
The title encapsulates what KDLex is and what they can do, but also not limiting the possibilities of how far their love team can go.
The adventures of KDLex
And by "far," we mean miles away一from living under the same roof in Big Brother's house, this shipped couple has traveled overseas to perform together for Filipinos abroad. KD and Alexa were among the young stars who were chosen to join Star Magic's "Beyond the Stars" US tour in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, in celebration of the talent management's 30th anniversary in the industry.
In a way, to have the opportunity to join this roster solidifies their in-demand status in the industry. The tour was also a great way to strengthen their bond and discover more about each other.
"He is so good with directions! He is like a human Google Maps, honestly, and that’s something I am so bad at. I really, really suck at remembering places, directions—all of that," Alexa looked back on what she was pleasantly surprised about KD during their US tour. "'Cause I really like to explore, especially with food. I like trying out different food. I don't like eating the usuals, especially stuff that we have here in the Philippines. So, I told him, 'That’s your task for me. Look for good places!' And, he's so good at finding good places—even [where] to shop or if I need something, he'll look for it. I don't know, he's so good! He's so good at figuring out how trains work, how the commuting system works, and wala lang, I don't have to think of anything na when I travel. 'Bahala ka na d'yan!' He is good at directions. I will be lost!"
Emphasizing further, she later giggled, saying, "Without him, baka nasa ibang bansa na ako."
A little closer to home, KD and Alexa also recently traveled to Hong Kong. With a photo that shows them flanking hitmaking director Cathy Garcia-Molina against the beautiful harbor in Hong Kong, KDLex once again became trending, with fans hoping they would get a movie featuring this power trio.
Though not a full-length film, this project, we learned, is a short tourism film by Star Cinema that is meant to encourage people to travel again and visit HK. "We're excited for people to be able to watch that," Alexa quipped.
On working with Direk Cathy, the young actress shared, "Iba kasi 'yung mata ni Direk Cathy—something we can’t explain but she has a vision and she sees something that we don't, and I mean, that's why her movies turn out so well, 'cause of their creative minds."
Sharing more from their experience filming in Hong Kong, KD said, "Yes! Direk Cathy is also very hands-on. Sometimes, you would see her on the camera—mismong camera. Sometimes, she would be with Alexa. She would fix her hair. She would fix my hair, too, actually, and fix the wardrobe. She would spot if something's off. We really see Direk Cathy's magic."
KD and Alexa make an adventurous couple, and with things now going back to normal, traveling together again is definitely a part of their plans this year. We ask the Run to Me stars where they would like to run away to with each other, and almost in unison, they replied: "Japan."
KD said, "I love Japan, but she loves Japan more, so it makes me love Japan more." Alexa interjected, "Ah, I thought 'It makes me Japanese!'" And they burst into laughter, and everyone in the room laughed too. In that brief moment, it became clear to us what makes KDLex a fan favorite. Individually, they are both inspiring achievers worthy to be the first cover stars of Star Magic's digital magazines Slay (with Alexa) and Flex (with KD). But together, they make a great pair, and the fans can see that through the way they look at each other, the way they're so loving towards each other, and the way they radiate a contagious positive energy.
We then asked them to complete this sentence: "I run to [my partner] for..."
KD was the first to answer, saying, "I run to Alexa for everything. I legit share everything I can with this woman, because that's how partnership works." Facing Alexa, he said, "I trust you with my hostage-taking. I trust you—that you can find me." For the uninitiated, the message may be puzzling, but perhaps it's their inside joke, where KD references the kidnapping plot in their series Run to Me. Their closeness is so palpable.
"Oh, no! I'm bad at directions! I'll try, though," Alexa replied in jest.
KD continued, "I run to Alexa whenever anything happens in my life—good or bad. She's always there. I know that I can count on her. Through the ups, she's there; through the downs, she's there. I just run to her whenever."
Alexa cannot agree more, but with a little bonus realization: "It's the same thing for me, but siguro specifically, I run to KD for care, 'cause I'm an independent woman. I'm not someone who asks for care from other people or in other words, I'm used to taking care of myself. And, I've learned to stand alone and be comfortable in my own company. But now, I realized na sometimes, it feels really nice to be taken care of and for someone to look after you because you're always looking after other people. So, for a change. And so, that's what I run to KD for. Actually, I don't really have to run or walk or crawl, he just does that."
The "Hottest Musical Pair" in action
When KD and Alexa were in New York for the Star Magic tour, they were encouraged by Direk Lauren Dyogi to watch musicals for research and to educate themselves on this craft. The Star Magic head gave them tickets to the classic Moulin Rouge. "He was like, 'Hmmm, manood kayo! Research, research,'" Alexa recalled. "We were hooked and after that, we watched two more musicals during our stay."
Considering their newfound interest in musicals, Direk Lauren found the ideal next project for KDLex. With the return of the theaters after the height of the pandemic, PETA's (Philippine Educational Theater Association) Walang Aray musical couldn't have been more perfect for these young stars on the rise.
If, last year, KDLex's fans (the ever-supportive "Sweethearts," as they're called) spent the love month (and Alexa's birthday on February 26!) with the Closer fan con, this year, as they mark the first anniversary of their love team, KD and Alexa have this musical as a Valentine's Day offering.
Walang Aray is PETA's comeback production; it's a musical adaptation by Rody Vera of Severino "Lola Basyang" Reyes’ zarzuela Walang Sugat, set in the Spanish period but now with a modern twist. First performed during a PETA Laboratory session in 2018 with only a few scenes, it was staged again in 2019 as a whole play until the pandemic happened that saw theaters temporarily shut down.
Now that theaters are back, the spotlight is on KDLex, to breathe life into the characters of young lovers Tenyong and Julia. Their long and winding journey leads to Tenyong begging Julia to marry him; he resurfaces after joining the armed revolutionary movement and he shows up to stop her from marrying a rich spoiled kid her mother chose for her. KD explained, "Tenyong is actually Julia's partner and he's, like, this strong male leading man archetype and he's very protective of Julia and he goes to leave his state to fight for the country."
As this is something new for them, feeling some pressure is a given. In fact, according to Alexa, she almost quit the acting gig, knowing how giant of a responsibility it is. She recalled, "My first impression when they first introduced Julia to me: I was scared. I was like, 'Oops! I don't think I want to do this. I think this is too much for me. It was very scary to me, 'cause just by the song that they made me sing and their peg for the singer, I was like, 'I can't do that!'"
"It's too hard for me!," she presses, thinking she cannot take on the part. "When they were telling me that Julia sings 14 songs and has 90% of the lines in the script, I was like, 'Okay, thank you, bye!' Doubting from a distance, the musical crossed her mind again after some serious reflection, arriving at a realization. 'One day, I said, 'I really want to do it.' It's not that I don't want [it] because I just don't want to. It's because I'm scared."
Constantly bugged by what-ifs, Alexa's best case was to will her fate and face her fears. She shared, "'You know what, I think it's time to challenge yourself, 'no? Baka kaya mo, 'di ba?' So, I said, 'Lord, please give me a sign, 'cause they need my answer.'" By happenstance, luckily, Alexa’s hesitations were banished by the guy from upstairs. She got the sign that she was looking for: "I was scrolling through Instagram and there's this post I saw. It went along the lines of 'if the only thing that's stopping you is fear, why don't you get to know it?' So, I was like, 'I think this is you, God! I think this is you.'"
Apparently, there is no turning back for Alexa since, who blasted off her stage career with a bang. She called on her better angels to make her aspiration a reality, and turn this reality into an experiential investment. Hopeful, she said to herself, 'This means 'yes.' I will take it—no turning back."
Now that they are headlining PETA's comeback production Walang Aray as Tenyong and Julia, half the career path that KD and Alexa are tailing suddenly swerves to music, cementing the match's label as the well-loved "Hottest Musical Pair." Getting handpicked for the musical carves out another career milestone for the tandem, making them two of the most sought-after young stars in local showbiz.
Asked what it was like to work on this musical with Alexa, KD said, "I'm going to speak on the technical [side] of it. It helped us with our harmony, helped us with our dynamics when we sing."
Alexa offered, "I think PETA brought out the best in us and I wouldn't say the worst but it showed us more of our attitudes towards each other, etc. and how we work under extreme amounts of stress and zero energy."
"So congrats, kinakaya mo ako, that's all I can say," Alexa told KD. To which, KD replied, "Oo naman!" Their banter was so natural, so lighthearted, so heart-fluttering.
While Alexa and KD paint their lone personalities as binary opposites, they boast that with a dash of compromise, proper communication, and trust, any team-up could fare well in the charts. "Any relationship, friendship, [or] family—anything—without the proper communication is bound to crash and fall," Alexa fired away. "I think comprehension [is also important]. Listening is one thing, but comprehending is another thing."
At the forefront of KDLex's relationship, apart from respect, is their ability to meet in a middle ground. Trust is a great stabilizer to their success, too, according to KD. "If you don't trust, then what else is there?," he argued. Adding to his statement, Alexa said with pride and passion: "We're not exactly the same in everything and we're total polar opposites, so it's one thing we make sure to do: compromise."
One year down for KDLex, and hopefully, many more to go!
Photography by Dookie Ducay
Sittings editors: Geolette Esguerra, Grace Libero-Cruz, Red Dimaandal and Kate Paras-Santiago
Creative direction by Raff Colmenar
Alexa's makeup by Jake Galvez
Grooming by Aimee Grey
Hairstyling by Justine Ocampo (Alexa) and Chino Maniquiz (KD)
Fashion styling by Patty Yap (Alexa) and Team Rain x Em - Rain Dagala (KD)
Styling associates: Rioliza Camantigue, Elaine Villapando and Allan Yabut
Set styling by TPCstyle
Videographer: CJ Reyes
Interview by Janelle Paraiso
Text by Grace Libero-Cruz and Janelle Paraiso
Photography assistants: Byron De Guzman and Mark Catunga
Shot on location at B&B Studios
Polaroid photos (gallery) taken with instax mini Evo
Special thanks to Star Magic