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Dennis Trillo and Jennylyn Mercado Open Up About Love, Parenthood, and What Comes Next

by Nicole Cruz | Oct 30, 2021
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In an exclusive tell-all with Preview, power couple Dennis Trillo and Jennylyn Mercado reveal how they’ve made it work throughout the years, and prove that love truly conquers all.

Dennis Trillo and Jennylyn Mercado are getting married.

The celebrity couple, also known as #DenJen to their ardent fans, announced it last October 29 on GMA’s news show 24 Oras. This was swiftly followed by a YouTube premiere on Jen’s channel of the proposal, as conscientiously documented by Dennis. In the video, it all seemed so easy: Dennis made a short speech bringing her to tears, and voila, the doors behind her opened while the song My Love by Paul McCartney played in the background. Without even popping the question, Dennis confidently placed the ring on her finger.

And just like that, they were engaged–after Dennis immediately remedied his innocent slip up and Jen formally said yes, of course.


Jennylyn Mercado and Dennis Trillo for November 2021

To the public, Dennis and Jennylyn tying the knot might not be surprising, for it seemed like the natural course of things given their smooth-sailing relationship, neatly maintained beneath the show biz spotlights. However, behind the onscreen magic of their celebrity love is a hard-knock story of two people, who, like every couple, are simply trying to make it work.

Finding Each Other

It’s not a secret that the two Kapuso stars had called it quits before. They had first gotten together in 2010 after forming a close friendship on the set of television drama series Gumapang Ka Sa Lusak, which was their third project together. And yes, it took a while for a spark to develop between them, especially after having first met (rather awkwardly, Dennis admits) at Jen’s debut—he was one of her eighteen roses, so they'd held hands and danced before they even became a couple. But when cupid finally struck, they discovered that they had many common interests, such as music, food, movies, and even watching mixed martial arts fights. Things were rose-tinted, until eleven months later they broke up after a small quarrel blew up into a huge fight. Looking back, however, Jen and Dennis admit that it had been their immaturity and frequent clashes that tore them apart.

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On Dennis: Long sleeves top, COMME DES GARÇONS, Univers; On Jennylyn: Trench coat, COMME DES GARÇONS, Univers;Earrings and rings by NAMÌ

It would take four years for fate to bring them back together again, but even though this happened quite amusingly—Dennis texted her ‘Kamusta ka?’ but Jen had already erased his number prior, so it took a call for her to verify it was actually him—they came back into each other’s arms as “more mature” individuals. “Noong nagkahiwalay kami, parang doon namin narealize na noong time na ‘yon, yung first time, ‘di kami yung seryosong relasyon na ‘dapat ‘ganito yung mga gawin’ pero ‘di talaga namin siya natama. So after noong 4 years na natuto kami, narealize namin yung importansya ng bawat isa…Tapos narealize namin na parang ready na kami pareho ulit, so ‘yon nangyari—nagkabalikan,” Dennis shares.

Jen also admits to learning from their past mistakes: “Importante rin kasi yung time na nalayo kami sa isa’t isa noong time na nagbreak kami, kasi ‘yon yung mga oras na pwede kaming mag-isip: “Ano ba yung mga pagkakamali na nagawa namin na hindi na dapat maulit sa mga susunod na relationships kung hindi man siya? Yung mga ganoong realizations.”


More Than a Pair

In those four years that they had been apart, Jennylyn and Dennis got involved in their own romances, which helped them grow as individuals. True enough, when they officially became an item again in 2015, they took control of their relationship and everything that would entail, starting with their children. Jen had her son Jazz from ex-boyfriend Patrick Garcia, while Dennis had Calix from ex-girlfriend Carlene Aguilar. Parenthood was another thing they had in common, and it’s their love for their kids that set the tone of their life together from then on.

Shorts, BARÒ LABEL; Loafers, ANDANTÉ 

Spending time together not only meant lovey-dovey dates or quiet vacations but playtime with Jazz, whom Dennis bonded with over games and exercise—things they love doing together as “one happy family.” Jen, who has always been a proud single mother, is doubly grateful to Dennis for serving as Jazz’s father figure. In fact, so close are the two that Dennis even surprised Jazz by dressing up as Blippi, a popular children’s entertainer, for his 12th birthday last year. On the other hand, Jen also solidified her bond with now 14-year-old Calix during the pandemic, for he has been residing in their home. The two are adrenaline junkies. One ‘Tara na, dive tayo?’ from Jen, would sometimes result in them being away for a few days while Dennis was busy at work. For his 13th birthday, she even helped Dennis throw a basketball-themed party.


On Jennylyn and Dennis: Top, vest, trousers, BARÒ LABEL

When asked how they manage to pull off their ‘modern family setup,’ Dennis shares, “Well, siyempre noong umpisa medyo kakabahan ka, maiisip mo yung mga bagay na ‘yon. Pero ‘pag nandoon yung love parang ‘di mo na siya maiisip eh. Isasantabi mo na lang ‘yon. ‘Pag nandoon yung love, automatic na lahat. ‘Di mo na kailangan isipin. Nandoon na agad yung acceptance.”

Like all families, however, Dennis and Jennylyn were not exempt from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from locked-in tapings and the constant reminder to stay on guard, the two were embattled with business problems; yes, for those who are unaware, they are also business partners. Dennis and Jen own four enterprises, namely: a hair salon; a cat cafe; a build-and-sell firm; as well as a new one in the works called ModernLab, an alcohol and hygiene necessities brand set to launch in December. For some, going into business with your significant other may seem tricky or even unwise, but Dennis and Jen have proved that it is possible.

Signet ring, NAMÌ

Oo, may mga problema lalo na sa build-and-sell. Nagkakaroon talaga ng problema, pero ‘di talaga kami nagkakaroon ng argument pagdating sa ganyan. [We] make sure na black and white lahat. Makikita namin lahat ng pinaghirapan namin doon kasi importante ‘yon eh, yung tiwala rin sa isa’t isa,” Jen assures.


Perfect Timing

It is the strength of their mutual trust that has allowed them to build a life together with their children and to endure the trials along the way. But what exactly has been their shared objective that drives them to do so? Since they reconnected six years ago, they’ve always had their eyes set on settling down, and that includes having a baby together. In true #DenJen fashion, the couple took action. From 2018 to 2019, they had tried to get pregnant by visiting fertility clinics in the Philippines to help Jennylyn produce eggs, but to no avail. In 2020, it was then decided that they would head to the U.S., specifically in Dallas, where Jen was successfully able to harvest eggs. Dennis then followed and the clinic was able to create a healthy embryo. They found the perfect surrogate mother and got to meet her as well. Everything was ready to go, and the plan was to sign the papers in October of this year. They’d originally always intended on surrogacy because it was uncertain if Jennylyn could successfully carry the baby herself given her difficulty to harvest eggs. Until now.

During the last week of September, Jennlyn was on set filming her soon-to-be-released show titled Love. Die. Repeat., co-starring Xian Lim, when she felt the signs of pregnancy, such as delayed menstruation and nausea. Having had no means of getting a pregnancy test stat, Jennylyn, being the tarot enthusiast that she is, resorted to her deck and dealt three cards asking, “Buntis ba ako?” The result? Yes, yes, and yes. “Doon ako nagpabili ng pregnancy test kay Dennis. Sabi ko, ‘Kailangan mo ako ibili ng [pregnancy] kit kasi sabi ng cards buntis ako,’ she recalls laughing. At that time, Dennis had been quarantined in a hotel after returning from the 78th Venice Film Festival to premiere his HBO series On The Job: The Missing 8.

They found out that Jen was five weeks pregnant.


Nakakawindang sa umpisa lalo na magkahiwalay kami. Siya, nasa taping, ako, kakauwi ko lang galing Venice. Nakakagulat at parang nakaka-overwhelm,” Dennis recounts. “Halo-halong emotions yung naramdaman ko. Natakot ako para sa kanya kasi mag-isa lang siya doon. Health niya yung una kong naisip siyempre, tapos kung papaano ako makakatulong sa kanya kahit malayo ako. Ayun, mahirap pero buti na lang nakalabas din siya sa taping at nakauwi ng bahay para mas matutukan yung pag-aalaga sa kanya.”

A whirlwind of emotions took hold of them, for the unexpected happened. So frazzled were they that Dennis admits they considered keeping both children—the one for surrogacy and the one Jen carried—at the same time. “Buti na lang, ayon, kumalma yung mga utak namin. Nag-decide kami na mag-focus muna kami dito [sa baby ni Jen].” “And mahirap din naman na dalawa agad,” Jen says about that decision. The couple agreed to freeze the embryo for now, for they were advised that should they want to have it in the near future, they can always return and do so.

“Parang ang galing lang ng timing dahil nangyari pa rin yung gusto namin sa natural process talaga,” Dennis says, still stunned, for they were so close to implanting the embryo in the U.S..

Never to Part

Originally, they had intended to follow through with the surrogacy in the States and to tie the knot right after. But fate had other designs for them. And so, Dennis moved quickly to make things official. Last October 8, he proposed to Jennylyn in a manner befitting their personalities: Sure, it was well thought out, but it was still very real and candid. Dennis had enlisted the help of events stylist Gideon Hermosa to construct a floral tableau (fake, of course, for she’s allergic to pollen) with the words ‘Marry Me?’ in lights, in Jen’s home. The actor had convinced Jennylyn, who stays upstairs so she can rest, to get dressed and come to the ground floor in the pretense of wanting to film a video together for their future selves.


After a few heartfelt words, Jen had a feeling of what was coming, and lo and behold, the doors slid open to reveal those two words. “Sa sobrang excited niya, sinuot niya na lang yung ring. Hindi na niya 'ko tinanong!” Jen laughs as she recalls the special moment. She was presented with a 3.2 carat emerald cut diamond with a smooth band, which he chose through the help of Jen’s friend. “Ang gusto ko kasi yung hindi makakasugat, yung smooth lang siya, parang katulad ng pagmamahal ko sa kanya. Everyday mo suot, hindi siya masusugatan,” Dennis says about its symbolic meaning. Does she love it? “Syempre naman kasi si Dennis pumili n’on. Basta galing sa kanya at ‘yon ang gusto niya, happy na rin naman ako doon,” she says in her sweet voice. Right now, news of their engagement is trending online and fans can finally rejoice after waiting for this momentous occasion with bated breath.

And there’s still much to look forward to.

On Jennylyn and Dennis: Top, 1017 A L Y X 9SM, Univers

Soon, the couple will be tying the knot through a civil wedding held at an events place close to home, to make things easier for Jen. It’ll be a simple affair with just their immediate family and close friends. No theme. No grand outfits. Just them and their loved ones. “Syempre sa panahon ngayon, ang hirap magka-regular wedding na malaki, na maraming tao. Unang-una, hindi safe and hindi na rin practical sa panahon ngayon,” Jen shares. To maximize their intimate celebration of love, they will also be revealing the gender of their child that same day by way of cutting a cake. They are hoping it’s a girl (so much so that they already have a name in mind!).

The soon-to-weds have also envisioned the bigger picture for their future family once things become official. They’d bring up their children in a home away from the city, somewhere in Rizal, in an overlooking place with a great view. There, their kid could roam free and enjoy the fresh air; something that children these days don’t get to enjoy often, says the couple. At this point, it won’t come as a surprise to hear that they had already begun the construction of this home. In fact, construction started as early as last year, and it’s targeted to finish this December if everything’s on time.


Turning A New Leaf

It’s safe to say that time and tide have constantly proved to be on their side. But another thing that’s clear is that the blessings they now enjoy are things they’ve sowed themselves. They are merely harvesting the fruits of their labor from their relentless efforts to build a life together.

Parang mararamdaman mo na lang siya,” replies Dennis when asked about how they knew they were meant for each other. “Dadating sa point na para siyang isang tube ng pagmamahal tapos unti-unti siyang napupuno. Tapos kapag napuno na siya at wala nang ibang mapupuntahan, parang mabubuo talaga yung usapan na ‘yon, kung papaano tayo mapupunta dito sa susunod na level, ano kailangan natin na steps na gawinKaya as early as 2018, parang inisip ko na, ‘Ito na ‘yon eh,’ so gagawin ko na lang lahat para mapa-work ito. Tutal, dito ako nakakaramdam ng pagmamahal na gusto kong maramdaman.”

But until their bundle of joy is welcomed into the world, things have been put on hold. Jen will wrap up filming Love. Die. Repeat. after giving birth. “Sobrang nagpapasalamat ako sa GMA because they understood what my condition entails, and ginawan nila ng paraan. I’m so grateful to them and the cast, staff, and crew. Aside from the TV project, may movie pa ako. Lahat ‘yan gagawin ko once I am ready to go back to work.”

Sure, Dennis and Jen are slowly achieving what they had set out to do. However, for them, this is not a storybook ending, but rather, the beginning of a new chapter where they could, after being single parents for so long, become parents together. As one. And it’s all because they’ve drawn strength from their mistakes and previous experiences so they could give the love that each one deserves.


Lahat lahat ng buong experience ng parenthood, gusto kong maging parte noon kasi hindi ko nagawa yun sa una kong anak, kaya gusto kong bumawi sa time na ‘to. [Gusto kong] ma-experience lahat ng paghihirap din ng isang tatay, isang totoong daddy, na mag alaga at sumuporta all the way, simula umpisa hanggang dulo,” Dennis reflects. The same goes for Jen who is eager to re-experience motherhood–something she was “born to do," with Dennis by her side.

DenJen in real life is how they are on camera and more. They’re glamorous, larger than life, and extraordinarily compatible. A good match. But the things people don’t see are what make them great. And as much as we want to discover their secret—part hard work, part luck—we can never know their true essence for their love is theirs to keep. Knowing that they’re together is enough. After all, it’s what they’ve always done. And that’s what makes them magical.

Produced by Steph Sison

Photographed by Shaira Luna

Assisted by Von Luna

Art Direction by Bacs Arcebal

Beauty Direction by Nicole Arcano

Fashion Direction by Steph Sison

Styled by Cath Sobrevega

Makeup by Anthea Bueno

Hair by Bianca Vergara

Words by Nicole Cruz

*All shoot attendees were tested and were negative of COVID-19 at the time of the production. Safety protocols and social distancing were implemented during the photo shoot.

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