Hello, Love Goodbye Surprisingly Transcends a Typical Love Story

Sep 24, 2019 | Philippines, POP

by MJ Toledo

Philippine cinema is oversaturated with Romantic comedies and dramas. But how did Hello, Love, Goodbye stand out enough to make it the highest-grossing film in the country?

Kathryn Bernardo and Alden Richards are two of the biggest names in the Philippine entertainment industry, but nobody ever expected this pair to come together.

Bernardo’s name is tied to Daniel Padilla, her loveteam of 8 years. Meanwhile, Richards and Maine Mendoza, also called AlDub, has been grabbing headlines for several years. The stars are also part of the biggest rival TV networks in the country. To say it was fate that led them to make Hello, Love, Goodbye is truly apt.

The movie is directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina, the same visionary behind the most “quotable” romantic movies in the Philippines such as One More Chance. This may be why people hold on to their movie tickets expecting to feel their hearts flutter as they watch a feel-good romance.

However, the film transcends its romantic plotline. Perhaps it’s even fair to say that the accidental lovers are only secondary to the heavy tone of the film –making ends meet, handling responsibilities to your family, and chasing after your dreams.


Set in the vibrant and busy city of Hong Kong, the film follows Joy, an ambitious domestic helper. But Joy is more than her current job title – she was once a nurse back in the Philippines. If you have been to the Philippines, this is not a new situation. Professionals leaving their homeland for blue-collar jobs abroad that pay better is highly common.

After Joy’s contract with her boss expires in a few months, she plans on heading to Canada so she can save up money and get a green card for her family. 

Joy meets a young bartender named Ethan on an illegal side hustle she took. Ethan, a lothario with his ex’s name tattooed on his arm (Tanya, which Joy reads as “tanga,” the Filipino term for stupid) pursues Joy. The bartender clearly has tons of personal baggage, too; but in between loudly slurping big bowls of noodles, selling power banks, joining a local pageant, and saying “I don’t love you” to each other, the two inevitably fall deeply in love with each other.

However, Joy has to leave for Canada so it turns out all their special in-between moments was a prelude to a time bomb. 

The film also introduces Joy’s mother, brilliantly played by Maricel Laxa. Her mother married her former Chinese boss to become a legal resident, and chose to stay with her partner despite being battered, leaving Joy’s blind father in the Philippines.

Ethan’s family is also introduced. His bedridden dad and resentful sibling both give a memorable performance.

Aside from the lead actors, the film was lit up by Joross Gamboa, Kakai Bautista, Lovely Abella, and Maymay Entrata who, despite playing only “sidekick” roles, perfectly captured the welcoming and warm spirit of the OFW community abroad.

Towards the end, the film showcased Hong Kong in a captivating way which might not be possible if the film was shot later, considering the riots and protests happening there now. 

Even though Hong Kong wasn’t initially a part of your travel bucket list, you’ll be inspired to add it immediately after seeing the movie

Painting a Real Picture

On one of the scenes of Hello, Love, Goodbye, the Overseas Filipino Workers are seen watching Anak from a phone. Anak is a classic Filipino film which follows the story of a mother who takes care of a family in Hong Kong to provide for her own children back in the Philippines.

Films like these become widely successful not because of coincidence. Although it would be unfair to set aside the main actor’s draw, the major reason why it became a hit was that it resonated with Filipinos. 

In Hong Kong alone, there are over 200,000 Filipinos working. In fact, People’s Park is filled with Filipino domestic helpers every Sunday (their rest day). While it may be tempting to only see this number as a statistic, it is a very real fact that many children, husbands, and wives are yearning for the presence of their family who sought for greener pastures abroad.

Was it a Happy Ending?

If you watched the film, you may complain that it left you hanging. However, it’s open-ended narrative is its best part – Did Joy find happiness in Canada? What happened to their families? Did Ethan build his bar?

If you want to know the next chapter of Joy and Ethan’s lives, luck is on your side because the movie has been turned into a novel written by Charmaine Lasar.