They were born and raised in the same province, but came from different towns.

It was in 2007 when he first saw her in church.  Her older brother was the parish priest in his hometown. He found her attractive, but at that time, they were in relationships with different people.  A few years later, she did on the job training in one of the town’s hospitals, and so their encounters became more frequent.  He admired her from a distance, she became close to his parents because they were active in the church where her brother was the parish priest. 

“Maski noong araw, tinutukso-tukso na kami ng mga parents namin,” P tells me over brunch the Sunday after I saw him at the KFC in the mall near my home. “Siguro po early signs na iyon na magiging kami,” he recalls of those early years.

And yet, no sparks flew.  C even called him “kuya” and felt nothing romantic towards him at that time. 

In May 2014, C chose to accept a job in Ontario, and P was left behind. P continued to work in a multi-national bank in Manila, and would just shuttle to and from his hometown every two weeks. After she left, he realized that he couldn’t get her out of his mind, and so he began sending her messages first through SMS, and then through Facebook Messenger, and then Viber. 

Adjusting to life in a new country, she found that talking to him was a comfort. Soon, the text messages evolved into voice and video calls through Facebook or Magic Jack. Six months after regularly communicating with her and getting to know her better, he decided to express his intentions. “One week po yun after my birthday in November 2014, finally I found the courage to tell her how I felt about her,” he shares.  

C of course was flattered but not ready to commit. “I wanted to really get to know him better,” she tells me.  “Medyo hesitant rin ako to commit because I’m very close to his parents. What if it didn’t work out? I didn’t want to lose their friendship or put myself in an awkward position.”  

For C, love was a matter of destiny.  For P, it was a matter of choice. Little did they know that it was to be a little of both.

“Mula noong nagtapat ako sa kaniya, wala ng araw na nagdaan na hindi kami nag-usap,” he smiles.  Bent perhaps on winning her heart,  he  pursued her by being a constant, reassuring presence in her life. 

C says that she really prayed a lot and her belief was that if God believes that your heart is truly ready to commit, then He will bring the right person to you.  Thus, through long, daily conversations on topics that covered bothe the personal and the professional, they got to know each other better and in time, she began to see him in a different light.

“We cannot pinpoint exactly, the day or time that we realized that we were already in love. It just evolved, and it just happened, ” P relates.  “I realized, that he possessed almost all of the traits that I had long been looking for in a man,” C shares.  “It must have also been the right time, and the right circumstances for the both of us.

It’s been almost two years now since P and C  first began communicating, and a year and a half since their long-distance love began. They both begin and end their day with one another, by sharing a meal together, and before  P leaves for work in the morning, he makes sure to bid her goodbye and goodnight.  While he’s a work, she sleeps, and when his day is done, her day begins, and once again, they reconnect with a meal. 

“We can no longer imagine beginning and ending each day without one another,” P says.  There are times though, because C works in a hospital, that she is unable to get in touch during  the day. But, she always makes it a point to send a quick message on how the day is going. 

When one is sick and not feeling well, the other one stays up and keeps watch (through Skype ro whatever program is available) just as if they were in the same room together. 

“I never believed in long-distance relationships (LDR) but I realize now na nasa tao lang  talaga.  What P and I have, it’s a gift.  That’s what we consider this to be, a gift and grace from God,” she says.

How do they resolve misunderstandings in an LDR?

“Dapat mayakap mo sana sya, pero dahil malayo, tatawagan mo na lang, i re-reassure mo na lang siya,” R explains.  “We make sure to patch up within the day,” C adds. “In every relationship, dapat talaga nagbibigyan, nag-iintidihan. All the more in an LDR where when you are upset, it’s really so easy to just disconnect.” 

And what, I ask, has been your biggest challenge?

“The internet connection!” They both chime in together, and we all laugh. 

What are the secrets that have helped their LDR flourish?  

1.  Trust is very important. “Trust is a huge challenge when you are in an LDR but if you make the extra effort  to be visible, kung ipaparamdam mo palagi sa kaniya na nandiyan ka lang, it’s doable and trust won’t become an issue.

2.  Be a couple but don’t forget to pursue yoiur individual dreams. “We support one another’s dreams and aspirations. We always strive to be the best of ourselves.”

3.  Praying together. P & C pray together before each meal, before going to sleep, and on most days, they pray aloud, and constantly for each other.  “We let God stand in the gap. What better way to keep that bond?”  

4.  Share the big things and the little things. “We constantly send each other links of things that we read, music that we listen to. We watch movies together!” P shared that they have both gotten a lot of ideas from the online LDR Magazine which is a great resource that couples and families can use to keep the love alive. 

5. Gift-giving for no reason. “There doesn’t have t o be an occasion to show that you care,” they say.  P sends C gifts through DHL — Pinoy junk food, her Pond’s facial toner and wash because they aren’t available in Ontario or orders flowers from Canada-based flower shops. For her part, C uses Food Panda and Belazee to send P gifts.  

6.  Set a goal. Mark milestones. “Couples or families in an LDR need a goal, and need to work towards that goal,” P stresses.  “Otherwise po, you wake up one day and you realize that the relationship is going nowhere.”

And so I ask him what the long-term goal is, and he says with a boyish smile, “Dapat po by last quarter of 2017 magkasama at mag-asawa na po kami.”  And C blushes through the screen.

For now, there is a much-awaited vacation to look forward to. C is finally coming home for a break in the last quarter of this year. And for the first time, they will be together as a couple in full living color.  The anticipation of that day makes them, and their families giddy with joy.

Between now and then, we hope and pray for the best for P&C. 

Theirs is a love story quite typical of this generation,  but what’s beautiful about it is how their intimacy has grown through the magic of words and of constancy. Of how prayer and faith keep their ties strong, of how they have placed God in the gap that separates them physically.  It is through words and stories that they have manage to  build a bridge made of  a love so  faithful, and constant it spans the distance between Ontario and Manila. Even the cynics and jaded among us cannot help but be reminded of what real love looks like. We pray it is a love that remains strong and true, together and apart. 

Postscript :  I did not expect to find P again after I first saw him.  However, the post went viral in a totally unexpected way, and his sister found it on her feed. She Tweeted at me from her homebase in Queens, New York 🙂 to connect me with her brother in Manila, and C who was in Ontario. The wonders of technology bring us truly all closer together.

But, the interesting thing is this — P, happenned to live in a building only two blocks away from mine.  We need not look far to find stories that inspire and enlighten us. We only need to be open to each day’s gifts, and look with our hearts.  Often, they are right under our noses, or on the street where we live, waiting to be discovered in the most random of days. 

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