Angeles City-based transgender woman Ariel Gonzales believes in loving without reservations – whether that love may be for one’s family, or for romantic reasons. But while this may seem “blind”, she believes this is a good approach “so long as you know that people love differently.”
For instance, Ariel once fell for a guy named Dennis, who was way younger than her. “Well, iyong batang iyon noong nagkakilala kami so ang feeling ko noon walang pagmamahal kung hindi idinidedevelop lang (He was still a child when we first met, so it wasn’t love at first sight, the feelings just developed),” she said.
Surprisingly, Dennis’ mother knew of – and even agreed with – their relationship. Mainly “kasi mga kabataan naliligaw nang landas iyan (the young may lose their way).” And Ariel supposedly helped Dennis find a better path (e.g. schooling).
But what they had didn’t last, since Ariel had to give way once she found out that Dennis had another girlfriend (assigned female at birth). “Actually, pinalihim niya pa sa akin (he kept it as a secret from me),” Ariel said. But in the end, “I supported it wholeheartedly because that is ‘natural’ and hindi na niya alam na gusto ko siyang makitang magkapamilya (he didn’t not know that I always wanted him to have a heterosexual family).”
But in hindsight, Ariel wants to think that she taught Dennis how to love. “Some men don’t know how to love; they just go with someone because there is something na meron silang gusto (that they want).” But now, Dennis is “sharing the love he learned.”
Ariel is actually a graduate of a Business Management course in a university in Angeles City. But she’s candid in saying: “Actually, yung course, hindi ko gusto noon at napilitan ako dahil sa father ko (that wasn’t a course I wanted; I was just forced to take it because of my father).”
Ariel and her father always had a rocky relationship, starting when her father discovered that “naggugupit ako (I cut hair for a living).” In fact, “pinakita ko sa kanya ang good side at sinabing walang masama sa paggugupit (I showed him the good side of my job and told him that there is nothing wrong in making a living by cutting hair).”
Her “cause” may have been helped by the fact that she helped cover the expenses at home from her earnings. Four of her loved ones were able to finish their studies because of Ariel’s hard work. And so, eventually, her parents supported her through and through.
In 1991, after Mt. Pinatubo erupted, Ariel travelled to Manila to find better employment to help her family. At that point in her life, she realized that even with all the hardships, “nakalimutan ko minsan na bagay na meron pa ako (I forget at times the good things I already have in life).”
At those times – while shuttling between Angeles City and Manila – she missed most being with her family (her mother was bedridden for years then). “Kung nandito lang ako siguro gabi-gabi katabi ko silang natutulog (If I was here, I’d have slept beside them every night).”
Ariel added: “Alam ko naman na (We all know that) very soft tayo especially with our parents.”
And it is this love that now keeps Ariel going.
Her final wish is “just for one more day, gusto ko silang makasama ulit (I just want to be with them again). Given the chance, hindi ako aalis, at babantayin ko sila (I would never leave them and look after them).”