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Finding love in a conservative religious environment

Alex and Chloe first met in a youth camp of their Christian church in December 2010. Eventually becoming a couple, even having a commitment ceremony, they continue to face challenges. “Ang major challenge sa amin ay ang pagharap mundong ginagalawan namin,” says Alex, who feels that living and working in a conservative religious environment deprive them as a couple to be happy and free to love each other.

Although Alex and Chloe already has a commitment ceremony, they continue to hide their relationship. feels that living and working in a conservative religious environment has deprived them as a couple to be happy and free to love each other.

Although Alex and Chloe already has a commitment ceremony, they continue to hide their relationship, feeling that living and working in a conservative religious environment has deprived them as a couple to be happy and free to love each other.

Alex and Chloe first met in a youth camp of their Christian church in December 2010. Though not formally introduced, their paths first crossed through their common friend’s invitation to the activity.

Hiding the love2“First impression, masungit! Hindi man lang ako nakuhang ngitian nung mga panahon na yun. Pero nakikitawa naman siya sa mga jokes ko. Nachallenge ako sa kanya, parang gusto ko siyang kilalanin pa (My first impression of her was how grouchy she was! She didn’t even smile at me then. But she laughed at my jokes. I was challenged by her; it was like I wanted to know her more),” recalled Alex.

“Actually aloof ako sa kanya kasi alam ko sa sarili ko na noon pa mang mga high school days ko ay lapitan na ako ng mga ‘tibo’. Ewan ko ba. Nakakatawa kasi ang first impression ko sa kanya ay mahirap i-approach at parang elite ang dating na mahirap i-reach. So ako naman si deadma, nakikita tawa lang sa kwentuhan ng grupo at di ko siya ganung pinapansin. At ang first impression ko din kaya ayaw ko syang i-close ay baka ma-fall siya sa akin at eventually ma-fall din ako sa kanya (I was aloof with here because I know in myself even in high school days lesbians usually approached me. I just don’t know why. It is funny because my first impression on here is that she is difficult to approach and she seemed elite and unapproachable. So I just ignored her and laughed at conversations. I did not want to be close to her as she may fall for me and me for her),” added Chloe.

UNAVAILABLE LOVE

Chloe admitted that at that time they met, they both had girlfriends.

“After ng December meeting ay casual pa rin sa personal pag nakikita. Siguro dahil sa mga pagkakataon na tuwing nakikita kami ay kasama namin ang mga karelasyon namin. Medyo complicated ang status namin na kung idedescribe ko ay parang pinagtagpo kami sa sitwasyon na kung saan hindi na okay ang commitment sa kanya kanya naming mga karelasyon, (After meeting in December, we treated each other casually when we personally met. Maybe because when we met we were with our girlfriends. Our status then was quite complicated and it seemed that we met at a time when our commitments in our respective relationships were not doing okay) which made our journey more complicated and challenging,” said Chloe.

Alex knew that there was something different when she saw her again in an activity when they were invited to sing.

Napaka-civil lang namin, parang di magkakilala, inappear-an ko lang siya nun then wala na. Pero yun na pala yun, na-a-attract na ako sa kanya. May mga times na patago ko siya tinitingnan, kahit nasa malayo ako hinahanap ko siya. Inadd ko pa siya sa FB pagka-uwi ko. But then, pinilit kong burahin lahat ng yun because… parehas kaming may karelasyon that time (We were just very civil, like we really din’t know each other. We just give high-fives to each other and then nothing. But that was already it, I was already attracted to her. There were times I would secretly look at her. Even if I was far, I was looking for her. I added her on Facebook when I got home. But then I tried to erase all that because we were both in relationships),” said Alex.

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Alex admitted that she and her live-in girlfriend were not in good terms since 2010. Chloe also admitted that her relationship at that time was experiencing difficulties because of the lack of time for each other.

Both kept in touch on Facebook until they saw each other again on April 2011 in an activity where both their partners were present. After this they started texting and calling each other everyday.

FALLING IN LOVE

Umaabot ako ng 8:00 PM sa office para lang makausap siya dahil nga nasa bahay na ang karelasyon ko nun (I would stay until 8:00 PM in the office to just talk to her because our girlfriends were at home). We had this sharing din about our crushes, ang code name ko sa crush ko ay ‘one and only you’ tapos yung sa kanya ‘out of reach’. She didn’t know na siya yung ‘one and only you’ ko, pero I have no clue kung sino yung ‘out of reach’ or maybe I just didn’t want to assume,”said Alex with a laugh.

It was on May 11, 2011 at 10:13 pm, on her way out of the office, that Alex finally admitted to she is the “one and only you.”

Sabi ko sa kanya ‘hindi ko na kaya, hirap na hirap na ako. Mahal na kita (I told her I can’t take it anymore. I’m in a very difficult situation. I already love you)!” said Alex

Chloe was was shocked and said Alex is her “out of reach.”

On May 15, 2011, they had their first date.

Nung nakita ko pa lang siya, I already said to myself ‘siya na!’ However, things became more complicated kasi naging ‘bawal na bawal na pag-ibig.’ Sa paningin ng iba bawal dahil same sex, tapos bawal parin dahil both were committed (When I saw her, I already said to myself ‘She is the one!’ However, things became more complicated because it was a forbidden love. In the view of others, it is forbidden because it is of the same sex and also because we were both in committed relationships). But eventually, we made a choice. We chose to be happy. We decided to be with each other as a couple),” said Alex.

Naisip ko din na sa mga panahong iyon ay masarap at madaling sabihin na mahal ko siya pero pano siya na may girlfriend noon at paano ako na nagtatago pa sa aking closet. Ginawa namin ang dapat gawin. Dahil di rin naman na nagwowork ang mga relasyon namin sa dati naming mga karelasyon, nagdecide na kami na tapusin( I thought at that time that it would great and easy to say that I love her but I still had a girlfriend and I am still hiding in my closet. We did what we have to do. Since our respective relationships were not working anymore, we decided to end them),” said Chloe.

WORKING INSIDE CHURCH

“Ever since we started, kasama na yun sa relasyon namin dahil parehas kaming workers sa church institution. Though sa akin naman ay walang problema dahil 2007 palang nag-out na ako sa family ko and they accepted it, at maging sa workplace ko din naman ay ine-embrace at minamahal ang mga katulad ko (Ever since we started, it was part of our relationship to be both working for a church institution. Though for me there are no problems since I came out to my family in 2007 and the accepted it. Even at my workplace, I am embraced and loved for who I am),” said Alex

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“Super daming mga away, pagpapaliwanagan, pagpapanggap, panghuhusga ang tinahak namin para unti unti ay mapagtagumpayan ito dahil hindi madali ang lahat lalo na sa akin na “discreet”dahil sa line of work at sa super conservative na environment. Kaya di rin maiiwasan na magkaroon ng conflict dahil kahit pareho kami ng line of work ay magkaibang magkaiba ang mundo naming (There were many fights, explanations, pretensions, and judgments that we struggled through so that we can gradually overcome this. It was not easy especially for me who is discreet and for my line of work and environment which is super conservative. That is why conflicts are inevitable even if we are both working for our church. We both live in different worlds),” said Chloe.

Hiding the love3Alex feels that living and working in a conservative religious environment deprive them as a couple to be happy and free to love each other.

Ang major challenge sa amin ay ang pagharap mundong ginagalawan namin, especially siya na hindi pa nagka-come out dahil siya ay nanggaling sa isang conservative family at nag-wo-work sa isang conservative na institution. Kaya ngayon nabubuhay kami sa mundo na kung saan ay nadedeprive kami bilang magkarelasyon sa mga karapatan namin.. karapatang maging masaya, karapatang maging malaya at karapatang mahalin ang isa’t isa,” said Alex.

Chloe feels that these challenges of their environment has made their love for each other stronger.

Pero sa tuwing nararamdaman ko na napakahirap, dun ko din nararamdaman na mas lalo naming minamahal ang isa’t isa kahit na parang all hope is gone. Me against the world lang ang peg. Marami mang individual flaws pero we treat them as strengths para mabuild up ang isat isa. Sa mga nararanasan namin minsan sumasagi sa aking isip kung bakit hindi ako bumibitaw. Siguro ay mas higit kasi ang pag iisip ko na hindi ko na makita ang sarili ko na kasama pa ang iba (But when I feel that it has become so difficult, I also feel that we have loved each other more even if is like all hope is gone. Even when it feels that is me against the world. There may be many individual flaws but we treat them as strengths to build each other up. With our experiences, I have thought of letting go. But I have always thought more that I could not see myself being with anybody else),” said Chloe.

GETTING MARRIED

Alex and Chloe had a wedding last May 2013, witnessed by their closest friends.

Kaya October of 2012 I answered ‘YES’ to a question na buong akala ko ay kailan man ay hindi niya itatanong sa akin dahil tuwing pinag-uusapan namin ang tungkol sa pagpapakasal ay ending point ng usapan ay ayaw niya. So to top it all, we vowed and sealed this relationship last May 29 2013. Kinikilig pa rin ako tuwing naaalala ko ang special moment na yun (On October 2012, I answered ‘YES’ to a question that I thought that would never be asked to me. Because every time we talked about getting married, it always ended that she didn’t want it. So to top it all, we vowed and sealed this relationship last May 29, 2013. I still feel giddy when I remember this special moment),” said Chloe.

May mga hindi pagkakaintindihan dahil nahihirapan magtago, magpanggap at dumating na rin sa puntong gusto nang sumuko. Ang nagpapatatag lang siguro samin ay yung kahit anong mangyari , our love for each other will always win at di namin bibitiwan yung sinumpaan namin sa isa’t isa dahil nangako kami na haharapin namin ang lahat ng pagsubok ng magkasama (There are misunderstandings because it is difficult to hide and pretend. It also reached a point that I also wanted to give up. What keeps us strong is that whatever happens, our love for each other will always win and we will not let go of our promises to each other to face every hardship together),” said Alex.

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PARTNER, SISTER, BESTFRIEND

Siguro the best thing about this relationship is that I have a partner, a sister, a consultant and a best friend all rolled into one. Meron din akong fashion consultant at make-up artist. We both love music, traveling and trying something new. Madalas magkasundo dahil we share the same interests,” said Alex.

Chloe feels to have found a partner, sister, and bestfriend in Alex.

Marami man struggle at for sure marami pang darating, I can say wala na akong hahanapin pa. We found a partner, a friend, a sister, a companion sa isa’t isa.I mean a loving partner, a best friend, a selfless sister and a loyal companion. I can say through thick and thin ito,” said Chloe.

WISHING FOR A HOME

In their home, Alex and Chloe make sure that they both communicate regularly and share household responsibilities equally.

“We communicate every day and we make sure na alam namin ang nangyayari sa bawat isa. Minsan may mga ‘surprises’ pa rin kapag special day namin and we see to it na palaging masaya at nakakakakilig parin kapag nagkikita. As to finances, pina-practice namin yung equal sharing tulad ng pag may mga expenses, kailangan hati kami o kaya naman pag wala siya, ako muna mag-shoulder, then sa susunod siya naman (We communicate everyday and we make sure that we know what is happening with each other. Sometimes there are surprises on our special days and we make sure that we are always happy and excited to see each other, With finance, we practice equal sharing like splitting the expenses in half or when she doesn’t have money, I will pay for it and she will pay next time), ” said Alex.

“And as we share this relationship, we also share the same vision na ‘sana bahay na’ which we always say pag nakakaramdam kami ng panghihina. Sana bahay na which pertains to sana makamit na ang tagumpay, na balang araw ay may ginagabayan at tumatawag saming “nanay”, na balang araw wala ng uwian pagkatapos ng day off dahil yun lang ang chance na lumuwas para makasama isa’t isa, at balang araw lumipas ang panahon na gumigising at natututulog na namamasdan ang kumukulubot pero masayang mukha ng katandaan dahil kasama ang isa’t isa (I wish for home, is what we say when we feel weak. I wish for home pertains to that hope that we can be successful. One day we will be guiding someone who would call us mother. One day, there will be no need to go home to each other’s houses after a day off since this is the only chance that we travel and be with each other. One day, time will pass that we will sleep and wake up watching our wrinkled but happy old faces while with each other). To infinity and beyond,” said Chloe.

At isa rin sa mga plano, na tingin ko po ay una sa listahan ng mga plano namin, ay magkaroon na ng ‘courage’ para mag-out sa family ko (And one of the plans, which I think is one of the priority in our list of plans, is that I would finally have the courage to come out to my family),” Chloe ended.

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