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Giving flesh to unconditional love

The mother of a trans daughter and a bisexual son, Jes Nortiga acknowledges that some may frown at her for supporting her two LGBT children. But she says that “all we can do is give them our all. Accept them and be happy with their choices. We may not be able to give them everything to make them happy, but for as long as they live happy anyway, are safe and successful in their chosen fields, go lang. They are still your kids. Life is too short to hate and disown them.”



Jes Nortiga noted how, when the youngest of her two children was still in primary school, that child “used to play with a classmate’s hair; and when that classmate had her hair cut to don a short one, my child was so devastated and didn’t talk to that girl for a while,” she said with a laugh. That may have been an occurrence unrelated to sexual orientation, but – “Couple that with my child’s preference to play with dolls, the wanton swaying of the hips to mimic girls while walking,” she said – and Jes said she had an inkling as early as then that “my child’s special. A mother knows.”

And so when her child came out as a transwoman, “I was not mad nor was I too happy,” she said. “It just was. I learned to accept this just as a fact.”

In her own recollection, Jes’s trans daughter Amanda Vu said “I was still young when I came out as gay… maybe I was eight or nine (years old). My parents are open-minded and took it well.” She added that perhaps there was even no real need to come out since “it (my being gay then) already showed in how I acted.”

Amanda’s only elder brother is, by the way, bisexual [“Dalawa lang sila (magkakapatid), both (assigned boys at first) who happen to belong to the LGBT community,” Jes said]. He came out to their Mom much later than Amanda, but “in primary school and in high school, we talked about our crushes. He was the guy looking (at these crushes), and I was the girl looking,” Amanda laughed.

Jes Nortiga and her husband separated, so it’s just the three of them (her and their two kids) living together now. And as a mother, Jes admitted having worries for her LGBT children. But she also trusts that she raised her children well, setting them up for life.

A parent ought to help their children find their happiness, Jes said. And on this, “I can’t give enough to make my children happy.”

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Amanda believes that “family support is very vital as its leads you to the right path. (Your family is supposed to be) always there no matter what.” In her case, she said she knew “they may have had some reservations about me being trans, but they never stopped me from being me. What I remember is them saying that they support me… as long as I do well in the life I choose to live. And I’m good with that.”

Jes and her husband (Amanda’s father) separated, so it’s just the three of them living together now. And as a mother, Jes admitted having worries for her LGBT children.

For instance, “I worry if Amanda goes on dates baka mapahamak siya (maybe something bad will happen to her), similar to what we see on TV,” Jes said. “Kaya I told them to tell me where they are when they have a date para kapag may nangyari, alam.ko saan sila pupuntahan (so I’d know if something happened to them),” she said, adding with a laugh: “Kahit mag-motel pa sila (even if they go to motels).” To appease their mom, “they both do this.”

There are also worries about the LGBT children’s future (“Ayaw ko kasi sila masaktan [I don’t want for them to get hurt],” Je said). In Amanda’s case, “Ayaw kong i-underestimate siya sa work dahil trans siya (I don’t want for her to be underestimated because she’s trans).”

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But Jes believes she raised her kids well enough for them to be able to look after themselves – largely helped by being part of each others’ lives. One time, Jes recalled going out on a dinner date, and – sans the knowledge of her date – Amanda was monitoring her mom at another table. “She had the chance to size him up,” Jes laughed, “and then texting me if she thinks he’s okay for me or not.”

Amanda believes one’s family can be a great source of support for LGBT people. “Just make sure that… you do well and never be a burden to them or to society. If ever they can’t accept you, don’t hate them. Understand why and prove to them that you chose a good path and that you are not a burden to anyone. Sure, they may have a lot of bad things to say (about you), but they can’t really do anything as it’s the path you choose for yourself. You have your own life. It’s the choice you made, make it work for you.”

Jes acknowledges that not everyone may agree with her parenting style, and even frown at her supporting her two LGBT children. In fact, there was a time in the past when “I worried how my friends, my colleagues looked at me as a mom; perhaps they’d judge me,” she said. “But having proudly introduced her kids to others and seeing their reactions, (many) end up appreciating how I raised my kids. Some LGBT co-workers even told me they wished I’m their mom. My openness about this has erased my worries about being judged.”

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Her former husband actually still plays a role in their lives. When Amanda starred in a PSA for an HIV organization in Cebu City, “my dad was even ecstatic when I showed him my videos. He was like ‘Hala! Ka-lingaw nimo. I-copy sa akoang laptop kay akoang ipakita sa akoang mga officemates’ (You are so much fun. Save a copy in my laptop so I can show it to my officemates).’ That was so crazy and unexpected. He even waited until midnight just to watch my interview on TV.”

Amanda added: “It is such a great feeling knowing that your parents are happy for you and are proud of you.”

Jes said that some parents may feel that “nagkulang sila (they failed to do something)” if their kids turn out LGBT. But she said “all we can do is give them our all,” she said. And then “accept them and be happy with their choices. We may not be able to give them everything to make them happy (the way we believe they ought to be happy), but for as long as they live happy anyway, are safe and successful in their chosen fields, go lang. They are still your kids. Life is too short to hate and disown them.”


"If someone asked you about me, about what I do for a living, it's to 'weave words'," says Kiki Tan, who has been a writer "for as long as I care to remember." With this, this one writes about... anything and everything.

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Second dates: More important than your first one

Yes, the first date is important, but honestly, it’s the second date that gives one a true sense of the love potential.



Yes, the first date is important, but honestly, it’s the second date that gives one a true sense of the love potential.

Dating can be a rollercoaster for any single out there. After meeting online or on dating apps, trying to decode those text messages and hopefully meeting the person, people tend to put a lot of pressure on the first date. It is easier to find the latest UK casinos than the right girl or boy for you.

It Can be Difficult to Know The Other Person at First

There are so many do’s and don’ts when it comes to first dates. You would want to ask about their hobbies and likes and do not talk about your ex. These are some of the rules that have been set in place. The idea of the first date is to make a good first impression.

During the first date, the first focus is on the tiniest details since you barely know the other person.

However, if you’re one of those unlucky people who have kind of messed up on the first date, no worries, relationship experts say that it is the second day that actually matters. In simple terms, a first date is a pass or a fail test. The second date is arguably the real test on the date. It is on this day that one can discover every iota of realness from their date.

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It gives a chance to know a person without having the nerves on the first date. Helene Fisher, PhD biological anthropology and the chief scientific adviser of told the Cosmopolitan that during the first date, the first focus is on the tiniest details since you barely know the other person. By the time you are on your second date, you already know him or her a little bit more, and would thus like them more as well.

Moreover, a second date allows you to get and dig deep into the conversation you’re having with your date. More often than not, first dates always end up feeling like job interviews in the process of knowing each other. However, on the second date, it is easier to jump off the Q&A and dig deeper into the conversation. This will allow you to be a bit more decisive into knowing whether your date is a yay or nay. Being attentive is key, as it is from this that you can learn your dates’ interests and values.

Sometimes in more often than not, it is crucial always to remember that sometimes it’s all about a slow burn. In a survey by OK Cupid, 79% of the guys will still pursue a relationship that they thought is great even if they didn’t feel the immediate fireworks with the other person.

A second date allows you to get and dig deep into the conversation you’re having with your date.

Making it Right With the Second Date

The brain works in mysterious ways. It should be given enough time to release all the necessary chemicals for love to ensue.

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So nobody should be in a rush to feel the sparks about the other, it all takes time. There are incidences where you might have felt fireworks on the first date but on the second date they quickly burn out. It is normal for the romance to start all slow, so don’t put off the fire before it even begins and just say yes to the second date.

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A few ideas for the scary second date

Here are a few suggestions for the scary second date.



If your first date went well then you might be feeling a little nervous for your second one. Whilst the initial jitters are gone because you now know this person a little bit, you want to maintain the good impression. You want to ensure that the second date is as good or better than the first one. You want to live up to their expectations. Of course, this can be difficult if you’re low on ideas for things to do.

Here are a few suggestions for the scary second date.

Explore a local town or city.

If you have no ideas for your second date then maybe you should simply propose that you and your date go exploring. You don’t have to spend money to simply walk around and admire your surroundings. You could head to the park to relax and eat some food, go window shopping (or actually go shopping if your date decides they want something), and enjoy chatting with your date. It’s the perfect outing to have fun and give yourselves the chance to get to know one another.

Organize some games.

A great idea for the second date is to organize some games. This isn’t just a nice idea for a casual and fun way to spend your second date – it’s a great way to get to know somebody. You could play a game of cards at a local coffee shop, for example. It’ll be a good chance to see whether your date is competitive or not (and it’ll also be a good chance to see whether they play by the rules). But you might spend your second date at your apartment or house, so you could even get out a board game such as Twister if you really want to get up close and personal. Of course, if you want to organize a game that’ll impress them a little more than a deck of cards then you could try out an escape room. You’ll be frantically rushing around to solve riddles and puzzles before the timer runs out, and that’s a great way to see if you and your date work well together as a team. It really is a true test of how well you gel as people.

Meet up for happy hour.

Finally, you could simply agree to meet at your local bar for happy hour. You won’t have to blow your budget on an expensive meeting, and it’s an informal setting that’s perfect for you to continue to get to know this person. After all, that’s the most important thing on the second date. You might have liked the person in question on your first date, but you’re now trying to make sure that your initial opinion was accurate. Go to a fun bar, get some good deals on drinks, and get to know each other. It’s a good chance to talk and laugh. Keep the date simple. Wait for the fourth or fifth date before you organize a hot air balloon ride.

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Remz and Jessa: ‘Fight for your love’

Meet Remz and Jessa Roque, who – after meeting via Facebook in 2017 – decided to marry even without meeting each other yet. Not everyone agrees with what they have, but “ang alam namin, mahal namin ang isa’t isa at pinanindigan namin yun sa harap ng Diyos (We know we love each other, and God is the witness of our love),” Remz said.



Remz Roque met Jessa in one Facebook group in January 2017.

“Actually, at that time when we started chatting, she was already eager to to meet with me,” Remz recalled, adding that “pareho po kaming OFW (we were both overseas Filipino workers): me in Dubai, while Jessa was in Taiwan.”

It wasn’t easy, Remz said, because of the time differences. But this may have served as their first challenge, since their desire to stay in touch forced them to make “adjustments in life,” Remz said. Jessa, for instance, had to wake up as early as 4.00AM “para lang makausap ako (just so she can talk with me).”

This made them closer, since “mas lalo naming nakilala ang isa’t isa (we got to know each other better),” Remz said.

In the end, this was also what helped Remz realize he already loved Jessa.

“While knowing her deeply mas lalo kong nalaman na mahal ko sixa at yung araw-araw akong masaya dahil sa kanya (I discovered I was falling deeper in love with her, and my every day was happier because of her),” he said.

That feeling was mutual, Jessa said, because “I found my day incomplete without his presence. Yung tipong napapa-smile na lang ako pag naaalala ko sixa (Just thinking of him makes me smile).”

The two nurtured their long distance relationship. And then – even if they have yet to physically meet – they decided to tie the knot by holding a commitment ceremony in the Philippines in February 2018.

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“Yes,” Remz admitted, “hindi pa kami nagkita when we decided to get married. Para kasi sa akin, gusto ko na maayos ang buhay ko at mangyayari lang yun kapag nagkaroon ako ng pamilya (we have yet to meet when we decided to marry. For me, I want to have order in my life and this will only happen if I already have a family of my own)”

Jessa has a child from a previous relationship, and this makes Remz happy, knowing that “yun ung bagay na hindi ko maibibigy sa kanya. Mahal ko rin yung bata tulad ng pagmamahal ko sa kanya (I can’t give her a child. I also love her child just as I love her).”

Both admitted that their decision was not met warmly by everyone.

In fact, even from other members of the :GBTQI community, “my partner also heard a bad comment,” Remz said, “especially that our wedding is just a ‘waste’ since hindi naman legal ang kasal namin (our ceremony has no legal bearing).”

But Jessa said that while “masakit na marinig ito sa mga kapuwa mo, hindi na lang namin pinapansin (hearing these may be painful but we just ignore them),” she said. “Nonsense rin naman (These are just nonsense).”

Both Remz and Jessa, instead, focus on the good: that they found each other, and are willing to work hard to nurture what they have.

It also helped that their families were accepting of their love.

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Looking forward, they eye to strengthen their (new) family. But for now, this means that they still need to work overseas; and separately, too.

That they found each other at all is considered a blessing by both, nonetheless.

Ang alam namin, mahal namin ang isa’t isa at pinanindigan namin yun sa harap ng Diyos (We know we love each other, and God is the witness of our love),” Remz ended.

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Identifying common relationship issues that modern couples face

Love can only flourish once you’ve stamped out your relationship problems and thrown them out of the window–but how exactly can you do this? It all starts with identifying the issues you have.



Relationships between people can be tough to decipher. There are some unlikely couples out there and incredibly strange relationships between people that you would never have imagined together. It’s all love; something that we still have a hard time describing or putting into words.

However, love can only flourish once you’ve stamped out your relationship problems and thrown them out of the window–but how exactly can you do this? It all starts with identifying the issues you have.

Steps to Identify Problems

Before we get started, we need to identify ways in which we can discover relationship issues. There is advice such as this How to Get Ex Back guide that can teach you things about relationships, even if you’re not interested in getting a former lover back by your side. If you have lost a partner, then it can be a good starting point to help you identify why relationship issues occur and how you can fix them. The idea is to take a step back and gather as much experience as possible, read advice from other people in similar situations and ultimately use prevention as the best method of dealing with relationship issues.

Moving Too Fast

One of the most common issues in a relationship is moving too fast. Perhaps you or your partner are already talking about marriage despite only being a few months into your relationship, or perhaps you’re being pressured to have children. Trying to hurry along a relationship can easily add extra pressure on both sides and it’s damaging unless both sides are ready to make a move. It’s a confusing situation and it might make you question the future of your relationship, but it’s important not to rush things and to take things slowly. Always speak to your partner regarding big decisions and always have a mutual understanding.

Age Gaps

Age gaps can also be a common relationship issue. Some people believe that there should always be a small gap between both people in a relationship, but this isn’t as big of a deal as you might expect. Traditionally, people view these relationships as suspicious. For instance, if a woman is dating a much older man, then she might be called a “gold digger” and this could put some strain on your relationship. While there are likely some legitimate concerns (such as the age gap causing concerns for having children), it’s important to remember that age gaps are likely the least of your worries in a relationship.

Feeling Pressured Into Sex

Sex is one of those common intimate activities that couples engage in, but it can also become a source of stress and can contribute to a lack of self-confidence if you’re being pressured into it by your partner. Good relationships are built on trust, so if you feel like you’re being pressured into something like sex then it might be a good time to step back and sit down to talk with your partner.

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Literary Pieces

My lovelife may have no direction, but my life has…

In a world obsessed with “finding the right one”, Gab Riel writes about the joys of singlehood; and about being alone but not being lonely.



By Gab Riel

Last night I was asked over a coffee by a friend why I do not have lovelife until now. It’s been three years since we became friends and wala pa din ako kwento sa lovelife ko kundi ‘yung flings lang, like I’m not really serious. Crush ko lang and that’s it.

Masyado daw akong pa-virgin and serious looking.

I asked: Bakit nga ba?

Is it because it’s not my priority?
Is it because I do not look for it?
Is it because I’m used to being single and alone?
Is it because I am not good looking and no one dares fall in love with me?
Is it because I am too busy with something?
Is it because I prioritize my health, my family and my career?
Is it because I enjoy traveling with friends than dating?
Is it because I feel bored easily?
Is it because I’m reaching my goal of savings and investment?
Is it because I am choosy?
Is it because I have high standards (Wow bes!)?
Is it because I am waiting for someone else?
Or is it because I am afraid to fall in love? Again?

Too many questions but all of the above are valid questions and mostly true.
I am just a 25 year old who doesn’t want to settle at early age. I am free and careless.

Sometimes I am jealous of other people with partners, yes, but that goes away in a matter of day. Sometimes I wish I have a partner today, but the next day I would be thankful again I never had.

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My lovelife has no direction, but my life has.

May mga tao na hindi nagagawa ang mga bagay na nagagawa mo because they are confined with the idea na lovelife is sapat na.

Pero life is not about lovelife, it is how you enjoy it.

Ganun talaga, may mga bagay na hindi para sayo dahil ginusto mo.

Sabi nga ng iba, di baleng walang lovelife; ang mahalaga nadidiligan.

Antay lang. Dont rush things.
Malay ko kung at the age of 30 doon pa lang darating.
May five years pa para mag-enjoy alone.

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The unexpected couple

Meet Noe and Allan, who may have found each other in an unexpected way, but are now trying to build a loving family while facing the continuing harsh behaviors of many in their community. They both now say to others to “find strength in each other.”



Noe met Allan on April 12, 2014, in a gasoline station at an intersection somewhere in the Province of Batangas, with one road leading to Noe’s town, and the other to Allan’s town.

Prior to that meeting, Noe – who admitted doing sex work – joined “a Facebook group for gays and bisexuals; naghahanap ng mapeperahan (I was looking for a source of money),” he said. “Nag-post ako ng nude picture at isa siya sa mga nakakita nito at agad siyang nag-PM (private message) sa akin. Tinanong niya kung akin daw ba talaga iyon at sinabihan pa akong poser. Pinanindigan kong akin iyon, hangang sa humaba ang conversation namin at nakilala ang isa’t isa (I posted a nude picture there and he was one of those who saw the photo. He asked me if it’s really mine, even accusing me as a poser. I stood my ground. The conversation got lengthy until we got to know each other better).”

On April 7, Noe said – with a laugh – that “niligawan ko siya kunwari (I pretended to woo him).” The very next day, they became an item.

“Basically, naging kami (we became an item) before we decided to meet up… Honestly, nasa isa pa akong relasyon (I was in another relationship) that time at gusto ko lang ng mapaglilibangan at sakto nasa iisang probinsya din lang kami (I was just looking for fun that time and it just happened that we’re from the same province),” Allan recalled.

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The two first met – as stated – on April 12, five days before Noe’s birthday.

And when they met, Noe took Allan to his place, “pinakilala ko sa pamilya ko na kaibigan ko (I introduced him to my family as a friend).”

Allan became a “regular” in Noe’s place, so that eventually, “hindi na talaga siya umuuwi. Kaya mga damit ko ang pinangpapaplit na niya (he didn’t head home anymore. He even started using my clothes).”

After approximately four month of, basically, living under one roof, “naging buo yung puso namin para sa isa’t isa.(we became really serious with each other).”

Allan left his BF, while Noe left his GF.

Being in a non-hereonormative relationship ca be challenging, Noe admitted, citing the “mga matang mapanghusga sa aming kummunidad (eyes/people from our community who judge us).” This ia particularly since “kilala nila akong straight guy kaya mahirap ipakita sa mga tao na may kinakasama akong kapwa ko lalake (they know me as a straight guy and so it was initially hard showing to them I now live with another man).”

Noe thinks that being with Allan taught him to be stronger, particularly “humarap sa mga taong nanghusga sa amin ng asawa ko (in front of people who judge us),” he said.

Allan said he is no stranger to discrimination, having experienced this even as a child. “Halos binago ko na ang sarili ko dahil dito para matanggap ng mga tao sa paligid ko (I tried to change myself to please others),” he said. And so now, with Noe, “lagi ko sinasabi sa partner ko na hayaan mo lang ang mga taong bumabatikos sa atin, instead pagtuunan ng pansin ay gawin na lang natin ang tama at ipakita sa kanila na walang mali sa ganitong relasyon (I tell him to ignore those who disagree with what we have. Instead, just focus on doing good and show the world that there’s nothing wrong in our love).”

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As they continue braving the world, “marami kaming plano sa buhay (we have lots of plans in life),” Noe said.

For one, there’s to be good parents to their son (Noah) (another family member is Pogs, a baby dog).

They also plan to have a holy union.

And then there’s the plan to grow their business, particularly since, as Noe said, “tinutulungan namin ang mga pamilya namin (we also help our families).”

Everything, said Noe, seems possible because he found “ang kabiyak ko sa buhay (my other half in life).”

And this is what Allan wants others to also perhaps learn about: To find joy in stability, as he did with Noe. “Ganito lang, okay na okay na (Just like this, and it’s already all okay),” he ended.

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