Fifty-nine-year-old transman Merck was in the US when he first chatted (in Facebook) with Beth. “That was around 10 years ago,” he said in the vernacular, adding with a laugh that “Beth wasn’t warm and fuzzy then.”
About five years ago (“After just ‘Liking’ each others’ posts,” 56-year-old Beth said), they “finally started communicating.” “Ang akala ko noon, hindi siya ganyan; akala ko, lalaki siya (I thought at first that he wasn’t like that; I thought he was assigned male at birth),” Beth said.
The “discovery” of Merck’s personhood happened as soon as they Skyped. “Nagtapat siya sa akin (He told me the truth),” Beth said.
But by then, Merck already won Beth over.
“Tinanong ko siya, ngayon na nalaman mong ganito ako, di mo na ba ako mahal (I asked her, now that you discovered I’m like this, do you not love me anymore)?” Merck said.
Beth, supposedly, said “hindi ako ganyan (I’m not like that)” because “nahulog na ako eh (I fell for him already).”
When Merck returned to the Philippines, the two started to live together; “mga two years na (around two years now),” Merck said.
The couple now makes a living selling ulam (viands) and merienda (snacks) somewhere in Blumentritt, right in front of the family house of Merck. They are, they said, well supported by their families., including Merck’s mom and three male siblings, and Beth’s three kids from an earlier relationship.
“Masaya sila na masaya kami (They’re happy that we’re happy),” said Beth, who admitted never expecting to fall in love with a trans person. “Kung nagmamahal ka talaga, ipaglalaban mo (If you really love someone, you’d fight for him/her).”
Merck knows that they can’t please everyone, though he said that “‘yung paring kaibigan ko nga eh, sabi niya, kung saan kami masaya, doon kami; hangga’t wala kaming sinasaktang tao (my friend who is a priest said that we should do whatever makes us happy; so long as we’re not hurting anyone).” But for those who can’t accept what they have, he said: “Fuck the haters.”
Because in the end, Beth said, “mas mahalaga sa amin kung ano ang meron kami (what we have is what’s most important for us).”