Ron de Vera of Amnesty International (AI) knew he was in love with Nathan Caalim, also of AI, “when I started changing plans about my future because of him,” he said. That was months after the two first met in 2010. “I was already interested in him when he introduced himself to me through Facebook, but meeting him in person sealed the deal,” Ron said. “It was Human Rights Day when I asked if I could court him. He said yes. And this happened through SMS.”
That was in December 2010 when the two first met. Nathan was volunteering for AI Philippines’ Youth Summit in Antipolo, Rizal, while Ron was newly hired as the section’s technical staff.
“I remember how I needed to look up when we were conversing. When he’s stretching his arms upwards, he could almost reach the ceiling. I never pictured myself, a 5′ 2″ guy, having a towering 6’2″ man for a boyfriend,” Nathan said. Then he beamed: “I guess he was in love with me since day one. Or, maybe the day he asked me via a text message if he could court me,” he said.
Nathan was actually seeing someone else that time. “But I chose Ron as we came to know each other more. I love that he understands how annoyed I get when people ask me to add, multiply or divide in my head because he comprehends what I do as a math researcher. And I love that he endures watching subtitled Asian films for me,” he said.
As a couple, “Nathan and I have different ways of handling finances and have different circadian rhythms,” Ron said. Thus, “we decided against living on a combined income so that we are free to do what we want with our money. As for the other challenge, we are still exploring ways to deal with his being a morning person and my being a night owl. We’re open to suggestions!”
For Nathan, though, the biggest challenge is in Ron who “can be too bourgeois sometimes,” he said. “He goes for a 500-peso haircut when he could get the same service for a meager 50 pesos. And he seems to be a little extra touchy and showy (in his affection) especially when he is with his friends or people who barely know us. Am I such a trophy boyfriend?” he added with a smile.
And what is the best thing in this relationship?
“We can go to the public restroom together,” Nathan beamed.
Ron was more, well, thoughtful. “The best thing in this relationship? I love that we understand each other’s work. He knows a lot about human rights and LGBT rights because he is also a member of AI. I understand his work as a mathematics teacher because I’m a learning professional myself. I think that that meeting of minds alone has sustained and will sustain our relationship.”
The couple has immediate plans together.
“I will love to go to Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and East Timor real soon and try their spa, coffee and tea,” Nathan said. “I know Ron will love to tour Southeast Asia with me.”
Ron, of course, seconds this. “The most long-term of activities that we’ve talked about is visiting Cambodia or Thailand because I mentioned that my friend offered to make a travel itinerary for us. Nathan liked the idea because he is deeply interested in Asian culture,” he said.
But there is an even longer-term plan already, too. As Ron said: “We’ve already talked about asking a pastor-friend to make us his 100th couple to wed, but we heard that he has already married more than a hundred. So we’re thinking of a different gimmick. I wrote about wanting to get married next to a body of water. I’m still seriously considering it.”