Archie Nacional met Ben (Elvin Caman) on September 8, 2009. At that time, Archie – aged 22 – was already employed as a call center agent; while Ben – then 20 – was a 3rd year BS Accountancy student at the University of Iloilo – PHINMA.
“How we met was unexpected. He was a victim of a pledge of love. His ex-boyfriend left him because of me. I had an affair with his ex-boyfriend,” Archie said.
One evening, Ben called Archie, who recalled that “by the sound of his voice, he was drunk. He was crying venting out how I ruined his life by having an affair with his ex. I remained calm as he was at the verge of his fury. But I listened to every word he said. I was hit by his words. I, too, had a bad relationship that took me months to (recover from) after break up. I saw myself in him, and I wanted to speak with him in person.”
The two first met in Ben’s school during an event which he spearheaded as a student leader.
“the first meeting wasn’t awkward. It felt familiar to me,” Archie said. “Or maybe because he was attending to me all the time despite his obligations.”
They ended in “a private place for just the two of us.”
Other meetings eventually followed.
In hindsight, “our relationship didn’t start with courtship. I didn’t court him and he didn’t court me. But we knew there’s something. And it started our journey together.”
After work, Archie waited for three to four hours Ben to finish his schooling. “That was our daily setup,” Archie said. And since he was not working on Saturdays, “he always picked me up from my workplace.”
Their favorite place was (and still is) San Jose Church in Iloilo, and – after praying there – the Plaza Libertad, where they headed. “There, we talked and talked and talked about anything and everything.”
Even then, Archie knew he was already falling in love. Though he went home from work, he stayed awake “as I was always excited to see his innocent face. That smile; I couldn’t help but smile every time I saw it or remembered it.”
Archie also introduced Ben to his family, and they “treated him as a family member too. My younger siblings love him so much and he enjoys being with them, too. He is the only child of his parents so he never experienced having younger siblings. It’s funny how my father (seemed) rattled every time Ben was in our place. He didn’t know what to prepare or what to give to Ben when he was heading home.”
When Ben graduated from college, he wrote an article in the student publication to express his of gratitude for people who had been part of his university life. “My heart melted when I saw a one paragraph from that article dedicated just for me,” Archie said.
Ben also chose to stay in the Philippines even after he was offered work in the US and in South Korea “as he didn’t want to leave me behind.”
Surprisingly, it was Archie who did the leaving. In July 2010, he decided to be relocated to their company’s office in Makati. “When I left Iloilo, Ben and I were both crying. But I must follow my dreams,” Archie said.
In August 2011, Ben finally followed Archie, after he was able to convince his parents to allow him to be away from them. “It was really funny as his parents called me every hour to check on him and on us,” Archie said. “But that was so sweet.”
By then, they started living as a couple, “sleeping in the same bed together, getting our groceries together, and doing household chores like other couples.”
They were later joined by Archie’s younger brother, who rented the place with them.
Even now, challenges continue. Archie is very open about giving in to temptations. When Ben turned 22, for example, “I hurt him badly (because) I gave in to temptation and had an affair.”
But it was also a wake-up call for Archie. “I came back to my sanity and realized that I am to lose the man who never gave up on me. I picked up my trash and fixed what I had broken.”
Ben has grown up since they first met. “He’s no longer the ‘cry baby’,” Archie smiled.
And “after a few months of working things back to how it was before, we are back on track. Same love. Same feelings for each other. I never lost the love for him. I just mistook lust for another person as love. And he changed me, too. Slowly, he took away my very high ego. I learned to admit mistakes I made which I never did and thought will never do.”
For Archie, “Ben is a real partner. He was there when I was so down. When I didn’t get the promotion I was expecting, he did everything to comfort me. He knows what I need when I am down (which is Coke float!).”
Ben’s love was also proven when – in 2013 – Archie’s father died. “Ben was there for me all the time. Even when he was at work, he called me just to check on me.”
Archie would like to think that with each other, they found security. “I must say, I can never find love like that of Ben’s,” he said.
After being together for six years, Archie and Ben are just savoring what they have. “I am happy with my life and with Ben, and that I cannot imagine yet a life without him,” Archie said, adding that “all I imagine is me and him in our old age, chasing one another because of missing dentures. Having him is one of the best moments of my life.”