Corky Hope Marañan and Sheila May Abucay first met through a common friend.
“Kinuha nya ang number ko; binigay niya kay Sheila tapos binigay din niya sa akin ang number ni Sheila. It was a perfect matchmaking (My friend got my number and gave it to Sheila and I got Sheila’s number),” Corky recalled.
After texting for more than a week, Corky and Sheila first met on August 19, 2007 at the University of the Philippines – Los Baños.
“We had dinner, tapos kuwentuhan (then sharing), and we dated for a month before we decided to be together. We saw each other almost everyday during the courting period kasi maliit lang naman ang campus at magkalapit ang college namin (because the campus is just small and our colleges were near to each other),” Corky said.
“It was the kind of love that was so intense that you can barely contain it in your metaphorical closet. Kaka-out ko lang noon pero Sheila was still in the closet kasi mahirap sa kanyang mag-out lalo na at nasa student council siya (I recently came out then, but Sheila was still in the closet because she was in the student council). So we tried to be very discreet. Parang magkaibigan lang kami kapag nasa campus. Naging kami nung September 19 kasi doon na kami nag-declare ng pagmamahal sa isa’t isa (We acted like we’re just friends while on campus. We became a couple on September 19 when we declared our love to each other),” Corky said.
As Corky and Sheila journeyed as a couple, they admit to always face different challenges.
“One of the challenges as new lovers was coming out as a couple. At that time, I just came out to my friends and family five months earlier, so I was bursting with pride of my sexuality. But Sheila has always been discreet in many things and it was difficult for me to grasp the idea of hiding our relationship. I felt like she was ashamed of the love that we both so passionately share. I did not quite get that before; but when I look back, I wish I could have been more supportive on her personal journey,” Corky said.
Corky and Sheila then spared nights to discuss the issue.
“For straight couples, there is no shame in declaring you love someone. But for same sex couples, some feel shame and some feel guilt. The guilt of breaking the hearts of your family who thinks it’s shameful and sinful to be with the same sex even though it feels so perfectly right,” Corky said.
It took some time but Sheila slowly came out of her closet. Corky and Sheila say that they were lucky to be one of the many founding members of UPLB Babaylan.
“We didn’t have a lot of LGBT friends then and we felt isolated for a long time. But when we founded Babaylan, it was like finding a new family that shares and understands your personal journeys in life,” Sheila said.
Three years into the relationship, Corky’s mother said that their relationship was “abnormal” and “it’s against the laws of God”. It took her mother another three years to finally turn around and accept their relationship.
“Although it was a painful experience, an emotional scar that would probably last forever, I understand now that as a mother and a devout Catholic, it was not easy for her to bend her religious morals that she was raised to believe all her life. Instead of hating her and burning bridges for three years, I could have helped her understand and accept me. As they say, intolerance cuts both ways. I was just lucky that it wasn’t too late for us,” Corky said.
Corky and Sheila cites their sharing of the same values and mutual respect as the best aspects of their relationship.
“I have loved many others before Sheila, but nothing compares to what we have. She makes me want to be a better version of me. We give ourselves enough room to grow as individuals and we communicate. Lesbians do a lot of communicating,” Corky smiled.
For the future, Corky and Sheila plan to travel and celebrate individual milestones together.
“We also plan to change how Filipinos see Pinoy LGBT people. We share the same advocacy, fighting for human rights,” Sheila said.
“And perhaps when we grow old we’ll get a house in a farm where we can grow vegetables, play with our dogs, and raise our children,” Corky ended.