Duane Siam Abadilla and David Mercado met in Cagayan de Oro in April 2013.
At that time, Duane only just returned from Singapore to look after his lola (grandmother), who was admitted at the Capitol University Medical City. “At that time, I frequently went to the Red Cross (blood bank) to get blood supplies for my lola,” he recalled in his vernacular. “One time, David was also there; his father was also hospitalized then.”
“My dad had to go through surgery for removal of his tumor. He was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer, and I was the one taking care of him. After his surgery, I had to return a blood bag to the Red Cross blood bank. There, I saw Duane. He was there to collect sets of blood bags for his lola, who was also admitted in another hospital in CDO. That was the first we met and that was the first time my eyes marveled at him,” David said.
The next time David saw Duane again, “I made sure I wouldn’t lose the opportunity again – I approached him, introduced myself, and asked for his digits.”
The two dated for over a month after that, before officially becoming “us”, David said
Being in a relationship still not widely accepted by society can be challenging, David admitted.
“The hardest part was coming out and being true to our families. We struggled through this,” he said, particularly since, as adults, “we decided to live separately from our parents so that we could live independent lives.”
But David was quick to add that “in the long run, our parents have learned to respect our decision. We are in good terms with our families. Although ‘accepted’ nor ‘tolerated’ are not really the terms to describe our relationship with them, but at least, we are now respected. They leave us alone. We hope one day things will get better.”
Despite the challenges, there’s much to be thankful for in what they have, both David and Duane said.
“The best thing about our relationship is that we both understand what “partnership” means. We did not enter this relationship just for the sake of having a boyfriend. We did not enter this relationship because we are only physically attracted to each other,” David said.
“Sana maabutan namin ‘yung araw na legal na ang same-sex marriage sa Pilipinas kasi ang hirap talaga na hindi ito legal (Hopefully we get to see the day when same-sex marriage becomes legal in the Philippines because the lack of legal recognition is hard for us),” Duane said. “Madaming benefits sa contracts, PhilHealth, insurance, properties, et cetera na ma-e-enjoy na sana namin kung legal kami (There are numerous benefits – in contracts, PhilHealth, insurance, properties, et cetera – that we could enjoy if we are legally recognized). We see ourselves being old and wrinkly but still together and loving each other.”
“We both understand that love is more than a feeling. It is a choice and a commitment. We look at each other not just as boyfriends, but also as best friends, as lovers, as family, as each other’s shock absorbers, as protectors, as advisers… And yes, as lifetime partners,” David ended.