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Liza Diño comes out for love, supports LGBTQs

Meet Liza Diño, the love of Aiza Seguerra’s life, who sees Pride as a great opportunity to inspire other people to come out for love. “I think the most important thing is, before you explore how you relate to other people or what other people will say, we have to look into ourselves first and ask who we really are and accept that. Because that’s really important. At the end of the day, happiness comes from yourself,” Liza says.

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When Liza Diño met Aiza Seguerra, her view on life changed little by little. It was not an “immediate thing,” she said to Outrage Magazine, “but my eyes opened up to a lot of things.”

Liza actually first met Aiza in 1999. They became fast friends, and eventually shared a relationship for several months. But at that time, the timing wasn’t right. They broke up and went their separate ways.

Then in 2012, Liza came back to the Philippines to shoot a film.

“I sent Aiza a text message, I told him that I was in Manila and asked how he was,” Liza recalled. That what when everything started again.

Early this year, and not too different from a traditional groom-to-be, Aiza asked for the approval of Liza’s parents before he’d ask for Liza’s hand in marriage. And on February 7, Aiza proposed to Liza.

Their story, although it is “a match made in heaven”, also attract(ed) bashers – and not just on social media, but even with the people they encounter every day.

“One of the things that I have realized about being in this relationship is (that you should) know that you are true to yourself. As long as you celebrate who you are, even if people will judge you, in the end they will still love you,” Liza said.

“It was very risky for me to be proud and bring the relationship out in the open because I know that a lot of opportunities that may come my way may disappear. But you know what, when you're in love and you found the person you really want to be with and you're so full of it, there's no way you will be able to contain your feelings,” Liza Dino says.

“It was very risky for me to be proud and bring the relationship out in the open because I know that a lot of opportunities that may come my way may disappear. But you know what, when you’re in love and you found the person you really want to be with and you’re so full of it, there’s no way you will be able to contain your feelings,” Liza Dino says.

Their relationship serves as an inspiration to so many members of the LGBTQ community, and to heterosexual people whose relationships are facing challenges.

For Liza, although there are struggles and challenges, what’s important is to stand firm and hold on to love.

“It was very risky for me to be proud and bring the relationship out in the open because I know that a lot of opportunities that may come my way may disappear. But you know what, when you’re in love and you found the person you really want to be with and you’re so full of it, there’s no way you will be able to contain your feelings,” she beamed.

This love, among other things, is also the primary reason why Liza supported the campaign of the 2014 Metro Manila Pride event which is slated to happen on December 6. The theme for this year’s Pride celebration is “Come Out For Love Kasi Pag-ibig Pa Rin! (Come Out for Love Because It’s Still All About Love).Task Force Pride (TFP) Philippines, the official convener of the event, is (trying) to reposition the limelight on the supporters of the LGBTQ community by encouraging them to share their stories of support.

“This year we celebrate the 20 years of Pride in our country. It is important that we recognize and (also) celebrate our allies; our family, parents, friends, heterosexual allies, whose support have always been there for us,” Red Macalalad, partnerships head of TFP, said.

For Liza Dino, the Pride event is a great opportunity to inspire other people who are also in the same situation as she is, to support LGBTQ people. And with the lessons she learned about her relationship with Aiza and her journey to self-discovery, she hopes to shed some light to other people who are indifferent to LGBTQ issues.

For Liza Dino, the Pride event is a great opportunity to inspire other people who are also in the same situation as she is, to support LGBTQ people. And with the lessons she learned about her relationship with Aiza Seguerra and her journey to self-discovery, she hopes to shed some light to other people who are indifferent to LGBTQ issues.

For Liza, the Pride event is a great opportunity to inspire other people who are also in the same situation as she is, to support LGBTQ people. And with the lessons she learned about her relationship with Aiza and her journey to self-discovery, she hopes to shed some light to other people who are indifferent to LGBTQ issues.

“I was sold to the ‘Come Out For Love’ campaign – that’s the very reason why I’m doing this, why I came out with my relationship with Aiza. I want to share through this campaign my own experience, why I’m here today – just enjoying, being so blessed and lucky that people accepted our relationship,” Liza said.

Her advice to those who are still afraid to come out? “Every day we learn new things about ourselves, about our relationships, about other people’s identity and how you can relate to it. I think the most important thing is, before you explore how you relate to other people or what other people will say, we have to look into ourselves first and ask who we really are and accept that. Because that’s really important. At the end of the day, happiness comes from yourself,” Liza ended.

Living life a day at a time – and writing about it, is what Patrick King believes in. A media man, he does not only write (for print) and produce (for a credible show of a local giant network), but – on occasion – goes behind the camera for pride-worthy shots (hey, he helped make Bahaghari Center’s "I dare to care about equality" campaign happen!). He is the senior associate editor of OutrageMag, with his column, "Suspension of Disbelief", covering anything and everything. Whoever said business and pleasure couldn’t mix (that is, partying and working) has yet to meet Patrick King, that’s for sure! Patrick.King.Pascual@outragemag.com

Love Affairs

Acceptance and love as sources of Pride

For many LGBTQIA people, self-acceptance is difficult to achieve, even if it is generally accepted that only when one lives one’s own truth can he/she/they know true self-acceptance and the joy that comes with it. Lucky for Ahds who met Anna who loves him, even as they get the support of accepting families.

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In 2015, Ada (or Ahds, as his friends and close relatives call him), was working in Toronto when he met Anna, the best friend of a cousin.

It “completely changed my life,” he beamed.

Ahds recalled that there were people who doubted their relationship.

During their first year together, he admitted that they experienced difficulties in terms of finances (and adjustments to being together). But Ahds said that even though things were a bit tough, it was okay because at least they had each other.

“May mga kaibigan kami na nagsasabi na hindi kami magtatagal, na maghihiwalay din kami (There were some friends who said that we would not last, that we would just part ways),” he said.

But they gave being together a try, eventually proving the the naysayers wrong.

LOVE CELEBRATED

On June 18, 2016 Ahds and Anna got married.

“Nag-decide kami na magpakasal kasi gusto ko ma-experience kung ano ang pakiramdam ng kinakasal, at gusto ko rin may kasama ako sa buhay habang tumatanda ako (We decided to get married because I wanted to experience how it feels like. I also want to have someone in my life while growing old),” Ahds said.

When they celebrated their wedding anniversary this year, Ahds said in a Facebook post: “The secret of a happy marriage is finding the right person. You know it is right if you love to be with that person all the time.”

“Basta anniversary namin, nagse-celebrate kami kahit kami lang dalawa. Mababaw lang ang kaligayahan namin. At bawal sa amin ang mga nega, ang gusto naming pareho masaya lang kami (Whenever we celebrate our anniversary, it is okay even if it is just the two of us. We find happiness in simple things. And we do not like negative things, we just both want to be happy),” he said.

Ahds added: “Tsaka masaya kami dahil tanggap kami ng family namin pareho (Further, we are happy because our families accepts us).”

FAMILY ACCEPTANCE

But for as long as he can remember, his family was always supportive of him and his decisions – at least as long as he doesn’t put himself in harm’s way.

“When I was three years old, lalaki na ako (I already identified as a boy). I still remember when I was in elementary, I was already attracted to girls. Masaya ako kapag nakikita ko ang crush ko na malaki ang tanda sa akin (I was happy when I saw my crush, who was older than me).”

He can actually still remember how things were when he was young.

Noong bata ako, naaalala ko kung paano ako tinanggap na walang pag-aalinlangan ng tatay ko. Madalas niya ako dinadalhan ng bola ng ping pong. Tanggap ako ng pamilya ko kung ano talaga ako (When I was young, I remember how I was accepted without reservations by my father. He also liked to give me ping pong balls to play with. My family accepted me for who I am),” Ahds shared.

He was able to grow up “normally”, in a sense that his family supported whatever he wanted to do, as long as it would not harm him.

“When I was growing up, naririnig ko palagi na sinasabi sa akin na ‘Tomboy ‘yan’, siguro dahil na rin sa kilos at pananamit ko. Minsan, masakit sa pandinig (I always heard people call me ‘lesbian’, perhaps because of how I acted and the way I dressed. Sometimes, it pained me),” Ahds continued.

But it was not something he dwelled on. He knew that the people who mattered most in his life – his family – did not have a problem with who he really was and accepted him regardless of what other people said.

And that type of love has helped Ahds reach for his dreams, while providing for his family.

Ahds left to work overseas (for 22 years now); first heading to UAE in 1998 when Mt. Pinatubo erupted. After several years, he found his way to Canada… and Anna’s arms.

ACCEPTING AND LOVING

For many LGBTQIA people, self-acceptance is difficult to achieve, even if it is generally accepted that only when one lives one’s own truth can he/she/they know true self-acceptance and the joy that comes with it.

Equally important is acceptance [NOT mere tolerance] within the family – e.g. a study on LGBT youth acceptance and rejection revealed that it directly affects identity development, behaviors, physical and mental health. Those who experience rejection may experience serious consequences on physical and mental health.

And here, Ahds said he’s somewhat luckier, finding both acceptance and love, now his two sources of Pride.

Ahds believes that, yes, things will get better… eventually.

But while the road there may prove challenging, it starts with self-acceptance at least.

“Huwag kayo mahihiya na ipaalam sa madla kung sino kayo at kung ano ang totoong nararamdaman ninyo. Lalo na sa sarili mo, ilabas mo kung ano ka talaga. At para sa pagmamahal naman, para makamtam ang tunay na kaligayahan, dapat walang lihiman (Do not be afraid to let other people know who you are and what you really feel. Especially to yourself, show what you really are. And when it comes to love, for you to achieve real happiness, there should be no secrets),” Ahds said.

And who knows – like Ahds – this could also help others be led to having Pride.

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From the Editor

A serodifferent love

HIV-positive Louie, 34, said that that when you have HIV, sometimes you think won’t find love. But he met HIV-negative Matt, 28, in 2016. And while many people still doubt their relationship, he says: “What’s important is we inspire each other… while loving and caring for each other.”

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People think that when you have HIV, you won’t find love, said Louie, 34, from Biñan, Laguna. “But that’s not true. This thought never entered my mind.”

Louie was diagnosed HIV-positive on July 3, 2013.

At that time, “I felt two emotions. On one hand, I was happy. My live-in partner then had HIV, and I knew he was dying. That’s also what I thought before; that when you have HIV, you die. When I was diagnosed to have HIV, I thought I’d also already die. So we can happily die together. (But) on the other hand, I was also sad. I was thinking, what will happen to my family?”

For Louie at that time, “more than my HIV status, I had a harder time accepting that nothing is permanent. Like my live-in partner who died. I had a harder time moving forward from this.”

In 2016, Louie started feeling… lonely. “I realized how I missed being in a relationship. I missed having a relationship no matter its form – as lovers, partners in crime… so long as you love each other.”

He was working as HIV counselor for Klinika Bernardo in Quezon City then, and “we have targets on the number of people we test for HIV. To reach mine, I joined group chats.”

Matt, 28 from Tondo, Manila, was in one group – HTS.

“One time, his photo appeared in my phone (via the group chat). He was skinnier then. I said, ‘Wow, he’s cute.’ So I gave his photo a heart, and I sent him a personal message. I PM’d him, and he answered,” Louie recalled.

Louie also invited Matt to get tested for HIV.

Some people may also think Matt is putting himself in harm’s way. But “people should not think I am putting myself in a situation that I can’t handle. I am an adult/a grown up. Maybe they just envy us because we lasted long.”

FINDING LOVE

“Every Friday, we (do HIV testing in a bar) in Cubao. Our team from Klinika Bernardo go there to do HIV testing, and give out condoms. I invited him to come over,” Louie said.

They met in a bar in Cuba, Quezon City.

“I asked him (later) if he wanted to check into a hotel so we can be together. By asking him, of course, I wanted something to happen between us. But he had an (alibi not to join me),” Louie said.

On a later date, Matt visited Louie at Klinika Bernardo.

“I told him I wanted to have sex with him. He actually refused me. It was a first time for me, so I asked him: Why not? He told me he only has sex with his BF. I think this guy’s old fashioned. I told him we’re not kids anymore, we’re not teenagers. If it works out, fine. If it doesn’t, let’s part ways,” Louie said.

Louie stressed that “of course I’m aware I have HIV. But I also know there’s no risk of infecting him because my viral load is undetectable. But I also knew how to take care of myself, and how to look after him. This is why I had the guts to ask him to have sex with me.”

Even early on, Louie said he wanted to tell Matt about his HIV status.

“But I was afraid he’d get angry, he’d fear me, he’d sue me, or he’d bash me,” he said.

That moment came after their first catching up.

“What’s important is we’re happy. What’s important is we accept each other. What’s important is we inspire each other… while loving and caring for each other.”

DEALING WITH DISCLOSURE

In 2015, a radio station interviewed Louie. “I was asked to share my story. They made a ‘teledrama’ out of it. I made him listen to a recording of this,” Louie recalled.

After listening to the recording, Matt hugged Louie.

“I was surprised when he hugged me after listening to the recording. He didn’t say anything. I asked: ‘What can you say?’. It was funny; he said: ‘Nothing.’ I never felt he feared me. I forced him (to react). I told him it’s fine; I’d understand. He whispered to me; he told me ‘I love you.’ He said he loved me more.”

For Matt: “I couldn’t care less. So what if you have HIV?”

As a side note, Matt had former partners who had HIV.

“Three BFs passed away, all from AIDS-related complications. They were diagnosed late. I knew of their HIV status after they passed away,” Matt said. “So when he told me he has HIV, I didn’t care. It’s normal for me to have a PLHIV for a partner.”

This point does not escape Louie, though.

“I had fears. Based on his stories, all his exes died. I thought: Will I be next? I said to him: ‘Maybe you’re cursed.'”

“When we just started going out, some said we won’t last. I know some of them we just joking. Some said we’d be together only for days, for weeks. We proved them wrong.”

LIVING AS A COUPLE

As a partner, Matt said Louie can be “difficult… he can get moody. At times at night, after taking his ARV, he’d complain about ailments. I really had to learn to adjust.”

But this is something he now relishes; a part of his life.

“Whenever he gets sick, his mom sends me a text message: ‘Come over, (Louie) is sick.’ And so even if I’m supposed to to go somewhere, I go to Laguna from Tondo to look after him.”

In hindsight, Louie said he knew he already loved Matt when “I miss him when he doesn’t send me text messages. If he doesn’t immediately respond to my messages, I quarrel with him. (I like that his) messages are very sweet. Almost every night, we chat over the phone. When we don’t do any of these in a day, I already miss him.”

For Matt: “It’s good to love someone with HIV because it broadens your way of loving. It broadens your adaptability skills. You will experience real love because a PLHIV will love you completely. Those without HIV can still cheat on you. But if you love someone with HIV, they won’t look for another. Like us, he won’t look for another because I give him the love he deserves.”

Louie admitted that “a person living with HIV may not believe he will be loved by a person who does not have HIV. You may think he’s only there out of pity. That he’s only staying with you because if he leaves, you’ll get depressed and kill yourself. That was my thinking (before): I have HIV. Will someone still love me? Processing this took a while.”

Now, “if people ask me if it’s worth it, I say yes. I believe that aside from my ARV treatment, love also prolongs my life,” he added.

For Matt: “It’s good to love someone with HIV because it broadens your way of loving. It broadens your adaptability skills. You will experience real love because a PLHIV will love you completely.”

LOVE IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR

People may not support what they have, but Louie said “I don’t care what people will say when they discover our relationship. Maybe they just envy us. When we just started going out, some said we won’t last. I know some of them we just joking. Some said we’d be together only for days, for weeks. We proved them wrong. We did not focus on ‘being in a relationship’. We focused on creating happy moments together.”

Some people may also think Matt is putting himself in harm’s way. But “people should not think I am putting myself in a situation that I can’t handle. I am an adult/a grown up. Maybe they just envy us because we lasted long.”

In fact, Matt said, “people asked me: Why him? You had a lot of suitors who were better looking, who doesn’t have HIV. He’s the one I love. What do you want me to do?”

To find love, Louie said: “Just be honest. If the person (you disclosed to) does not accept you, find another. If you’re honest and he does not accept you, that’s not love. In that case, love won’t materialize. But if a person accepts you even if you have HIV, he’d love you for real.”

Now, “if people ask me if it’s worth it, I say yes. I believe that aside from my ARV treatment, love also prolongs my life,” Louie said.

There’s no “looking forward” for Louie and Matt.

“We sometimes kid: What if we break up? What if (things don’t turn out well)? We discuss these affectionately. But really, we don’t think of the future; we just think of the present,” Louie said. “What’s important is we’re happy. What’s important is we accept each other. What’s important is we inspire each other… while loving and caring for each other.”

In YouTube, follow @PLHIV Diaries.

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Literary Pieces

Five foot eight

Will you date someone who doesn’t conform to the standards you set? What if – by breaking these standards – it means you find the one you’re looking for?

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Photo by Oliver Schwendener from Unsplash.com

It’s raining again today.

Much to my dismay, I see the sky outside my window. Bleak. Gray. And even with the negative illusion of my dark room that should show that one tiny window as a square of light, it’s more like a faint projection on a blank wall of a Serbian art house film.

I check the clock, it’s barely past seven in the morning, and I will myself up from the sticky, oppressive heat of my bed, which despite the best efforts of my poor, ancient, and overworked air-conditioning unit, feels more like an electric griddle set on low than the dreamy softness that grinning salesboy promised when I bought these sheets. Another day off to a rip-roaring start, to be sure.

Stumbling across my room into the small lav in what could probably be the unsexiest pair of pajamas ever known to man, I flipped a switch and heard a soft moan and a rustle in the bed I just left.

Right. Anton spent the night.

I took a piss, relishing the sound of a steady stream make contact with the toilet water, hoping it would drown out the soft sound of the rain against my window. As I relieved myself, I started to trace back my steps last night.

***

“Anton.”

“Terry.”

He smiles: “Like, ‘Wag mo akong ma-Terry Terry!

We laugh. Mental note: Please don’t do that, like ever again.

“Mike said you’d be here on time. Sorry, I was caught up in traffic.”

Not an excuse for being almost 40 minutes late, but whatever. “It’s alright, I work in the building, so I went down when I could and I figured I could read a bit while waiting.”

He plops down on the sofa directly across me. He’s totally not what our mutual friend Mike said he would be. For one he’s NOT 5’10’, more like pushing 5’8” tops. As a tall-ish guy (About 6’ tall), I do try to date people within my height range.

“What are you reading?”

“Some stuff for work.” He makes a face.

“Really, put those away, you’re off the clock, right?”

I put my papers back in my bag. I will concede this point. “I’m sorry. You have my undivided attention.”

He takes a sip from the bottle of beer that somehow materialized in front of him at one point. “Good. I have been reading up on the Queen and her deliciously sordid relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles and Kate Middleton.”

“Oh really now? And?”

“I haven’t made my mind on it as of the moment.” He continues. Looking dead straight into my eyes.

I confess, I averted my gaze.

“So how do you know Mike?”

“I knew Michelle from college, when they got married, I was dead set against it. Mike is just too short for Mich.”

It took all the strength I had in me not to laugh in his face.

“Anyway, Mike seems to have taken it upon himself to overhaul my sex life, so he offered to introduce me to you.”

I take a sip from my drink, and arched my eyebrows. “And why would he do that? Is there something particular about your sex life that needs fixing?”

He laughs and pats his belly. “I seem to have an awful knack of devouring the souls of all I come across, at least in his estimation. I work in advertising, so I guess he’s right.”

“So tread carefully is the name of the game, is it?”

“You can say that. We can also call it bad publicity and fake news.”

“You sir, are a hot mess it seems.” I raise my drink to him with a slight smirk.

“And you sir, are not in a better place, believe me.” He raises his beer and gently clinks it against my glass.

***

I take off my pajamas and step into the shower. I turn the tap and turn around to let the water run in cold rivulets down my back. I wonder what fresh hell awaits me back at the office.

I hate Mondays. As Garfield would say, but unlike that goddamn cat, I actually have a reason to hate it. I start to lather up my hair and beard, and I work my way down. Making quick work of washing up the sticky scent of sweat, gunk, and sex. I took care to wash that nasty business back there. I never enjoyed being on the receiving end of penetrative sex: it always makes me uncomfortable the next day. Like legitimately makes me feel out of sorts: like my back is all out of alignment. If it’s a psychological thing, or an age thing, I don’t know exactly: but I keep forgetting to stretch before getting into it. And I have a theory that this hamster is trying to kill me by jackhammering me every time we meet.

***

“So, Terry: Apart from your riveting work as an auditor for one of our country’s finest banking institutions, and a possible history of homicide involving your ex-husband’s mistress, what should I know about you?”

“Very funny, something tells me, that is your favorite movie.”

“If it is, will you hate me?”

“No. I wouldn’t. But you will be judged. Though I haven’t really seen it.”

“Then I am judging you. Maricel Soriano is a national treasure.”

I snort. This conversation is absurd.

“Oh, mock me all you want. It doesn’t make you superior. Sexier, perhaps, but not superior.”

I snort again. Loudly. People from the other table look at me.

“Okay, significantly less sexy. Are you retarded?”

We both laugh.

“I must say you are turning out to be so much more vexing than Mike initially led me to believe.”

He smiles, “Well, I do try.”

***

“Room for one more?”

I turn my head and open my eyes to look at him, framed by the door.

“Don’t be ridiculous. This shower wouldn’t fit us both. Go read a magazine or something. I’m still pondering the secrets of the universe.”

He doesn’t listen (as always), and proceeds to slowly peel off his clothes: First that ratty t-shirt, and then those boxer briefs. I stare at him, taking in the lurid little striptease. He steps into the shower and I feel the coarse brush of his chest hair against my back. His arms, thick and strong envelop me in their embrace.

“So troublesome. Must you invade my every waking moment?”

“I intend to invade every inch of you. Must you protest so vigorously every time I do?”

His hands begin to unravel each excuse, each justification. I feel the heat rising in my body for the first time today, as I felt his cock firmly press in between my thighs. I turn around, not without much difficulty, in the small space we now share, and I face him. His eyes glow like obsidian, his lips taste like cocaine.

And 5’8″ seems to be the perfect height after all.

***

“Go ahead. You can say it. Mike warned me about your height preference.”

I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. I made a mental note to kill Mike later.

“It’s not a requirement.”

“That’s good to hear. It would’ve been a shame, you know.”

“Why?”

“Because I only date people who are 6’ and taller. So you’re the perfect height. If we don’t hit it off, I’ll have to find some other giant to climb.”

“Given that the average height for our people are around 5’8″…”

“Ouch.”

“That implies that you don’t get to climb very often. How do I know if you can climb well enough?”

“Oh I can climb pretty well, thank you very much. You’ll just have to trust me on that.”

“Well, we’ll see.”

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Love Affairs

Remz and Jessa: ‘Fight for your love’

Meet Remz and Jessa Roque, who – after meeting via Facebook in 2017 – decided to marry even without meeting each other yet. Not everyone agrees with what they have, but “ang alam namin, mahal namin ang isa’t isa at pinanindigan namin yun sa harap ng Diyos (We know we love each other, and God is the witness of our love),” Remz said.

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Remz Roque met Jessa in one Facebook group in January 2017.

“Actually, at that time when we started chatting, she was already eager to to meet with me,” Remz recalled, adding that “pareho po kaming OFW (we were both overseas Filipino workers): me in Dubai, while Jessa was in Taiwan.”

It wasn’t easy, Remz said, because of the time differences. But this may have served as their first challenge, since their desire to stay in touch forced them to make “adjustments in life,” Remz said. Jessa, for instance, had to wake up as early as 4.00AM “para lang makausap ako (just so she can talk with me).”

This made them closer, since “mas lalo naming nakilala ang isa’t isa (we got to know each other better),” Remz said.

In the end, this was also what helped Remz realize he already loved Jessa.

“While knowing her deeply mas lalo kong nalaman na mahal ko sixa at yung araw-araw akong masaya dahil sa kanya (I discovered I was falling deeper in love with her, and my every day was happier because of her),” he said.

That feeling was mutual, Jessa said, because “I found my day incomplete without his presence. Yung tipong napapa-smile na lang ako pag naaalala ko sixa (Just thinking of him makes me smile).”

The two nurtured their long distance relationship. And then – even if they have yet to physically meet – they decided to tie the knot by holding a commitment ceremony in the Philippines in February 2018.

“Yes,” Remz admitted, “hindi pa kami nagkita when we decided to get married. Para kasi sa akin, gusto ko na maayos ang buhay ko at mangyayari lang yun kapag nagkaroon ako ng pamilya (we have yet to meet when we decided to marry. For me, I want to have order in my life and this will only happen if I already have a family of my own)”

Jessa has a child from a previous relationship, and this makes Remz happy, knowing that “yun ung bagay na hindi ko maibibigy sa kanya. Mahal ko rin yung bata tulad ng pagmamahal ko sa kanya (I can’t give her a child. I also love her child just as I love her).”

Both admitted that their decision was not met warmly by everyone.

In fact, even from other members of the :GBTQI community, “my partner also heard a bad comment,” Remz said, “especially that our wedding is just a ‘waste’ since hindi naman legal ang kasal namin (our ceremony has no legal bearing).”

But Jessa said that while “masakit na marinig ito sa mga kapuwa mo, hindi na lang namin pinapansin (hearing these may be painful but we just ignore them),” she said. “Nonsense rin naman (These are just nonsense).”

Both Remz and Jessa, instead, focus on the good: that they found each other, and are willing to work hard to nurture what they have.

It also helped that their families were accepting of their love.

Looking forward, they eye to strengthen their (new) family. But for now, this means that they still need to work overseas; and separately, too.

That they found each other at all is considered a blessing by both, nonetheless.

Ang alam namin, mahal namin ang isa’t isa at pinanindigan namin yun sa harap ng Diyos (We know we love each other, and God is the witness of our love),” Remz ended.

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Love Affairs

The unexpected couple

Meet Noe and Allan, who may have found each other in an unexpected way, but are now trying to build a loving family while facing the continuing harsh behaviors of many in their community. They both now say to others to “find strength in each other.”

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Noe met Allan on April 12, 2014, in a gasoline station at an intersection somewhere in the Province of Batangas, with one road leading to Noe’s town, and the other to Allan’s town.

Prior to that meeting, Noe – who admitted doing sex work – joined “a Facebook group for gays and bisexuals; naghahanap ng mapeperahan (I was looking for a source of money),” he said. “Nag-post ako ng nude picture at isa siya sa mga nakakita nito at agad siyang nag-PM (private message) sa akin. Tinanong niya kung akin daw ba talaga iyon at sinabihan pa akong poser. Pinanindigan kong akin iyon, hangang sa humaba ang conversation namin at nakilala ang isa’t isa (I posted a nude picture there and he was one of those who saw the photo. He asked me if it’s really mine, even accusing me as a poser. I stood my ground. The conversation got lengthy until we got to know each other better).”

On April 7, Noe said – with a laugh – that “niligawan ko siya kunwari (I pretended to woo him).” The very next day, they became an item.

“Basically, naging kami (we became an item) before we decided to meet up… Honestly, nasa isa pa akong relasyon (I was in another relationship) that time at gusto ko lang ng mapaglilibangan at sakto nasa iisang probinsya din lang kami (I was just looking for fun that time and it just happened that we’re from the same province),” Allan recalled.

The two first met – as stated – on April 12, five days before Noe’s birthday.

And when they met, Noe took Allan to his place, “pinakilala ko sa pamilya ko na kaibigan ko (I introduced him to my family as a friend).”

Allan became a “regular” in Noe’s place, so that eventually, “hindi na talaga siya umuuwi. Kaya mga damit ko ang pinangpapaplit na niya (he didn’t head home anymore. He even started using my clothes).”

After approximately four month of, basically, living under one roof, “naging buo yung puso namin para sa isa’t isa.(we became really serious with each other).”

Allan left his BF, while Noe left his GF.

Being in a non-hereonormative relationship ca be challenging, Noe admitted, citing the “mga matang mapanghusga sa aming kummunidad (eyes/people from our community who judge us).” This ia particularly since “kilala nila akong straight guy kaya mahirap ipakita sa mga tao na may kinakasama akong kapwa ko lalake (they know me as a straight guy and so it was initially hard showing to them I now live with another man).”

Noe thinks that being with Allan taught him to be stronger, particularly “humarap sa mga taong nanghusga sa amin ng asawa ko (in front of people who judge us),” he said.

Allan said he is no stranger to discrimination, having experienced this even as a child. “Halos binago ko na ang sarili ko dahil dito para matanggap ng mga tao sa paligid ko (I tried to change myself to please others),” he said. And so now, with Noe, “lagi ko sinasabi sa partner ko na hayaan mo lang ang mga taong bumabatikos sa atin, instead pagtuunan ng pansin ay gawin na lang natin ang tama at ipakita sa kanila na walang mali sa ganitong relasyon (I tell him to ignore those who disagree with what we have. Instead, just focus on doing good and show the world that there’s nothing wrong in our love).”

As they continue braving the world, “marami kaming plano sa buhay (we have lots of plans in life),” Noe said.

For one, there’s to be good parents to their son (Noah) (another family member is Pogs, a baby dog).

They also plan to have a holy union.

And then there’s the plan to grow their business, particularly since, as Noe said, “tinutulungan namin ang mga pamilya namin (we also help our families).”

Everything, said Noe, seems possible because he found “ang kabiyak ko sa buhay (my other half in life).”

And this is what Allan wants others to also perhaps learn about: To find joy in stability, as he did with Noe. “Ganito lang, okay na okay na (Just like this, and it’s already all okay),” he ended.

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Literary Pieces

Over a bottle of rosé…

Patrick King Pascual writes about finding love and then losing it – via the experience of Peter and Richard.

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IMAGE FROM PIXABAY.COM

(While Yumeji’s Theme was playing)

His heart was pounding hard when he opened the door. He was greeted with a smile. He never thought that moment would come.

It was half past one in the morning and it was a Sunday.

They went inside his house and stayed in the balcony.

It was the first week of September.

His name is Peter. His friends knew him as a devoted and passionate person.

He was very excited and nervous. Every time their eyes would meet, he would respond to it with a smile.

Richard, on the other hand, is known to be caring and sweet in his own ways.

They shared stories, laughed at each other’s jokes, and flirted in between. He wanted to hold his hand, feel his skin closer to him – but every time he moves closer, a creeping feeling takes over.

Around three in the morning, they decided to end the night.

As they walked out of his house, Richard following very close behind him, he stopped. “Am I going to see you again?” Peter asked. Richard stepped closer to him and answered, “Why not?”

His heart was pounding hard again. He turned and faced him, and gave him a smile. They were just staring at each other. For a moment, it seemed like a scene lifted from a movie.

Peter’s face moved closer to Richard. Their lips met. Without saying a word or moving a muscle, they kissed. It was a slow kiss. It was a long and passionate.

He removed Richard’s glasses. Maybe, to better see his face. Then, they kissed again.

They first met when Peter attended a gathering with his old friends. He was running late and had to leave to early. He felt a bit uncomfortable when he arrived. A few minutes passed, he asked if anyone from the group smokes. Richard, who was with one of his fiends, responded, “I do.”

They went out of the café. He introduced himself to Richard as he puffed on his cigarette. Their initial meeting was brief, but he knew he wanted to know him more. After two sticks and uncomfortable stares from his friends, he asked for his number. They went back inside. After a quick group photo, he left.

Present time. The following evening came. Peter messaged Richard. He can still feel his kiss. It was a memorable one, he said.

Richard arrived at his place half past 12 in the morning.

They went straight to his room and picked up where they left off.

The kiss was longer than the previous night. It felt like it was more passionate, has more meaning, Peter recalled.

They went all the way. They both wanted it to happen. It was intense.

“We might get used to this,” Richard whispered. Peter responded with a kiss.

For a moment, they were just staring at each other, still in bed and naked. He wanted to capture all the details of his face in his mind.

The night ended with Peter giving Richard a tight hug. Richard leaned forward and gave him a kiss.

Peter waited for Richard for five years.

Ever since Richard moved to New Jersey, they consistently exchanged Skype and Viber messages. They, sort of, continued where they left off when they first met.

On Wednesday, Peter went to his house. He gave him a small cake. Maybe it was just an excuse to see him.

Then on Thursday, Edward went to Peter’s house. They stayed in the balcony again. Peter opened a bottle of rosé and a small pack of truffle cheese.

The Script was playing on his phone. He was surprised that the he also knew the words. After a sip and a slice, he noticed they were unconsciously singing together.

And then the strings of Yumeji’s Theme started. Peter walked towards Richard. He took his hand and pulled him closer to his body. Slowly they danced together.

Everything was in slow motion. The music seemed endless. He held his body tighter and laid his head on his chest. It was euphoric.

It was a poignant moment for Peter. He was not sure if Richard felt the same. But he knew what happened was not a knee-jerk reaction.

Richard was scheduled to go back to New Jersey the following week. It was a bittersweet moment for him. He missed his family and friends in Manila, but he needed to go back to fix his citizenship application.

They had not seen each other for several days. Richard and his family went to Davao. But they continued to message each other.

When Richard got back, he stayed home because he felt sickly. Probably he was too tired after the trip.

They were supposed to meet the following night, Richard’s last night in Manila. But Richard’s friends surprised him with a party.

Peter did not reply to his messages.

The following morning, hours before Richard’s flight, Peter received a message.

“I’m on my way to the airport now.”

Peter replied: “Take care.” Then he sent another message, “I’m annoyed because we did not get to see each other before you leave.”

“I guess, I’m not sure, it is better that way. At least we won’t be thinking too much,” Richard answered back.

He was mad. He was sad. He was pissed off.

Richard has been in a relationship with his partner for three years now. Peter is also in a serious relationship with his longtime partner.

Maybe, what happened, they just picked up where they left off when they first met.

“Take care all the time. And always smile,” Richard messaged Peter.

Peter replied, “Yakap :(“

Theirs is not (yet) a love story. At least not the type you were hoping it to be.

But it was something real.

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