Filmmaker Cha Roque and musician/Web developer Ymi Castel knew each other from way back, meeting “at gigs (even) before we got together,” Cha said. “I don’t know why but it has always felt comfortable talking with Ymi even when we were not yet close.”
But even then, Ymi said she already noticed Cha, “seeing her there, taking photos of the band (Ymi is a musician and is part of Flying Ipis and Squid9).”
The two hung out for around four months before they dated exclusively; and then it took another two months before they were formally a couple.
In hindsight, “I think we fell in love with each other even before we started dating exclusively,” Cha said, “but we were having such a good time and nobody wanted to ruin it by saying ‘I love you’.”
And then, Ymi added, “bigla mo lang masasambit (you suddenly just blurt it out).”
Now that they are in a relationship, “we are still often confronted by people asking if we have plans of marrying a guy and having a ‘real family’,” Cha said.
Ymi added that there are “kalalakihang tingin nila sila ang salvation ng mga kababaihan (guys who see themselves as the salvation of women).”
But “I think I’ve gotten used to it (and) it doesn’t affect me as much anymore,” Cha said. “My family, my daughter and my closest friends are very accepting (of what we have), and I think that’s really all that matters.”
There were times when heteronormative “insistence” become physical, and even abusive. Cha said that “there will always be assholes who rub their religious beliefs to our faces; heterosexual guys who insist on ‘joining’ us.” And there was one time when a guy punched Cha and Ymi after they asked them to leave them be.
“But I really hope that there wont be any more strangers who try to hit on us and assault us if we say no,” Cha said.
In the end, having each other is the comfort. “We face these challenges by standing beside each other in every trial, and by being really firm about our principles and ideologies,” Cha said, adding that “most of the time we try to be calm and patient enough to explain our relationship to other people.”
For Cha, the best thing in their relationship “is we’re more than lovers; we also collaborate with each other for films and art projects.” That they support each other also matters, since “after almost three years, I still attend and fan-girl at her gigs. We also love traveling and drinking together, and basically exploring together.”
Cha added that “Ymi gets along very well with my daughter. We are not just a couple anymore, we are a family with Kelsey. And for me, that’s the best thing about this relationship.”
“Walang nakakulong dito. Pareho kaming nag-go-grow bilang partners at bilang individuals. Natututo sa isa’t isa, Natututo sa mga pagsubok. At natututo sa mga taong nasa paligid namin (This isn’t a prison. We both grow as partners, and as individuals while being together. We learn from each other. We learn from what life throws our way. And we learn from what happens in life).”
Already, the two are planning to “get a bigger house with our daughter and dog,” Cha said, even as “we also have plans of collaborating for more films and art projects. The passage of an anti-discrimination and a marriage equality law may be unsure as of now, but one thing’s for sure: Ymi and I will continue to speak out and fight for our rights together.”