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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.”



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.

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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).”

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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.

"If someone asked you about me, about what I do for a living, it's to 'weave words'," says Kiki Tan, who has been a writer "for as long as I care to remember." With this, this one writes about... anything and everything.


3 Things to remember when meeting your partner’s parents

When you meet his or her parents, play the role of the observer, then be ready to have an open, honest, and vulnerable conversation with your partner about both of your family histories later on when the time is right.



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The holidays = family time, that’s a given. And so, not surprisingly, many new couples will be meeting each other’s parents over the holidays, which can really be a nerve-racking event. That said, it’s also a very important step in any couple’s evolution.

Relationship expert Kailen Rosenberg – author of “Real Love, Right Now: A 30-Day Blueprint for Finding Your Soul Mate — and So Much More!”, and who is known for her work on the series “Lovetown, USA” with Oprah Winfrey, as well as the E! reality shows “Stewarts & Hamiltons” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” – shares three tips to keep in mind when you meet your significant other’s (SO’s) parents.

1. Be Yourself: Don’t focus on trying to impress your significant other’s parents. Be polite and gracious, of course, but above all be yourself. Feeling comfortable and at ease with your partner is one sign of a promising partnership. Let those feelings translate to an openness to truly being yourself when meeting his or her family. You’ll get more useful information about your relationship and your partner’s family when you interact openly and honestly.

2. Look for Clues: You will learn so much from seeing where your partner comes from in terms of past love role models. Are his/her parents married or divorced? Are they happy and healthy in their current lives and partnerships? How do they interact with each other? With you? With your partner?

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All of us are likely to play out some version of what we witnessed as children when we marry. If you or your partner is the child of divorce or marital dysfunction, it isn’t necessarily a relationship death sentence, though. It simply means your mutual awareness of it and willingness to work through it are vital to the health of your own partnership. When you meet his or her parents, play the role of the observer, then be ready to have an open, honest, and vulnerable conversation with your partner about both of your family histories later on when the time is right.

3. Listen to Your Inner Voice: When meeting your partner’s parents, pay less attention to any anxiety or nerves you may have about them liking and accepting you and pay more attention to your inner voice — that deep inner knowing that keeps you grounded and moving in a healthy direction with your life and your love relationships.

Is your intuition telling you that the relationships and communication you are witnessing in your partner’s family are something you can embrace, handle, or work through? Or is your “gut feeling” saying that something just feels off and you’re not sure you and your partner can overcome certain aspects of his/her family history or dynamic? Don’t rush to judgment; meet the parents, then give your inner voice time to let you know how it feels (how you truly feel) about all you’ve experienced.

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5 Relationship red flags you shouldn’t ignore

When your partner truly loves you, they not only have enough deep respect for themselves and for you not to lie to you, but they instead carry a need to always be open and honest — regardless of the outcome.



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When we love someone, it can be hard not to get so wrapped up in our own feelings that we neglect to notice the relationship red flags waving right before our eyes.

Elite matchmaker Kailen Rosenberg – author of “Real Love, Right Now: A 30-Day Blueprint for Finding Your Soul Mate — and So Much More!” and is known for her work on the series “Lovetown, USA” with Oprah Winfrey as well as the E! reality shows “Stewarts & Hamiltons” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” – shares five key warning signs to watch out for that are clear indicators your partner just isn’t that into you and it might be time to move on.

1. He/she doesn’t ask how your day was.

If your partner can go through an entire day from sunup to sundown without asking you with genuine sincerity how your day was, this is a sign that you are most likely in a relationship with a person who is not only self-absorbed but is far more concerned about their own life experience than they are about yours. Asking a partner how their day went at the end of each day is a healthy and simple way to not only reconnect but also to lead into the discussions that follow, which can inspire closeness and intimacy on different levels.

2. He/she allows an entire day to pass without checking in to say hello.

When your partner allows an entire day to go by without checking in to say hello — especially if traveling (whether for business or personal) — one of two things is most likely happening: You are either dealing with a passive-aggressive partner who is angry with you and unable to express their feelings of disappointment or frustration in a productive way and therefore ignoring you, or they are literally just flat out not thinking of you. A partner who is in love with you — who cares about and respects you — has an innate desire to connect with you and hear your voice on a daily basis. This is not only to see how you’re doing, but also to make sure you’re okay, to say hello, and to share their day with you.

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3. He/she would never lie to you.

When your partner truly loves you, they not only have enough deep respect for themselves and for you not to lie to you, but they instead carry a need to always be open and honest — regardless of the outcome — in order to continue building a relational foundation of strength, trust, and security. If your partner is lying to you, this says more about them than it does about you.

4. He/she flirts with others in front of you.

If you are in a relationship with a partner who overtly “checks someone out” or downright flirts with another in front of you, not only do they not truly love you, but they also lack considerable respect, care, and consideration for you and your value in the relationship. If you stay with a partner like this, it’s time for a self-check with regard to why.

5. He/she ignores your feelings.

When your partner truly loves you, one of the clearest ways this can be seen is through the way they respond to your expressed feelings, especially when they are feelings of fear, disconnect, or anger. If your spoken feelings are unheard, dismissed, or mocked by your partner, this is definitely not love. In fact, it’s a form of emotional abuse, no matter how much your partner may tell you they love you. Many people will abuse a partner and their feelings while at the same time stating they love them. Love and abuse do not go together hand in hand. Abuse and addiction do. Abuse and control do.

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Thinking of getting married already? Stop!

Seriously: Before heading to the altar, find out how ready for love you (and your partner) really are.



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These days, when Kailen Rosenberg — the author of “Real Love, Right Now: A 30-Day Blueprint for Finding Your Soul Mate — and So Much More!” and is known for her work on the series “Lovetown, USA” with Oprah Winfrey as well as the E! reality shows “Stewarts & Hamiltons” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” — sees a wedding happening, she doesn’t immediately think, “Oh, look at the beautiful bride!”

Instead, she said that she thinks: “Shit, I hope they know what they’re doing!”

This is because after introducing thousands of singles into relationships and healing over 100 marriages headed for divorce, Rosenberg found that they all had the same thing in common: 99% never knew who they were really marrying in the first place.

And so… before you say yes to the ring, the dress and a partner for life, Rosenberg encourages you to do these things first:

1. Find out how ready for love you (and your partner) really are.

“The most important step you can take toward experiencing a healthy love relationship is to become completely honest with yourself about who you truly are when it comes to relationships and your own love readiness,” Rosenberg said.

Dig deeper to discover what kind of “mate” you are – i.e. Life Mates, Soul Mates and Ego Mates.

“If your partner challenges you, drives you crazy — in the positive and negative connotations of this phrase — and he or she sparks your deepest passions, you are likely on the right track,” said Rosenberg.

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2. Confirm your compatibility.

For Rosenberg: “It’s not necessary to like all the same things or agree on everything, but there should be foundation of common interests and shared friendships that will allow you to grow into your new blended life together.”

3. Meet the parents.

You will learn so much from seeing where your partner comes from in terms of past love role models.

“We are likely to play out some version of what we witnessed as children, so you should be ready for that. If either of you is the child of divorce or marital dysfunction, it isn’t necessarily a relationship death sentence; it simply means your mutual awareness of it and willingness to work through it honestly and openly are vital to the health of your own partnership,” Rosenberg said.

The level of openness, honesty and emotional vulnerability each of you share in this kind of conversation is a huge sign of how open, honest, and vulnerable you will be within your own marriage.

4. Look for deal breakers.

“Don’t walk down the aisle if you’re not completely in alignment with your personal truth. Be honest with yourself: Are there any things about your partner that go against your personal value system? It’s okay to challenge yourself to open your mind and think differently, but don’t ignore warning signs for fear of losing the relationship. Identifying and addressing these issues now is essential to starting your marriage on the right foot. If you go into marriage hoping certain fundamental qualities of your partner will eventually change, he or she may not be the right person for you,” Rosenberg ended.

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Keep your marriage alive in these ways



If you are starting to worry about the solidity of your marriage, then you will probably be keen to do something about it as soon as possible. This can be a worrying and upsetting time when you feel that not all is certain anymore, and you might want to try and take direct action to make sure that you are going to lift yourself out of the dark times. That, of course, can often be difficult, which is why you need to try and plan for it as best as you can.

The best way to do that is to look into how you can be sure to keep your marriage alive and well, and that is what we are going to look at in this post. As long as you are considering the following points, you should find that you have a better understanding of how to keep your marriage alive and well.

Be Clear

First of all, you need to make sure that you are always as clear as possible with your other half about what you want, what your desires are, and what you expect from the relationship. You should also expect the same of them. When you are both capable of being clear in this direct way, it means that you will be able to expect much more from your marriage. That will then mean that you can seek a brighter future with it, which is ultimately what you should be looking for here.

By being clear on what you expect from a Muslim Marriage, a Christian marriage, an atheist marriage, or whichever, you know that you can both be on the same page genuinely in the future as best as you would hope to be. That makes a huge difference to the future of the marriage.

Be Honest

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You should also make sure that you are promoting honesty as best as you can in our marriage, as without that there is really not much hope for the relationship at all. If you find it difficult to be honest at all times, then you might want to think about trying to practice honesty a little more as time goes on. If your partner is patient, they should understand and at least appreciate that you are attempting to do that.

Honesty is essential if you want to keep your marriage alive, so it’s a good idea to make sure that you are engaging in it as best as you can at all times. If not, you might find that this causes some ongoing problems in your marriage which can be harder to fix.

Be Patient

Finally, remember that it takes a great deal of patience to be able to reside and be with another person in any setting, let alone in marriage. You need to make sure that you can continue to express and practice this patience even when it is most difficult. If you cannot, you will find that you struggle to keep the marriage together. This might be the most important quality, along with honesty.

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7 Steps to becoming truly love-ready

Know that even before one looks for a partner, he/she must first know oneself.



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For relationship-hunters, being single is no fun when you’ve been wishing, hoping, and praying for the right partner to come into your life. But what would you do if Mr./Ms. Right appeared? Would you be ready to be in a healthy, loving partnership?

According to matchmaker Kailen Rosenbergauthor of “Real Love, Right Now: A 30-Day Blueprint for Finding Your Soul Mate — and So Much More!”, even before one looks for a partner, he/she must first know oneself.

“In order to know if you’re truly ready for love or not, especially if the new guy or gal in your life is the ‘right’ one, you must know what kind of ‘mate’ you are,” Rosenberg said. “Are you a Life, Soul, or Ego Mate? Knowing and understanding who you are when it comes to love makes all the difference. We all think it’s a soulmate we want, but that’s not necessarily true.”

Here are seven steps to becoming truly love-ready, according to Rosenberg.

  1. Envision love for yourself: To be love-ready, you must not only believe in love, but be able to envision it for yourself. Picture love in a wholly positive, sexy, fun, and healthy way, and envision this existing for you in your own life. To really achieve this, you’ll have to let go of the old blocks, fears, and self-sabotages that have kept you from love in the past.
  2. Let go of desperation: One huge clue that you are now love-ready is if you no longer feel desperate to find the kind of loving relationship that you want. You want love — and you’re excited for it — but you don’t need it as badly as before.
  3. Radiate loving energy: When you are love-ready, your new energy will radiate out from you to the rest of the world. The more you approach all of life with this loving energy, the more you’ll notice the impact this has on those you encounter, from friends and family to strangers on the street. The person you are waiting to meet will notice it, too!
  4. Listen to your inner voice: Another sign that you are love-ready is that you can now listen to and truly hear the inner voice you used to block out because you were afraid of being alone. You can see the warning signs of problematic, unloving behavior in a potential partner sooner, and you have a heightened awareness of who you want around you.
  5. Deal with past wounds: Issues from your past that have not been dealt with can prevent you from being completely love-ready, though it is still possible to find love if you aren’t fully healed. Just be aware that you will bring any fears or hurts you carry into the new relationship. If you can deal with them and heal them now, you’ll give yourself and your future partner the gift of an emotionally clearer and more joyful start to your partnership.
  6. Shift your self-image: Becoming love-ready doesn’t always mean conquering a dramatic, painful past. Sometimes, all it takes is a shift in perception. Seeing yourself honestly and lovingly is an extremely important part of being truly love-ready.
  7. Let go of excuses that are holding you back: You know all those reasons you tell yourself as to why you haven’t found love yet? It’s time to put those aside. The excuses are fairly universal and common, such as “the divorce rate is so high,” “my friends are all unhappy in their marriages,” “my parents had a miserable marriage,” “all men are jerks,” “all women just want money,” “no one wants to date a single mother with little kids,” “all of the good ones are taken,” and so on. Sound familiar? Here’s the thing: we receive what we believe by investing in our belief systems with our attitudes, words, and actions that make them come true. Stop subscribing to these limiting beliefs and you might surprise yourself with how much easier it feels to be open to love.
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Identify what kind of mate you are to find the perfect mate via The Real Reveal.

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5 Lessons ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ can teach everyone about love

By using ABBA’s songs, “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” teaches important lessons about loving – including the need to grab every moment as they come, and savor these moments, because some of these moments may not happen again, and there’s no sense living with regrets for what-could-have-been’s.




In 2008, the world was re-exposed to the music of Swedish pop group ABBA, thanks to the summer blockbuster “Mamma Mia!”. In that musical-turned-film that was based on ABBA songs, we followed the story of Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried), who – while looking for her real Dad before her wedding because her mom (Meryl Streep) opted to remain secretive about her past – ended up discovering the real meaning of family.

It helps, of course, that the story is pushed forward by ABBA songs – from the melancholic “I Have a Dream”, to the always-lively “Dancing Queen”, to the poetic (albeit sad) “Our Last Summer” and “Slipping Through My Fingers”, and to the flirtatious “Lay All Your Love on Me”, “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” and to the very title of the film, “Mamma Mia”.

That film earned $615.7 million in the box office, highlighting – perhaps – that ABBA has not really gone (even if the group disbanded in 1982). By successfully encapsulating the essence of the songs, we – like Sophie – journeyed to joyful self-discovery.

A decade after “Mamma Mia!” was released, we revisited Sophie and – yes – ABBA via “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”.

This time around, the story picks up with Sophie (Seyfried) pregnant and single just as her mother, Donna (Streep), was years earlier. A spoiler: Donna is dead. So in her place, and to comfort Sophie, Donna’s friends and former bandmates, Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) share stories of Donna in her adventurous youth.

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And from this, there are five lessons I think “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” can teach everyone not just about family, but about real love.

1. Love can come from unexpected places.

With Donna’s death a year earlier, two of her fathers (Harry and Bill) unable to make it to the reopening of Donna’s hotel, and Sky (her partner) in New York, the pregnant Sophie was not having an easy time.
But even if these people very close to her are not (supposedly) around, she is not lacking for love. Rosie and Tanya, for instance, are there for her; and even the community that they helped shape via Donna’s hotel back her up.

I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Nine of the singles of ABBA – formed by Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid in Stockholm, Sweden almost half a century ago – are about love, which is the group’s most-popular subject. Five of those songs went to No. 1: “Waterloo”, “Mamma Mia”, “The Name of the Game”, “Take a Chance on Me” and “Super Trouper”.

As an FYI: The group’s next most-popular subject matter (with four singles) is about lust. But none of those reached top spot [even if “Voulez-Vous” and “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” reached number three].

2. When you find real love, hold on to it as long as you can.

Remember the way the first film ended, with Sophie’s three dads basically saying that it doesn’t matter who her biological father is, they all claim to be her family because they love her?

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Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” continues that premise.

That is, that when you find real love (whether it’s romantic or familiar or whatever), hold on to it.

3. Not all heartbreaks break us.

Three of ABBA’s singles are about heartbreak, and two are about loneliness – themes that “Mamma Mia!” and “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” also tackle.

And while the first movie included “The Winner Takes It All”; the second one included “Why Did It Have to Be Me” and “Angel Eyes” – all these songs actually lamenting about lost love.

But here’s the thing: These songs may be sad, but they are also self-aware, with the one singing it actually being thankful for the loving. This highlights that there may be moments when loving hurts; but this does not need to break us.

4. Your past never disappears; you just learn to live with it.

That Donna is dead exemplifies “past”. But instead of just forgetting the past, it may be best to learn to live with it instead. This is why Sophie is celebrating Donna.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” also shows that your past will eventually catch up with you. The first film, after all, had Donna claiming her mother is dead; but in the second movie, this mother appeared in the person of Cher.

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To this end, too, ABBA’s “Fernando”, as sang by the indomitable Cher, is more than apt: “Though we never thought that we could lose, there’s no regret…”

To survive, we all move on from our past, learning how to live with the lessons we got from it.

5. Live in the present.

Donna’s character was always in-the-present (which explains her falling in love with three succeeding guys; and then – when she got pregnant – deciding to settle down to form a family). And there is something that can be learned with loving from Donna. That is, to grab every moment as they come, and savor these moments. Some of these moments may not happen again, and there’s no sense living with regrets for what-could-have-been’s.

Dancing Queen” may arguably be ABBA’s most popular – and catchy – song. But to summarize this lessons in loving, I’d say “Thank You for the Music” is more apt. The words may refer to music as a whole; but it may as well refer to loving, i.e.:

“So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me…”

So I say thanks to “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” for giving me a glimpse of real love.

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