I was in my 4th year of high school when my sister Leslie first introduced me to her friend James (who is now my fiancé). Leslie and I are close to each other, so I often visited her at her apartment and so James and I started to chat quite often. We became friends quickly and somehow our friendship soon turned into something quite special to me. However, the fact that James and I were living on different sides of the world made things hard and seemingly impossible for us. We were still young then and we both assumed that such a long distance relationship wouldn't work out, so I tried to forget the feelings and move on with my life. When I entered college, we lost contact for a couple of years as I got busy with my studies and so it was hard for me to remain in contact with him. However, in the middle of 2006, I received a message from him in Friendster and so we started occasionally communicating again. We exchanged messages every so often updating each other on our lives. I expected that he was already married by that time, which he also thought might be true about me … luckily we weren't. I started my nursing duties as a Practical Nurse at the end of 2006 and so we lost contact again. I still got messages from him sometimes which I replied to when I had time. During this time, he asked for my yahoo ID and he invited me to add him there.
I finished my practical nursing course at the end of 2007 and decided to live with my sister. My sister bought a personal computer in September 2008 which gave James and me a chance to keep in touch more regularly again. We emailed each other quite often and chatted sometimes when we could catch each other online at the same time (which wasn’t often due to time difference between our homes). During these little talks and laughs online, we were able to build up a relationship again but this time it seemed to be stronger than what we had before. We confessed our feelings to each other (how we had liked each other ever since our first meeting) and so we committed ourselves to a long distance relationship.
I was apprehensive at first with our relationship, I had a lot of "what ifs" running through my mind. I was worried with everything; the distance between us, the difference of culture and traditions and that our beliefs might not connect us somehow. I was also worried that his family and friends might not like me. One thing that bothered me was that they might have the impression that most people have of a Filipina marrying a foreigner; they think that it's just always for refuge, money and a visa. I can't blame them because I am sure that is true sometimes, but there's one great reason for me, LOVE.
The fear I had about people’s impressions of my desire to marry James is the reason why I told myself that I have to build something for myself (e.g. to excel in my own career) so that I can be someone for him to be proud of to his family and friends. Apart from that, I don't care what people think because first and foremost, I am marrying James because I want to spend the rest of my life with him. No matter where and what life will be as long as I'm taking the journey with him.
It might sound absurd to feel such to a man you had only ever seen online but that was what I felt and I just loved him even more when I finally met him for real on 27th May 2009 when he first came to the Philippines to visit me. I was really tense and felt like I had butterflies in my stomach as I saw the familiar face of a man headed out from the arrival area of Bacolod-Silay airport. My first impression of him was that he was lean and tall (considering my height). I called his name because he didn’t seem to be able to see me and I approached him and then he saw me and he came towards me with a smile and gave me a hug. We headed off to a hotel and stayed there for a night, then we went home the next day and we stayed at my Aunt's house for most of the rest of the days that he was here during that trip. My family met him and they said that he was nice and they also commented that he was very quiet (because he wasn't talking much). We had a really amazing time together; we visited some of the beach resorts here like Paradiso in Hinigaran, Mag-Aso Resort in Kabankalan, and Bahura in Dumaguete city. During his time here one evening, he got down on one knee and asked if I would marry him and I was delighted to accept, so the next day we bought a wedding ring and made our engagement official on 3rd June 2009 at a celebration that was witnessed by my family and friends. It was the happiest time of my life, those 17 days that we were together. We shared lots of things, laughed a lot and even cried together for the one reason that soon we were going to be apart again. He left the country on 13th June 2009 to go back to London. We were both crying hard the night before he left and crying lots more in the airport when we said goodbye. We knew that we would have to be strong for each other but that we were not alone; we both believed that GOD would help us to be strong and that He would not let us be apart for too long.
After 3 months he decided to come back here to be with me at the visa centre as I processed my application for a tourist visa to the UK to be able to meet his parents and experience the culture prior to returning home to start on my fiancée visa application, but this was unfortunately denied. He stayed here only for a week this time as he needed to go back home to his work for the start of the university term. We cried for some time over the visa denial (which we received on the last day he was here for before returning) because it meant that we'd be apart again for some time as I couldn’t travel to the UK as we had both hoped.
We never lost our trust in GOD though and I am thankful that we are both strong Christians or I am not sure how we would have got through it without GOD’s help to keep us strong and patient.
Recently, he was here for Christmas but he was not able to spend the New Year here also though. He stayed here for 20 very happy days. I was so touched because he chose to spend his Christmas here with my family and me of course and away from his own family. We both decorated our new house here (we renovated an old building next to my mum’s house here so that we would have a place to stay here) together for Christmas and had our house-warming on 25th December 2009. Those were the longest and happiest 20 days of Christmas in my life and now everything seems perfect for us. Being together all those days made us love each other more tenderly and I realised that I am so blessed, I have nothing else to ask for of GOD, because I already have James and as long as I'm with him I know I'll always be this happy.
I certainly know that marrying him will mean leaving my life here (my family, my friends, the culture and the traditions I have grown up with), but I'll be happy to learn about and to embrace living in his world, it might be hard for me to adjust, but that's ok as long as I have James beside me. I'll face that situation and make the sacrifices that I have to if that would only mean that I will be with him forever.