Works

Eduard & Je

Would you leave the comfort of your home, without even the promise to find another one miles away? Eduard wouldn’t have imagined meeting a strong, go-getter like Jehanna when he left his hometown and Je, on the other hand, probably thought that meeting the love of her life a thousand miles away from Manila was the last thing that would happen to her. Eduard hails from Lleida, which is a city in the west of Catalonia, Spain. Je is from Manila, Philippines. Both meet in another foreign country in a dragonboat team in Singapore and found that they had a lot more things in common than a love for sports.

The two started out as teammates in the local dragonboat team and being in that team day in and day out formed the foundation of Eduard and Jehanna’s friendship. For anyone who’s found love overseas, having cultural differences can make or break the relationship. I think everyone needs to understand that there’s more of a give and take kind of vibe that needs to happen in these types of situations. Je mentions that both of them have strong spirits yet she says that they both communicate clearly what they want and respect each person’s needs and decisions even though they constantly discover new differences every day. And it takes an incredible amount of effort to realize that those differences are what makes the relationship even more unique and valuable–a continuous dialogue spoken in two different dialects of love. I asked Jehanna how she manages it–the constant adjustments and acceptance–and she replied with this:

“Eduard and I are obviously two different people. Our cultures vary from each other in many ways, and naturally, differences do get in the way. It takes effort to overcome the differences and it also takes an equal amount, or even greater effort to show appreciation for these differences. As the years went by, we have learned to embrace our differences and enjoy the similarities in our practices and traditions. We say our piece about what one thinks and we let each other take the decision, then we take turns. I guess that’s how we make it work. That though didn’t happen overnight. That process is a work-in-progress even up to now. So our conclusion to this whole thing: effort, patience and support for each other. As with any regular couple, we are very much uncertain as to what the future holds. No one is ever ready when asked the big question. I, at least, wasn’t expecting when he asked me. That I guess is the interesting about the mystery, you just have to see it unfold before your eyes and try your best to make something good out of it.”

That sounds just about the right way to go in any kind of relationship: a give and take of sorts and one that doesn’t give up even if things are difficult in the beginning. Nothing worth having is always easy anyway. The couples I encounter have different stories and I always try to find what each story’s lasting legacy is. For some it is perseverance while for others, it is taking risks. With Eduard and Jehanna it is meeting in the middle–finding a balance and looking for what can make the relationship move forward. Not everyone will have a perfect honeymoon-type of whirlwind romance, and that’s okay. Some relationships are forged in a furnace of trials and difficulties. And for those who are blessed enough to find theirs still intact, they now hold something very few relationships can boast about.


 

 


Ian & She

 

The best part about not expecting something is that you stop complaining about the detours and instead enjoy the ride.

Ian and Sherelle seem to be the most unlikely of pairings. It might seem like an ideal match now in the photos to follow but when Ian first walked into that same room Sherelle was in, he looked very much like your typical bad boy. If you can imagine a guy with long, black hair–longer than most people in the room–maintaining a quiet yet mysterious vibe as he goes about mingling with other people, that was the Ian of old. Other people might have dismissed that kind of look, went on with their business without a care in the world for the new person who just stepped in. Not Sherelle.

In her words: Ian looked “remarkable”.

We would never get a chance to see that moment but if it were a scene from a movie, this would be about the time that the slow-mo would kick in. It would be a toss-up between an 80′s hit song or a 90′s classic playing in sync with Ian’s every move and we would get a closeup of a slowed down blink from Ian as we cut to Sherelle doing a double-take.

Or we could flip the script and have Ian doing all of the double-taking and glance-stealing instead.

By all accounts, Sherelle shouldn’t even have paid attention to Ian because she already had a list of what she wanted in the man that she had asked God for. Sherelle, in her own way, had also experienced heartbreak in the past and that led her even closer to God as she had found refuge in Him amidst her pain. It was this heartbreak that led her to put up walls and be very wary of who held her heart this time. They did become friends, however, as Sherelle got to know Ian, she knew that he was worlds apart from who God had intended for her.

If not for Love and Grace, our story would’ve ended years ago. But in the same way that Sherelle was welcomed by God when she came to Him, she did not shun Ian away nor did she disqualify him. As she said, the first time she laid eyes on Ian, he “looked remarkable”. The love story of Ian and Sherelle reminds me of God’s love in many ways–how He protects His plans and fulfills His promises and how He moves not only the biggest of mountains but the most steadfast of hearts.

During their first few encounters with each other, Sherelle could’ve walked away. Literally, any time. She could’ve told herself that she deserved more or she could’ve made up her mind that Ian “wasn’t the type of Christian that she deserved”,  so to speak. But she didn’t walk away. And she saw goodness instead of rebellion. Perhaps that’s the kind of love that Sherelle found in Jesus–the kind of crazy, illogical, hands-down-all-in kind of love. That legacy of unrelenting love continued during their union and will continue in the years to come…only because God loved She & Ian first.

There will be times in our lives that we will meet people who “don’t look the part”. But we never marry actors, do we? We are imperfect people who find and attract other imperfect people. The point isn’t perfection but progress. And when we find that one person who won’t stop at their default mode, who will love us with a love that continues to give and doesn’t count favors, then we will have found “The One”.

 

 

 


Arvin & Cristina

I love the quiet ones. Maybe because I, myself, also shy away from the crowds and function better when I can hear myself thinking. I consider myself as a textbook introvert and like  most introverts, they take in the sounds of their surroundings more than they add to it. I’d like to think that when we do finally say something, it’s already evolved to a well-thought-out nugget of information that we carefully share to those around us. I thought that I was already quiet but when I met Arvin and Cristina, all of the noise seemed to slowly fade and I found myself noticing the pauses in conversation. They were the kind of silent moments that afforded you the time to think and just take everything in before you would bring up the next topic. And I loved it.

As with all couples that I work with, rarely have they gone through the rigors of a full-blown photoshoot with a production team and accompanying hairstylists and makeup artist. So when Arvin and Cristina came to me and expressed their concerns over what they should do during the shoot, I assured them that I would help them navigate the intricacies of this rare event. Since we were photographing in Lakeshore, Pampanga, we made sure that we made use of the beautiful weather that day. After Cristina’s makeup was done, we started by just doing a few shots here and there and eventually, both of them warmed up to the idea of being photographed. I eventually eased their way into the idea of having cameras pointed directly at them.

I think that’s the important thing of having a photographer who understands your vision and what kind of man and woman you want to remember when you look back at your engagement shoot. Do you want to remember the kindness in your fiancé’s eyes or the strength of your bride-to-be from her confident smile? Would you love to reminisce your amazing chemistry that you have when you two break into uncontrollable laughter or will you cherish the goofiness that you two share about the strangest of affinities? All couples have something unique about their relationship that binds them together. They are sometimes quirky but they share it nonetheless. It could be one thing or many different others but with Arvin and Cristina, they shared a quietness–a kind of muted admiration for each other that can only come from sharing a common love. I always admired that about couples: when you see them quietly glance at each other and the looks that they give each other fill in all of the silences in between.

I love the quiet ones. Cheers to Arvin and Cristina for finding the one they can be quiet with in a noisy world.

 


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