There used to be a time when Valentine’s Day aggravated me because I was that dorky high schooler who never had a date. I also used to detest it because as the awkward Josie Grossie, I never received gifts of any kind.

Yet besides this, the season of hearts also brings to me one of my favorite memories. Every year my parents would buy me a single rose for Valentine’s Day and it would be on the dining table even before I woke up. Through time, this made me realize that love comes in all shapes, forms, and sizes. The greatest source of it is family.

This year, however, is different. Instead of a thousand and one hugot posts, I decided to share different love stories to inspire even the most cynical person into believing that love, while it may take awhile, always comes at the right time.

As a big fan of One Tree Hill’s Nathan and Haley Scott, I have always been fascinated with love stories between jocks and their “main chick” simply because in the sometimes “kagulo” world of basketball, holding a relationship is a miracle in itself.

The story of Far Eastern University’s star player Russel Escoto and my good friend, Ingrid Gavieres-Escoto proves that love is able to withstand amidst trials and temptations.

Meeting through a common friend, the couple was initially hesitant to dive into a committed relationship but took the risk and got married after almost two years. Despite the many challenges they faced in the beginning, the two have remained strong because of their solid relationship with God.

In fact, the reason they fell in love with each other was because of this faith. Ingrid says,
“Our faith in Christ is the main reason we fell in love with each other, it really kept us close. Some might say it’s weird but it’s true. How could you not fall in love with someone who is so Christ-centered and God-fearing and who pushes you to become better?”

Love can also be found in second chances as told by an old friend from college, Samantha Schuepp-Martin. Sam, who got married to a wonderful man, Hector Martin, last year recalls a dark time in her life that led to not so good choices. She recalled, “After my mom died, I made poor choices, especially in the guy I chose to be with. But out of the worst relationship, I got the best blessing of my life, Anthony.”

Having a son changed the way she viewed relationships and how she chose her partner. She said, “I started believing that you should marry someone you’d be proud your children would grow up to be.”

It was around the same time that fate brought her to Hector. “I never considered the idea of ‘destiny’ or fate before meeting Hector but around the same time I changed my views on dating, I met Hector in a Filipino restaurant in Switzerland because my son was playing with the kids he was tending to at that time,” she explained.

Both based in Switzerland, Sam laughs that the irony of it all, “It’s still kind of funny how I travelled from Manila to Switzerland just to fall in love with a Cebuano.”

But kidding aside, Sam is grateful for her second chance at love with someone she “adores, respects and who has done nothing but believe in my potential when I myself felt like I was damaged goods.”

And of course, as cheesy as it may sound, the greatest love affair we could ever have is the one we have with ourselves. As cliché as it might be, the season I spent single and the lessons I learned from it became the solid foundation of the current season of my life that I am now fortunate to share with another. Ang buhay pana panahon, so might as well enjoy yourself because seasons will change so might as well just be content and joyous, whatever the season.

In fact, a family friend, Zia Marquez shares her thoughts on self-love rather eloquently.

She explained, “Life has introduced me to pure beauty and that the woman I was staring at was one I thought could never have existed, she was perfect. Life finally has meaning and it was up to me to define it. I became what I believed to be the one.”

In a nutshell, Zia reminds us that the person you could love the most is yourself and as you get to know yourself, celebrate yourself, and be kinder to you, the other loves will come and they will be the love you have always dreamed of.

So whether coupled up or not, celebrate who is in your life for love is always present, we just have to open our eyes to its reality.

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