Our love story is nothing like the usual boy meets girl, falls in love, and they live happily ever after. It took 12 years in the making before we actually ended up together, and had what I think is our fairytale ending.
In 2002, I flew with Manolo’s older brother, Iñaki, on a Japan to Manila flight as we used to work together as international flight attendants. At the Manila airport, Manolo was waiting at the arrival area to pick up his brother. That was the first time he saw me. He asked Iñaki who I was, and asked him if it was possible to meet me one time.
A few flights later, I got to fly with Iñaki again back to Manila and he asked me what my plans were as soon as we landed, because he will be out with some friends in a bar. Upon learning where it will be--Ponticello, classic--I agreed to meet up and told him that I was really going to be out with some friends, and will just suggest that we go to the same place where Iñaki will be.
Long story short, we ended up with other people. He started seeing someone from his school, I started dating someone from the same industry as mine.
Iñaki was like everyone’s big brother in our workplace, so I was wondering why he was suddenly inviting me out. I shrugged off any malicious thoughts, and just assumed that maybe it was just a friendly rendezvous. Turned out the true reason he invited me after all was for his brother Manolo to finally meet me. My first thought bubble upon meeting him was, “This guy is so guapo, he has green eyes!” We talked the whole night, even after everyone had left, and there was no denying that there was instant attraction.
Several messages and calls exchanged later, and a few visits everytime I was in town, my busy work schedule took a toll on Manolo as he was still in his last year in College. I was always away for days for layovers, and would do modeling gigs on the few times that I would be home. Long story short, we ended up with other people. He started seeing someone from his school, I started dating someone from the same industry as mine, a pilot. But in all those years that we were already spoken for by other people, Manolo and I kept our friendship. In our minds, we thought, maybe it just wasn't meant to be.
I promised myself that I will make sure that my children will have a family that’s whole and rock solid, but there I was, finding myself in the exact situation that I was most fearful of.
Fast forward to 12 years after, both our relationships with our partners ended at around the same time, coincidentally. He was single again, and I found myself suddenly a single mom with two sons. I told my friends that I would never be with anyone again because I didn't want my boys to be more confused and bothered following their parents’ breakup. I was so traumatized and never thought that I would end up in that situation, especially since I came from a broken family myself.
When I was young, I promised myself that I will make sure that my children will have a family that’s whole and rock solid, but there I was, finding myself in the exact situation that I was most fearful of. I prayed and prayed, and my unwavering faith would always remind me that there is always a reason for everything. A few months later, I went out with my friends. Manolo was there and that started it all--again.
There was no denying that it was very easy for us to reconnect and respark something that had always been there. For some reason, he was able to make all my negative thoughts and doubts disappear. He made me feel that it was okay to trust again. I guess it was because I’ve known him for such a long time.
What I had to consider though were my two sons, since I had to introduce a new man in their life. As soon as they met Manolo, they instantly hit it off that after just a few months, it was actually them who were convincing us to get married since they wanted to live with him already. Life has been great since then.
Like I said in my vows, our love was something so real and so sure that we ended up marrying each other 3 times in a span of 3 years.
May 21, 2016--Manolo proposed to me. I was so clueless as I thought we were just having a normal dinner at Antonio’s in Tagaytay. After dinner, we went to the garden bar area to get a few drinks before heading home, and I felt amused that a trio of musicians went up to us playing one of my favorite songs, Crack the Shutters, by Snow Patrol. I thought they were just going from table to table to play different songs.
As soon as I looked at Manolo, I was shocked that he was kneeling down, holding up a box with a diamond ring. Of course I said YES, as we both shed tears of joy. Just exactly a month after that, Manolo and I got married in California on June 21st.
At first I was worried if his family would accept me because of my situation as a single mother. To my happiness, it was his family who suggested that we tie the knot in California. We were going to fly there for Manolo's cousin’s wedding, and since everyone from his side had traveled in already from different parts of the world to celebrate his cousin’s nuptials, it was the perfect time for us as well to wed with all of Manolo’s family as witnesses. The venue of our intimate civil wedding ceremony was the poolside of my cousin's home who lives in Chino Hills. Luckily, Manolo’s just-married cousin lent us the usable decor leftover from their wedding. It was impromptu, and everything just fell into place. We had a reception as soon as we got back to Manila so we could celebrate our union with friends and relatives.
The church wedding that we held on our 3rd anniversary in 2019 was actually our third wedding. Like I said in my vows, our love was something so real and certain that we ended up marrying each other 3 times in a span of 3 years. We now have a 2 year old daughter named Pilar, and my boys adore and love her so much.
Our love story is one of a kind but it is also a great testimony of how much we should trust God in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. Everything really happens for a reason. There is always an answer to all your questions. He was the answer to mine.
Love you Manols,
Story of mom of 3, Michelle Quizon-Llamas, for her Manolo.