It's the time of the year when red hearts flood commercial spaces in the Philippines.
The prices of flowers especially roses spike up, together with chocolates, desserts and cards.
The owners of coffeeshops, concert halls, movie theaters, restaurants, hotels and malls are smiling from ear to ear. Business looks good on days approaching Valentine's Day.
Filipinos are hopeless romantics. I could say we are a lovestruck nation. Having a special someone is part of the life goal. There seems to be a constant search for someone to love in this side of the world. It shows how local films earned millions from love stories and how viral the love songs are. Social media is filled with memes about seeking, finding, pursuing or losing love.
There is nothing wrong about LOVE. The problem comes when we have a distorted idea of love.
If you visit the Philippines, dear sisters, don't be surprised to hear people say "I love you" often. It's good to hear that three magic words, but proving them is another thing.
Love is more than an attraction to a person. It is not just a feeling. It is an action word of showing importance to another person. As a noun, it is a decision or a commitment.
Where is LOVE in the rising number of teenage pregnancies and single mothers?
Where is LOVE when men become fathers to multiple firstborn children from different mothers?
Where is LOVE when the impregnated women are left alone in raising their "unwanted" children?
Where is LOVE when there is abuse within the relationship?
So many questions to ask to test those declarations of love.
I've been in relationship with my husband for almost ten years. We'll be celebrating our seventh anniversary this year. I learn that it takes preparedness and maturity to enter marriage. We are raising two children. The eldest has special needs. It is not the happily ever after the Fairy Tales promised. Marriage takes real, mature LOVE.
Young lovers cannot see the reality of love. Weddings are grand celebrations in our country. It's the highlight of the undying love for each other to be celebrated and witnessed by family and friends of the couple. Sadly, they invested and prepared for the wedding more than the marriage itself. After the honeymoon period, reality strikes. No one is putting their best foot forward anymore. Disappointment comes when their “ideal” partner is as ordinary as they are.
My heart breaks for those young people who blindy enters relationships in the name of love. Attraction and the thrill of finding the one is great, but commitment for the relationship to work requires deep work. It means accepting your partner for who he/she is and being his/her safe space; that when things go wrong, both of you work them out with respect.
If I could speak to younger ladies, I would tell them to love themselves wholly first, to fill that lack within them and pursue their passion and become their own version of what a woman is. Don’t rush in finding someone to love.
If they were wounded and abused in the past, I would advise them to process their healing first. Because finding a man to love or be loved cannot heal that wound. It is like putting a Band-Aid to a broken limb.
I know what I'm taking about because I entered marriage thinking it was the next thing to do on society's checklist. I thought I could just block my traumas away and moved on to a new civil status. But marriage is not the answer. We cannot run away from unresolved issues. The more we block them, certain circumstances will trigger them back.
It is a blessing that my husband has been instrumental in processing my healing journey and I to him. We didn't start as romantic partners who date on Valentine's Day. Our wedding day was a simple gathering. We're two misfits who established shared goals and values.
It’s disturbing that many relationships and marriages today lead into heartbreaks and depression. We read news of suicide cases because of rejection, friendzone, breakups.
Dear sisters, Love lives within each of us. The first recipient must be ourselves. It is not selfish; it's necessary for we couldn't give what we do not have.