'MayniLOVE'. The word 'love' is spelled in big letters and attracts people visiting the 'MayniLOVE' in Mehan Garden in Lawton, Manila on Thursday (Feb. 11, 2021). Lovers, friends and even single people can celebrate love through different attractions for Valentine's Day. (PNA photo by Marita Moaje)

MANILA – Safe physical distancing has been one of the most used phrases since the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic started.

However, not even the pandemic can dampen the way Filipinos celebrate and find love as Valentine's Day is just around the corner.

As soon as the Mehan Garden in Lawton opens at 5 p.m., this place in Manila turns into a haven aptly called 'MayniLOVE' not just for lovers, but also for friends and singles who are ready to mingle.

For some single people who visit the area, being alone does not mean being lonely.

“Naghahanap, joke lang! (looking, oh it’s a joke!),” said Baby, a Manila resident, asked her why is she not with someone.

She said she does not feel ‘out of place’ in dating places like the Mehan Garden.

“The first person you have to love is yourself you can always go on a date with yourself it doesn’t have to be with someone else. Love yourself, date yourself on Valentine's Day,” she said.

Meanwhile, couples on a date in the area try their best to observe health protocols.

Okay pa rin sumusunod sa protocol, titingnan lang namin kung anong meron anong ganap. Siguro iisipin pa rin yung safety at the same time i-enjoy yung araw (It’s okay as long as we follow the protocols, we will just look around. Maybe we will still enjoy the day without forgetting our safety),” the young couple Luigi and Bea said.

Meanwhile, Reggie and Jaime Sarmiento, who have been married for 37 years, advised spouses to go on a date whenever there is an opportunity to let each other feel the spark of love.

Talagang pag ibig, pagmamahal sa isa't isa, tiwala tsaka kailangan si God ang nasa center ng relationship (True love for each other, trust, and of course, God should be at the center of every relationship),” the couple said.

Mehan Garden in Manila was renovated by Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso to give people a place where they can stroll and enjoy the day in the middle of the bustling city.

For the love month, residents and non-residents alike may enjoy the place to the tune of love songs being played, a beautiful fountain as the backdrop, and stalls where one may buy flowers for their date, gifts like perfume, and food in case they get hungry.

Funny and relatable ‘hugot’ text walls are also around to add to the mood.

There are also three-dimensional walls where people may have their pictures taken for an out-of-this-world background.

To ensure that minimum public health safety protocols are being followed, Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau personnel were assigned in the area.

Dito sa Maynila sa ginawa ni mayor na pasyalan dito sa Mehan Garden, pwede silang mamasyal dito kaso lang wag sana nilang pababayaan yung lugar kung pupunta sila dito, lahat ng policy kailangan nilang sundin (Everyone is welcome here in Manila, in Mehan Garden that was rehabilitated by the mayor, but they should take care of the place and follow the policies being imposed),” said Edgardo Coronel of the MTPB. (PNA)