DARAGA, Albay – As more and more Filipinos turn to online dating platforms to find love at first swipe, algorithm-driven matchmaking is rapidly invading the human domain of romance.
In this technology-saturated world, can love still find its way outside of dating apps?
Three young couples share their love stories, from their old-fashioned meet-cutes to their eventual I-dos, proving that it is still possible to meet a lifetime partner beyond Cupid's digital code.
A family-initiated romance
When Shyla Galicia, then 18, asked John Wilson Queding to define love in 2009, the then-17-year-old engineering student at Bicol University timidly said, "Love is shy."
"When he uttered those words, I just knew he was the one. His humor and personality just resonated so much with me," the glowing wife said.
As a confessed introvert, Shyla revealed that it took almost a year before their romance bloomed as her husband is also a very reserved man.
"I knew he liked me because I would often catch him stealing nervous glances whenever we had classes together, but he just couldn't make the first move," she said.
Looking back, Shyla credits John Wilson's sister for playing Cupid, as she was the one who broke the silence between them when she asked for the former's phone number.
That simple connection became the impetus of a 13-year relationship, which eventually led to the altar on Jan. 21, 2023.
"Never underestimate the power of family matchmakers. They are the best at finding your partner because they know you inside out and have your best interests at heart," Shyla gleefully said.
Love in the heart of volunteer work
Joanne Agbuya and Paul Mercado first met at a mission outreach for the Dumagat tribe in Sitio Quinao, Rodriguez, Rizal province in 2019.
As a Sunday school teacher at a Christian church in Manila, Joanne volunteered to share the gospel with the adult members of the indigenous group, while Paul signed up to document the outreach ministry.
For years, Joanne has prayed for a man after God's own heart.
Little did she know that God had laid down His answer to her during a three-hour, grueling hike to a remote village while responding to a call to preach His word.
Now married for almost a year, this 32-year-old wife encourages single ladies to get involved in activities that cater to their interests while they are still in the season of waiting.
"If you want someone who’s into sports, then join sports events; if you want someone artistic, attend art exhibits. The important thing is to put yourself where your values are," she said.
On May 12, 2023, two beautiful souls tied the knot in a beach wedding ceremony in Bolinao town, Pangasinan, proving that love can be found while doing acts of service for God and His people.
Set up by mutual friends
One day in 2021, little miss baker, Jan Nica Rivero, owner of Sweetness Overload Bakeshop, received a cake order from a certain Robert Patrick Bondoc.
The message read, "Hi, available March 21?"
But what might have seemed like a chance encounter was, in reality, orchestrated by mutual friends to get these two very single people into Coupleland.
In retrospect, Jan Nica, 35, admits that stepping out of her comfort zone and establishing a connection with a man four years her senior is the key to finding her lifetime partner.
"I didn't like him at first, but he was a very patient and persistent man," the petite baker said.
As a woman who has been single for six years, she said giving love a chance was a gamble that she was willing to take back then because she saw her now-husband's effort and sincerity.
On her wedding day, Dec. 13, 2022, Jan Nica was the reflection of a happy bride, convinced that her decision to open herself up to the possibility of finding love was the best decision she had ever made in her entire life. (PNA)