54 min
By: ENC Leaders

Episode 20: De-romanticizing Romance

We love to read romantic stories, watch cute K-Dramas, and listen to sentimental love songs. Romance is celebrated and we look forward to experiencing it, which is a good thing! But what is the reality of a committed relationship?

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Today, we will be talking about the reality of love life. We rarely see stories or hear songs that describe the rawness and the reality of a committed relationship, because it’s hard to capture. This is what we’ll be talking about today.



Fairy tales end when the damsel-in-distress is rescued and is capped with the line “And they lived happily ever after.” But we don’t know what happens after. We don’t get to see the reality of their married life. We want to talk about that–de-romanticizing romance. Romance in itself is good, it feels good, but let’s look into it more deeply.



You just had your wedding anniversary recently, right?

Carla: We had our 11th anniversary a couple of weeks ago. If you want a picture of the reality of marriage, watch that episode on YouTube. We shared 11 words, one for each year. Sarili naming 11.11. Wala nga lang kayong makukuhang discount. But at least makakakuha kayo ng magandang pabaon for your future.



How did you start out as a couple? What is the story behind your love story?



It was kind of weird. I already knew her for most of my life because she was in showbiz, while she was oblivious of me. I saw her for the first time at church. Her friend invited her to church (listen to her story in this vlog episode). I was asked to do the altar call and Carla responded. She looked like she really needed Jesus.



Judgmental siya.



May point yun. I was thinking about all the famous people I know who raised their hands which did not translate to a changed life. So the pastor who did the altar call would usually process that decision with whoever responds, but at the time, I didn’t do that with her. I was thinking “If you want to follow Jesus, you know where to find Him.” So we didn’t meet, but that was when I first saw her. Along the way, I realized that she really changed. Friends of mine would tell me about it. I even saw an article on the Entertainment section of a newspaper. It was a weird moment for me, and it just made me repent for judging her.



It’s probably obvious that we met in church. That’s where we got to know each other; we had common friends. But every story begins with an attraction–a lookingyung tipong “Ay may tao pala dito…okay pala ‘to.” Aside from that, we were looking at each other because we were so different. Siya pastor, ministry, nerd. ‘Yan ang dating niya sakin. Siya, sinabi na niya kung ano tingin niya sakin. It’s funny ‘coz yung pagiging judgmental niya, ginamit pa rin ni God para tumingin siya sakin. Tapos yung pagka-nerd niya, ginamit rin ni Lord para mapatingin ako sa kanya. Eventually, there was this groundbreaking platform called Multiply…



Yan ang dahilan bakit wala akong college memories e. Di ko nakuha.



Yung Multiply na yan, ang maganda diyan, nakikita mo kung sino ang tumingin ng profile mo at nagbasa ng blog mo. Tapos nakikita mo ang latest na tumingin. So dun mo makikita na may isang tao na multiple times a day, binabalikan ang page mo. 


So yan po ang Facebook nung panahon niyo?


Yan na nga ang Facebook nung time na ‘yun, pero excuse me ha, puede ka maglagay ng music. 


Pag naglagay ka ng music sa blog, parang “Eto ang pakinggan mo pag binasa mo ito.” Eto ang mood ko when I was writing this blog. 


I liked to write my thoughts on Multiply. He would read them. And I would read his. Tapos we’d chat dun sa comments section hanggang parang private chat room na kasi wala nang ibang nag-uusap. So that’s where it started. It was an attraction to our inner thoughts. So parang socmed ang pinanggalingan ng love story namin. He liked me and I liked him, but we were denying our emotions because we can’t trust them (mali din naman yan minsan). 


We progressed from seeing each other, to seeing each other’s posts, to commenting on each other’s posts, to DM’ing, and finally, to chatting. Once we started chatting, there was no looking back. I think we could both feel the connection–the excitement there. Pag si Carla na ang kausap ko di ko na kaya makipag-chat sa ibang tao.


Jello: I’m curious kung sino ang unang nagkagusto.

Carla: Well, lagi depende yan. 

Joe: For her, the attraction was purely physical from the beginning (hahahahaha)…

Carla: Dapat nakikita yung mga reaction ninyo e… yung may physical jerking.

Dave: Nakita mo na ba yung bald head ni Joe dati?

Joe: That was actually a year after my accident…

Carla: Nakita ko na ang future ko, hindi pantay ang ulo niya, wow!

Joe: My hair was at that awkward stage na “Magkakabuhok ka ba o hindi?” 

Anyway, when the attraction to one another started is hard to say, because we were so in denial. We felt like nothing’s going to happen with the attraction. So even if I liked talking to her, “This is nothing…” It’s funny that people would tease us and we would be in denial. In fact, the first person who teased me about Carla, was a girl I was trying to go out with at the time. And the first person who teased Carla about me, was a guy she was dating then. And both our response was, “No! Nothing’s gonna come out of this.”



So kelan na kayo nagpakatotoo?


Well, a lot of things were happening to us at the same time, so it took a while–more than a year. It was good also, because individually, we had to deal with different things. For me, it was really because he wasn’t saying anything. I felt like he liked me, but as a rule, as long as he doesn’t say anything, I don’t assume. 

If you can’t get clarity from the other person, be clear with yourself. Be honest with yourself. Do you like him? If so, how much? Do you need to set boundaries?


Carla: We didn’t know what was going on each other’s

Joe: The next fifteen months after that was my feasibility study, if you will. “Kaya ba natin ‘to Lord?” I was surveying the land, kung may market ba tayo dyan… Naalala ko pa nagka-anxiety attack ako when yung ex niya na sobrang sikat nakita ko sa magazine, “My gosh, do I really have a chance with this person?” I was hyperventilating when I read that. 


Dave: Do you remember the time when you really made a move already?


Carla: When he decided, that was already June 2008


Joe: But I didn’t know that she was having a different journey.

Carla: Yeah, so when I was feeling that, e malay ko ba kung anong process niya, di ko naman malalaman. On my end, I was praying. And I was honest with myself na nagugustuhan ko na talaga siya. And if I continued seeing him without defining what we are to each other, I would just fall and I would want it to work already. So I made a decision to put a stop on it habang kaya ko pa. Gusto ko po mag-exercise ng wisdom. Tulungan Niyo po ako.


Jello: Hearing all this now, it seems like everything has been going smoothly. If I were a student, yan ang goals–everything was falling into its proper place, taking it slowly, ending in marriage…parang #goals, something to aspire for. That’s a good thing! We want that, but 11 years into your marriage, what were the expectations before that when you compare it with reality, hindi pala pareho.

Dave: Kumbaga, when did the magic fade?


Joe: I think what was helpful for us was that we knew that the rush will fade. Yes  we were attracted to each other, she seemed to be able to tolerate me, but do we have what it takes to go beyond that? That’s why it took so long. Do I want to love you or am I just doing this for myself? Can you really love me with the love you receive from the Lord? Is your life change real or is this a religious thing for you? That was a long process of feeling it out. For sure, it got painful.

Carla: I know it sounds very ideal, but it wasn’t like that at all. Because if we only followed what we wanted, we would have already dated long before that. But it was a whole lot of, “Hold on, let’s wait before we get into this, kesa makabasag tayo, let’s see what we could really give from our end.” And when we were already dating, one intentional thing we did was to look at both the good and the bad. We all have a tendency for both. We wanted to enter into a relationship with eyes wide open. “This guy can get this way.” “This girl, medyo nakakainis ito about her.” We wanted to see if this was something that we can say “till death do us part” to. It was very realistic from the very beginning. Our kilig moments were like a break for us. Some of our mentors would even say, “Relax lang, masyado kayong serious.” Kasi masyado kaming militant sa relationship namin. Minsan nakakalimutan naman namin mag-enjoy.

But we appreciated it in each other that we wanted to be realistic from the very beginning.

We entered in a relationship knowing that this could work, but also that this could also not work. We were open to the fact that if it doesn’t get us to marriage, we weren’t going to fight God about it. 

Jello: Noted po (hahaha).


Dave: How long did you date before you took it to the next level?


When we started dating, we were very deliberate and intentional but one thing that my dad told me before resounded to me, “Don’t look for her negatives, and ask yourself may negative pa ba ito na ayaw mo? That’s fault finding. Look for what’s good about her and ask yourself, is this enough for me to commit to her?

When people ask about her past, it was an easy thing for me to answer. There were a lot of arguments with well meaning people in my life who tried to discourage me from dating her. I told them, I’ve factored in her past and it’s not a problem for me. For me all of this was worth it.

We dated for ten months.

Carla: It took us ten months. It’s very useful to have deadlines, if that is what God wants for you. Ma-deadline kasi akong tao. And maybe it has got something to do with my past ‘coz if I factor in all the years I’ve spent with my ex-boyfriends, I thought I could have done so many things with that time. I could have been more fruitful and useful and productive. Why did I put it all in one person? And it’s not because that person is not worth it, but because it was not a purposeful time of being together. Yung sunod ka lang ng sunod sa feelings. I carried it on after that and I said, Ayoko na mag-aksaya ng panahon sa isang tao when I could do so many things for myself, for my family, for other people. Kesa naka-focus ako sa iisang tao. So I gave myself a godly deadline again with Joe. And then he proposed within the deadline so yay!

Dave: So hindi alam ni Joe na may deadline?

Carla: Wala… I wouldn’t say anything. We stayed away from manipulating the situation through our words or actions to influence the outcome. Because if this guy ends up marrying me because I influenced him even just a little bit, I wouldn’t have peace with myself. 


Dave: Your wedding video is one of those things I looked at more than once. It has been an inspiration to many. After that, when the story has come to happily ever after, when was the first fight?

Joe: It was that day. I vowed that I will not speak to her with harsh tones. I failed that vow that very evening… like five hours or six hours later? When the wedding was over and we were on our way to the honeymoon, it turns out she hadn’t prepared yet because it just dawned on her that she won’t be staying with her mom. It triggered an insecurity in me. I felt like she was putting her mom ahead of me. Sinungitan ko talaga siya and on our way to our honeymoon, I wasn’t speaking to her.

Carla: I think basically that the first year is the hardest. I realize that the hardest part about marriage is being one. Because you’re used to living your life separately and now you have to join it together. We’re not wired to think about the other person’s schedule, needs, and opinions. You have to agree which way to choose and that is a whole lot of dying to yourself. That’s what Jason Magbanua fails to capture in any wedding video.

May truth naman talaga dun sa beauty ng marriage. Reality din yun. We can tell you about the hard realities of marriage but there’s so much beauty in it as well. No other earthly relationship has changed me the way marriage has. It has brought out the best parts in me and the worst parts that He wanted to deal with.

Joe: The thing about romance is that it’s beautiful but it’s not the only. I think what messes it up is when it becomes the only. 

Even when we fought during the day, I feel so blessed at night when I look at Carla. When I think about the things she does and how she looks good doing them, I am so grateful to God to have been blessed with someone like her. 

Carla: There is also so much beauty in two imperfect people coming together and just deciding to love each other and to keep hoping for one another. That’s a beautiful thing. Better than performing and trying to be lovable to someone 24/7. That’s tiring. What breaks my heart most is when I’ve hurt him and yet he still chooses to love me. That kind of relationship is a safe space. Pag nagkamali ka, mamahalin pa rin kita. Magkasama pa rin tayo hanggang sa ma-overcome natin yan.



Do you have anything to say to our students about this?


The reason why we long for love and romance is because God made us that way–to want to be loved and to want to love others. This is God’s design for you as a human being. It is not programmed by the world. Telling you about the reality of marriage is not us telling you that you’re longing for the wrong thing, but rather to know the Source of that love and to get that love from Him. When we do, our best romantic experience will pale in comparison.

For the young men:

  1. You are who God says you are. You can do what God says you can do. In pursuing Carla, what gave me confidence in the midst of my insecurities is that if God is the one telling me to do this, I can do this. He will provide and by some miracle, she’s gonna want to be with me. Don’t discount yourself. You’re way more than wealth or appearance. If this woman hears from God, she’ll see your value.
  2. Choose well. You want a woman who knows she is loved by Jesus. Sometimes men put women in an unrealistic position or on a pedestal. If she is loved by Jesus, she’s gonna glow and it will overflow and you’ll be the first one to benefit. Men might overlook relationships that are near them because of unrealistic expectations. Puede kayo! You might actually work! 


For the young women;

  1. Choose well. But there’s a biblical perspective in terms of moving towards marriage. You have to ask, what is required of you in marriage? The Bible says, submit to your husband. So the question is, Is this guy someone who I can submit to?
  2. Seek the wisdom of the word and the church community. The heart is deceitful. We need someone to do a check and balance regarding our hearts.
  3. Enjoy! Don’t be too hard on yourself. Before I got it right with Joseph, I already got it wrong so many times before. Walang hopeless kay God. You can start anew when you actually tell God, “Lord, have it Your way.”

Listen to Anything Goes with Joe and Carla and join their Facebook community group here.

Today on Campus is hosted by Dave Estrera and Jello de los Reyes. In this episode, they are joined by Pastor Joseph and Carla Bonifacio.

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