For several years, he was jumping from one relationship to another. But there has always been this one girl he could not forget–this sweet, quiet probinsyana he first met as seatmate on his freshman year.
Carlo and Rhea were classmates on their first year of Engineering in UST. On their first day of classes, Carlo, with his surname Albelda, was surprised that he didn’t get to be seated first when they were all asked to be arranged alphabetically, but instead was overtaken by a Rhea Abratigue–this shy girl from the province. Carlo tried starting conversations with this new friend but quiet as they both are, all they had most was a few exchanges. On the other hand, Rhea felt something special the first time she saw Carlo; she thought he looked nice and neat. “But that was just it!” Rhea made clear.
“Well, honestly, during our first year I was not totally attracted to her, Haha!” Carlo joked, “due to the fact that she looked like a typical girl who came from the province. But I saw the goodness in her and somehow it started from there.”
You knowhow it is with first days, first year high, and first impressions. They usually mean much more.
For the rest of the semester, the two became friends, although they were quiet most of the time. Carlo had developed a small crush on Rhea and started making sweet, little “da moves” to catch her attention. “During our drafting class, I used to borrow items from her–eraser, rags, tech pen, anything, just to make her notice me a little,” Carlo confessed, “I always find a way to compliment her work which was always neat and clean, unlike mine which was always dirty and messy.”
Carlo would also ask Rhea for study dates; she would teach him about algebra and formula and stuff. And stuff, if you know what we mean. “Or should I say that it was just his black propaganda to get closer to me,” Rhea claimed. “We became closer after that.”
But Carlo decided to drop out of the program after the first semester. Engineering was not really his thing. “It was actually quite sad,” Rhea said, “but good thing we never really lost communication even when he was away.” The two would keep their connection over text and occasional meetings during UST Paskuhans and other events. But the two lived mostly far from each other, even had relationships of their own.
Which brings us to talk about Carlo and Rhea’s history apart. His first relationship came during their first year in college. Rhea even saw him out with his girlfriend once. “We didn’t mean to bump into Rhea and her friends that time. Anyway, it was then that I got found out to have a girlfriend. Haha!” He shares. After some time, Rhea had a boyfriend, too. And so Carlo also moved on with a new girlfriend when he was already back home in Bataan. The two however reconnected through Friendster, but stayed in their respective relationships meanwhile. Carlo ended his relationship with his current girlfriend and decided to meet again with Rhea. But shortly after that meeting, Carlo had another girlfriend. Sadly, it still was not Rhea, and this hurt her a lot. Nevertheless, they still carried on as friends. Carlo would visit his girlfriend who was studying in Manila and, along the way, he would also make time to see Rhea.
But it was around that time that it finally hit him: Rhea was the love of his life all along. It has always been her. “During that time, I couldn’t get Rhea out of my head. I knew that she was the one,” Carlo related.
After three months into the relationship, Carlo broke up with his girlfriend and decided to seriously pursue Rhea. “I made a decision–this time, I will not let go of the woman I want to be with for the rest of my life.”
Finally, Carlo found the courage to confess his feelings to Rhea. “It was a sweet confession when he–after three hours of struggling to get the words out of his chest–finally said ‘I love you’,” Rhea recalled, “But still I wasn’t able to say Yes. I just felt that it was not yet the right time.”
But as you know, love comes like a surprise. Like a firework. It was in no time when Rhea’s heart lighted up with love for Carlo. “Suddenly, I just woke up and realized that he was really the one I was looking for.”
Rhea continued, “I was watching the fireworks from the third floor of our dorm and received a call from Carlo. I just felt that it was the perfect time for both of us. I said Yes finally! It was such a romantic night for both of us while the fireworks display contributes a big part. I felt how happy he was after he heard the word ‘Yes, I love you, too.’ And that was the start of our sweet, happy, light relationship.”
Carlo and Rhea took their time through their remaining years in college and after graduation went to Dubai where they settled and worked. One Valentine’s day, after two years of working overseas, Carlo felt it was time to pop the question. He took Rhea to a posh Italian restaurant, went down on one knee and with a beautiful ring asked her to be his wife.
“I immediately said YES and suddenly I was brought back to the time when he first uttered the words ‘I love you’,” Rhea lovingly recalled. “This is it, I’ll marry the best man on earth and I’m amazed at how God managed to give me such a wonderful gift. I am so blessed with everything in life and I couldn’t thank Him enough for that.”
It was a long stretch of years, of trying to chase love from one place to another, only to find it in the seatmate they have known all along. So here’s to the many years to come, Carlo and Rhea! May God bless you both with more love, joy, fireworks!
Shooters: Mich, Arjay, Jelyn
Reception: Taal Vista Hotel