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Romance is not Dead

It's February again and that means the yearly gimmicks and promotions aimed for the Valentine's Day crowd. Flashy ads and sales are a reminder that it's the one time in the year that you're supposed to show your significant other how much they mean to you. To some it has become tradition, to others, a mundane act done out of repetition. A simple thing like romance is reduced to one day out of the year when we're told to buy in to marketing ploys in order to somehow show appreciation to the one you love. Sadly many single people and people in relationships alike will tell you that romance is dead and is only for new love, and the modern consumerism and plasticky feel of Valentine's only serves to worsen the state of twenty-first century romance. Busy lives where everything goes by so fast often make people look past the important things and focus on the inconsequential. Fortunately, all hope is not lost and there are still people out there who believe that romance is alive and most importantly not confined to one day out of the year. To those ardent few, romance is simply about passion and effort in showing that important person how much they are appreciated and not about a mark on a calendar. Whether it be a grand gesture or a simple act of love, these people show that romance still has a pulse and a place in today's world, Valentine's Day or not. Here is a compilation of stories from some of those hopeful romantics who choose to keep the art of romance alive.

Jopy, 28

As most of these kinds of stories go, it started with a girl. We met at work, and we were friends who were getting closer and closer over time, bonding over books, music, films and art. And as is the case with me, I started falling for her. Things got a little weird eventually, and it seemed like all was lost.

But then seeing that I was, and am, 100% idiot, if I was going to fail at this particular romantic endeavor, I might as well fail spectacularly.

And so for her birthday I made her a book — this little zine-like thing, every page hand drawn save the cover, which I paid an artist to mock up. It took a week and almost sleepless nights, but I pulled it off.

The concept behind it was that it was an alphabet, and for every letter, I would draw something about her that I gleamed from our talks over the months — from favorite songs, to spirit animals, to schools. Therein lied both the mundane, the intimate and the ridiculous.

It was a book made up of the tiniest details, a testament I guess to the fact that, before I knew it, I had been listening to her and keeping the little things that made her “her,” all the things that I fell for, and took it to heart.

After all, we don’t fall for the big things, right? It’s the little things that stick to us.

It’s the little things that matter.

So I poured everything I had on to the page.

She seemed to enjoy and appreciate the gift.

In the end, I did end up failing. Nothing really ever happened between us except more weirdness and a dash of confusion. Maybe lessons were learned. But I don’t regret anything, at least. Not at all. It was a brilliant confirmation to myself that, when it comes to love, I am, apparently, 1000% idiot.

And that’s okay. I like that about myself.

It’s a small consolation, a little thing. But I’ll take it.

Brenda, 40

"My husband and I have been married for 15 years. The most romantic gesture we've shared before we got married is when we said our own prayer at the same time each day when we were thousands of miles apart for a year and a half. The prayer was our wish to be reunited. Now we cherish each day we're together sharing laughter, tears, joy, sorrow, failures, and successes."

Kris, 31

"As an anniversary surprise, I bought two tickets for a short cruise along Manila Bay for me and my girlfriend, some years ago. On top of being ridiculously cheap (for a cruise), it’s something that we haven’t done before so I was pretty thrilled about it. I picked her up from her house, asked her to wear a blindfold, and we took a 45 minute drive to Manila. While on the road, I gave her clues as to where we were going, to which she eagerly responded with playful guesses. When we arrived, I removed her blindfold and we both laid our eyes to an unexpected sight – the boat was no bigger than a basketball court, and the build was nowhere near what you would picture in your head when you hear the word “cruise”. Judging from the attire of some passengers, it appeared that I was not alone in overestimating the grandeur of this trip. No wonder it was on sale! Apparently, the surprise was not just for my girlfriend, but also for me. And she was laughing all throughout the ride, dubbing the experience as an embodiment of a “romantic comedy”.

We are not together anymore, but this is one of the events that I remember when I think of her. It reminds me not to dwell on past frustrations and heartaches, but rather to recall moments that made the relationship real and special, however short-lived it turned out to be."

Earvin, 18

"My most romantic gesture probably happened last year during valentines. My girlfriend had football training and told me to wake her up via phone call and book her an uber at 6:00 am in the morning. As she prepared I was on my way to her and told her that her uber was already outside. I surprised her with a potted orchid and a letter and asked her to have breakfast with me before training. We had a simple breakfast at McDonalds Katipunan cos we were kinda both broke."

Nithynanda, 30

"Travelled on my own for almost 24 hours (stopovers included) to be with my husband."

Be, 31

"The most romantic gesture that I have ever done for someone was when my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I officially became a couple four years back. On the day that I wanted to give my oh-so-sweet 'Yes, I love you!' I prepared a gourmet lunch menu from appetizer down to dessert. Little did my beau know that the dessert was actually the 'sweet finale'. I made a refrigerated cake with fruit cocktail toppings that engraved the word 'I <3 U.' When it was dessert time, I served the plated dessert on the table and he was surprised to finally hear, er see, from me the words 'I love you.' He was utterly speechless. He gave me a big, bear hug and sweet kisses."

Marco, 33

"Well mostly everyone knows I'm a goofy guy but deep inside of this goofiness there's a side of me that's somewhat romantic. I love to give the best surprises. Last surprise was when I set up a short day trip with my girlfriend after her work last year, not her knowing that I had been planning on proposing to her. So I made it seem like a photoshoot downtown (over looking Toronto)"

Kristine, 32