All love affairs begin with a meeting. Boy meets girl, boy meets boy, or in the case of Cheen and Myla Javier, girl meets girl.
According to Cheen, “We met through a common friend, a college classmate of mine and a close friend of Myla. At that time, I was still in college in the Philippines, and Myla was based in Alaska, USA. Our mutual friend was just going back and forth to the Philippines to finish her studies. In one of their casual conversations, our friend mentioned me to Myla, saying she has a friend that’s also in a same-sex relationship. Myla said it was 2012 when she saw me in one of that common friend’s Facebook posts and was “intrigued” about me. It definitely was just a harmless ‘I think she’s cute’ feeling for her given that both of us were in a relationship with different partners at that time. Fast forward to March 2014, Myla and our friend visited the Philippines for a short vacation. Our friend arranged dinner for our college group of friends, it just so happened that Myla and her then-partner stopped by at the restaurant where we were at, and that was our first ever meeting in person. I think fate took its course because my then-partner and I broke up in June of the same year, while Myla and her ex were not on good terms around that same time. Towards the end of July 2014, Myla sent me a Facebook message that said ‘Hi.’ I responded and we talked for about 10 hours straight, and that’s how it all began.”
On Myla’s end, the story goes this way, “My friend kept telling me about her college friend who was also in a girl-to-girl relationship, and that sparked my interest in Cheen. She would show me pictures and tell me stories about her and eventually I had a little crush on Cheen. I always planned for my friend to introduce me to Cheen when she had a chance. So when both of us had that vacation in the Philippines in March 2014, and they had dinner with their other college friends, I pretended I was going to give my friend something just as an excuse to go there and meet her. I was even with my ex when I came into the restaurant. Then my friend introduced me to all her friends. I made sure to shake everyone’s hand just so I could touch Cheen’s hand, then I put my hand inside my pocket so I could preserve the touch of her hand. It was just a quick meet-up, then after that, I started adding mostly everyone in that get-together on Facebook, including Cheen. Fast forward to July 2014, I became single and had a chance to send a friendly message to Cheen on Facebook and said ‘Hi.’ That was the start of our unending messages and our love story.”
This spark must have been set off by particular personality traits they love about each other and for Cheen these top three things about Myla can be enumerated without a second thought.
“I would say her kindness, dependability, and her caring personality are the three things I love about her the most. She has consistently taken good care of me from the beginning of our relationship to this day. She never fails to make me feel loved the same way she did from the very first day we talked up to now, even being seven years into the marriage. I would still randomly get flowers, coffee, or other small surprises from her. I love how caring she is as a person, not just towards me but also to the special people in our lives.”
On the other hand, the things Myla loves about Cheen are quite simple, “I love her cute gestures, thoughtfulness, and her clever brain with a great sense of humor.”
While the relationship began face to face, it was, for the most part, long-distance as Myla lived in the United States. However, it’s as if fate had plans for this couple. “It was a bit of a challenge at the beginning of the relationship because we were so physically far apart (literally far and approximately 5,304 miles apart). Being the clingy person I am, I didn’t know how we would make the relationship work. Fate was really in our favor because, on October 12, 2014, the State of Alaska (USA) started legally recognizing same-sex marriage. So Myla was able to petition me to live permanently in the US,” recounts Cheen.
That moment when you know the other person is “the one” happened almost immediately for Myla. “I knew she was the one I wanted to marry when we first talked. She told me stories about her life that made me want to make her happy for the rest of her life,” she says simply.
Cheen adds, “Everything happened so fast between us. It was July 2014 when we started talking; then Myla visited me and stayed in the Philippines for a month back in September 2014, and that is when we officially became ‘together.’ Myla then came back to the Philippines in April 2015, and that is when she proposed to me. I believe it when people say that once you’ve found your person, you’d just know. It’s just so easy being with Myla. She makes me feel at home regardless of where we are in the world. I am comfortable and able to be myself around her. She gives me these feelings of calm, peace, and happiness that I’ve never felt with anyone else. I really can’t remember the exact moment I knew she was the one; it was more about the small things she did and the feelings she made me experience that led me to the point that made me think, “If this is the person I am destined to be with for the rest of my life, I am perfectly okay with it.”
Although same sex relationships are quite common, especially now, was there any hesitation whatsoever in their minds and hearts about this relationship? Myla shares that she’s been fortunate to live in a “free” country such as the United States, so it has never been an issue to her. While understandably, due to her family background, there were some for Cheen, “I grew up in a religious family that’s very active in church activities, so there were definitely hesitations and fears that I might be judged and get rejected. It came to the point that I was asking myself if loving a person of the same sex made me a bad person, but I eventually learned that I had to fully accept myself first before everyone else does. I realized that as long as I am not intentionally hurting others, not stepping on anyone’s toes, and always striving to be a blessing to the people around me, I am entitled to choose the person I want to love.”
Now happily married for seven years and residing in the United States, there have been, of course, the usual ups and downs in their relationship. What got Cheen and Myla through the difficult times through the years?
Cheen shares, “I think the biggest factor that really helped us go through challenges in our relationship is having constant open communication with each other. It was important that we let our guards down and were both willing to become vulnerable because that’s how we got to know each other and brought our relationship to a deeper level. This made us better understand how each other’s actions impact us to learn to recognize each other’s emotional state as a way to process our emotions and behavior. Being married to Myla for seven years, I learned that staying in a relationship means choosing your partner every single day. It is a never-ending process, but we both know that as long as we have each other, we can get through anything together.”
For Myla, it was their love for each other that got them through the ‘downs.’
“It took us much effort and sacrifices for this relationship to work out despite the distance and the situation,” she says. As the years go by, seven years will become 10 and then 10 will become 15 and so on. How do they envision themselves as a couple five to 10 years down the line?
“I know that in the future, we will still be different individuals who love seeing each other grow and learn about life together. I’m hoping that in five years, we will have already checked off many of the items on our huge bucket list!” says Cheen.
“We love to travel, so hopefully, seeing more places that we have never been to and working on our dream retirement home in the Philippines,” Myla adds.
From the day they first met, till today on their seventh year as a married couple, it looks like Myla and Cheen are fortunate enough to have known true love. “True love is accepting each other, including the good and the bad. True love is wanting the best for each other regardless of what that means for both of you,” Cheen shares. “True love is seeing your partner beyond their imperfections,” Myla adds.
Would they have a message for couples who might be in the same situation as they were before they made the commitment?
“Life is short so always choose the things that make you happy! Carpe Diem,” quips Myla.
“Just go for it. Remember that the people who love you will love you unconditionally and will accept you for who you are, and those who won’t, do not deserve your time and efforts. Surround yourself with people who make you happy. People who make you laugh, who help you when you’re in need. People who genuinely care. They are the ones worth keeping in your life,” advises Cheen.
Photos courtesy of Myla and Cheen Javier.