As The Ionitas

March 2016. Birthday month.
When the Jedi Brothers came to visit.
Introducing, Alex and Stefan.


What I am trying to express in this post is my gratitude for love and life. The time these moments happened, I was in a place inexplicable. Life was scattered and intimidating. But as the universe would have it, these two souls were sent to rescue me from drowning. They served as my lifeguards, my life jackets and as I slowly sank into an abyss, they lit my way and held my soul closely to theirs.


Alex (in green), I’ve known for quite a while. Stefan (in stripes), I met during that trip. The Ionita’s will hold a piece of my heart wherever life takes me. I think it’s the first time I’m truly reflecting and writing about this time in my life, and honestly, it’s already getting me teary-eyed. And I’ve barely started writing!

Photo by Alex Ionita

Life felt so harsh before their arrival. Total drama in Manila = DRAMANILA. Certain issues with family came to life and questions swirled through my head like a whirlpool. It was a time where I sensed that no one in my immediate vicinity could understand what I was going through. When I tried to communicate it with them, they would literally stare and look at me like I was deluded. So I just kept to myself. It was a challenge just being, you know? Existence can be tiring at times. Just being who you are with company who accepts you for all your are was an alien feeling for me. I know it was something I’ve already experienced before, but I forgot the feeling of being free to be just me. Everyone around me that time, and I mean everyone, wanted me to be someone else. My family wanted me to make more money, so much pressure was put on me to lose weight, work was sullen and I was just a mess. I felt battered just being in the presence of these people. I even ran away. Because I just could not anymore.


But thankfully, there were still those very few souls who, though questioned their belief in me, still supported me to become. Those few saw something in me that I failed to see in myself. A few months back, I thanked Alex for “dealing” me while I was a mess. He aptly stated, “You were not a mess, you just lost your compass.” I thought about it, and he was right in stating that. So I told him, “Thank you, for serving as my true north during those times.”


Alex and I met while we were both studying at York University in Toronto. Time and space led us to lose touch for a while, but as destiny would have it, we were brought back together in each others’ lives. One of the many things I really appreciate him doing was when he remained in constant communication with me when my mama had a stroke and was in the hospital for seven weeks (that’s another potent story). He consistently kept me company even from far away. While I would look after mama in the ICU, alone, his messages of encouragements would come in and those would lift me up greatly.


Alex was also going through some battles of his own, on his own. But even if he was busy fighting whatever forces, he remained there for me. Hopefully he realizes that if there is any war he needs help in fighting, I will be his ally. Always, always.


At present, all I know is that he will be forever a darling in my heart and a companion of my soul. I clearly remember crying my soul to him one night at the beach. He remained still. He listened to what I had to say, but more than that, he remained. I relentlessly bared my soul to Alex and Stefan and they seemed to understand what it was saying. Even if I couldn’t quite figure it out myself yet.


Cried. That’s what I did, when we first saw each other in person after almost a decade. I cried not out of sadness, but out of the fact that I was able to breathe again with them. How could I be sad when I knew great people like them flew all the way to the Philippines to spend time? If anything, I did not feel worthy of the love that was being showered to me. I kept on questioning myself. In hind sight, it’s actually hilarious.


I remember getting out of the car, seeing his back turned from the window – he was seated in the courtyard and I thought to myself, “He’s actually here. He’s right there.” I walked towards him and my knees went weak when he hugged me. He caught me though. I felt strengthened in the sense that I did not have to hide who I am anymore. Because in a sense, my soul knew that his soul knows who I really am.


In the mornings, I would wake him up so early (while he’s on vacation) to go watch the sunrise. We would go on the boat, talk about existence, purpose and life. I felt love’s presence all around. The light enveloped the surroundings so beautiful and with majesty. Before, my body clock was always that of a vampire. But things change, I’ve learned to appreciate the mornings more. Funnily enough, the Ionitas, before moving to Canada, were from Romania. So I guess, we were in like-blooded company. (Ha!) Pardon the digression to humor, for my eyes need a break from crying while writing this post. The question I’ll have later is if I’m even going to share this. It’s one of the most (if not THE most) personal piece I’ve written here. Actually feels liberating.


As the sun rose to our delight, we would have moments of silence.


We would just soak in the surroundings and the present happening. Beauty remained faithful and ever-present.


Nature is unquestionably perfect, and so it was. We basked in the infinite wellness of the present moment by being in each other’s presence.


Even if I just personally met Stefan during that trip, I felt that I’ve known him before. There was this one night, we were laying down on the sand and looking up to the universe when we started talking about the movie, The Truman Show. How life really seemed to be that way many, many times. Then a star seemed to move, Stefan caught it and said it was a satellite. I shouted (to NASA) “Please take a photo of and email it to me!” We all had a laugh and continued to marvel at the universe.


The Ionita’s did more than just to come as they are, they brought out the “as I am” in me. Because they had no expectations of me being any other, I greatly sensed that they accepted me for who I was, who I am and who I want to become. There was no pressure to be anyone else other than myself. And that in itself is quite exhilarating.


I felt special. Moments like these are beyond the concept of kilig.


In essence, they breathed life back into my soul and love into my life. Something everyone so desperately craves for but few are brave enough to admit.


We shared, laughed, dined, sunbathed in the middle of the ocean. There would be moments of peace and quiet, and I would just ponder on all the events that had to happen just to bring us together. I’m fairly certain there’s a mathematical formula to compute the chances of events like this transpiring, somewhere out there. But at the tail end of pondering upon these moments, I just let things be, and enjoyed their presence. Ok, I mean, IMAGINE. I grew up in the Philippines, they grew up in Romania, we met in Canada. Can you even?!


The magnitude of the moments would make my heart tear with joy.


The days were a vision of true clarity.


The sun, our playmate, was cool enough to give us great visions of light.


As the waves washed all troubles away, my soul was soothed and mind was refreshed.


They are gentlemen of muse.


Our time under the sun will forever be a cherished part of me.


Though not in the photos, I’d like to share that during my birthday (we spent on the boat), dolphins showed up beside us, dancing through existence. It was a wonderful surprise from the forces unseen.


As the days came to pass and the night revealed itself, we basked in a different light.


Stars filled our vision of the sky.


There was not a cloud in the sky. It was spotless and filled with majesty.


I was enthralled.


The photos pale weak in comparison to the actual beauty of the moment.


As the moon gave way for the stars to shine brighter that night, my being was energized. With the Ionita’s, I experienced being part of shared beauty. Grabe. And in a sense, I felt beautiful too around them.


We could see the Milky Way clearly that time. I’m telling you, not a cloud in the sky.


The first night we spent together, we were at the beach and fireflies revealed themselves. While sitting by the shore, I thought I saw a shooting star so close to us, but it revealed itself to be light in a different form. A single firefly. Then as we walked back to the resort, we were led to a bush, a seemingly ordinary bush (you could see all its thorns in the light of day). All of a sudden, the plant lit up like a Christmas tree would! Then, we found ourselves in the middle of fireflies – just lighting up our world. It was such a treat! That occurrence on the first night we spent together solidified my belief that life is in deed, beautiful and that there is literally light in every living creature.


As we played connect-the-dots with destiny, I marveled at the beautiful drawing life was creating and is continuing to do so.


I am blessed to have had the opportunity to experience moments like these. SO BLESSED. That, I am aware of – and I am grateful to have the capacity to share moments like these.

End so I guess that answers my question whether to post and share this story or not.

Photography: Ritz Marie
Models: Alex and Stefan Ionita
Location: Mindoro, Puerto Galera, Philippines
Special thanks to Marco Vincent Dive Resort