If it’s meant to be, it’ll be.
I know you sang that first line. Go on, don’t be shy. I’m sure Bebe Rexha won’t mind. If I’m being honest, I’m singing right now as I’m writing the hardest story I will ever write.
Before I tell you the most personal detail of my adult life, I hope for you to get to know me. What you’re about to read is not just a love story, it’s a reflection. If you can keep on reading for a little while, you might find out that this story is about you, too. Or perhaps familiar to you. Maybe you’ve experienced the pains of being rejected or you’ve had to struggle through the feeling of being unlovable. And if we are talking best-case scenario, this story might give you hope or a motivation that acceptance can only come from within. After all, Wedding Kultura is not just about happy endings—it’s about real stories of endings and beginnings.
The supposed laid-out plan.
Okay, so, about me. I was a broadcast journalist. Your parents may have seen me in those afternoon primetime news, delivering live reports. You see, I wanted to be relevant. I wanted to be heard. Well, I may never solve the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle or come up with my own mathematical formula like Einstein, but I wanted to deliver something sacred to all–information. I achieved my goal for a while. I liked what I was doing and my personal life was “blooming”. I was in a serious relationship with a man who loved me, and I loved him. After 4 years of dating, he proposed to me and that was it. CURTAINS CLOSED. I FOUND NEMO. THE END. Or so I thought.
It was not my happy ending.
There was something lacking in the relationship. I could not explain it but I always knew it wasn’t meant to be the end of my story. It was just too “easy”. At 25, I had a good career, got a man willing to marry me. It was a good story but something wasn’t adding up.
The great unknown.
And so I decided to find what was missing. A decision I am now reflecting as the BEST decision I ever made. The road to having this realization wasn’t easy but if there’s one thing I wish for you to take away from this story, it’s the fact that you need to accept yourself, who you truly are, and not sacrifice growth over comfort. It may take you a month, a year or even a lifetime to find who you truly are but believe me… accepting yourself and what makes you truly happy is worth it.
I packed my bags, left the career I thought I was going to do for the rest of my life and told my lover we weren’t getting married until I figure out what was wrong with me. Some of you may find that selfish, but I think it’s selfish to marry someone even when you aren’t sure you could commit to them forever.
Love is an act, not a feeling.
While living abroad (Singapore), a question was always pressing my brain. Why did I move here? What was I missing? The answer (I so clearly see now) was revealed to me in 2015.
From being a broadcast journalist whose life was public property, I became a private corporate employee. I spent 10 hours a day, 60 hours a week working. I buried myself into working for money because I thought that was what my life was missing. But boy, was I wrong.
The piece that added up.
Let me introduce you to the missing piece. His name’s Fa’iz. By now, you’d have thought, “oh great, she’s looking for a guy to complete her. What a tragedy.” I swear to you, he didn’t complete me. He’s a worthy addition and in a few paragraphs, you’ll know why.
Fa’iz was an extremely friendly colleague. He rattled my 9-8 work cycle and became my breath of fresh air. At first, he was just teaching me how to play the guitar after work, and then eventually we became Foosball partners who later became Foosball champions.
If you ask him, he’d tell you he hated me when he first met me but this is my version of the story so I’d say he fell in love with me the first time he met me. It was obvious.
There was something about Fa’iz. I was drawn to him like a moth to light. He loves music, volunteers at a non-profit organization, handsome (of course), and has traveled the world. As if those were not enough, he’s religious. He actually talks about Jesus fearlessly. And for a girl who thought she’d met everyone, has seen everything (my previous career was glorious), this kind of person was a revelation. I grew up in a catholic family and hang with Christian friends but none of them were like Fa’iz. I knew, after hearing him talk about Jesus, that he was going to be special.
And before you judge me completely, I have ended it with that guy back home even before I met Fa’iz. So, I entertained the idea of getting to know this interesting colleague more.
Serendipity. Or not.
Every time we are together we have absolute fun. We love the same things and like the same food. We could talk through the night over the phone and still have a lot to talk about the next morning at work.
One time, when I was about to board the train on my way to the office, I heard someone calling my name. It was Fa’iz. This was not his train stop so what was he doing boarding my train? He confessed later on that he’d wait for me at my stop but tried so hard to make it appear as if it was a coincidental meeting. #smooth
He also brought me breakfast to work, (I know. He’s a real sweetheart). He’d make Nutella bread with a chocolate drink which I don’t always eat.
And the one thing that really stayed with me throughout our friendly exchanges was when he hung chocolates on my door at my house (creepy much?) to say sorry for having offended me at work. I don’t even recall what we argued about but he cared too much to find my address and bring me the one thing I can’t resist as a gesture of apology.
In other words, we enjoyed each other as our friendship turned into something deeper. It was after he said his first “I love you” that he spilled that his family was from a different religion. He was a convert to Christianity but he didn’t grow up believing Jesus. Immediately, I thought to myself that the road ahead was going to be tough.
Of tested faith.
My family was never hell-bent on making me marry someone who’s catholic. They only cared about the person’s heart. As my dad puts it, “If he is kind, respects his elders and values life… then I have no problem.”
I want to tell you that things got better despite these religious differences but it didn’t. Our relationship was not accepted by his family and I spent countless nights crying, imploring God to make us get through it. I loved him too much to end it. But without the support of his family, we won’t be able to move forward.
And in 2016, the unimaginable happened. We broke up.
My heart was shattered and for a time, I thought I made the dumbest decision of leaving an easy life in the Philippines to find what was missing.
In that breakup, I turned to religion for comfort. The very reason for our severance became my only hope. I started writing a prayer journal begging God to bring back my easy life. This was not the missing piece that I was searching for. In fact, because of the rejection, I got from his family and friends, I started thinking less about myself.
I doubted love. I rejected my own being. Was there something wrong with me? Why was I not enough?
You may have asked the same questions in different seasons of your life and let me tell you the answer—nothing’s wrong with you. You are enough. Other people’s rejection does not define you.
Finding one’s self to find love again.
I learned this as I devoted my alone time reflecting about who I really am. The time apart from Fa’iz allowed me to see clearly through myself that the missing piece I so desperately searched for was a lesson that I needed to learn. If I had stayed in my comfortable life back home, I wouldn’t have been forced to look myself in the mirror and learned to accept me despite my imperfections.
We all have lessons waiting to be learned.
While I was re-learning to look myself with admiration, God’s restoration came.
Fa’iz reached out to me and chose me. I don’t know why but he loved me more than anything.
And in that faithful day of June 2017, at the top of the Drago Crest Mountain in Thailand, he asked me to marry him. He uttered the most amazing words which I’ll keep in my heart for the rest of my days. We promised each other that we’ll face the world together… just us.
Fast forward to 2018. Like our relationship, our wedding was confronted with a storm (literally). Our planned beachfront wedding had to be relocated to an indoor venue due to a typhoon. Our wedding coordinating team did a good job in ensuring that the wedding pushed through. It was the most metaphorical way of sealing our relationship–not even a storm can tear us apart.
And so after the dust has settled and the honeymoon has gone and passed, one thing is clear. The choices we make will not always give us happy endings, but they will give us lessons. What’s meant to happen after each decision will eventually happen. That tiny voice inside you asking you to keep going despite the hardship is your friend, listen to it.
Sunshine amid the storm.
In life, you have to trust that God will shake you, break you, to make you whole. I didn’t know how big my heart could get until I learned to love the unlovable and offer forgiveness even when it wasn’t asked for.
So, is this what I was searching for? Absolutely. I’m certain about it because every night, I come home feeling committed to loving the person I am with, and our embrace fits perfectly through the night.
Today, we walk through life together, volunteering and traveling the world when we have spare time. It’s not perfect but it’s definitely meant to be.
Bride: Carmi Cavanlit
Groom: Fa’iz Malik
Photographer: Paopao Sanchez
Videographer: Team Panda Films
Stylist and planner: Carlo Abaquita
MUA: Ramil Solis