DNX Culture | Love, life, and corona

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Hannah A. Papasin
Writer. Critic. Professor. She started writing since primary school and now has two published textbooks on communication. A film buff, she's a Communication, Media Literacy and Journalism Professor of the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod, and has a Master's Degree in English.

He is 26, a fresh architect, with looks that could rival a movie star’s.  She, on the other hand, is fresh out of college, a face model for a derma clinic.

“I was one of the hosts for a noontime talk show then at [name of TV station], and so was she,” he tells DNX.  As he says so, he leans closer towards her, holding her eyes in his, not once looking away.  The entire interview has his glued on her, a goofy endearing smile plastered on his face.  The look of the man in love.

“She was the one who asked for my number first,” he jokes. 

“That was because I didn’t know anyone then,” she protests, as they laugh together.

To be young and in love.

Paolo and Geraldine Tiongco are perhaps two of the most recognizeable faces in the city today.  Paolo is just starting as architect, having passed the bar two years ago when they were just dating, approximately at the same time that Geraldine discovered that she was pregnant. 

Both have gained a mid-wattage celebrity status, a kind of recognizeability that goes beyond their circle – he, as a young and upcoming (and very good-looking) architect, and she as a model for various named brands.

But what is inspiring is how they managed to find each other, fall in love, and really made the brave decision to raise a baby all while economies are falling down, where unemployment at all-time low, businesses closing, and countries are on a tight race to combat a pandemic.

They met when she was 14, and he 18.  It was not exactly love at first sight.  For one, the age difference seemed like too wide a gap for them.

They were working as talents in major media company, and Geraldine admits that she had no choice but to ask for Paolo’s number because she was too cowed to approach everyone else.

“He was very kind, very approachable,” she says, “I asked for his number, and he thought it was because I had a crush on him.”

For Paolo’s part, he admits that he did find Geraldine beautiful then, but that was that. They were after all in an industry filled with beautiful people, and besides, each of them were currently with their respective partners.

Their past crossed again in 2019, both older but no less attractive.

“I was struck by her personality, by the way she talks, the way she moves.

They had a whirlwind romance, and by middle of 2020, Geraldine found out she was pregnant. 

He was ecstatic because the baby news came at the time when the results of the architectural board came out.  For Paolo, it was one good news after another; for Geraldine, it was anxious news, as she was thinking how she would tell her parents.

But they opted to start their small family despite the odds and the little glitches (or amid it).  One glitch came in the form of the COVID, which Paolo caught at the time when Geraldine was about to give birth.

“I was prepared to be by her side when she gives birth, but I was isolated instead,” he recalls.

Still despite that, and despite their relative youth, the young couple managed to thrive despite the odds, at the time when others have all but given up.

That they are in love is a given, but love is just one factor.  Both are scrappy, creative, and inventive in finding ways to earn.

For instance, Geraldine has taken to cooking during the pandemic, putting her skills to good use by putting up Eat N Burp G&P.

Paolo, for his part, has had not run out of clients despite the pandemic.

“He is very hands-on,” Geraldine says of Paolo, as she shares the secret to their success as a couple.

Paolo for his part shares the secret to a happy thriving married life.

“A happy wife is a happy life,” he shares, laughing, “and that is exactly what I am striving to do.”

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