Love Stories Made In Boracay

Here’s why some Boracay Island couples believe that “Love is sweeter with a dash of sea salt!”

By Freida Dario-Santiago


LET’S FACE IT: Love is a lot of things, but all would agree that it is perhaps the most powerful force in the universe.


It could drive one to climb the highest mountain, and could also drive one insane enough to jump off the same mountain. Please don’t. The thing about true and unconditional love is, it overcomes the insanity and empowers us to fight for love. As the Bible says,

“If I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1. NIV)

To celebrate Valentine’s “Love” month we asked some Boracay couples to share the love by telling us how Boracay Island played Cupid in their romantic love stories, in hopes of inspiring young couples and hopeless romantics to believe that love is indeed “out there” and could be waiting for you in Boracay!


Q&A:

  • How did you meet? (Meeting)

  • Was it love at first sight? (LAFS)

  • What was it about Boracay and the setting that enhanced your attraction and relationship – then and now? (Boracay)

  • What are the challenges and perks of having a relationship in Boracay? (Challenges & perks)

  • What is the most important factor in a relationship? (Most important)

  • The secret to your relationship? (Secret)

  • What was the biggest challenge so far, and how did you overcome it as a couple? (Biggest challenge)

  • How do you see your future? (Future)

  • Your advice for young and new couples? (Advice: new couples)

  • Your advice on a happy relationship / marriage, and to keeping the flame alive? (Advice: keeping the flame alive)


BONG & AMANDA TIROL

Bong (46) is a businessman and a Director at Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa while Amanda (42) is a successful wedding planner. They have been happily married since 2002 (17 years) and have been together since 1998 (21 years). Bong has been coming to Boracay since the 70s. They have been living on Boracay for 15 years. They have three children: Sasha (15), Lucas (12), and Ethan (9); and a toy poodle named Charlie dog (4 months).

Meeting:

During Amanda’s modeling days, she accompanied her friends to a “go-see” for the MBA team of Fil Estate of which Bong was the general manager called the Pasig Pirates. She got the job. Bong called her and asked her out three times and she turned him down each time. He abolished the position.

LAFS:

Bong: Love at first sight is real 😄and we became best of friends after.

Amanda: He never asked me to be his girlfriend. We went out to dinner at the old Dos Mestizos and he introduced me as his girlfriend and that was that.

Boracay:

The island has always been our “love island” that continues to makes us happy since the first day we went to Boracay together.

Challenges & perks:

Living on the island always works to our advantage as we are always around each other with no

other distractions around us unlike those who live in the city.

Most important:

Communication and trust.

Secret:

Being the best of friends and we depend with each other.

Biggest challenge:

Managing our time with our businesses and careers, but we find time to travel as a couple and with our kids, as a family to create moments.

Future:

Beautiful.

Advice: new couples

Be the best of friends and always talk to each other. Communication.

Advice: keeping the flame alive

Just enjoy each other.

DOs

· Have open communications.

· Be straightforward.

DON’Ts

· Don’t lie, not even white lies.

· Accept each other for all their flaws, and love them for that.

Datu & Claire Yap Sumndad

Datu (39) was born and raised on Boracay Island and Claire (44) is British. They have been a couple, living on Boracay since October 2001 (18 years), and have been married since 2007 (12 years) and have three children: Tyler (15), Chantalle (12), and Dre (5). They are resort and land owners, and own and operate several local boutiques, and money changers. Datu is a businessman, currently a Municipal Councilor of Malay, and is a player for Senator Manny Pacquiao’s basketball games and is part of the PACMAN’s security detail in international bouts.

Meeting:

We met while socializing with friends.

LAFS:

LAFS (Love At First Sight)! 🤩😚 We eyed each other over the bar and that was it… game over! After day one we didn’t spend a day apart for about seven years!

Boracay:

THEN: The natural island magic, endless happy hour, and sunsets. The exotic beauty of the island and each other.

NOW: The many sporting activities that Boracay has enabled us to have a very healthy and active life together and with the children. We don’t go a day without heading to the beach to catch the sunset together, and having family and friends around us all the time.

Challenges & perks:

CHALLENGES: Too many beautiful people, so stay away from temptation 😉

PERKS: The stress-free, simple lifestyle. Having businesses together allows us to spend majority of the day together, and if there is stress, we can just head to the beach for a swim and to enjoy the sunset.

Most important:

Honesty.

Give and take.

Enjoy every day.

Secret:

Be thoughtful and always be supportive of each other.

Biggest challenge:

Right now, the children are going to high school in the city so we have all had to adjust to shuttling back and forth between the city and the island, as our promise is that our family sticks together wherever that may be.

Future:

Marriages always need to be worked on and we are 100% committed to working at it, no matter what. So, we see ourselves growing even closer and stronger as a couple and as a family, while gracefully getting old with the sand between our toes.

Advice: new couples

Have fun, but be good! Enjoy one another and always listen and stay faithful.

Advice: keeping the flame alive

Always praise each other’s accomplishments. Always try to understand each other, and most importantly, never stop dating.

DOs

· Laugh, cry, play, and stay fit together.

· Travel and experience new adventures together.

· Grow and learn together.

· Make each other the most important thing in your life.

· Agree to disagree.

DON’Ts

· Cheat.

· Never put each other down.

· Don’t stay mad at each other too long.

Paolo Occhionero & Susi Trischberger

Paolo (58, Italian) is a restauranteur who has lived on Boracay since 1983, met and has been with Susi (44, German) since 1999. Aside from Paolo’s daughter Tina, they have two children: Francesca (17) and Aiken (15) who grew up in Boracay. Until two years ago, they had the sweetest golden retriever named Harry and the most ferocious cat, Ella, the youngest in their family.

Meeting:

Before any delivery service, I was delivered to Paolo’s house. We had a common friend who, when I was working and living in Manila, asked me to come along on a trip to Boracay and stay with a friend of hers. I did, and after hitting my head so badly on a staircase going up Paolo’s native house, he welcomed me so heartily, and took care of my hurt head.

LAFS:

It wasn’t love at first sight, because we both were with other people at the time but we purely enjoyed each other’s company on a very different level at first. I loved his humor right away, and the pace of life Paolo seemed to have. We met a few times in Manila and got a lot closer.

Two days after we got together, I moved in with Paolo. I wasn’t even able to tell the guard at the gate Paolo’s last name, but I knew it was right to move in so quickly because this was something that is going to last, and it has, since 1999.

Boracay:

Boracay in 1999 when I came to live with Paolo was a magical place where you felt right away that this was something rare. People were so unique, so friendly, so welcoming and everyone was living the dream without having much. Paolo was surrounded by the beauty of the place, but also the people he called his friends, and I saw in him a very jolly person and free spirit that I could see myself being with. Life was always so much better with Paolo.

Challenges & perks:

I can’t really think of any relationship challenges that would come with living on this beautiful island. Boracay is a microcosmos and has the most picturesque setting. You have everything and more here.

Most important:

For us, it’s a great sense of humor.

Secret:

We complement each other. Paolo has everything I don’t, and I have everything he doesn’t.

Biggest challenge:

The biggest challenge so far was the closure of Boracay. We were so suddenly taken out of our simple but comfortable life, and also had all these responsibilities for our staff. We had total uncertainty of our future with two studying children, bills to pay and buildings to demolish and rebuild. But that was also the time we observed that we are so incredibly strong together because we complement each other in practical ways, and that we are both very lucky to have each other.

Future:

Never having ceased to amaze each other!

Advice: new couples

Share a million things together and create memories for life, but always give each other space. No one should ever not want to see their partner change. Everything does change, and that’s all part of the ride together.

Advice: keeping the flame alive

Recreating the space we had before we met, every now and then. That’s when one sees that there is something in you that has not changed. It can throw you back to the carefree beginning.

DOs

· Cook together.

· Make each other laugh.

· Talk to each other.

· Travel together.

DON’Ts

· Be jealous.

· Make each other cry.

JAKIE & MIGUEL

Undying Love By Pauline Evora

Some loves born on this small island last a holiday while some withstand marriage and children. But how many are blessed enough to say that their love will never end, despite time and beyond death do them apart? Miguel and Jakie are one of those.

Since the 80s, they never planned on staying here, never promised anything but to respect and love each other. And they did not fail. Miguel left his physical life surely with no regrets as he lived a life full filled with amazing memories. Their amazing daughter, Anaïs, the love of Miguel’s life, Jakie, along with all the friends he made through the decades around the world keep his memory alive through incredible stories of freedom, travels and love.

Jakie shares with us some bits of their timeless and undying love story.

Miguel (77 when he passed away in November 2017, American) had been coming to Boracay Island every season since 1980, while Jakie (65, French) had been living on the island since January 13, 1986. They have been together since 1986 and have since established Wiggles Boutique and Jammers.

Meeting:

I was in Beachcomber on January 15. Miguel just arrived from Manila and when he entered, everyone stopped to scream his name and welcome him. I was the only one who did not know him. When I saw him, I checked right away if there was a girl behind or next to him! A few days after, it was Ati-Atihan in Kalibo. At the time, you were standing on the beach and thumbing a boat ride (or more like waving) to reach the mainland. One boat stopped and on it was Miguel, his sister Wendy, Paolo, and Wilbec. We went to Kalibo together, drank, danced, partied. The day after, we started being together.

LAFS:

Definitely love at first sight. We had no time for courtship. The first year together, we stayed home only two nights out of 365. The rest of the time, we were partying, sailing, and cooking.

Family life:

Our daughter Anaïs, born in 1993. We had a few dogs but Midnight, our dog stayed with us for 14 years before passing away.

We got married by our daughter Anaïs when she was about 12 or 13 years old in Shangri-la. She read a poem and there were flowers. It reassured her to know that she made it official. For me, if you love someone, you don’t need to sign a paper.

Boracay:

The lifestyle. The beach from morning to night, sailing, napping, cooking, partying. It was an easy and carefree life. We had no financial obligation except when Beachcomber closed in May for the low season and we had to pay our bills. Miguel had a small restaurant and he would sell fish with rice and rice with fish! That was the only thing you could find. He always loved cooking.

Later, it was the friends we met along the way and the community that enhanced our relationship.

Challenges & perks:

There are no challenges. Miguel was a character, a strong personality! Always good hearted, he had no filter. I never got bored with him, not one day. He was always passionate about everything; religion, politics, travels… People who met him anywhere always remembered him. And our love. We loved each other so much.

Most important:

Trust. Miguel always supported me as much as I supported him. He would take a trip to Bali to see his friends and I would travel with the Dragon boat team. And the role of parents. He was always involved so much with Anaïs. Family was his thing.

Secret:

We always lived and worked together. Tolerance and respect were coming first in our relationship.

Biggest challenge:

It’s the life you are building together. Challenges are not coming everyday but you always have something to discover about the other one and adjust. It is non-stop. Miguel loved confrontations to make people think and bring a conversation. Even if he agreed with you, he’ll be the devil’s advocate to explore the other side of things. I knew how he was, so I always rolled with it.

Future:

Day by day. He passed in November 2017. He was the love of my life and it will never stop even if he is not physically here. I am carrying it inside me. This kind of flame can never die.

Advice: new couples

Tolerance, trust and work. It will always take work and concession. There is no ideal love.

Advice: keeping the flame alive

Support each other daily. It is a two-way street.

DOs

· Develop patience.

DON’Ts

· Keep on going with your own life. Share. Even if you do things with your friends on your own sometimes.

RALPH & GIRLY GASSER

Ralph (58, Swiss) and Girly (51, Filipino) own and operate Ralph’s Place and have been living on Boracay since the 80s, and have been happily married for 29 years, with three children: Anjalie (27), Karen (25) and Cammeron (14) who grew up with four-legged siblings all their lives, mostly Labradors.

Meeting:

We met around April 1990 in Bazura Bar through a common friend.

LAFS:

Yes, it was love at first sight!

Boracay:

Because Boracay was a true paradise before and it was stress-free. Every day was an adventure that we shared together. Now we have a business here and our two daughters have been helping us manage it. We make a great team!

Secret:

Because my husband knows the number one rule in a relationship: Happy wife, Happy life!

Most important:

Trust and honesty.

Future:

We hope we can travel and have more time together.

Advice:

Spend a lot of time in hotel rooms, and don’t forget the golden rule: She is always right!

DOs

· Kiss and hold each other “good morning” and “good night” every day.

· Appreciate the little things.

· Get a hammock.

· Support each other.

· Once a week, go out and drink to calm the nerves.

DON’Ts

· Don’t forget to flush

ROLDAN AND PAULINE EVORA

By Maffi Deparis

Roldan (41, Filipino) and Pauline (35, French) and have had an interesting island love story since 2007. Pauline, originally from France is a writer and stay at home mom, Roldan is a kiteboarding instructor on the island. They have two beautiful girls, Gaia and Alia.

Boracay:

The parties and sunset drumming. The energy and vibe of the island.

Challenges & perks:

The perks would be the size of the island. It’s a small community so we get to spend lots of time together. A challenge to this perk is that sometimes it’s too much! Ha ha!

Most important:

Teamwork!

Biggest challenge:

Every day is a challenge! Adjusting to being parents after being used going out and being carefree. You overcome it by working as a team.

Future:

Watching our kids grow up.

Advice: new couples

Enjoy every moment.

Advice: keeping the flame alive

Remember to respect each other’s space.

DOs

· Be patient and communicate.

· Share the daily load at home and screw on the toothpaste lid!

DON’Ts

· Don’t make coffee just for yourself.

· Don’t throw your clothes on the ground expecting someone to pick it up. And if it’s not you, you know who!

MATTHEW AND JOHANNA ROBINSON

By Maffi Deparis

Matthew (44) and Johanna Robinson (36) are establishment owners and founders of Two Brown Boys Boracay. Matthew is originally from Canada and Johanna is from Kidapawan, Mindanao. They met in Shanghai and moved to the island with their two kids Sage and Gus.

Boracay:

Having a business on the island always feels like you’re on holiday. Our kids are able to have a better quality of life and we can be part of a close community of people.

Challenges & perks:

The perks would be that you have the option of feeling like you’re on holiday. The challenge would be that having a bar business may trigger fights sometimes due to stress from work.

Most important:

Communication and intimacy.

Biggest challenge:

That would have to be Boracay Island closure. We had no assurance if we would be able to save our home or business. We overcame it by working together.

Future:

Hopefully we can put up another Two Brown Boys somewhere and be able to travel more.

Advice: new couples

There is an old saying, “Don’t go to bed angry” so if you can make up or make out, do it before bed, ha ha! Otherwise forget about a good night’s sleep. Especially us women, we tend to overthink.

Advice: keeping the flame alive

Make the effort to look and feel good for your partner. Not just physically but also emotionally and mentally. Don’t forget to treat your partner like it’s your first date, go out to dinner or to an event together – simple gestures that we neglect after being with someone for so long. Oh and lots of sexy time!

DOs

· Accept your partners mistakes and apologies.

DON’Ts

· Never bring up the past or you can’t build a future.

JUNTHIR AND RAQUEL FLORES

By Maffi Deparis

Junthir (37) and Raquel Flores (34) have been together since 1998. They own and operate Boracay Prints and a sporting apparel shop while Junthir who was born and raised on Boracay Island is currently a young SB councillor. The Flores’ are engaged and say that their wedding will be in December of 2020. They currently have two beautiful children, Yndiah and Hunter.

Boracay:

We met at church; his family was in the choir on Sundays. Let’s just say we started going to mass religiously after that meeting. Dates were always romantic by the beach; we walked everywhere and had long conversations from Angol to Diniwid. We also had picnics on the beach so we didn’t need much money for dates. Now, there are so places that you can go to, to have quality time as a family.

Challenges & perks:

I think the only challenge would be that we are both always so busy, we don’t get to spend as much time as we used to. Perks would be that on the days that we do get to have time for each other, we have a beautiful beach where we can relax and recharge.

Most important:

Trust. Always be honest with each other.

Biggest challenge:

We had to break up at one point, this was during a time when we were both unsure about our futures, but we got through it, and we were both ready to move on to the next chapter of our lives together and have a family.

Future:

We will be together until we’re wrinkly and gray.

Advice: new couples

Enjoy and cherish the moments you have with each other. Understand that when the magic and excitement fades, that’s when your love for each other is tested and you must work harder together.

Advice: keeping the flame alive

Always make time. No matter how busy you get, you shouldn’t neglect your partner. Surprise each other once in a while or go on trips, just the two of you.

DOs

· Respect each other’s differences.

· Have patience, and give each other space when needed.

· Be each other’s best friend.

DON’Ts

· Don’t try to turn your partner into someone they’re not.

Editor’s note:

Boracay Sun News would like to flood Facebook with love this month!Share your “Love Story Made in Boracay” with a photo and a short caption when we post this on our Facebook page: Boracay Sun News. Use the hashtags #BoracaySunNews #LoveMadeInBoracay.

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