How did you meet?
Val: We met through mutual friends. I believe it was around late 2012. I happened to be walking around school and I bumped into Joe and two of our mutual friends. They were heading off-campus to grab a few beers and they invited me to come along. It was a bit awkward actually because I barely spoke to Joe that evening since he was stranger to me.
Joe: We were both in 3rd year college when we first met at Cannan, a small hangout spot near the school. On our way there, my two good friends Renard and Daryl just kinda dragged Val along for the little hangout.
What were your first impressions of each other?
Val: Honestly, I deeply disliked him at first. Everything about him annoyed me. He has this laugh, a very hearty, boisterous laugh that can fill a room and I found it obnoxious. I think I was irked by the fact that nothing about him was restrained or censored. If he was happy, everyone knew it. If he found something funny, everyone would hear it. I was so used to people reeling themselves in that seeing someone be so completely comfortable being loud and quirky bothered me.
Joe: I had no idea how to talk to Val and I was slightly awkward around her. I honestly found her kind of intimidating. We barely talked, any conversation being very simple or introductory.
Who made the first move?
Val: I did! Haha. Towards the end of March 2013, I decided to take the plunge and just tell him how I felt. I really wasn't expecting anything from him. I just wanted to get it off my chest. And as I had expected, he politely declined my affections. To be fair to him, my timing was horrible.
Joe: Val made the first move. One day, she just said that she wanted to talk, just between me and her. She sat me down at a quiet area in the school, and just said it straight, and admitted to me that she liked me. At the time, I was going through a tough time in my life since a close friend of mine who I really liked just passed away. It caught me off guard, and I made up this really dumb story instead of telling her how it was. It basically read as a "no" from me, but I intended it to be more of, "I'm not ready. This isn't a good time."
What did your parents think of him/her?
Val: My mom thought he was too much of a goody two shoes! Haha. When they first met, she gave him a bit of a hard time. She pushed his buttons a bit just to see how he would handle it and he did great. At the end of the night, she told me that he seemed like a good guy who really loves me but that he needed to let loose a bit. As for my dad, he liked him from the very start.
Joe: My parents think she's a nice girl. They don't really have any complaints about her. In fact, when I once asked my dad about what he thinks about Val for me, he said that he'd never seen me happier, and that he never saw my grumpy self show. He was referring to when I brought her with me to La Union for new year, and I just had a great time with her.
What did your friends think when you first became a couple?
Val: Well, it seemed like everyone was just waiting for it to happen. Most of the reactions were "finally!" or "about damn time!" Haha.
Joe: Our friends made a pretty big deal out of it when they first learned of it. Maybe it's because I kept it quiet from everyone else and just surprised them later on? I can't really say why, but that following week was pretty funny with everybody kind of losing their minds over the fact that Val and I were now a couple.
What quirk about him/her initially annoyed you but now you find charming?
Val: His laugh, his gaming, his confidence, and his very competitive personality!
Joe: Val says sorry all the time, and while I did find it a bit annoying at first, I accepted it as just a part of her personality. She's just a genuinely well-meaning person. It was just the way she was. Now, when she gets all apologetic, I just go with it and tell her not to worry so much.
Describe your ideal date.
Val: I'm fairly easy to please. Just give me great food, good ambiance, lots of talking and laughing, and cheesecake and I'm a happy camper. But for an ideal date, it would be staying in, cooking dinner together, watching a movie or show then talking into the wee hours of the morning over some cold beers.
Joe: My ideal date is a great foodtrip where we just don't hold back. I've never been a fan of overly formal dates in fancy places. I'd much rather have a very casual date at a nice place where you can just eat, talk, and hang out without worry. On that note, one of our favorite places is Joe's Crab Shack at the Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. We've had a couple of dates there, and we just take our time and have a seafood feast without a care in the world.
What's your favorite memory together?
Val: Oh gosh. We have some great ones like our first date at Chef Jessie or our first kiss! I think my favorite memory was going on our first proper vacation in San Francisco then to Las Vegas. It was such fun! We ate at two buffets, explored the strip, stayed at a beautiful, fancy hotel, and got to discover a place together.
Joe: My favorite one would have to be our first kiss. We were hanging out at Bo's Coffee at Katipunan, and went up to the third floor as the sun was setting. There was nobody there so it was literally just the two of us. It seemed like the perfect moment, and we just shared our first kiss there. It was like a scene straight out of a movie.
What's your funniest memory together?
Val: There are quite a few hilarious ones like when I first tried to copy the way Joe curses which is in Tagalog and very crisp. He cracked up! Another would be when we were swimming and he tried to kiss me but had water in his mouth so he more or less ended up spitting on me.
Joe: Oh dear, there are a LOT of bloopers and funny moments. From the top of my head, one that comes to mind is when I brought Val to Wham, my favorite burger place. It was pretty early in the relationship, and I was just sharing with her my favorite comfort foods. We ordered the same thing, and I was about halfway through my burger when I asked her how she liked it. She looked at me with big eyes and an empty burger wrapper. I couldn't help but laugh at how much she enjoyed herself. I told her that I love how she can enjoy her food in front of me. It was great.
What's your favorite thing about him/her?
Val: He's such a genuinely wonderful, weird person. He is who he is and he refuses to apologize for it. He's nurturing, loyal, and loves food just as much as I do!
Joe: My favorite thing about Val is her ridiculous, almost saint-like patience. My goodness, anyone lesser would not have been able to handle me at my worst. At this point, she knows me like a book, and can deal with me flawlessly when I have my mood swings. She makes it very easy for me to make amends with her when I do wrong, but I also never abuse it as well.
What do you argue about most?
Val: When we're apart, we tend to argue more about little miscommunications, dependency, and how words have to be enough. When we're together, arguments are usually about me bothering him to do something and him getting annoyed at my little antics.
Joe: We argued about the circumstances of our engagement like crazy. I wanted to keep it on the low for a bit because of my family, and Val wanted to announce it to the world right away. It became a topic that I hated to talk about because she would always just get mad at me. We've been able to finally resolve that recently, and it's such a big relief.
Why do you call each other Bun and Opi?
Val: It all started when we discovered those Facebook sticker packs. There was one pack named 'Bun' that featured an adorable, fat bunny who was very expressive and silly. Joe mentioned that it reminded him of me. Then I found a packed named 'Opi' that featured a straight-faced rectangular bear that seemed to be awkward in all kinds of situations. It reminded me of him. So we started calling each other Bun and Opi as a bit of an inside joke and it stuck!
Joe: Oh this one is simple. We chat a lot on facebook and use a lot of different stickers just to add some fun elements. We came across these two sticker set, one was called Bun, and the other was Opi. Those characters just reminded us of each other, with me being Opi and Val being Bun.
What's your secret to handling and overcoming the struggles of a long distance relationship?
Val: Set an end goal as a couple, communicate, set ground rules, and finally, grow separately but not apart.
Joe: The key is communication, and always having the next meeting planned. We made sure to set aside some time everyday to be able to talk to each other. Now, some people may find that you're better off not talking every single day, but if you're decided on this person, then they will become your everyday. In that case, it would be much better off to get used to it earlier. As for the meetings, we would only be able to meet up every 3-4 months. One time, we met up after 6 months and decided that it was too long of a gap to wait. So we decided on the 3-4 month gap, and would plan our next meet up every time we met. We always made sure to have something to look forward to because if we left it in the open, then it really wouldn't have worked.