Sunday, February 21, 2016

Volunteer Spotlight: Kurt and Albert, Lovers at Third Sight

By Karl Faustino

Kurt and Albert were strangers to each other, until they were bound by two things: an advocacy close to their hearts, and a relationship that started with a dish they craved one fateful night - Kadyos.


Kurt recalled how, in 2013, he went searching for a group where he could do HIV and AIDS-related volunteer work. . “What popped out first when I searched for one on Google was LoveYourself, so I checked out the details and inquired if I could volunteer. Every day I followed up on my application status. Then, I was given a project to check how dedicated I was to the organization’s cause.” With a few other applicants, Kurt produced a video of Mr. Gay Philippines to raise funds for LoveYourself. Then, he became part of batch Impetus.

Albert, on the other hand, just stumbled upon LoveYourself early in 2014. “It just appeared on my Facebook feed. I barely read the details, but what I do remember was that the post was about a Summer Camp activity. I wanted to attend the event for a change and meet new people with whom I can be more of myself. I just usually hang out with my colleagues at work,” he shares.

After participating in the event, Albert figured  he liked the environment of the community and was inspired to join the advocacy. He attended the orientation under batch Sensation. A month afterwards, he met Kurt.

On Finding Love, Just Love

First sight. It was July 2014. The first encounter was a calm one. No sparks flew. Kurt was busy organizing a LoveYourself event, and Albert, then a newbie, mostly hung out with his fellow new volunteers. . Only a  few messages were exchanged through a mutual friend.

Second sight. They chanced upon each other again in October 2014. A few pleasantries were exchanged. That’s about it. 

Third sight. Months passed without anything significant or foretelling happening between the two lovers-to-be. It was only a year after when they saw each other again, in July 2015. It was, once again, through a co-volunteer’s actions that their fate became somehow sealed. 

Albert’s batchmate Rod Olete invited him and Kurt  over to his house for dinner. He prepared Kadyos, a popular Ilonggo stew consisting of pork, pigeon peas, and jackfruit. Fate had it that Kurt and Albert were both craving Kadyos at the time. 

Kurt sat beside Albert, and as a discussion on relationships ensued, Kurt couldn’t help but be mesmerized by Albert’s views. He felt drawn to Albert. “As I sat beside him and listened to him that night, it was already a “kilig” moment”, recalls Kurt. Kurt had the courage to ask Albert out not too long after that night. While Kurt saw this occasion as a date, Albert simply saw it as a simple meet-up. 

Albert, on the other hand, had issues running through his mind at the time. Albert admits that he had a set of ideals and standards when it came to searching for that “special someone”, and he is aware that these standards weren’t particularly doing any good for him. “I told myself I will try to just get to know someone without the standards that I am looking for and see if it will work”, says Albert. And this resolve allowed him to get to know Kurt even more, and the two started going out more often.

On Finally Being In Love

Three months and several dates later, Albert finally said yes. Kurt recalls how some friends and co-volunteers were asking about their relationship status: “So I asked him if I could confirm we were officially together that day. He said yes. I was so happy that time because everything seemed serendipitous. We first met in July 2014. Then we met again in October 2014. In July 2015, we met the third time, and that’s when everything started for the two of us. Then October 2015 we officially became a couple.”

Kurt looks back at how it became the longest, most challenging - yet most fulfilling - three months of his dating life: “During those three months, Albert didn’t give me any hint of his feelings at all. That scared me because I’m the type of person who’s afraid to enter a relationship without knowing if that person really loves me, too. But then I realized - if you love someone, you don’t have to expect anything in return.”

Albert was quick to remind him, “I wanted to test his patience, and assess how serious he was to get into this relationship.” Albert thought to himself that a lack of seriousness while dating wasn’t a good sign. For him, being in a relationship demanded more seriousness; so if one couldn’t be serious while dating, it definitely is an indicator of how the relationship will turn out to be.

On Sharing Love

Albert and Kurt have been thankful to LoveYourself, not just because it allowed them to cross each other’s paths, but because they were able to extend their love beyond themselves as a couple towards a wider community.

Kurt is currently the lead of LoveYourself’s Communications Committee, which handles all internal and external correspondences to members, friends, and partners of the organization. Kurt says being in a relationship with a co-volunteer has bolstered his determination to lead the committee and be a volunteer, and has given him the boost to further help people. “After all, you’re helping the same set of people together. You, as a couple, have the same cause, and you move people together,” he says. 

Now on their 4th month, Kurt and Albert are looking forward to letting their advocacy and relationship grow further. When asked about their formula for happiness, Kurt says, “I’m continuously learning to cherish the friendship more than just the intimacy that comes with the relationship. It’s all about enjoying one’s company, not about obliging yourself to do things because you’re together. You’re doing it automatically simply out of love for the person.”

Albert emphasizes the volitional aspect of the relationship: It’s a responsibility, but at the same time, it’s not an obligation one should feel coerced about. It’s about being selfless towards the relationship and to one’s partner while  also about finding time for oneself. “Time and space for yourself is always important even when you’re in a relationship. Even when you’re in love with someone, you still have to love yourself,” says Albert.

Photos: Raybert Domingo, Karl Faustino
Photo editing: Mark Long, Geno Maglinao

LoveYourself Volunteer Spotlight is a monthly feature on the cause- and service-oriented members of LoveYourself. We will be chatting with volunteers from all walks of life – all united in one cause. Keep checking every month to meet the different faces of LoveYourself.