Somewhere in the sprawling urban jungle of Metro Manila…
On the 16th floor of a gleaming tower…
In a conference room that perpetually smells of coffee, freshly printed paper and stress…
Several people sit around a table, waiting for the one standing in front to finish scrawling the word romance alongside love, relationships and a few doodled hearts on the whiteboard.
"So our February issue is all about unusual romantic couples." The whiteboard-scrawler sets the marker down and turns to address the others. "Can any of you suggest unusual couples to do profile features on?"
"'Unusual' couples? Why not 'inspiring' couples?"
"We already did 'inspiring' couples last year."
"How about 'unusual and/or inspiring' couples?'"
"Um, what do you mean by couple? Should they be married or do boyfriend-girlfriends count?"
"No, they don't have to be married. What is this, the Spanish era?"
"Look, a couple that breaks up a month after we feature their relationship can hardly be called 'inspiring.'"
"You just ruled out all gay couples then."
"Get with the times. Gay couples aren't 'unusual' anymore. Pass me a donut, will you?"
"Um, what if they were celebrity gay couples?"
"I've got one! You know that congressman who was rumored to be dating a basketball player? It turns out it's not just a rumor. What if I interview them?"
"Er, let's limit our couples to people who are unlikely to send professional hitmen after us, shall we?"
"I've got one, too. There's this priest who fell in love with one of his parishioners after he baptized her second child—"
"And no couples that would result in angry letters accusing us of promoting immorality. The folks in the Mail Room hate that."
"I think I'll interview my parents."
"Your parents? How are they 'unusual' or 'inspiring'?"
"They produced me, didn't they?"
"Ah. That would make them unusual, but not quite what we're aiming for."
"Are you saying my parents are weird?"
"Let's take five, people. I need coffee, and so do the lot of you."
Dozens of coffee cups later…
"Okay, to sum up, we've got a couple who've been married for eighty years, a couple who got together because their cult leader told them to, a man who's engaged to a woman who used to be his student in grade school—Jesus, how is this even possible?—a news correspondent who fell in love with a soldier while she was covering the war in the South, a former nun and her girlfriend—are you sure these two are willing to be interviewed? Because I doubt our publisher will appreciate being excommunicated. Anyway, the only one without a couple is you, C. Can't you think of anyone?"
"Actually, I can. You guys know Ivy Lopez, right?"
"She posed for our summer and Halloween spread just last year. Of course we know her. She's a lovely person, and so easy to work with, unlike some bitchy models I've known."
"Well, do you remember the scandal some years ago involving her and that young boy? I'm going to revisit that old scandal, but this time, I'm going to let Ivy and the boy tell their side of story."
"What? Can you even do that? Ivy Lopez is notoriously tight-lipped about her personal life, and ever since that scandal broke out, she's been an even tougher nut to crack. And it's been years. How are you going to track down that boy she was involved with?"
"Who was he, anyway? Do you guys remember?"
"He was reportedly some kind of genius. What's his name? Gabriel? Gabe?"
"It's Miguel. Miguel Santillan. And don't worry, Boss. I've already called Ivy and Miguel up, and they've both agreed to be interviewed. They even said they'll bring a few photos. The only thing is, they can't be interviewed together due to conflicts in their work schedules. So I'll be interviewing Ivy on Thursday, and Miguel the next day."
"Well, that figures. They're obviously not together anymore. How can these two possibly be a romantic couple?"
The person named C simply smiles. "Trust me, Boss. From what I've heard, these two are definitely romantic."