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Love in the time of revolution

By Neil Ramos

Love always finds a way. Even in the most unlikely of circumstance.

Joan and Pablo first met at a rally in Clark, Pampanga in 2001. She was 13, he, 18.

The two barely knew each other though both from the same community.

Pablo is a long time family friend of Joan’s, having been joining rallies with her older siblings.

“I joined the cause as a teen having heard and witnessed so many atrocities happening in our community,” Pablo relates. “It was how I met Joan’s sisters.”

Joan has long been exposed to the cause, growing up with a father already entrenched in the struggle.

“I grew up with eyes wide open,” she says. “Even at a young age I knew I would eventually join the fight.”

At the time, Pablo hardly noticed Joan.

He says in the vernacular, “She was just a kid. I never really paid her mind. Besides my main focus was the cause.”

Joan, felt very much the same thing.

“I didn’t give him much thought. He was a friend to my two ates that’s all.”

Pablo and Joan belong in the same organization, though assigned in different sectors.

“I was handling youth culture, organizing young people for performances as part of the movement. He was with the farmer’s group,” relates Joan.

Not long after, their paths would twine.

“I became an organizer,” says Pablo. “So, once in a while I would tap Joan and her team to arrange performances during our gatherings.”

It was through these repeated encounters that they would forge a bond.

“I liked it that she was very systematic at a young age. She knows how to handle matters way beyond her years,” says Pablo.

Joan, on her part, says, “I like the way he is steadfast and firm in his beliefs. I started looking up to him by then.”

Sometime in 2004, the comradeship blossomed into love.

“Even the year prior to that, we know we have built something beyond friendship,” says Joan.

Pablo says, “But we didn’t want to force the issue. The cause comes first above everything else.”

The two would live together on and off for 10 years before eventually entering sacred matrimony in 2014.

“We took into consideration a lot of things when we decided to take the plunge so to speak,” says Pablo, relating how they consulted with elders in their organization before doing so.

“We were wed under the cause,” says Joan.

As lovers fighting under a common struggle, the two shared many sacrifices.

“There were times that he’d be gone for a long time and I would get lonely,” admits Joan.

But they’re thankful the organization helps them through the trying times.

“The best thing about our union is that, unlike other marriages, ours is anchored on the cause so it doesn’t crumble as easily. We got a huge support group behind us,” Pablo maintains.

Now with two kids, the two are still active with their chosen path.

They admit they have tried “getting out” and living a “normal life” for one reason or another but they always find themselves going back to the cause.

“The more we go ‘mainstream,’ the more we realize we have to keep on fighting,” says Joan.

“Having kids made us worry even more about the future of the country,” says Pablo. “If we stop fighting for our cause, it’s like we abandoned our kids and let them simply be devoured by wolves. And who will fight for them by then?”

But would they allow them to follow the same path?

Pablo says, “Why not? It’s their choice, really. But if ever, marching the streets side by side with my kids would be a proud moment for me.”

Joan has a different take on the matter.

“I am open to the idea but I know how dangerous it is so I wouldn’t encourage it. My hope is that the fight would end with us, that after our time on the streets, our kids would never see the need to go out there and fight the same fight.”