*Originally published in February 15, 2006 on Cebu Daily News (with minor edits)*
My love story began with a boy and a girl who shared the same tricycle ride almost every day but never knew each other’s name. He was a pudgy first grader with a big, black rectangular box of a bag with tiny wheels underneath and she was a gangly 2nd grader.
Her uncle, who brought her to school every day in the family tricycle pitied the boy, who always stood at the corner of Consuelo Village, Mandaue City. The boy had to take two to three rides to reach his school, St. Nicholas Academy (now St. Mary’s)
in barangay San Nicholas, Cebu City. He looked so forlorn with his big bag and chub-
by features that my uncle would always give him a ride every day.
So, their journey began.
While the boy silently looked forward to his daily morning ride because he had taken a liking to the girl, it was another matter for the girl. Quite spoiled at that age, the girl did not want to share her seat with who, to her, was just a fat boy carrying a bulky bag, taking up space in the tiny tricycle.
She silently fumed because she had to sit at the far side of the tricycle’s seat to make room for the boy and his bag that he always put on his lap.
This went on for a while until the boy no longer showed up at the corner, which the girl liked just fine.
It was eleven years before their paths crossed again, this time in a jeepney.
It was a dreary night that Nov. 5, 1995, when the girl rode a jeepney bound for Consolacion. She was in tears after a spat with her boyfriend who wanted to break up
Covering her tear-stained face with a handkerchief, she boarded the jeepney and sat morosely, oblivious to anything but her grief. Or so it seemed because moments after,
she had this creepy feeling that somebody was watching her.
Wiping her tears off, she peeked from behind her hanky to see who might be staring at her. No one was paying her any attention, but still the hair on her nape sensed differently.
She turned her head to her right and looked at the rearview mirror of the jeepney.
The guy in the front seat was looking at her through the mirror with a small smile on his face.
For one reason or another, the first thought that raced through her head was: “This guy is going to be my boyfriend!”
Every day after that until February the next year, the girl found herself sharing a ride with the boy, who for some reason never introduced himself. He just smiled at the girl every time she got off the jeepney.
The girl, who had broken up with her boyfriend a day before Valentine’ s Day that year, was a bit disappointed that she did not know more about him.
Although the girl did not brood over it, he had made an impression that she could not quite shake off.
Neither of them remembered sharing a tricycle ride together as kids.
After that February, months passed without seeing each other until July 9, 1996.
It was a drizzly night. She was standing in the rain hoping to get a ride faster.
Standing under a lamp post, she got the same eerie feeling someone was staring.
When she turned to her left, she saw the same guy striding towards her and thought, “Oh, God, it’s him again!”.
Then, as if they had known each other all their lives, the boy rumpled her hair and asked if she had been waiting long for a ride.
Dumbfounded, the girl could only muster a hesitant, “Taud-taud na”. The guy answered with his usual half-smile.
He didn’t say anything and kept looking into her eyes with amusement as if he was enjoying a private joke.
The girl had to initiate the conversation and ask his name.
His name was Hardy (like the character in the Hardy Boys detective novels) and he was 18 years old and the girl was me, 19 years old then.
We had a baby girl when I was 21, Phoebe Danielle, who is now 7 years old and we got married in 2001. Two years after our marriage, we had Luke Gabriel, who is
now two years old.
Hardy and I consider that night under the rain when we first knew each other’s names our anniversary because that’ s when fate made us bump into each other again and fall in love.
After countless walks under the stars and long conversations, Hardy discovered that I was the girl in the yellow tricycle whom he had a crush on. And, I found out he was the
pudgy boy whom I loathed.
I also found out that Hardy had arranged it, so I could ride in every jeepney he rode in after that night our eyes met in the rearview mirror.
Our journey began when we were kids, two players who did not know that we were to be part of each other’s grand design.
Our journey continues as we traverse the challenges of married life.