Rina came from a very loving family. She grew up in a household where everyone was vocal about what they felt. They’re very open and it’s very normal for them to say the words ‘I love you’ to each other, kahit pa sa text lang. Her Ate Irene was the only one who rarely says those words, pero may mood ito na randomly would just say it out of the blue. Rina loved saying it, but she loved it more when she hears it.
The first time Rina said those words to someone other than her family was Jeno. Even though they were already officially in a relationship for half a year, they never said it to each other. It was no problem to Rina kahit na alam na niya sa sarili niya na mahal na niya si Jeno. It’s also not a problem if ever she was the first one to say it to him.
Rina was just looking for the perfect timing. Ramdam rin naman niya na mahal siya ng lalaki. Jeno has always showed it through his actions. Maalaga ito, attentive, at marunong makisama sa pamilya niya at mga kaibigan. There were more reasons—but it was that night when they were on a trip with his family when Rina realized hindi na niya kayang patagalin pa.
Rina wanted Jeno to hear it. She wanted him to know that she loved him and it didn’t matter to her what his reaction would be.
The trip with his family was the first time Rina went out of town with his boyfriend. Usually, sa bahay lang sila, dates outside, pero may curfew pa rin. For this trip, ipinagpaalam siya ng boyfriend sa pamilya niya at nangako na he would take care of her.
To ease their mind, Jeno even told them that his parents were conservative so they did not need to worry about them sharing a room. Rina just shook her head sa biro ng nobyo. It was true, though. The two nights, one-day trip sa subic with his family, Rina would be sharing a room with his little sister.
It was a very nice trip. Gusto siya ng pamilya ni Jeno and she got along with them well especially with his mom and his little sister. Even though they were with his family most of the time on sa trip nila, it was the happiest she’s been with Jeno.
Rina felt very welcome and she’d like to be part of that family someday. She knew she was thinking that far ahead sa future, but if ever it happened, hindi na siya tatanggi.
That’s how Rina is when she loves someone—she loves all of their every being at kahit pa ang mga taong nakapaligid sa mahal niya.
On their last night, Jeno arranged a dinner on the beach with just the two of them. There were flowers, music, and a candle-lit table. He asked her to dance after they ate dinner. May staff kasi sa resort na kumakanta at tumutugtog para sa mga ganitong okasyon.
Albeit shy, and embarrassed, Rina danced with him. She couldn’t stop looking at him and hindi na niya napigilan ang nararamdaman.
Rina blurts out those three words.
“I love you,” Rina whispered. For the first time, she said those words to Jeno. She wasn’t expecting anything, not even for him to say back those words because for now, she wanted him to know.
Mukhang nagulat naman si Jeno sa sinabi niya pero maya-maya lang ay humigpit ang pagkakayakap sa kaniya ng nobyo at ngumiti. Jeno nodded, and then proceeded to kissing her.
Jeno didn’t need to say anything—ayun ang paulit-ulit na sinasabi ni Rina sa sarili niya. Ang mahalaga, he was able to show her kahit pa through his actions lang.
Rina knew Jeno can be reserved too at times at hindi rin talaga ito masalita. Rina was the one who kept on showering him with words of assurance in the relationship while Jeno did the actions.
It was okay. Minsan, pinipigilan ni Rina na sabihin ang mga katagang iyon kay Jeno after the first time she said it to him. Natatakot kasi siya na baka ma-pressure ang lalaki. Minsan, nasasabi niya ito nang biglaan pero ngingiti lang ang lalaki at hahalikan siya as a response.
Rina couldn’t help, but think though. Wala namang ginawa na masama sa kaniya si Jeno, pero she knew at the back of her mind, hindi siya kuntento. Rina asked for her friends' view on this.
RJ said na baka nga hindi pa handa si Jeno. Saying those words meant that you’re making a promise too hindi lang sa partner mo pero sa sarili mo. Sabi rin ni RJ na baka kailangan niya kausapin ang boyfriend tungkol dito kahit para lang mapanatag ang loob niya.
Giselle thought the same. If they were not on the same page, it would probably become a step back kay Rina. Giselle asked Rina if she can wait for him if ever that was the case.
Rina couldn’t answer. She would, but she’s not sure hanggang kailan niya kayang maghintay.
Lia then stepped in. “It’s been what? Almost a year, Rina. I get na words are not the only way to let someone know you love them, pero...hindi ba parang you’re dehado dito?”
“Maybe I’m pressuring him,” sagot niya lang.
“You’re not! You shouldn’t hold back just because he’s not ready. I mean, hindi naman niya ikamamatay kung marinig niyang mahal mo s’ya,” pag-irap ni Lia. “You’re not even asking for him to say it back, you just wanted to understand.”
“Both of you should talk, Rina. Hindi p’wede na he’s just ignoring you whenever you say those words. If he’s not ready, he should tell you.” It was Giselle. “And ikaw rin, you have to be ready for whatever his reason might be.” Dagdag pa ni Giselle.
Her friends made sense. So, Rina decided. She has to talk to Jeno and at least try to know if may pupuntahan ba ito. Jeno’s committed to her, she knew that pero it’s still different when you both feel the same in sa relationship.
Rina’s in too deep para bawiin pa ang sinabi niya. At hindi rin siya ‘yung tao na binabawi ang mga binibitawang salita.
Rina got the perfect timing. They were alone sa bahay nila and they were just watching a movie sa entertainment room nila when she finally opened it up to him.
Rina was so nervous pero pinilit niya ang sarili.
“You know I love you, right?” She asked. Jeno turned to her and look at her straight into her eye. Naramdaman niya ang paghawak nito sa kaniyang kamay.