My personal experience with a Long Distance Relationship
It all began innocently enough.
It was 2004 and I was working as a new website developer. I had belonged to some sort of Yahoo group for web developers and that was where I first met Joe (not his real name). Joe was working for a firm in Manila, Philippines and was also on this Yahoo group, seeking some assistance. Anyways, I was able to help him with some of his web issues and we began to chat. During that chat, I "outed" myself and to my surprise, Joe came out as well.
That chat turned out to be a daily occurrence, getting to know each other. Fortunately, Joe had a job which required him to be online and only had the expectation to get his work done. This meant he had a lot of free time to chat. With the time difference, Joe would come online in what was his morning, which coincided with my time in the evening, just coming home from work. We chatted daily, for an average of 4 to 5 hours a day, sometimes up to 8 hours in one day.
As you can imagine, after a year of this, we got to know each other quite well. However, was this to be my life? Chatting online every day? We both desired more, so I knew I had to meet Joe in person to determine that what we both felt was real. I felt that if I didn’t make this trip, I would forever wonder “what if?”.
The first step was to sponsor Joe as a visitor to come to Canada. We applied twice and were denied twice as Joe could not offer enough proof that he would return there after his visit.
So, if he couldn’t visit me, I would visit him. In the summer (June) of 2005 I decided to take a trip to the Philippines. What an experience that was and wow, did it open my eyes. I remember landing in Manila’s airport (Ninoy Aquino International) at 12 midnight. The heat was so intense, it was like hitting a wall when I stepped outside. There was Joe waiting for me. Our first words to each other were commenting on how tall / short we each were. LOL A long taxi ride into Makati to the hotel which I had booked online prior to traveling. Since I wasn’t able to sleep on the plane, I was exhausted upon arrival, so I quickly fell asleep.
The next day I had an amazing rooftop breakfast (again, so unbearably hot), showered and we began our day. I’ll never forget that when I walked outside, I was soaked to the skin before even crossing the street. I had never experienced heat like this. It was in the mid 30’s and 98% humidity.
Anyways we spent a couple of days looking around Manila before taking a bus to Baguio city in the north. Since this was in the mountains, it was about 10-15 degrees cooler, so much more bearable. When we travelled there were all kinds of travel advisories due to the avian influenza. This meant we were able to stay at a 5-star resort (Camp John Hay) for a very reasonable price. We spent about 1 ½ weeks together, seeing all the touristy spots, getting to know each other more and more as time went on.
But, as in all things, time marches on and it was time to return home to Canada. By this time, we had already agreed that we wanted to be together, so the plan was to sponsor Joe as my conjugal partner, under the Family class in Canada. (That same year Canada had legalized same sex marriage, so this was a door opened to us). I remember the night before I left, we had some tearful and fearful moments and we had no idea what lay ahead. The next morning Joe went with me to the airport for an early flight. He was due to return to work that same day, so he just dropped me off. I didn’t want a long, tearful goodbye anyways, so this seemed the best way to say goodbye. I still vividly remember when the taxi drove away, with Joe in the back seat, waving goodbye. I could see that he was crying. I hurried into the airport, found a washroom, sat down and bawled my eyes out. That was one of the saddest and most fearful moments in my life.
Another long flight to return home. Two hours from Manila to Hong Kong, a four-hour layover and a twelve-hour flight to Vancouver, Canada. I then had to take several buses to get to the ferry and then a two-hour ferry ride back to my home town. I remember sinking into my sofa, thinking “Oh my God, how fortunate we are here”. This trip really opened my eyes as how so much of the world’s population lives in poverty, I just saw a lot of it – hard to miss in most places over there).
Then began the real fun. Joe and I each had a lot of immigration forms to complete. After a few months of sending each other our application forms, double and triple checking everything, we finally submitted it to immigration.
Then began the wait…..
After seven months we received the sad news that our application was denied. We were told that we did not have enough proof that our relationship was genuine. Of course, we were both devastated. Joe told me that when he was interviewed at the embassy, he really felt the interviewer was disgusted by the fact that we were gay and that that was the real reason we were denied.
After a brief period of feeling sorry for ourselves, I told Joe that I was coming to visit again. This time we were going to document everything. This included: A joint bank account in the Philippines, meeting and getting letters from his family, photos of us together, letters from my friends here in Canada supporting us and verifying that they were aware of our relationship. I had receipts of my travels, hotels, meals, venue etc. Upon my return to Canada, I printed all of our chats, and gathered all my telephone receipts.
We applied again, this time adding all of the above documentation, which filled to the top a “bankers box”. It cost a small fortune in shipping, but I was taking no chances.
And again, the wait….
This time I took an additional step. I went to visit with my local Member of Parliament (MP) in my home town. I showed all the documentation we had sent as well explaining how we felt that the interviewer in the Philippines was biased, based on our sexual orientation. The MP sent a fax to the Manila embassy basically saying that he has reviewed our application and that he would be very surprised if we were not approved this time.
I remember, I phoned Joe on March 29, 2007 as it was his birthday. We were talking and wondering when we might hear back from immigration. While talking there was a knock at his door. When Joe returned to the phone, he was very nervous, saying he just received a telegram. When he opened it, we learned that he had his Visa, allowing him to come to me in Canada. I remember we both wept on the phone and were so excited about finally being together after almost two years.
Joe arrived in Canada a month later. We had seven wonderful years together, but in the end, it didn’t work out. That perhaps, is a story for another time.
In November of 2017 I met someone new, again online. This time Martin (also not his real name), lived near me, making meeting each other and dating much easier.
In November of 2018 I bent down on one knee and asked Martin to marry me. Thankfully he accepted and on January 12, 2019, we were married. We recently celebrated our first wedding anniversary and I have never been happier J
I guess the relationship with Joe was not meant to be, just so I would have the opportunity to meet Martin, the real love of my life!
I was really in love with your love story Abey! It was like a fairytale. 😍 😍 😘 😘 😘 🤩 🤩 😊
Romeo A Abuhan Jr
Thanks Romeo.. I'm living a new fairy tale now 🙂
Ahhhh! I'm jealous Abey! 🤩
Romeo A Abuhan Jr
Don't be jealous my friend. Your time will come - often when you least expect it 🙂
Right. I know there'll come a time. Hehe..Thank you, my friend, for always cheering me up!🙂 😀 😀
Romeo A Abuhan Jr