What Is Love?

Fifty Shades of Freed—boasted by movie theaters nationwide.
Photo courtesy destructoid.com

Love is in the air every sight and every sound.” It’s February—the month of Love. Almost everywhere, there is a constant reminder that Valentine’s Day is celebrated worldwide on February 14. Most stores (and don’t forget Amazon) have something for your Valentine—flowers, balloons, teddy bears, cards, candy, wine, gifts—all sort of sweet nothings designed to make your loved one happy. Restaurants have pre-set Valentine’s Day menus with reservations booked weeks, if not months, in advance. Movie theaters boast of new love-themed movies such as this month’s number one movie “Fifty Shades Freed” while cable TV has a couple stations (Hallmark, LMN) devoted to love, playing such movies as “My Favorite Valentine” and “Very, Very Valentine.” Hotels and airlines encourage you to take a trip to Vegas while Facebook is awash with photos, movies, and little blurbs about love.

Randy, Nennette and family.
Photo courtesy Randy Cruz

John Paul Young’s rendition of Love Is In The Air got me to thinking about Love and what it really means. Yes, love is different for everyone, every gender, every age, every station in life. And yes, for those of us of the Christian faith, the ultimate Love—Agape—is God’s love. Randy of Randy’s Catering takes to heart God’s love: “The three greatest words are Faith, Hope, and Love but Love is the greatest and it’s biblical as you refer to John 3:16. ‘For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have an everlasting Life.’ It’s simple… by flesh if I’m happy… and by spiritual by obeying the commandments of God.”

Alfredo (right) and Basillia Evangelista.
Photo courtesy Alfredo Evangelista

Even the often quoted “Love is patient, love is kind,” passages from St. Paul’s letter (I Corinthians 13) has sometimes been incorporated into Valentine’s Day commercialism. But for me and my family, music is always a key component of love and the memories associated with songs are part of what fosters our deepest affections.

My wife Basilia’s favorite love song is Eternal Flame. “Do you feel my heart beating? Do you understand? Do you feel the same? Am I only dreaming? Is this burning an eternal flame?” Yes, it captures the time line of our romance from high school sweethearts, through a break-up, and eventually, our second marriages to each other.

Christian (right) and Carolyn.
Photo courtesy Christian Evangelista

My son Christian, 31 years old, will wed his girlfriend Carolyn Dunlea, 30 years old, in October. His favorite love song is La Vie en Rose by French chanteur Edith Piaf (a song whose English lyrics include “I thought that love was just a word they sang about in songs I heard; It took your kisses to reveal that I was wrong, and love is real”). Their first wedding dance will be to that song. “One of the first things we did as a couple was to go to a concert at George Washington University with someone singing Edith Piaf songs,” he explained. My twenty-six year old daughter Danielle says her favorite love song is At Last by Etta James (“At last my love has come along. My lonely days are over and life is like a song, oh yeah”). Danielle explains “Her voice is timeless. When she belts the first few notes, I just melt away.” Me thinks it’s because she has found true love in her boyfriend Andrew.

True love. Everyone talks about it. But how do you define it?

Best of friends and Maui middle-schoolers Czarina (right) and Leilani comment on what they think love is.
Photo courtesy Czarina Cariño

Thirteen year old Leilani says “Love is an affection that you feel for someone” while fourteen year old Czarina defines Love as “A person or thing that one loves or feels a deep romantic feeling for.”

“What is Love? Love is when you think of the welfare of the other person before yours,” explained Dulce. “Love is when you stand by each other, facing the world together, even when everyone else is trying to bring you down.” Rosalinda says “Love is like a war. It’s easy to begin but hard to stop.” Jingo says “Love is an intense feeling or affection you can feel for someone. It’s unexplainable. It’s just within you.” “Love is having fun conversations with your loved one” says Madelyne. “Love is the constant, never ending challenge to create a home worth coming back to,” says Eugenia while Alex says: “Love is a lot of things: Love of God. Love of my family. Love of my wife. To be together forever until death do us part. That’s Love for me.”

Madelyne and Ray
Photo courtesy Madelyne Pascua

Of course, everyone has a different definition of Love. But how do you know it? What tells you you’re really in love?

“How do you know you’re in Love? You know when you’re in Love if you can’t get that other person out of your mind, you’re daydreaming about the future with this person, suffer from sleeplessness and loss of appetite and the crazy thing is that, you catch yourself smiling for no reason. Your day is not complete if you don’t see, hear, talk to the other person,” says Dulce.

“I knew I was in love because I felt secure, at peace,” said Elayna. “I felt like the best version of myself when we were together.”

Madelyne explained: “I knew it was LOVE when my husband of thirty four years this year, May 5, courted me back in 1982 when he traveled from Mānoa (UH) to Waipahū early in the morning (weekdays) to pick me up to attend mass at St. Joseph Church before he brought me to Waipahū High School. Being that he was not a Catholic at that time, he followed my faith. I knew it was Love when he spent thirty minutes talking with my grandmother every time he picked me up on a date. I knew it was Love when he ate my oxtail adobo that was only simmering for just thirty minutes. I knew it was Love, when he showed so much respect to my family.”

Emerenciana and Joe
Photo courtesy Emerenciana Kuzara

“I close my eyes and have the sweetest smile when I start to reminisce,” says Emerenciana. “It started all one summer night when we attended my cousin Rose’s birthday at her Mom’s house. We had a good time together and mingled with my cousins and friends. As the celebration was getting over, suddenly I ask myself is ????? Please Lord give me a sign. THE question was still hanging in my mind as we drove back to his place so I started asking Joe serious question about our relationship, a little misunderstanding that ends … in a very serious commitment. Minutes later inside the house Joe gets down on his knee and pops the question to me ‘Will You Marry me?’ with his hand holding the ring. ‘I know this is not the way I planned to propose to you,’ Joe says, ‘Let me assure you. If you will give me the chance to Love and to be with you forever. Will you marry me?’ My heart beat so fast, filled with joy, and the only word I uttered is ‘Yes!’ After several years of living together as husband and wife, I can say that Joe is my True Love. I show him everyday how I love him. He may not be perfect in others’ eyes but he is my True Love. I thank the Lord above for He blessed me with a wonderful husband–my True Love.”

And Love sometimes is a second chance. Alarming statistics indicate half of marriages result in divorces. Not a great testament to love and that we sometimes assume is the basis of our marriage institution. But some may argue that marriage the second time around is better….

“They always say that Love is sweeter and better the second time around,” said Jingo. A lot of people have been married and they try and fail again. The good thing is that you learn a lot from your first relationship and you get better every day.”
“What’s different the second time around? The first time you fall in Love, it’s like a fairy tale,” explains Dulce. “Then you realize that it’s not all magical after all. That is why you try to make a difference the second time. The difference the second time around is that you know that fairy tale doesn’t really exist, reality does. You will try to have less drama, be more realistic and pick your own battles to win the war. And that’s the beauty of falling in Love again, you become smarter and wiser.”

Eugenia and Mark
Photo courtesy Eugenia Sitts

After a failed marriage, Eugenia explained how she knew Mark was the right man: “I knew that he was IT when he first went to Mama Isca who was 70 something years old and he introduced himself and about two minutes later, they were laughing!!! So he made a special connection; not only with me and the kids but most especially grandma!!!”

Sometimes, Love can lead to what may seem to be an illogical act. “I jumped on a flight with ten minutes notice to be with my future hubby,” said Sharon. As Jingo explained, “Everybody is stupid when you talk about Love. When you’re in love, you don’t use your brain, you use your heart.” Dulce shares that she took an assignment in Lahaina, which is not her area, just to see her love, Paul. “One time when I dropped off some architectural supplies for him to borrow, I completely forgot I had to drop off my daughter Kate to her piano lessons. And since Mom didn’t agree with him moving in with me at Mom’s house, we went ahead and bought a house together without telling Mom and then we moved in together while she was in Texas with my two daughters.”

True love can be seen by what you share with your partner. In his editorial, Tante describes his romantic Valentine’s Day ritual with his wife Telly. In this month’s “What Do You Think” feature, folks share their ideas of a romantic Valentine’s Day celebration.

But last year, I witnessed the ultimate expression of love and a song. 90+ year old Pedro Macadangdang softly sang “Dungdungwen kanto unay unay” to his dying wife of 63 years, Remigia. Although it was a moment to cry, it was also a moment to appreciate true love.

Alfredo G. Evangelista came home in 2010 to be with his family and to marry his high school sweetheart, the former Basilia Idica. Their Valentine’s celebration started with watching “Fifty Shades Freed” and ended with an exchange of gifts, a delivery of two dozen roses and chocolate, and dinner at Spago’s in the Four Seasons.