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Pia Wurtzbach: In Pursuit of Happiness
By G3 San Diego
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Coming off a challenging year, Pia Wurtzbach sets off to discover bliss

Related: Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach never loses sight of what really matters

Hindi love at first sight, noong nakita ko si Jeremy, ‘Mahal na kita!’ Hindi naman ganun ‘yun. Parang syempre diba, you get to know the person and after a while of seeing each other, I remember going to bed one night, tapos na-catch ko yung sariil ko na nakangiti ako habang nakapikit. Alam mo yung parang nakahiga na akong ganun pero nakangiti parin ako tapos sabi ko ‘Oh my god, anong nangyayari sa akin?!’ Parang first time kong ma-feel na talagang gustong-gusto ako.”

“First time ko ma-feel na parang, wow, ang sarap nung feeling na gusto ka niya. Well, hindi ko naman sinasabi na hindi ko na-feel sa iba yun pero iba kasi ‘to. Alam mo yung parang hindi lang kilig eh, parang secured ka tapos hindi ka nag-aalala na baka may iba pa syang niliigawan parang ang ganda ko. Ganun yung feeling.”

Pia tells me that having that feeling made her feel even more beautiful than when she won Miss Universe.

Basta na-catch ko yung sarli ko na, and siguro ang tagal na bago ko na-feel yun or hindi ko pa sya na-fe-feel on that level pero naka-catch ko yung sarili ko na nakangiti ako, na matutulog ka na nga lang, nakangiti ka pa. Sabi ko ‘Wow ang sarap naman ng feeling na ‘to! So ayun,’” Pia gushes.

Pia remembers the exact spot at Covent Garden in London where she met Jeremy for the first time. She says he was very friendly

and respectful, that they talked for a bit, discovered they had much in common and most importantly, that there was already a connection.

But it was in New York, months later in New Year's Eve when Jeremy officially asked Pia to be his girlfriend.

A Queen Always Knows A King When She Sees One

But Pia admits that before winning Miss Universe, a partner was only secondary to the crown.

“Before Miss Universe, the crown was my goal. Even though I would go on date once in a while, hindi ko nagiging goal na magiging boyfriend ganun. Kasi kung papipiliin ako, crown talaga. Ganun ako ka-obssessed sa pageants noon.”

And for a Queen like Pia, not just any King will do. He needs to be secure enough in himself to be with a woman like her, allow her to shine and not dim her light just so she doesn’t cast a shadow over him.

Bago ako maging Miss U, I was very submissive like, sa boyfriend ah. As a girlfriend, I was very quiet, like I didn’t really say much. Hindi ako lumalaban ganyan, sumusunod lang ako. And then, it became like a switch after, parang I felt so confident and then I started speaking my mind. I started being more of an ‘alpha’ talaga. But with Jeremy now, I found the balance. When as before I was too subservient or too submissive, then I became too strong, now, I just found the right balance in the middle.”

Finding the balance is really how Pia is able to make her relationship with Jeremy work and thrive even in long-distance. Pia relishes moments when she and Jeremy would go on romantic trips together and finally getting this relationship right. Remembering her childhood, Pia tells me what she wanted in terms of love when she was just a young girl.

“As a kid, you have this kind of idea that family should be together. Parents should be loving towards each other and sana hindi sila maghiwalay pero unfortunately that didn’t happen to me. But what it did though is that it made me hopeful that sana I find that, you know, the loving family life.” She recalls the night when her parents separated. She was only 9 years old. “I was very close to my dad. He gave me this blue boom box for my birthday and he borrowed it from me the last night that he was at home. Sabi niya in German, marunong pa akong mag-German noon, sabi niya ‘Hiramin ko ‘to pero balik ko sayo,’ sabi niya tapos pumayag naman ako and then I never saw him again so that was kind of our parting. It’s sad no?” That moment in Pia’s young life made her dream that when she grew up, things would be different for her. That Daddy’s little Princess would grow up to be a Queen with a King who is worthy of her, and who would never leave her. “I think coming from a broken family, it made me into this like, hopeless romantic where I felt like sana ‘pag turn ko na, hindi kami maghiwalay or sana I find the right one and sana walang mangyaring hindi maganda, ganoon. Sana sana...I get it right.”

And get it right, she did. With Jeremy, Pia knows she has a man secure enough in himself to let her truly be herself. But she didn’t know it from the start, saying it took a while of talking before he asked her on a date.

Sa Shoreditch House. On my last night in London, we went out for dinner, tapos doon na talaga kami nakapag ‘get-to-know’ na magusap ganyan. Health conscious siya. Ako naman, foodie. So talagang andami kong in-order. Andami kong kinain,” Pia remembers just being herself.

After that first date, Pia wasn’t sure Jeremy was interested in her because there was no kiss goodnight, just a very neutral pat on the back which later on would be a private joke to the couple.

“Actually joke namin sa isa’t isa yun. Ano lang, hug lang! Hindi man lang yung hug na HUG. Ano lang, yung parang very friendly hug. Pat in the back hug. Yeah exactly, ganun tapos alam mo yung parang pagbalik ko sa room ko sabi ko ‘Ang hirap nito ah,’ alam mo yun? Tapos sabi ko after months na, kami na parang recently lang nga yata sabi ko sa kanya ‘Remember the time that after our first date in London, you gave me the friend zone hug.’ Sabi ko ‘Why did you do that? I want to confront you right now.’ Tapos sabi niya ‘I was trying to be respectful.’ Ganyan. Wala, biru-biruan lang namin yun.”

Pia and Jeremy’s first kiss would come later on and many, many miles in the making. The couple have been talking for months while they were physically apart when they agreed to meet in Hong Kong.

Nasa New York siya nung time na yun, tapos na-ospital siya. Hindi niya sinabi sa akin. Nagkaroon siya ng sugat na na-infect, tapos sobrang na- infect, tapos na-ospital siya. Pero the day na nadischarge, yung day na na- discharge siya, sumakay na siya ng eroplano papuntang Hong Kong.

Galing ako sa Thailand tapos ang usapan namin magkita tayo sa Hong Kong. ‘Yun ang usapan namin na bago ako uuwi ng Manila. I had a few days off from work so magkita tayo sa Hong Kong. So he didn’t tell me na muntik na siyang magcancel ng trip dahil na-ospital siya. He still flew. Tapos nakita ko nung una na meron siyang parang bandage, tapos sabi ko bakit hindi mo sinabi sa akin, ganyan ganyan. And then, ang mga date kasi namin ano, really a lot of walking in the park, a lot of puro lakad. Hindi kami nag-si-sit down tapos usap. Lagi kaming walking while talking. Laging ganun. So, we did that for like a few days na nag-uusap lang kami at naglalakad pero hindi pa kami nag-ki-kiss. Until finally one night he did! And then, ayun na. Okay na!

"It was on New Year's Even ng December 31, kasi we already planned to spend New Year's together, separately, I mean with our respective families and then New Year's, we said we are going to travel together, tapos at that point, wala pang I love you, or anything so I guess noong day na nag-ask siya, same day siya nag 'I love you,' same day siya nag ask."

First date in London, first kiss in Hong Kong and first “I love you” in New York. From the moment she said “yes,” Pia knew that it was going to be an international love affair that would require much effort and commitment, of traveling back and forth to see each other, which they both were prepared to do. In fact, before the global lockdown hit because of COVID-19, Pia and Jeremy were so used to having to do LDR (Long Distance Relationship). And after 5 months of not seeing each other, as soon as it was safe to fly, Pia finally flew to be with her boyfriend, Jeremy.

Nailang ako promise. Nailang ako kasi siyempre five months tapos it (the lockdown) happened very early on in our relationship pa so hindi parang bumalik sa dati na bagong bago ganun.

Sa airport kami nagkita and then kinakabahan pa ako mag-travel ‘nun kasi siyempre mag-isa lang ako lumipad tapos todo mask pa, nakakakapanibago pa ng feeling. Hindi mo alam kung pwede na ba mag-travel? Safe ba 'to? Alam mo yun? Nag wo-worry ka about many things. And then pagdating ko dun, sakto kasi nag-land plane niya at plane ko, sa airport kami nagkita," Pia narrates.

And since then, for Pia and Jeremy, it has been airports and beautiful destinations as they continue to try to nourish their love in a world still embattled by sickness. They are also just two people who do what they have to do to be with each other safely, lovingly.

“I always tell Jeremy how lucky we are really, like how blessed we are to be able to be with each other, to be healthy. Hindi kami nagka-COVID. Those simple things he and I, we talk about it a lot like parang, ‘You know babe, just the fact that we have each other and we’re okay and safe. We are very grateful for that,’” Pia proclaims.

And for a Queen to feel safe in an unsafe world, it only means she has truly, finally found the King that is right for her. And he is not just the King of Beautiful Destinations, he is also now, the King of the most beautiful Queen in the universe.

Basta magkasama lang kami, masaya na and I know what people see online and on the internet are all literally beautiful destinations and like all these places but really our best moments are when we’re just with each other and that could be in a park, that could be stuck in airport like waiting for five hours or more, it doesn’t matter to us where we are, as long as we have each other. Wow!”

“Jeremy is the one.”