Who wears the pants?

Two students share their love story and ways they maintain a committed relationship

Kimberly Laura and Casey Nguyen

As senior Ben Suarez walked into Roberto Obando’s Pre-calculus class his first day of junior year, he took a seat and did not take notice of those around him. This included the girl that strolled into the classroom with her long, jet black hair and blue backpack. She chose to sit right in front of him. Little did he know that she, junior Vinh On, would be his girlfriend one day.
As magical as their first encounter seemed, reality hit. Their first meeting was as awkward as can be.

“At the auditorium, he stood with his friends,” On said. “I came over to greet him.” However, her efforts are unwelcome. Suarez only replied to her inquiries with awkward pauses and short answers.
Despite getting off on the wrong foot, they met again. It was her solo performance during the annual Broadway Desserts that brought them together. Suarez was instantly hooked and entranced by her angelic and melodic voice. Turning to his friend during the performance, he referred to her as the “girl from math class.”

“I was surprised by her strong voice because I had the impression that she was soft and timid,” Suarez said.

During the performance, he decided that he had to talk to the girl with the majestic voice. However, nerves hit. Hard. Suarez backed out of his original plan. He decided to go home and contemplate on how to approach On in the future.

Months pasted and nothing happened. One day, Suarez finally picked up all the courage he had and messaged On, while she was on her trip to Vietnam during summer break. With the 12-hour difference, one would think that talking would be close to impossible.

“I would find myself waiting till night dawns in the United States, and morning rises in Vietnam, for her to wake up and reply,” Suarez said.

The pair talked rarely, but when they did, they talked about their common interests: music, Asian drama, variety shows, and their common hatred for vegetables. When school started, On decided that enough is enough.

“I became frustrated and impatient,” On said. “I cornered him to confess and that was the night we started dating.”

Due to their complex schedules, On and Suarez attempted multiple techniques to come together during the school day.

“[The best way was] just to call each other at some point of the day,” On said.

Currently, their relationship is often in the way of their main priority: school.

“There really isn’t anything we can do except manage our time properly,” On said. “I think relationships help relieve the stress that school brings. There are many times where comfort and encouragement is needed from one another.”

“Even if we have school obligations, we call anyways and leave it on while we do our own school tasks,” Suarez said.

However, like any other relationship, they also experience some fighting.

Although fighting “comes naturally”, Suarez explains, they hate fighting as much as the next couple.

Suarez and On knows that fighting is what keeps their relationship healthy because the misunderstandings, disagreements, and conflicts are resolved with such actions. It is all part of a learning process that helps with shaping and defining a relationship.

“In our four month relationship, we fought over 20 times,” Suarez said. “We’re on a hot streak.”

Even though they fight like a married couple, there is still love in the air. When asked what they mean to each other: “Mahal,” On said. Mahal is Tagalog, the native Filipino language for love, dear, or costly. They keep a lively and healthy relationship with each other, but what about their friends and family?

“At some point, it did affect the way we interacted with friends. We saw ourselves drifting from our own social groups many times, but we’ve learned to balance out time with each other,” On said.
Their family’s approval means the world to them, but to Suarez it means leaving his true love for his family. Suarez will be leaving for the Philippines after graduating high school, moving more than 9,000 miles away.

“I told him to break up with me,” On said. “[But] we both ended up agreeing that we couldn’t.”

Despite not knowing what the future beholds, the couple believes that their mutual trust and constant communication will continue to build their relationship. They both acknowledge the flaws that can occur. However, their efforts and characteristics are what creates a compatible relationship.