MANILA, February 16, 2006 (STAR) By Wilson Lee Flores (To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage. Ė Lao Tzu) (The heart that loves is always young. ĖGreek Proverb)

Iím really a sucker for love, maybe because I have the heart of a poet and writers are known throughout history as the worldís most passionate romantics. There I was recently in the beautiful barrio of Dinalaoan in Calasiao, Pangasinan, at the funeral wake of a cousin from one of my late maternal uncleís various wives, but instead of death, I kept talking about love.

I canít understand guys who claim they can love many women at the same time, because Iím always passionately in love with only one woman at any one time. In fact, when I courted my first girlfriend, I told her that I could only truly love one woman in this life and that it was she. My motherís late elder brother had many kids with various Chinese and Filipina wives. When my 77-year-old Filipina aunt Patricia Flores Yang flew in from New York to bury her third son Jun in this rustic barrio by the Agno River, I asked her all sorts of questions about the two love stories of my late mother.

On a recent trip to south China, I also tried to ask momís surviving relatives to recount to me tales of her many suitors in Quanzhou City of Fujian province and how she ended up marrying a third-generation Chinese scion from Agoo, La Union, named George Dy. She was a beautiful and well-educated teacher, while he was a young businessman from the Philippines who wooed her and convinced her to come with him to Manila. Among the many old photos my kin recopied for me was momís wedding photo in China dated 1946.

While almost all of the Chinese immigrants who sailed to Southeast Asia did so for economic reasons and to escape the poverty caused by unstable corrupt politics of the past, my mother Mary Young Siu Tin came to the Philippines in 1949 out of love. Sketchy stories have it that upon arriving in Manila, she eventually broke up with her husband and left him.

There are many versions of why their once ideal marriage failed, according to relatives in south China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Manila and Pangasinan. One of the versions said that George Dy truly loved our mom but he was, in reality, a playboy with a lot of incorrigible vices. His childhood friend, the late Tourism Secretary Jose Aspiras, told me that his best friend was a brilliant man but indeed he caroused in Manilaís nightclubs every night and even invited Aspiras to tag along.

When mom left her husband, she tried to assuage the pains of her failed love by teaching in far-flung Chinese-language schools in Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Dumaguete, Cebu, Tabaco in Albay to Iba in Zambales. It was not common for a woman in the 1950s to leave a playboy husband, more so an immigrant like her. Her friends and kin said that mom never entertained her many suitors when she was still legally married. Auntie Pat said that when George Dy died of over-drinking in Manila, our mom was then teaching at the Tabaco Pei Ching Academy in Bicol and it was she who called her about the news. As a dutiful widow, mom went to the funeral of her husband.

Years later, after our dad, a sawmill operator, himself became a widower, both he and mom crossed destinies. Dad was an entrepreneur in Manila, while mom was then the principal of a small school called Iba Chung Hua Elementary School located several hours away by car. The handsome widower courted the beautiful widow in another exciting and fascinating love story that could fill an entire book or become a movie better than all of Mother Lilyís Mano Po movies or even Hollywood romance films!

Iíve made mistakes in falling in and out of love, but I will never be cynical and will never lose faith in the greatness of love. True love does exist in this modern world of so many failed marriages, casual sex and dysfunctional relationships. There are great loves in our world today, and we need not search for them only in fairy tales or movies created by romantic writers. Often they have little to do with dramatic conflicts. Time does stand still and the magic of real love exists in every average guy or girl being selfless, honest, faithful and caring to one another.

Iím not a very religious person, but one of my favorite Bible verses is in the New Testament in I Corinthians 13:13, which says: "But now abide faith, hope, love, but the greatest of these three is love." Indeed, a life without hope is worse than death itself, but where does our hope ultimately come from? Can we draw hope from vast material riches, from social prestige or from power? The greatest source of hope in lifeĖeven when all the chips are down and when we are defeated or forlorn is the eternal and priceless treasure of love.

Let us give and share love. We are not unthinking animals who couple based only on our instincts or by helpless twists of fate. Let us make true love possible by our sincerity, by our emotional maturity, by our efforts and by our devotion to our beloved. Love is invisible to our five senses, but we can feel it energize our whole life with inspiration and indomitable hope.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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