We Filipinos are emotional people—you’ve only to check out the hashtag #hugot for evidence of it. We love to live and we live to love, but unfortunately in real life this can cause a lot of heartbreak as well. And no one knows this better than a romance author, whose job it is to distill all those feelings that have to do with attraction, affection, love, and more in order to write those kilig- and hugot-inducing scenes.
So we asked 10 authors, all of whom happen to be members of the #RomanceClass readers and writers group, to share their hard-won wisdom on love and commitment. Check out what they had to say below!
"As a romance writer, I've learned that there is no love story that isn't special, meaningful, or extraordinary. But at the same time, I've also learned that love in books and love in real life can only be the same when the characters, meaning you and me, do something extraordinary. Love means breaking out of yourself, growing into a better version of you, and taking someone along with you for the ride (or maybe even crediting that person for inspiring this leap of faith). Love is out-of-this-world awesome. But only if you make it happen."
—Ines Bautista-Yao, author of Someday with You, When Sparks Fly, Only a Kiss, and One Crazy Summer
"As a wife and mother, I find it all too easy to dismiss doing things I love because of more immediate priorities. But as I’ve discovered when I am writing romance, carving out and claiming time to nurture what gives me joy becomes a win-win situation for everyone all around. Owning and developing that part of me that wants to create, that wants to play, that is separate from the different roles I inhabit, has made me a happier person. And as the popular maxim says 'happy wife equals happy family.' I totally agree."
— Suzette de Borja, author of When She Fell for the Billionaire, The Princess Finds Her Match, and The Duke Takes a Bride
"Love can take you to the most unexpected places. As a writer, I'm always pleasantly surprised at where the characters lead me--gorgeous bathrooms in Bali, flower markets in Dangwa or to someone completely unexpected. You have to be willing to take that kind of open journey for love, and choose it constantly."
—Carla de Guzman, author of If the Dress Fits, Cities, and Marry Me, Charlotte B!
"As a writer, I've learned that relationships must remain fluid. This is both in life and in fiction. The instant a character stops growing the story can't move forward. This goes for real life as well. When two people stop growing together in a relationship it's the end. Stagnant waters turns foul fast. Flowing water stays fresh longer."
—Kate Evangelista, author of No Holding Back
"Writing romance (and getting read/reviewed) made me realize that while grand gestures of love often bring on the kilig, the small and seemingly insignificant moments matter as much. After all, real relationships aren't only about grand gestures, but also the daily experience of learning about and growing with each other."
—Tara Frejas, author of Settle the Score/Hustle Play, Scandalized, The “Forget You” Brew, and Paper Planes Back Home
"Romance is something that doesn’t just happen. You must make it happen. And even if you’re a woman, there is nothing wrong with making the first move to jumpstart that thing that needs to happen. *wink*"
—Georgette S. Gonzales, author of Classified, Of Love and Special Things, and In Fair Verona (as Edith Joaquin)
"Before committing yourself to another person, one has to be whole. I find that this is the recurring theme of all the books I’ve written so far. Of course, swoon-worthy moments—the grand gesture, a candlelit dinner, that much-awaited kiss—may all lead to that defining moment when Main Character and Love Interest finally get together. But to me, what makes this moment even more special is when the girl spends time on her own, figuring out who she really is and what she really wants, before saying yes to her happy ever after."
—Agay Llanera, author of Another Word for Happy, Choco Chip Hips, and Vintage Love
"As a reader and writer of romance, I'm very interested in exploring agency and consent: the balance between a guy who knows what he wants (so hot), without that spilling over a woman being denied her agency (decidedly less hot). The best romances strike that balance through lead characters who deeply understand each other, and that is established through honest communication. It's a lesson that works in real life too: if a relationship is grounded in understanding and strong communication, you can push each other and take sexy risks towards mutual satisfaction."
—Bianca Mori, author of the Takedown trilogy, One Night at the Palace Hotel, and Tame the Kitten
"If you want to learn how to love, you've got to learn how to fight. Because if you love someone, you have to be brave enough to tell them what you want and what you deserve as a partner and a human being. And you have to fight fair, because you deserve respect. Never settle for less."
—Stella Torres, author of Save the Cake and Crushingly Close
"Love is a choice that you make every day. It may land on your feet sometimes, or surprise you in your dingy neighborhood bar, or in the persona of a friend you've known for so long. But it's a choice and you work on it. The concept of forever is too big to think about sometimes, and maybe it's enough to think of love as something you choose to have on a day by day basis."
—Jay E. Tria, author of Songs to Make You Stay, Songs of Our Breakup, and Blossom Among Flowers