If there’s a day to celebrate being in a relationship, then there should also be a day devoted to celebrating being single—thus the birth of Singles Awareness Day on February 15, a day which is usually celebrated with the greeting, “Happy SAD!”
Five young single ladies got together to celebrate their own version of a happy SAD by fearlessly donning wedding gowns they jazzed up to the match their own personalities.
Of all the dresses that a woman will own in her lifetime, perhaps no other dress will capture her fascination, longing, and aspiration as a wedding gown.
The relationship a woman has with the white dress starts even as a little girl, when she dons a pillow sheet and pretends it’s a veil as she practices walking down the aisle.
But as these ladies will tell you, the key to happiness is not the fabled white dress, but the relationship you have with yourself.
Call Center Manager
After spending much of her younger years in the UK before coming to the Philippines, Gale Garcia can’t help but notice one difference: the preoccupation—bordering on obsession—with being in a relationship and getting married. “It’s like settling down is the major goal in life,” says the 27-year-old.
Reflecting on past relationships, Gale says, “In the UK, I think it’s more relaxed. You get invited out for a date, and if you guys like each other, then that's it. I kind of like the simplicity of that. Here, courtship is a big thing.”
Now single for the last couple of months, Gale says that it always takes some time to get used to being your own better half. “I’ve been in and out of relationships, dated guys from other countries, young and older than me. But there are definitely things you can do to cultivate a more positive attitude. For a start, you can accept that happiness is a choice.”
But Gale says she has observed one similarity between the Philippines and the UK: more women are having more sex now; marriage is no longer a prerequisite for sex.
Obviously having put a lot of thought into this, Gale says, “Think about it; let's say, for argument's sake, a woman saves herself until she's about 25 years old. Then she sleeps with a man. They break up after a few months. Then she meets another man, and after a couple of months, she sleeps with him. Then they break up. If this woman dates 3 men a year, she'll have slept with 15 men by the time she's 30. So even if a woman isn't having casual sex, but is dating a man seriously and things simply don't work out, she's left single and with another notch on her bedpost simply through the fate she mapped out for herself.”
Pausing before she concludes her train of thought, she says, “I don't know whether to laugh or cry.”
This, to Gale, is the reality that makes safer sex so important.
“Safer sex is caring about yourself so much that no one can make you do anything that you are not 100 percent comfortable doing. Safer sex is about knowing yourself so well that you can represent your needs at all times, in all situations so that you don't put yourself at risk.
“Safer sex should be non-negotiable,” Gale says firmly. “It's not even just the guy's responsibility anymore to carry a condom. It’s a woman’s responsibility too.”
Sales Associate for high-end luxury cars
“That comes with a 2-liter engine and is the top of the line model for that class,” Pam Perlas says, talking into her mobile phone.
It’s not every day that you hear a woman saying those words, but as a sales associate for high-end cars, Pam finds this type of conversation typifying her average work day.
All throughout the shoot, Pam takes calls on her cell phone and checks the notes she keeps on the various models. “We just put out an ad,” she says, explaining the interruptions.
While waiting for her turn to be photographed, Pam is on her headphones, listening to hip-hop and occasionally singing out loud and dancing to the beat.
Pam is not a girl to be caught waiting around doing nothing—even when it comes to being single.
“I have a ton of guy friends, but I’ve been single almost my entire life. The first and last relationship I had was 3 years ago. I was 19 when I had my first boyfriend, and it all happened over one summer,” says the 21-year-old, unfazed by this fact.
“I just graduated from college, and honestly, I’m just too damn excited to find out what’s in store for me in the real world. I’ve got my own flat and drive my own car,” says Pam, who says that she was raised not to be dependent on a man.
“My parents separated when I was really young, and my mom raised me and my siblings all by herself,” she shares, with obvious admiration in her voice.
But Pam admits that she is not spared from the usual questioning. “I do get asked a lot why I don’t have a boyfriend. I feel like the more they ask me why I don’t have one, the more it makes me want to prove to them that I am happy being single.”
Ever practical, logical, and sensible, Pam says, “I do go out on dates, but if I'm not sexually attracted to the guy, I don't see myself dating him. Unfortunately, I don’t find attraction that much, hence the single life! It comes in handy when I meet guys that I know are only after sex. I don’t allow it to happen.
“There is always room for a wider awareness about safe sex and sexual health. It only takes one infected person to do the job. Next thing you know, you fear for your own health. If you want to have sex, at least be responsible and use protection—it’s always better to be careful now than be sorry later,” concludes Pam.
Make-up artist / Hairstylist / Part-time model
“I already have a man in my life,” says Miki Kierulf softly, looking adoringly at her wide-eyed, curly-haired 4-year-old son.
Kikoy, who Miki laughingly refers to as her trophy date, tags along to keep his mom company. Upon closer inspection, it is evident that an unexpected characteristic makes Kikoy a dead ringer for his mother—curly eyelashes long enough to trip on.
“I’ve been a single mom for so long, and I know that I need not be in a relationship to be happy. I have my son, so I'm fine with [being single],” says the 32-year-old Miki, who also admits that she hasn’t entirely given up on marriage.
“To be honest with you, I still have dreams of getting married one day . . . of being a princess . . . to walk down the aisle wearing a very beautiful gown. If someone comes along, then we will see.
“And, well, sometimes, yes, I have the tendency to look at the mirror and tell myself, ’Ewww, you're getting older and you're still not married?’“ She laughs. “But that’s okay. I can get married even when I reach 60 or so. Age is just a number.”
This candor somewhat takes a turn when the topic turns to sex and positive sexuality. “Topics like that really make me blush!” Miki says, who after a bit of cajoling, finally agrees to share her thoughts.
“As I matured and got older, I realized that sex is something you share with someone you really love. What is the point of sleeping with someone who doesn’t mean everything to you? As for information on safer sex, even if we think we know a lot already, there’s no harm in learning more. We should always be aware of how we can best protect ourselves.”
Recently passed the Nursing Board Exams
Young and vivacious Cathy Domingo is so excited about having passed the nursing board exams—which may be the reason why she’s not worrying too much about being single.
“My last relationship was last year. I’ve actually found myself very happy being single. No arguing or fighting—freedom! You can do whatever you’d like, and you can meet so many new people.”
“I won’t be single forever, so I enjoy this time. Of course, we all would like the comfort of having a companion, but one must be able to get used to being with yourself before allowing another to enter,” says the 20-year-old.
Knowing how other girls her age feel about being in a relationship, Cathy says, “If other girls were to ask me what the secret to being happy [is], I would tell them to embrace the single life. When you find The One, it will be something great—it won't just be something to conveniently hide behind. Then again, maybe you won't find Mr. Right. And that is okay too. Know that being single is not the worst thing in the world. In fact, it is pretty spectacular.”
On the topic of safer sex, Cathy references her degree and states, “Of course, as a registered nurse, I advocate that all people should know that it’s necessary to practice safer sex. Nobody has a body to die for—literally and figuratively. Safer sex is always better—it's fun, and you don't have to worry as much.”
ALEXANDREA C. RODRIGUEZ
Brand Manager, Team Manila
With a furrowed brow crinkling her forehead, Alex Rodriguez declares “This feels weird” when she sees herself in a wedding gown.
“Looking back, I was never the girl who dreamed about my wedding, the perfect wedding dress, nor the perfect person to marry. Forgive the shallowness, it's just that I never really got a grasp of brides and marriage,” Alex says, laughing at herself.
The 22-year-old says she agreed to the shoot only when she was told about its concept of being happy without having to be married or in a relationship with someone. “It's a very unique concept, considering you're in a wedding dress when you're in fact single. I like that it's about being happy and contented with yourself.”
Alex, who has a mix of both single and married friends, reflects on the perceived pressure from society for women to be committed. “I think the pressure comes from within a woman and not from outside factors. It takes years to build confidence and to be contented with oneself. So I say, know and appreciate who you are. Don't focus on what's missing in your life; instead, focus on what you have and be confident with it.”
Acknowledging that the fact that she started dating early, Alex says this is her time to take a break and have fun on her own. “Not that I don't have fun when I'm with someone, it's just that, of course, it's different when you’re single and carefree.”
Note: Single Ladies! is a trademark production of www.SexAndSensibilites.com to celebrate self-empowerment by loving yourself first.
(Special thanks to the Single Ladies! Team. Photographs used with permission. Photographs of Miki and Gale by Rogelio "Allan" E. Mendoza Jr.; of Alex, Pam, and Cathy by Myke Motus. Makeup styling by Ana Santos. Gowns worn by Miki, Pam, and Alex by Maricar Dizon. Gown worn by Cathy by Lyn Dizon. Hairstyling by Edwin Cabol Jore. Fashion styling by Maricar Dizon, assisted by Kathleen Conde.)
Got your own reasons for being happily single? Let us know about them by leaving a comment below!