‘Love worth celebrating’


February 14, 2018

LOVE KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES. Commissioner Rhea Peñaflor (left) of the National Youth Commission and Nody Mae Martir-Peñaflor celebrate at sunset after exchanging vows at scenic Puntan Dos Amantes in Guam on July 27, 2017. The couple walked down the aisle wearing matching white gowns during an intimate ceremony surrounded by their closest friends and family. They exchanged rings and kisses just as the sunset painted the sky a vibrant red. PHOTO BY ELEVENTH ESSENSE

“WHO wouldn’t want to marry her?” joked then Ms. Nody Mae Martir, a few weeks before exchanging vows with Ilongga youth advocate Rhea Peñaflor, to become Mrs. Martir-Peñaflor.

On July 27, 2017, the couple walked down the aisle wearing matching white gowns during an intimate ceremony – surrounded by their closest friends and family – in scenic Guam.

At Puntan Dos Amantes – aptly translated to “two lovers point” – in Tumon Bay overlooking the vast sea, Nody and Rhea exchanged rings and kisses just as the sunset painted the sky a vibrant red.

“She’s an extraordinary woman with a beautiful soul and I’m truly blessed to have her as my life partner. Our love is so special, it’s worth celebrating,” Nody muses. “I [longed] for the moment that I [could] finally and legally call her my wife and be Mrs. Martir-Peñaflor.”

Now the commissioner of the National Youth Commission (NYC) representing Visayas, Rhea first met Nody in July of 2011 at a friendly get-together and dinner at a popular Iloilo seafood restaurant.

“I must admit Nody was a head turner when I first met her,” shares Rhea. “We both love to laugh a lot, eat a lot, travel and explore new places. We love poetry, wine and movies. We believe in humanity. We meditate. We love life [that’s why I fell for her].”

Commissioner Rhea, a passionate public servant, has over 20 years of humanitarian and development work under her belt serving in different capacities for ChildFund International (a child protection and development organization), Chameleon Association, Inc. (a French non-government organization rehabilitating sexually abused girls in Western Visayas), and Kabataang Gabay para sa Positibong Pamumuhay, Inc., among others. It’s Rhea’s love, compassion and passion towards her advocacies which endeared her to Nody.

“Rhea once invited me to an outreach activity with the Gawad Kalinga children,” says Nody. “She told the kids a story she wrote, ‘Kuya Josh and Mr. Matchstick.’ She was very passionate and funny. I knew something hit me hard that day.”

After dating for three years, Rhea officially proposed to Nody in February 2015, putting her own twist on the tired tradition.

“I proposed armed with a ready T-shirt that said, ‘Will You Marry Me?’ I gave her the reply T-shirt that said ‘Yes, I Do!’ That left her no choice,” retells Rhea.

“It was so random,” Nody shares of the proposal. “She asked me to wear a T-shirt instead of a ring. I received the engagement ring on my birthday [that] year.”

Together, Rhea and Nody run Life Xtender’s Inc., a nonprofit organization that aims to alleviate the plight of the poor in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas in Iloilo.

“Nody is the best person on earth,” beamed Rhea. “I won’t be as strong as I am if not because of her. She always believes in me. I love every inch of her. I want to spend each moment with her because I only have one lifetime to share and I’d want it to be with her.”

“We have the same values,” says Nody on what she loves about Rhea. “We both love traveling and exploring different cultures. We both like volunteering to worthy causes and helping people. We like cuddles and kisses. We are both free-spirited.”

Acknowledging that the LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning) community remains a marginalized sector in the Philippines, both Rhea and Nody are vocal champions of the Civil Partnership Act, or House Bill No. 6595.

“We fully support bills advancing equality for all,” Commissioner Rhea tells Panay News. “The Civil Partnership Act certainly creates an enabling environment for LGBTIQ+ and promotes equality as this policy will recognize civil partnerships between same-sex couples and grant all benefits and protection given to spouses in a marriage.”

“We look forward to the day that these legislative measures be enacted into law and that we’ll be able to celebrate them in our lifetime,” concludes the National Youth Commission official.

We send nothing but well-wishes to the couple as their very first anniversary approaches in a few months – may their spirit for public service and passion for what they do bind them even more.

Happy Valentine’s Day!/PN