Incredible. Amazing. Only for the movies. God’s miracle! I must admit that I uttered those words when I met Fidel and Merly and heard their love story during my recent Christmas vacation in Baguio City. Both are in their 60s but have just begun to live as husband and wife.
No, they are not new to each other. They did not meet only recently and found love instantly. In fact, they met long time ago when they were young and working in the same company -- Green Valley Country Club -- a prestigious member-only sports facility in this beautiful, summer capital of the Philippines. Fidel was then a janitor. Merly was the company nurse.
Fresh from high school in the ‘70s, Fidel, whose family was poor and couldn’t afford sending him to college, started working as janitor at Green Valley which was close enough to their hut in Dominican Hill, primarily to help his family survive. Because of Fidel’s natural characteristics of industry, initiative, kindness, and willingness to learn new things, the manager of the country club decided he must give the young man the opportunity to move up from janitorial to mechanical department. Fidel gradually learned the basics and more of all equipment used in the sports facility. He became a very good mechanic in the company, although his meager pay could not still allow him to go to college. At around this time, the company hired a young nurse, who a bit later will catch the eye and heart of Fidel. Her name is Merlyn. Unknown at first to her co-employees, Merlyn belongs to a wealthy family in Baguio City, with professional siblings and parents living abroad.

Fidel was enamored, and the young man started to let Merlyn know how he felt for her. Too young to be involved then, Merlyn did not take Fidel seriously. However, the growing mutual infatuation between them soon became obvious. When Merlyn’s identity became open (because no secret will ever remain as such), Fidel realized he must be dreaming to be involved with a pretty heiress but his feeling refused to go. He decided he wanted Merlyn to be his future wife, and made his intention clear to Merlyn’s family.
Fidel did not expect Merlyn’s family’s response.
Merlyn’s parents sent the girl to visit them in the United States … on a permanent basis! Merlyn failed to come back to the Philippines, as her parents succeeded in separating Fidel and Merlyn -- a relationship they considered a bad match. Fidel was a poor, uneducated boy who did not deserve Merlyn’s place in society.
Broken hearted and felt challenged by Merlyn’s departure from his life, Fidel ended up getting married to a single mother of two. And like many Filipinos who wanted to earn good money to support their families (which is highly impossible to happen in the domestic front), Fidel left for Saudi Arabia. It was in a Saudi university where Fidel decided he will finish college.
Hard work and determination were Fidel’s weapons as he mixed his job and education in the Middle East and succeeded in doing a great job in both. Fidel became a civil engineer, venturing in both engineering field work and teaching. For many years, Fidel was able to provide his family, his parents and his wife & children, the kind of life Fidel dreamed for his loved ones in his youth. He financed his wife’s children’s college education and built a good home for them. The many years of struggle to get out of poverty and the responsibility he put himself to actually healed Fidel’s broken heart created by Merlyn’s absence in his life. Fidel is now a successful engineer and his future just seems to be brighter as years go by.
Then, some time before Fidel’s retirement from Saudi Arabia, Fidel found out that Fidel’s wife was actually a woman married to another man, and that she married Fidel using an assumed name. His wife of many years was not the woman he thought she was! Another woman broke Fidel’s healed heart! Fidel ended up deciding he just wanted to retire, go back to the Philippines and pick up whatever pieces were left in his life.
At around this time, when Fidel was already in his early 60s, Green Valley Country Club announced a reunion of their employees, former and present, and so Fidel wanted to see his old co-employees after almost 40 years of non contact, except perhaps through Facebook among a few close friends.
It was 2016, and most former employees of the sports club have changed -- in looks and status in life. Fidel was one of them. The former janitor was now an engineer, and while his smile didn’t change, his looks did, and his confidence was truly evident as he spoke and moved around.
He looked around the room, hoping to find familiar faces. Then their eyes met, briefly at first, then at length, seemingly trying to find words to say. Fidel looked down at her brown boots…she obviously came from abroad!!
Merlyn gained some weight…but who didn’t at their age? But it was the same beautiful eyes, warm smile, and elegant hand moves!
“Fidel…” she whispered.
“Merlyn…” he uttered to himself, almost in tears.
The two former young lovers became unmindful of others and their reunion program after that moment of truth. The world, to them, was circling around them alone. Everything around became blurred, while the spark of that young, first love, became blindingly bright!!
In 2018, Fidel and Merlyn got married. He was 63, Merlyn was 62. There were no more blocks to a loving relationship that obviously remained despite absence in each other’s life for many, many years and uncertainty as to whether or not they will ever see each other again.

Author (front, left) poses with Fidel (at the back) and Merlyn (front, right) in the couple's residence in Baguio City on Dec. 26, 2023.