(CNN) — It was October 2012 and Mae Edilyn Lumba Fortuna had quickly left behind her busy life in Manila to trip on the Filipino island of Boracay.
Together with her buddy Ivy in tow, Fortuna spent her evenings out dancing and her days lazing on Boracay’s spectacular White Seashore.
This specific morning, Ivy did not really feel like swimming, however Fortuna could not resist the expanse of glass-like sea stretching out in entrance of her.
After cooling off within the water, Fortuna made her manner again onto the sand — “Halle Berry-style, from James Bond,” as she places it — and noticed that Ivy was chatting with a mysterious man.
As Mae approached, this man launched himself. He was Jon Takagi, an American bodily therapist from Seattle on his first journey to the Philippines.
Whereas on trip in Boracay, Mae Edilyn Lumba Fortuna, left, and her buddy Ivy, proper, met American traveler Jon Takagi.
Courtesy Mae and Jon Takagi
“Ivy may be very gregarious, she began speaking to me,” Takagi recollects.
A part of the explanation Takagi had chosen Boracay as a journey vacation spot was its sociable vibe — he was vacationing alone, so he was eager to satisfy fellow vacationers.
These two girls appeared pleasant and enjoyable, so when Ivy requested if he wished to hitch them on a sundown boat journey that night, Takagi stated sure.
That night, because the sky blazed scarlet above them, Fortuna, Takagi and Ivy chatted about their lives and travels.
On the day they met, Fortuna and Takagi loved a sundown sail round Boracay.
Courtesy Mae and Jon Takagi
Afterwards, the group headed out dancing collectively. It was a blast, and though Fortuna and Ivy have been flying again to Manila the next day, they exchanged contact particulars with Takagi, promising to remain in contact on Fb.
Ivy wasn’t enthusiastic about Takagi romantically, Fortuna explains — her buddy was simply chatty, and liked to satisfy new individuals.
As for Fortuna, she’d actually loved hanging out with Takagi, and he or she thought he was enticing.
“He had abs,” she says now, laughing. “So we’re like, ‘Oh, he is sizzling.'”
Nonetheless, romance hadn’t actually crossed her thoughts, she simply figured he was a enjoyable individual to satisfy.
As for Takagi, he’d been intrigued by Fortuna since he first noticed her strolling up the sandy seashore.
“All people desires to say, ‘it was love at first sight.’ I do not assume it was love at first sight. It was curiosity instantly,” he tells CNN Journey right this moment.
Takagi hoped to return to see extra of the Philippines, and perhaps cross paths with Fortuna once more.
A second assembly
Over the subsequent few months, Takagi and Fortuna stored involved by way of Fb.
Fortuna stored anticipating the messages to drop off, however she all the time loved listening to from the American she’d met on the seashore.
“I requested Ivy, ‘Why is that this man nonetheless speaking with us?’ After which she was like, ‘Oh, simply carry on speaking to him. Who is aware of, perhaps we’ll go to Seattle, and we’ll have a buddy there,'” Fortuna recollects.
Round six months later, in March 2013, Takagi returned to the Philippines. He headed first to the island of Coron, a part of the gorgeous Calamian Islands situated southwest of Manila, the place he’d organized to reunite with Fortuna and Ivy, after which again to Boracay.
Fortuna was excited, however she may solely be part of for the primary a part of the journey — her household is Catholic, and Takagi’s trip coincided with Holy Week.
The trio had a good time reuniting towards the backdrop of Coron’s tropical splendor, having fun with walks on the seashore, swimming and snorkeling.
One night the group went island hopping, splitting the price of a ship with two American vacationers.
It was in the direction of the top of this present day that issues shifted between Fortuna and Takagi, and he or she bought the primary inkling that one thing else was effervescent beneath the floor of their pleasant interactions.
“One of many guys was hovering over me,” recollects Fortuna.
Takagi stepped in and put his arm round her. They sat like that for a while, beneath the nice and cozy glow of the moon.
Mae was stunned — however completely satisfied — about this flip of occasions.
Again on shore, the group went out to a bar. Fortuna and Takagi danced collectively, and kissed for the primary time.
Whereas island hopping round Coron, Takagi put his arm round Fortuna, and he or she bought the primary inkling of one thing romantic between them.
Courtesy Mae and Jon Takagi
Ivy was delighted for her buddies — and completely satisfied to go off on her personal adventures — so Fortuna and Takagi explored Coron collectively.
The 2 loved lengthy seashore walks, chatting about their shared ardour for journey. Takagi had spent a number of months on sabbatical in Thailand not lengthy earlier than, whereas Fortuna had traveled the world as a flight attendant for 5 years, in addition to labored a stint with Holland America cruise line.
When she met Takagi, Fortuna was a professor of Journey Administration, Cultural Tourism and Ecotourism on the College of Santo Tomas.
They each shared a love of dancing, they usually have been each foodies, with Takagi eager to strive Filipino delicacies for the primary time. There was a little bit of an age distinction — Fortuna was in her late 20s and Takagi was in his 40s — however they have been on the identical web page in some ways.
The 2 bonded over a mutual ardour for social points and a shared drive to assist others.
“She’s very sort of ahead pondering […] being a trainer and wanting to assist individuals,” Takagi says.
“One of many issues that attracted me to her is that she would take into consideration others, and would take into consideration some greater issues.”
Easter weekend was quick approaching, and Fortuna needed to say goodbye to Takagi and Ivy, and head dwelling.
However again in her mom’s home in Manila, Fortuna stored fascinated by Takagi.
“We’re supposed to wish and I am purported to be with my mother. However I sneaked out,” she says.
Fortuna booked the final flight to Boracay. She did not inform Takagi she was coming, as an alternative stunning him by unexpectedly knocking on his lodge room door a number of hours later.
“That is after I knew,” says Takagi. “That is when the connection began.”
Over the subsequent few months. Takagi and Fortuna launched into a long-distance relationship, protecting in contact by way of electronic mail and Skype.
“We might watch The Strolling Useless collectively, however by way of Skype, and we might be like ‘On the depend of three, press play’,” says Fortuna.
“We made it work, after which the most important factor was we frequently had plans,” says Takagi.
On one event the 2 traveled to the Filipino island of Bohol, dwelling to the Chocolate Hills, after which to Oslob, to swim with whale sharks.
In the direction of the top of 2013, Takagi and Fortuna visited El Nido, on Palawan, recognized for its unimaginable white sandy seashores.
As time went on, their relationship grew to become extra critical. On visits to the Philippines, Takagi met Fortuna’s household, whereas Fortuna met Jon’s family members by way of Skype.
The 2 began planning for Fortuna to return and stick with Jon within the US within the spring of 2014.
The journey wasn’t essentially a everlasting transfer, however the couple wished to see how Fortuna favored the US, and whether or not she may think about a life for herself there with Takagi. Fortuna had a US vacationer visa from her time as a flight attendant, so she may keep for a short while.
As Takagi factors out, as a result of they’d traveled rather a lot with each other, they’d spent loads of time basically residing collectively in accommodations.
However this wasn’t a trip, so it nonetheless felt a bit completely different, particularly as Takagi was working in the course of the week, and Fortuna wasn’t.
She handed the time in his condominium, feeling a bit listless.
“It is like my life was paused,” she says now.
However when the couple mutually determined the transfer must be everlasting, and Fortuna utilized for an immigrant visa, she was capable of begin working, and began to really feel extra settled within the US. It helped that she’d introduced her beloved canine Heidi alongside together with her.
Fortuna and Takagi celebrated their marriage ceremony within the US and in Manila, pictured right here.
Courtesy Mae and Jon Takagi
Takagi had lengthy meant to ask Fortuna to marry him, however Fortuna wasn’t into the thought of ready for him to get round to asking.
“I requested Jon level clean if he’s going to marry me or not as a result of I’ve a life in Manila and a educating job ready for me on the College,” says Fortuna.
The couple have been married in September 2014, a small civil marriage ceremony at a courthouse in Seattle.
Just a few years later, they loved an enormous church celebration in Manila.
Shifting to the US and leaving her family members within the Philippines wasn’t simple, says Fortuna.
However she says her household love Takagi, and supported the choice — fortunately, Fortuna’s mother had lengthy forgiven him for being the explanation her daughter had deserted the household that Easter.
Plus, Fortuna and Takagi continued to journey extensively, whether or not it was returning to the Philippines to see Fortuna’s household and go scuba diving — they’re each now PADI licensed — or exploring the US, from the seashores of Maui to climbing the Grand Canyon.
In addition they visited Minidoka, Idaho, the place Japanese People have been interned in the course of the Second World Conflict.
Takagi is Japanese American, and Fortuna was shocked and heartbroken to study this side of US historical past.
Right this moment, Fortuna attracts a comparability to the racist assaults towards Asian People which have taken place in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“With the present racism and violence towards Asian People I hope that when individuals learn our story they are going to notice that we’re similar to everybody else,” says Fortuna.
“We’re entitled to the American pursuit of happiness too, like everybody, no matter coloration or race.”
Takagi and Fortuna on a current wine tasting journey with their son Joseph, and their canine Heidi.
Courtesy Mae and Jon Takagi
For Fortuna and Takagi, it is also vital to construct a greater world for his or her youngster — in November 2020, their son Joseph was born.
It was a journey to get there in additional methods than one.
Joseph was conceived by way of IVF. And when the Covid-19 pandemic hit Seattle, Fortuna was pregnant and Takagi was working at a hospital.
It was an intense time, and the couple additionally discovered it powerful not having the ability to see Fortuna’s household within the Philippines.
However the previous few months have additionally been full of pleasure, as Fortuna and Takagi welcomed Joseph into the world and began constructing out their life as a household of three.
The couple are planning to fly out to the Philippines in January 2022, to get pleasure from a long-delayed household reunion. Their long-term plan is to retire there.
For now, they’re staying put, however they’re excited to instill their love of journey in Joseph.
In spite of everything, a thirst for journey is what introduced them collectively within the first place.
“You open your self as much as assembly individuals,” says Takagi. “I believe it was meant to be.”
“How many individuals get to satisfy their partner on the seashore?” says Fortuna. “Wanting again, our story is wonderful.”