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Documenting Love: Rhea & Jumar's Story

Welcome to our Documenting Love series where we capture people's love stories through photos and the written word. This may be one of our favorite weekly series! Check out the gallery and read the couples love story below. Keep in mind that we ask the couples to answer the questions separately so we can draw parallels between their experiences and, you know, say a collective, "Ahhhhhhh!" If you or someone you know wants to be featured in this series, please get in touch with us, hello@seattlerefined.com.

Rhea
My first memory of Jumar is from kindergarten, where we both met. It may be the hardest thing to believe, but Jumar was my first crush. I always remembered him as the boy who wore a Mariners baseball cap to school, even though our school had a strict dress code. In kindergarten, our class had nap time right after the lunch hour. We would put our mats on the floor in the playroom, and then pick out a blanket and a pillow. I would pick the same pink satin pillow with lace frills around the border, and Jumar would always pick the blue Pokemon-themed pillow with a giant Pikachu on one side. I have always been a light sleeper, but during nap time, I wouldn’t even fall asleep. So, instead of sleeping, I would just watch Jumar sleep because his sleeping spot was directly across the room. I think that’s the first memory of him that sticks with me the most. I also have a bound book from Kindergarten that our teacher put together at the end of the school year which contains all of my favorite drawings and projects from that year. I remember the prompt for one of the drawing assignments was to draw our favorite people in the class. I drew stick figures in Crayola washable markers of Jumar, our teacher, and Jumar’s cousin, who was one of my closest friends until we graduated from eighth grade together. Growing up, I was really into Disney movies and fairytales. I really believed that wishes on stars could come true at that age. I remember one starry night after my parents and I picked up my grandfather from work, I looked up at the brightest star in the sky and wished that Jumar would be my prince one day and that we would live happily ever after. Cheesy, right? Well, here we are now.

Jumar
The first memory of Rhea I can think of is when we were in kindergarten. In one of our classes we had to sing the “Gloria In Excelsis Deo” song, and when it came to the long “Glo-o-o-o-oo-o ria” part, I would turn and look at her when we all said “ria.”

Rhea
We both grew up in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle until he moved further down south, to Renton. We went to the same private school together, but he ended up transferring to a different school in Renton before second grade while I stayed and graduated from eighth grade there. I didn’t think I’d see him again. Years later, in June of 2010, I was finishing up the end of my freshman year of high school at a private all-girls school where I didn’t fit in. I was browsing around Facebook one day and under the “People You May Know” friend suggestions, I saw a user named “Jumar Caoile” with no profile photo. I thought about the probability of how many people in the world must have that same exact name. He and I had mutual friends, including one of his cousins who I was good friends with. I knew it had to be him, so I sent him a friend request. It is hard to describe how giddy and excited I was during this moment. Without social media, I wonder if we would have even reconnected!

He accepted my friend request, we started chatting and catching up with each other, and we came up with a date to meet up in person. We actually met up at the eighth grade graduation party of our old elementary school, and I remember feeling so anxious that entire day prior to meeting him because I was afraid of what he’d think of me. Was I pretty enough? Did I look like how I looked in my Facebook photos? Would he notice my birthmark? I was a sweaty mess that day. The first thing I did when he approached my group of friends at the party was jump up and give him a hug....and he didn’t hug me back because he was kind of taken by surprise. That was our first time seeing each other again in fifteen years, and I still laugh at how awkward I was.

Jumar
I remember she had a short bob haircut and she always wore a cute little bow in her hair. After I transferred out of St. Edwards, we didn’t see or talk to each other until we reconnected on Facebook years later. We planned to meet with each other several times but it never worked out until we were able to meet at Borders in Southcenter. She stalked me for several minutes before she came to say hi. I followed someone else thinking it was her but thank God I didn’t go up to her.

Rhea
I’m proud of him for various things, but most importantly, I’m so proud of his dedication to our relationship. The first few years of our relationship were definitely not easy. We were caught up in this sort of Romeo and Juliet situation. I have a strict, traditional family, so I was not allowed to date anyone at all until I graduated from college. Before my family found out we were actually dating, we would only meet up at the mall once a month, and our friends and my brother and cousin had to come along with us. Most of the early years of our relationship was mostly spent chatting online (I didn’t have a cell phone until senior year of high school). Then, when my family found out I had a boyfriend, we were told we couldn’t see each other for six years, which is about the time I’d graduate from college. So, we went from seeing each other once a month, to being told to not see each other at all. It makes me so proud that Jumar did not once doubt we would make it work. We would say we were in a “long distance relationship” even though we were only a thirty-minute drive apart because that’s what it felt like. And when Jumar said he would continue to wait for me no matter how long it takes, that’s when I knew he was the one.

Jumar
I'm proud of all her accomplishments academically and career wise. Once she sets out do so something, she sees it through. When she applies for a scholarship, internship, or a job, it’s like she already knows she’ll get it. Everything she does is something that’ll be beneficial for her, her family and for our future together.

Rhea
This goes back to the previous scenario. There was a time Jumar and I were allowed to hang out one last time before not being allowed to see each other again, and my uncle dropped us off downtown. It also happened to be our one year anniversary, so I had brought him a framed black-and-white photo collage of the few photos we had together printed on regular paper and a heartfelt card. I remember watching him cry while he read the card, and holding back tears when my uncle said this would be the last time we’d see each other again. I knew in that moment that he was serious about us. Jumar assured me that day that everything would be okay, and that’s when I knew I loved him. We ended up still finding time to meet up at least a couple times a month, but only for a few hours.

Jumar
I knew I loved her when her uncle told me that I couldn’t see her anymore. We were supposed to have our “last hangout” during high school and we met up at Westlake. When her, her brother, and her cousin got out the car (they were supposed to watch us), her uncle motioned me closer to the car and told me “You know this is the last time you’ll be able to see her for a while right?” Something clicked in my head and in that moment, I knew I loved this girl.

Rhea
What sets our relationship apart from others is how we are able to support each other and recover from all the obstacles we face together. I love that we have such strong qualities individually, and that when we’re together, we just amplify those qualities in each other. Over time, I’ve realized we also acquired each other’s qualities to the point where I’d say we’re almost the same person now, just different genders. He was my best friend in kindergarten, he was my best friend throughout high school and college, and he remains my best friend now. The thing about relationships is that everything is always fluid and changing, and that’s what I love about Jumar and I. We’re constantly learning new things about each other and learning new things together, and even when we think we’ve seen and heard it all, there’s a new surprise each day. The positive perspective we have on facing the unexpected together is what sets the foundation for a stable relationship in my eyes.

Jumar
I think what separates our relationship apart from others is that we still learn new things about each other every day. Somehow she has a story for everything, and when something happens she tells me something that happened to her in the past as to why she likes/dislikes something.I love how we’re still able to share new things about each other everyday.

Rhea
Jumar proposed to me at his house in December 2017, on a snowy, cold night. After being with him for eight years, it was no surprise to me that it would be coming anytime soon. Our first out-of-state trip was to Disneyland in September, and I really thought he was going to propose then. I mean, he knew Disneyland was my favorite place in the world! I was actually pretty disappointed that he didn’t, and I honestly badgered him about it for a while. And then, after he proposed, I realized he hadn’t asked my parents for their blessing. I’m pretty traditional, so I told him he should. When I was getting a haircut, he went to ask my mom at my family’s house because my dad was at work. I was still living at home at the time, so when I got home, the first thing my mom said was, “Did Jumar give you the ring yet?” Keep in mind, this was after he had already proposed to me. But if he’d actually asked for their blessing beforehand and my mom asked me that before I even knew he was going to propose, the moment would have been totally ruined. It wasn’t the proposal that I envisioned, but over time, I came to accept that it’s not the big, flashy proposal that should matter. Honestly, the answer was yes even before he bought the ring.

Jumar
The proposal wasn’t what we both wanted it to be, but it happened at my house at 4 in the morning. I should’ve listened to my head and waited but something made me want to do it at that moment. She deserves a better one and I still plan on giving her that.

Rhea
There’s so many reasons to love Jumar. What I love the most about him is that he has refused to leave my side, in good times and in bad, even when I think I gave him so many reasons to. I’m pretty stubborn, but so is he, in a good way. He insists on driving me to my internships, work, and law school because I told him about my bad experiences taking public transportation. Even when he’s at work, he checks up on me to ask if I’ve eaten yet. He insists on cooking another meal for me even if I am already in the kitchen preparing something. It’s that those qualities are all qualities I liked in him as my best friend and now my fiance.

Jumar
I love how she brings out the best in me, she always tries to push me to do bigger and better things. She’s always looking after other people, and she tries to help them in anyway she can. She’s pushed me to continue my education, she helped me look for jobs, volunteer opportunities, and leadership opportunities so that I can look like a better candidate for potential employers and schools. She’s my angel who always looks after me and she’s my best friend.

Rhea
I want to describe a situation that I think accurately portrays who Jumar is as an individual and has stuck with me until this day. One day, during our teen years, Jumar and I met up downtown after he had just come back from a family party. Jumar had brought me a foil-covered plate of barbecued pork ribs that smelled so amazing. We planned to sit down together somewhere and eat them together. It was Easter, so basically all of the shops and businesses were closed. When we were walking around downtown together, trying to find a place to sit, a homeless man passed by us. He turned around and commented that our food smelled delicious and wished us a happy Easter. Immediately, Jumar looked at me and asked if it was okay to give the plate of barbecued ribs to the homeless man. I remember my own stomach was growling and my mouth was watering at the wafting sweet smell of pork ribs in my hands. But I knew Jumar was doing the right thing, so I agreed. Jumar literally ran after the homeless man to give him the food. It was one of the sweetest things he’s ever done for anyone besides me. I love Jumar because I think we fill in the gaps in each other’s personalities and balance each other out.

Jumar
She just finds ways to make me laugh, even when she doesn’t try. She’s an excellent cook, I love her sinigang (sour Filipino soup dish). She’s beautiful, smart, random, quirky, derpy, and sexy. I like how she always finishes tasks that are school or work related like a week in advance, she’s always punctual and organized and she does things right away.

Rhea
I think the sexiest thing about him is that he is so willing to drop what he’s doing just to make sure that I’m okay. He’s made so many sacrifices for me. He’s also like that with his friends, family, and even strangers on the street. He’s like a real-life superhero, I swear. I’ve always been the type to work on myself and my own goals first just so I would have a good foundation for our future together. I’m more individualistic than he is, so my motto for being in a relationship is something along the lines of “You can’t fully love someone else if you don’t learn to love yourself first.” But somehow Jumar always saw things in me that I didn’t learn to see in myself until I met him. It’s like he only sees the good in people and never the flaws. He’s always had such a mature and nurturing soul, and that’s one of the sexiest things about him.

Jumar
Everything is sexy about my fiancee so it’s hard to decide what’s the sexiest thing. But, if I had to choose, I think the sexiest thing about her is her eyes. Even when she gets mad at me those eyes still look sexy.

Rhea
One of our favorite things to do together is go for walks, either around the U-District or downtown, visiting Pike Place and the waterfront. That used to be our escape from reality when we were going through hard times in high school. It’s been hard to find time to hang out outside of me attending law school and him working at a hospital while also finishing up applying for nursing programs, but one of the things we’ve been doing more regularly together is watching Saturday Night Live skits on YouTube. We have a recent favorite that left us laughing so hard we cried, and Jumar actually memorized the entire skit! That’s literally the first thing he puts on the TV every morning just to annoy me.

Jumar
When we get home from work or school, we take turns carrying our rabbit (Joey) and dancing with him. I don’t know if this is a ritual, but sometimes when we dance at home, she’ll put her feet on top of my feet and I’ll walk around with her on me. And at least once a week, we’ll go look at rabbits and dogs up for adoption (I’m usually the one who wants to go).


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