In a crowded Ormoc Superdrome, Juliana Gomez craned her neck from her seat the minute Queen’s We Are the Champions was blasted. There was excitement on her face as her dad, actor-turned-politician Richard Gomez, approached the stage where he would take his oath as Representative of the fourth district of Leyte. Minutes before, it was Juliana’s mom, Lucy Torres-Gomez, who walked at the center of the venue towards the stage for her oathtaking as mayor of Ormoc City.
When Richard walked past Juliana’s table, he stopped to give his 21-year-old daughter a hug. And tearful Juliana simply melted for 11 seconds in her father’s arms as he gave his daughter three loving kisses on the cheek.
As this was happening, a handsome, dignified young man in his piña barong Tagalog was all eyes on the beautiful Juliana. When she returned to her seat, he made sure to attend to her, with loving kindness. Then for a moment or two, they were lost in their own world, eye to eye.
His name is Miggy Bonnevie Bautista, 20, from Quezon City and a Legal Management student at the Ateneo. Miggy and Juliana have been sweethearts for almost two years now. And theirs is a romance that started to bloom during the strict pandemic lockdown.
Miggy and Juliana met in Ormoc in October 2020 while the young looker was training in a bubble for the National Team for fencing.
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“I was in the oval. I was sitting on the stage, with my teammates in the bleachers and Juliana arrived because I think it was the awarding. (Then) Mayor Richard was giving the awards to the athletes and then Juliana came with her friends. We saw her come down from her car and she approached to ask if we needed anything, like water. So that was the first time we interacted — Oct. 31, 2020,” Miggy said, with a lilt in his voice and stars in his eyes.
Was it love at first sight?
“No, I don’t think so. We spent a lot of time together and we really bonded to become best friends first,” he said.
How long were they best friends before they became an item?
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“I don’t know,” Miggy said, giggling and blushing. “I think we just kind of decided — like, there wasn’t really any ‘Will you be my girlfriend?’ type thing. It’s just more of we just both realized that we were kind of being really, really close. I guess we just decided at one point (to be an item). I don’t remember when we were gonna be boyfriend-girlfriend. But I will always remember the first time I saw her — Oct. 31, 2020.”
Miggy was in a bubble for five months. Included in his bonding time with Juliana was jogging around Ormoc City in the morning. Juliana showed him around and they bonded some more at Ormoc Herbs, their favorite restaurant.
At the inauguration of Richard and Lucy, Miggy sat with Juliana in a table that was also occupied by Lucy’s parents and siblings. The day before, Miggy joined in the float where Juliana and her parents were to participate in the city’s Piña Festival parade. In those instances, it was apparent that Miggy shares a good relationship with Juliana’s loved ones.
“Yes, he has a very good friendship with each of my family members, from my grandparents to my little cousins. It’s wonderful having him around in Ormoc,” said Juliana, a third year Public Administration student at UP Diliman.
Every Sunday, as Miggy still stays in Ormoc at a pension house called Pedro’s Place for his training, Miggy eats lunch with Juliana’s family. He even spent Christmas in 2020 and New Year’s Eve with them “because he was far away from home.”
Miggy and Juliana are also aligned when it comes to their love for their family.
Miggy’s mom, Jennifer, a cousin of actress Dina Bonnevie, is an entrepreneur. His dad Carlo, as Miggy puts it, “is a government employee.”
“My parents taught me to be understanding and patient. My mom had me at a young age. I think we’re in a better situation now in life compared to before. I was already born when my mom ‘was growing up’ and we had a different relationship compared to others. I’m just grateful I learned from my parents to be patient and understanding,” Miggy said.
His parents met Juliana and her family when they came to watch him compete in Ormoc.
“The greatest lesson I learned from my mom and dad is to be a good person,” said Juliana. “Being a good person goes a long way. If you’re a good person, you plant these seeds and anywhere you go, the people you were good to, they are also good to your children, to your family, to your friends.”
Juliana’s kind heart became emotional when her parents were sworn in. She cried when her dad hugged her because “it’s been a long time coming for him… I really do get emotional whenever I witness winning moments and whatnot. I witnessed my dad lose in elections in 2010 and 2013.”
In 2010, Richard was disqualified by the COMELEC for failing to establish residency in Ormoc City. He ran again in 2013 but lost. In 2016 to 2022, he served as Mayor of Ormoc City until he became the newly minted congressman of the fourth district of Leyte.
“I learned a lot from my dad in terms of executive work when I watched him handle the pandemic while we were here in Ormoc for two years, when everyone was in lockdown… (Now that he’s congressman,) I will have the opportunity to work alongside with my dad in his congressional office. I’m looking forward to that because I really want to know how he works in a legislative setting,” said Juliana.
Miggy is in full support of everything that Juliana dreams of. What kind of girlfriend is Juliana?
“She’s my best friend. We have so much fun spending time with each other. We act more like best friends than girlfriend-boyfriend because that’s how we started,” Miggy said.
What kind of boyfriend is Miggy?
“He’s a good man, a good person. He has a kind heart,” Juliana said of her boyfriend.
And that is the story of their young love, sweet love — the tale of their lockdown love.