It’s hard enough for lovers to see each other when things like time zones, lands, and oceans set them apart. But what more is it for a friend, a family member, or an outsider (a complete stranger, essentially) to ask to see two people living in opposite ends of a continent—or world, even—at the same time, in the same place?
Such is exactly what went down in our chat with celebrity stylist Em Millan and Chinese business student Jeremy Smith—thankfully, we got lucky.
After weeks of trying to catch these two for an interview (they're rarely together in Manila since Jeremy is really based in China), fate finally decided that March was the perfect month for it. And there we were, at the top floor of an upscale dining haunt in Fort Bonifacio, for a fun and lovely evening with them, a beautiful couple whose inspiring story transcends countries and cultures and has triumphed over that major challenge called LDR (long distance relationship).
Many have said that long distance love is no walk in the park. But Em and Jeremy have us convinced that LDRs don’t have to be too hard, either—when love that's for keeps finds you, it will work its magic.
“We met online… And the first time we actually ever met was in Hong Kong!,” shares Jeremy. It was a convenient spot because Jeremy doesn’t live too far from there, while Em happened to be visiting for her best friend’s wedding. But prior to that, their only form of communication would be through Skype or WhatsApp.
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The two hit it off on their first encounter, and it didn’t take long for them to become official. In fact, it only took a month! From the time they started dating, it was clear that what attracted them to and what they love most about each other was beyond physical. “He has a nice heart. He helps a lot of people, especially in China,” gushes Em. Jeremy thinks the same of her and also admires how “hardworking” and “diligent” she is, considering how erratic her role as one half of styling duo Team RainXEm is.
Currently, Jeremy still resides in Shenzhen (a city about 17 kilometers away from Hong Kong) while Em has a very successful career here in Manila as the go-to stylist of many stars like Bianca Gonzalez-Intal, Team Kramer. Jolina Magdangal-Escueta, and most recently the Pinoy Big Brother Lucky Season 7 Big 4, so in the rare instances when they know they can be in the same country, they’ll take advantage of it.
When they had just gotten together, though, Em recalls how they really tried to come up with schedules. “Like, ‘Okay we have three days together. What do we do on those days?’. We had an itinerary whenever he was in town or when I was China,” she says. Other times, they would travel outside the Philippines, or take a few days off to visit each other’s families.
Likewise, it’s rare that they to have nothing specific planned. At the time we interviewed them, Em was shuffling from one shoot to the next, while Jeremy was working on his thesis on artificial business intelligence.
But as the night went on, we realized that it’s not so much what they do or where they go that excites the couple. Just the fact that they get excited to be in each other’s company, “the simple moments like sleeping together and waking up together,” as Jeremy puts it, are all it takes for them to fall even deeper in love.
A few months ago, Em and Jeremy celebrated a new milestone in their relationship—getting their very own place in Mandaluyong. “He’s a tenant! It’s like we’re moving in together,” exclaims Em. It’s a far cry from their previous set up: “For a while, we would just do AirBNBs in Eastwood. But now, it’s like OUR own place,” Jeremy shares.
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Save for the very little annoyances that most couples living together experience (“He never closes anything! The doors, the cabinet…”, Em says), they’ve grown to appreciate their influence on one another. They’re both foodies, but Em is learning to cook healthier with Jeremy around. She’s also getting into photography, which Jeremy calls his “heavy side hobby” (Em is, naturally, one of, if not his favorite subject to take pictures of). Jeremy, also now has neatly stacked clothes—which he jokingly claims he can’t touch lest he wants to ruin the stack—and a better fashion sense because “he wore sando everyday since I met him,” recounts Em.
It’s also nice seeing how, as different as their cultures are (Jeremy was raised in Vancouver, Canada), they don’t experience any serious clashing. “As far as our influence goes on one another we’re different people, for sure,” admits Jeremy. “She has her way of thinking on these and I have mine. We kind of help each other out by providing that different way of thinking about certain things. And we’re very open people. We’re not just going reject another person’s idea because it’s not ours. I think we complement each other well [in that sense].” Em agrees, adding how their cultural backgrounds, and not really their lines of work, help them understand things from different points of view.
A future is definitely in the works for Em and Jeremy—long distance isn’t something they intend on doing forever, even if they’ve gotten used to messaging each other daily. But it’s a future they’re still planning out—especially when it comes to deciding which country to stay in.
“The idea is for me to eventually make my way to Manila,” explains Jeremy. “She has her thing going here, I enjoy Manila, and enjoy being here. And I think the idea is to try and make it work here.” Em adds, “He’s graduating soon, so he’s more at a crossroad than I am. But at least he’ll reach that point soon wherein he has to make a decision. We haven’t finalized it yet but we’ve been considering our options.”
Either way, we can’t wait to find out what life has in store for them, and we sure can't wait for more doses of kilig from the intense, unconditional love of these two.
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Makeup by Jelly Eugenio / Shot on location at Grind Bistro, Crescent Park West, Bonifacio Global City / Photographs by Jana Jimenez and from Instagram.com/emmillan, Instagram.com/jydsmits, and Jana Jimenez