Like an excited little girl who just got inside a candy shop, Bianca stares with delight at the breathtaking bouquet of red roses in front of her. Delicately resting on it is a small card that says, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Baby”. She opens the card and finds the words, written in gold, moving gracefully in slow motion until they finally read: Wish you were here. I miss you so. Love, James. A flood of mixed emotions suddenly rush through her veins and when it landed straight to her heart, she knows exactly why. She can’t help but be confused on whether or not she should be happy with the present, because deep inside she knows that that bouquet and card would have been one hell of a Valentine treat if she weren’t looking at the dozens of roses on her computer screen and she weren’t opening the card with a click of the mouse.
Bianca and James had been dating for more than two years when James decided to take his Software Programming career to Singapore. And it has been over a year since they began dealing with LD, or the dreaded long distance relationship. Their love affair has become solely dependent on the internet. Bianca’s breakfast means a hot pan de sal plus a quick post on James’ Facebook Wall. Dinner for James includes a bag of take-out and a Skype video call to enable him to check if his sweetheart has had her meal. If there is any consolation in their relationship, though, it’s the fact that Singapore and the Philippines share the same time zone, so one wouldn’t have to greet good morning to the other, who is about to sleep. While both parties could only wish they aren’t stuck in such complicated situation where the heart yearns for something that’s too far away, or where goodnight kisses are the result of a colon, a dash, and an asterisk combined, Bianca and James know that they and their treasured love owe it big time to technology-to the romance that is 21st century.
Gone are the days when men are sporting trousers (and when “trousers” sounded real hot) to impress a girl and a walk in the park is the most perfect opportunity for a first kiss. Dancing in the rain doesn’t even sound that romantic these days. Specifically for Filipinas, gone are the days of harana beneath the evening skies. In this day and age, dating through the net, like that of Bianca and James’, has become the rule, and speed dating or meeting someone new is a bonus many lonely hearts or outgoing individuals cherish. But the World Wide Web could not easily wholly claim this reputation. Because of course, there is the fascinating art of texting. Since the world was introduced to this type of communication, it has become remarkably noticeable that people, especially in our country, have become very dependent on this tool. This is apparently true to lovers who want to keep the fire burning through daily sweet nothings that cost no more than one peso, or those who are simply in the search of amour. Ehem, does “textmate” and “eye-ball” ring a bell to you? Every other Filipino must have had one experience of such once upon a time.
While technology has indeed made the world smaller, ties tighter and lonely nights less lonely, there are also those who think that classic romance will still always bring home the cake. It’s true, tangible stuff is always better than just readable gestures. But come to think of it, had the internet and mobile phones been invented sooner, Juliet wouldn’t have had to yell in the dead of the night to call for her Romeo, for the oh so mushy Montague would have been just a Tweet away; and even more, Romeo would have been spared of taking away his own life because Juliet could have just texted him that she was just pretending to be dead, and that happy dagger wouldn’t have considered her belly as its sheath upon finding out that Romeo was dead because he thought she was. See? They would have lived happily ever after.
While online dating will never guarantee you of true love and Facebook may have already become a portal of digging out secrets that might just very well ruin some relationships, we can never deny that technology has also crafted and woven many happy endings. The dawn of the 21st century had undoubtedly revolutionized man’s lifestyle, and romance is not exempt from the changes. Yes, no sweet text message or long engaging video call can ever replace the physical presence, but keeping in touch through phone or internet is the next best thing to having to hug or kiss the love of your life, who sadly happens to be miles away. After all, bridging distance – whether a twenty-minute drive away or continents away – is just one of the many wonders of this fast-paced, seemingly unromantic yet in fact hopeless romantic century. ♥