Conversations about traditions, love relations, and flower symbolism. Photos and interviews by Joseph Pascual.

I don’t think family is based on like, because a lot of people I’m related to, I do not like. It’s maybe more of kinship when you find a connection with someone whom you think could be family. Don’t you hate a lot of your relatives?

Kinship can be defined as an instant connection or it can grow over time. People you’ve known since childhood, you don't actually have a kinship with them, right?

History. you have a shared history. But kinship is more than a shared history.

I enjoy the idea of putting groups of people together. It’s an equation. Who's the funny one? Who's the sad, dopey one? Who's the silly one who’ll bring much needed levity to a gathering?

I enjoy waking up in a space that’s mine alone. I come from a loud, noisy family and that’s why I enjoy the quiet. I think the joy of living alone is that you can enjoy a certain quality to being alone, like serenity, complete relaxation.

I enjoy the deadness of being alone, but that’s not to say that I enjoy being alone all the time. I enjoy hosting because it’s a chance to gather like-minded people but also people who are my total opposite in one space. It’s a finite experience. I can kick them out at the end of the day and go back to being alone.

I’m not bored by everyday life. I like feeling dead by myself, I like it. I like laying down in bed being dead next to my dogs, I don’t find that boring.

MIGUEL: Jess and I, we have similar sensibilities, similar interests, but also it’s different at the same time. That’s when it gets more interesting because we start learning more from each other and it becomes like this kind of, I guess a back and forth. Because we have all these common denominators, it was easy for us to navigate around this world.

Seven years of marriage. And interestingly enough when we got together, we did it for six months. And then after six months, we proposed to each other. We proposed to each other very unconventionally, like we just spoke about it.

It was a secret marriage. There was no family. There was nothing. It was just two of my best friends and just two of Jess’ best friends there. It was held at Jess’ best friend’s house. Jess’ other best friend decorated the whole space with red fabric drapery everywhere.

JESS: My bouquet was sunflowers and Australian natives because we couldn’t afford roses, but it was beautiful.

MIGUEL: I cooked pancit canton and adobo and Jess made the wedding cake. Both of my best friends are jewelers. They made the rings for the wedding. It was just everything we wanted.

MIGUEL: The earlier years of our marriage, we were pretty rock and roll. Jess and I had a lot of demons that we were dealing with. This was the time we got freshly together then we got married right away, but we also had all these issues.

JESS: We had baggage. We had luggage. We had check-in.

MIGUEL: More than 30 kilos! You have to pay extra for the baggage! It taught us a lot about ourselves, about who we are and what we want in life. The only guiding hope for us with our baggage is that we have each other. It got us a bit stronger because we had each other. That’s how we came so far. The friendship that we both have for each other, we can take it through different levels of relationships.

JESS: It’s not just completely romantic. I mean things get lost in translation anyway but we have that openness and understanding and checking in with each other all the time. Life is fast and we’re changing and we’re growing which is great, but it’s good to know that we’re doing it alongside each other. It’s like, it’s so corny, like we’re each other’s cheerleaders.

When Vita Sackville-West’s husband died, she was in mourning. She painted one entire room in black and one singular anthurium on the wall. Can you just imagine the impact, all black and white and a single anthurium. In the 1920s! She was an author, a garden designer, she was a very bon vivant girl.

She went the opposite way. Instead of putting everything, she chose restraint. I’m not sure if it’s an urban legend but it’s so nice. The story is too nice to not believe. Not all of Diana Vreeland’s stories are true but they’re so nice. They’re so luscious. They’re so rich in texture and history that I want to believe it. I don’t mind if they’re true or not.

If you do a Vita, you practice restraint.

Take something out to make it complete. I know some people who wouldn’t be happy with very simple flower arrangements but they’re thinking that you duped them. They didn’t get their money’s worth. No it’s not. Sometimes you may not have the most bountiful of flowers but they’re gorgeous.

Immediately after my night classes I’d go to Dangwa. Dangwa is the only go-to place for flowers. Even then until now. I’d go with my sister to flower shops, that started my fascination with them.

No matter how fleeting they are, they still give you joy. Flowers give you comfort. You don’t get mad when you receive flowers.

It’s also giving it.
How many artistas and divas, the sopranos, would be over the moon when you see them being thrown roses on the stage?

It’s something that you cherish, when someone gives you flowers.