The couple who met on the beach at Boracay

(CNN) — It was Oct 2012 and Mae Edilyn Lumba Fortuna had quickly remaining behind her fast paced lifestyle in Manila to getaway on the Filipino island of Boracay.

With her mate Ivy in tow, Fortuna used her evenings out dancing and her days lazing on Boracay’s impressive White Beach.

This certain early morning, Ivy did not really feel like swimming, but Fortuna could not resist the expanse of glass-like sea stretching out in front of her.

“There is no wave, it is incredibly even now, really blue,” Fortuna tells CNN Journey nowadays.

Right after cooling off in the water, Fortuna created her way back again onto the sand — “Halle Berry-design and style, from James Bond,” as she puts it — and saw that Ivy was chatting with a mysterious guy.

As Mae approached, this person introduced himself. He was Jon Takagi, an American bodily therapist from Seattle on his first trip to the Philippines.

Though on family vacation in Boracay, Mae Edilyn Lumba Fortuna, left, and her close friend Ivy, correct, met American traveler Jon Takagi.

Courtesy Mae and Jon Takagi

“Ivy is extremely gregarious, she started conversing to me,” Takagi recalls.

Section of the cause Takagi had preferred Boracay as a journey place was its sociable vibe — he was vacationing by itself, so he was eager to meet up with fellow tourists.

These two ladies seemed helpful and enjoyable, so when Ivy questioned if he needed to be part of them on a sunset boat excursion that evening, Takagi reported sure.

That evening, as the sky blazed scarlet previously mentioned them, Fortuna, Takagi and Ivy chatted about their life and travels.

Mae-and-Jon-Takagi-Boracay-2012 (1)

On the day they satisfied, Fortuna and Takagi enjoyed a sunset sail all around Boracay.

Courtesy Mae and Jon Takagi

Later on, the team headed out dancing alongside one another. It was a blast, and although Fortuna and Ivy have been traveling back to Manila the subsequent working day, they exchanged speak to particulars with Takagi, promising to remain in touch on Facebook.

Ivy was not interested in Takagi romantically, Fortuna clarifies — her friend was just chatty, and liked to satisfy new men and women.

As for Fortuna, she’d seriously loved hanging out with Takagi, and she thought he was interesting.

“He experienced ab muscles,” she states now, laughing. “So we are like, ‘Oh, he is incredibly hot.'”

Still, romance hadn’t really crossed her mind, she just figured he was a exciting person to meet.

As for Takagi, he’d been intrigued by Fortuna due to the fact he initially observed her walking up the sandy beach front.

“Everybody desires to say, ‘it was love at to start with sight.’ I don’t feel it was enjoy at to start with sight. It was fascination appropriate absent,” he tells CNN Journey nowadays.

Takagi hoped to return to see much more of the Philippines, and it’s possible cross paths with Fortuna again.

A next assembly

Above the upcoming few months, Takagi and Fortuna held in get in touch with by using Fb.

Fortuna retained expecting the messages to fall off, but she constantly savored hearing from the American she’d satisfied on the seaside.

“I questioned Ivy, ‘Why is this dude nevertheless communicating with us?’ And then she was like, ‘Oh, just continue to keep on chatting to him. Who knows, maybe we’ll go to Seattle, and we’ll have a pal there,'” Fortuna recalls.

All-around 6 months later on, in March 2013, Takagi returned to the Philippines. He headed initially to the island of Coron, section of the beautiful Calamian Islands located southwest of Manila, where he’d organized to reunite with Fortuna and Ivy, and then back to Boracay.

Fortuna was energized, but she could only sign up for for the initial aspect of the journey — her household is Catholic, and Takagi’s holiday coincided with Holy Week.


Takagi, Fortuna and Ivy appreciated a memorable journey to Coron in 2013.

Courtesy Mae and Jon Takagi

The trio had a terrific time reuniting against the backdrop of Coron’s tropical splendor, experiencing walks on the beach front, swimming and snorkeling.

A person night the team went island hopping, splitting the cost of a boat with two American travelers.

It was to the end of this working day that matters shifted between Fortuna and Takagi, and she obtained the very first inkling that a little something else was bubbling less than the area of their friendly interactions.

“A single of the men was hovering about me,” recalls Fortuna.

Takagi stepped in and place his arm about her. They sat like that for some time, beneath the warm glow of the moon.

Mae was shocked — but content — about this change of gatherings.

Back again on shore, the team went out to a bar. Fortuna and Takagi danced together, and kissed for the initially time.


When island hopping all around Coron, Takagi place his arm close to Fortuna, and she acquired the initial inkling of anything intimate amongst them.

Courtesy Mae and Jon Takagi

Ivy was delighted for her close friends — and satisfied to go off on her personal adventures — so Fortuna and Takagi explored Coron together.

The two liked extended beach walks, chatting about their shared enthusiasm for vacation. Takagi experienced spent many months on sabbatical in Thailand not lengthy in advance of, while Fortuna had traveled the globe as a flight attendant for five years, as nicely as worked a stint with Holland America cruise line.

When she fulfilled Takagi, Fortuna was a professor of Vacation Management, Cultural Tourism and Ecotourism at the University of Santo Tomas.

They each shared a love of dancing, and they were both of those foodies, with Takagi eager to try out Filipino delicacies for the first time. There was a bit of an age variance — Fortuna was in her late 20s and Takagi was in his 40s — but they have been on the same web page in lots of means.

The two bonded in excess of a mutual passion for social difficulties and a shared push to aid other folks.

“She’s quite sort of forward wondering […] being a instructor and seeking to assist persons,” Takagi claims.

“One particular of the points that captivated me to her is that she would feel about other folks, and would assume about some even bigger points.”

Easter weekend was rapid approaching, and Fortuna had to say goodbye to Takagi and Ivy, and head home.

But back in her mother’s property in Manila, Fortuna retained pondering about Takagi.

“We’re intended to pray and I am meant to be with my mother. But I sneaked out,” she says.

Fortuna booked the final flight to Boracay. She didn’t explain to Takagi she was coming, in its place shocking him by unexpectedly knocking on his lodge place doorway quite a few hrs later on.

“That is when I understood,” suggests Takagi. “That is when the marriage begun.”


Over the following handful of months. Takagi and Fortuna embarked on a long-distance marriage, preserving in contact via e mail and Skype.

“We might watch The Strolling Lifeless together, but by means of Skype, and we would be like ‘On the depend of 3, press play’,” states Fortuna.

“We created it operate, and then the biggest factor was we continually had programs,” says Takagi.

On one particular event the two traveled to the Filipino island of Bohol, residence to the Chocolate Hills, and then to Oslob, to swim with whale sharks.

Toward the conclusion of 2013, Takagi and Fortuna visited El Nido, on Palawan, acknowledged for its remarkable white sandy beaches.

As time went on, their partnership became far more major. On visits to the Philippines, Takagi satisfied Fortuna’s family, even though Fortuna satisfied Jon’s cherished ones by way of Skype.

The two commenced generating plans for Fortuna to occur and continue to be with Jon in the US in the spring of 2014.

The excursion wasn’t always a permanent move, but the pair desired to see how Fortuna appreciated the US, and no matter whether she could think about a life for herself there with Takagi. Fortuna experienced a US vacationer visa from her time as a flight attendant, so she could remain for a minor whilst.

As Takagi details out, for the reason that they’d traveled a whole lot with just one another, they’d put in a large amount of time primarily living collectively in resorts.

But this was not a holiday, so it continue to felt a bit different, specially as Takagi was working throughout the 7 days, and Fortuna wasn’t.

She passed the time in his condominium, experience a bit listless.

“It is like my everyday living was paused,” she suggests now.

But when the couple mutually determined the go should be long-lasting, and Fortuna utilized for an immigrant visa, she was ready to start doing the job, and commenced to feel a lot more settled in the US. It assisted that she’d introduced her beloved dog Heidi along with her.

Married life


Fortuna and Takagi celebrated their wedding in the US and in Manila, pictured here.

Courtesy Mae and Jon Takagi

Takagi experienced long intended to question Fortuna to marry him, but Fortuna wasn’t into the idea of ready for him to get around to inquiring.

“I questioned Jon level blank if he is heading to marry me or not due to the fact I have a everyday living in Manila and a educating work ready for me at the College,” claims Fortuna.

The few have been married in September 2014, a modest civil wedding day at a courthouse in Seattle.

A few years afterwards, they enjoyed a large church celebration in Manila.

Going to the US and leaving her beloved types in the Philippines wasn’t easy, claims Fortuna.

But she claims her loved ones really like Takagi, and supported the choice — the good thing is, Fortuna’s mom had prolonged forgiven him for remaining the cause her daughter had deserted the family that Easter.

In addition, Fortuna and Takagi ongoing to journey extensively, no matter if it was returning to the Philippines to see Fortuna’s loved ones and go scuba diving — they’re the two now PADI certified — or exploring the US, from the seashores of Maui to mountaineering the Grand Canyon.


Fortuna and Takagi at the Grand Canyon.

Courtesy Mae and Jon Takagi

They also frequented Minidoka, Idaho, exactly where Japanese Us residents have been interned all through the 2nd Planet War.

Takagi is Japanese American, and Fortuna was shocked and heartbroken to learn about this part of US record.

Today, Fortuna draws a comparison to the racist attacks in opposition to Asian Individuals that have taken position for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“With the existing racism and violence towards Asian Us citizens I hope that when individuals read through our story they will understand that we are just like everybody else,” claims Fortuna.

“We’re entitled to the American pursuit of joy way too, like anyone, irrespective of color or race.”

Relatives unit


Takagi and Fortuna on a recent wine tasting vacation with their son Joseph, and their pet dog Heidi.

Courtesy Mae and Jon Takagi

For Fortuna and Takagi, it is really also critical to establish a much better planet for their little one — in November 2020, their son Joseph was born.

It was a journey to get there in additional techniques than 1.

Joseph was conceived by way of IVF. And when the Covid-19 pandemic strike Seattle, Fortuna was expecting and Takagi was doing work at a clinic.

It was an powerful time, and the few also found it difficult not getting equipped to see Fortuna’s relatives in the Philippines.

But the previous couple of months have also been crammed with joy, as Fortuna and Takagi welcomed Joseph into the environment and started off setting up out their existence as a relatives of 3.

The pair are organizing to fly out to the Philippines in January 2022, to enjoy a extended-delayed spouse and children reunion. Their extensive-term prepare is to retire there.

For now, they’re keeping put, but they are psyched to instill their like of journey in Joseph.

Just after all, a thirst for travel is what brought them together in the first position.

“You open oneself up to conference people today,” suggests Takagi. “I consider it was meant to be.”

“How lots of folks get to meet up with their wife or husband on the seashore?” suggests Fortuna. “Seeking again, our story is astounding.”

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