WATCH: Newly-Engaged Couple Ara Mina And Dave Almarinez Featured On "Metro In Love"
She's his destiny, and he's her answered prayer. In this rare opportunity, the couple opens up about the details of their relationship
They say the last person on your mind as you drift off to sleep is one of two things: someone who's caused you a great deal of pain, or, the one whose face brings you the most comfort and happiness, the one whose heart beats in sync with yours.
For Ara Mina and Dave Almarinez, they know exactly what kind of person they are to each other, so much so that the love they have for each other crisscrosses between waking and dream worlds with ease. No matter what state they're in, wide awake or fast asleep, they know they'll always have each other.
Ara Mina and Dave Almarinez got engaged on January 15. "Always" is no longer a word for them, but a feeling, a goal, a shared destiny.
But Ara Mina and Dave Almarinez's engagement wasn't without its charmingly wobbly start—fleeting hi-hellos, nervous first dates, and feelings of disbelief included.
"I couldn't believe it way back then, even recently, that she was Ara Mina," gushes Dave in a Zoom call.
"I would ask her all the time if she was really Ara Mina. I was scared I was just dreaming. I'd ask her all the time if this was a dream, I wish I could just dream all the time," he adds as Ara listens in on another screen, the rouge on her cheeks brightening with every word her fiancé speaks.
Thinking back to their earlier days together, Ara teases, "I [found] him handsome. He's really manly! But, he wasn't my crush." The corners of Dave's eyes crinkle at the little anecdote.
Ara and Dave's playful banter tells us everything we need to know about them—that they're in love and marriage was always in the stars for them. This love story that was three years in the making is finally turning a chapter, or rather, beginning a new volume—one that's begun with a "Yes" followed by "I do," then ends with forever.
In a rare opportunity, Ara and Dave sat down with us to talk about their relationship from day one up to the present as they're counting down the days until they become husband and wife. For the first time, Ara and Dave let us in on their very own fairytale, the bright little details of which we share with you.
Rewind and replay from the beginning
They met at an event. For the most part, it was uneventful.
They were introduced to each other, the night wore on, and that was that.
"That was it. We were just acquainted," begins Ara.
What would have been a rather boring meet-cute with no results turned out to just be a slow and steady start. And in the case of the love of a lifetime, a late start is always better than no start at all.
"...It was just a few months after that we started talking. I'll be frank, though, when we did start to talk, I saw that he was the most persistent guy!" Ara beams.
She soon discovered that persistence wasn't the only ace Dave had up his sleeve. He was humble, sincere, and an overall good guy with no traces of arrogance anywhere—Ara's biggest relationship pet peeve. There was also the fact that she thought he was a looker, something that Dave also had to say about his wife-to-be.
"I couldn't believe that someone like her would ever notice me or pay attention to me. I'm a simple guy. She's actually very attractive inside out. The thing that got me most interested wasn't her physical looks—we all know she's very beautiful—but more importantly, it was what was behind the physical appearance," he explains.
This pair took their time in getting to know each other. There was no whirlwind romance, no feet being swept off the ground, no big movie-like moments but in the place of these things was a slow-burning love that only grew more certain over time.
It was one of the non-negotiable things Dave told himself he was going to do with and for Ara—that he would learn all that she was, inside and out, so as to be able to say that she and only she was the right one for him. This meant seeing how they handled time apart, how much they were willing to adjust for each other, how they managed mutual challenges, and how much they brought out the best in each other—real things that would prepare them to spend the rest of their lives together.
"I knew I really wanted to get to know her because, after all, you're not just looking for a casual girlfriend. I'm 46 years old and at my age, I wasn't just looking for a girlfriend, but a lifelong partner. I couldn't say who that would be for me until Ara came into my life," Dave shares.
And when he knew, he knew. When he was sure that he was sure of her, there were no hesitations in making her his, and for Ara, there were certainly no questions in what she felt about him in return.
A good fit
It can be natural for some people to expect the worst in new relationships, especially when they've been in situations that previous partners were unable to manage.
Ara, for example, as an actress with a hundred and one commitments, can have a crazy schedule and almost never have time to sit down for a midday call or quick replies over text. Dave, as a public servant, doesn't always necessarily have weekends free and occasionally needs to take on responsibilities outside of his 9-5 days. Many relationships don't work out because of a setup like this.
But for Ara and Dave, being in similar situations turned out to be the perfect way for them to get to know each other better and test how well their relationship would hold up against the demands of their individual lives.
"...It wasn't easy for me to have to make a lot of adjustments in terms of understanding her time. Knowing her career, I had to make a lot of adjustments... That's why it took us almost three years. There were a lot of adjustments in the beginning," Dave recalls.
"I saw that she adjusted to me in big ways, too. We complemented each other and had great synergy so that our careers could still blossom. I'll support her fully in what she wants to do, and I'll never ask her to stop if she wants to do something. It's important to have love and passion for what you do, and it's even better if you have a life partner that supports how you feel... You can't say you've achieved that until you've really gotten to know each other," he continues.
Dave's unselfishness and patience didn't go unnoticed by Ara. From the get-go, she'd seen how committed he was in making room in his life for her and making things work.
Although relationships are always two-way, Ara says that in terms of their balancing act of time and adjustments, Dave gets the point. Her career definitely made her life more unpredictable than his, giving him the burden of having to be more understanding—a responsibility that he lovingly took on.
"He'll think of you first before himself, and you'll really feel that he looks forward to spending time with you," reveals Ara.
"He'll finish what he has to do at work so that he can have time for you and make the most out of your free time. I really appreciate the effort and the big adjustments he had to do for me... He follows me and sees my priorities. If it ever comes to a point where he's the least of my priorities, he's managed to see past that. I realized that he's really worth it. He's really the man for me," she smiles.
Their favorite things
There are too many things about each other that Ara and Dave have to think about when asked what they love most about the other person. But if Dave had to choose, it would be Ara's no-fail positivity and support for him, and for Ara, it's that Dave has accepted her life and her responsibilities for what they are, no complaints.
"I'm always positive. And in fact that's where he can get frustrated with me because I'm still positive even when he's in a difficult situation. I'm a positive thinker because for me, we're not given things we can't handle," Ara shares as Dave confirms this.
Her glass is always half-full and with Dave's line of work that requires him to be a realist and a pragmatist, Ara's can-do, bright side attitude can feel like an electric shock down the spine.
"Not everything [in a relationship] is physical or financial, but there are other things that are more memorable. For me those are the most important, like her being supportive of me when I feel pressured, or when the going gets tough and she's encouraging... As my responsibilities grew, it was hard to always be positive, but she was. She always shares positive thoughts with me especially in this time when life is really challenging and we're not living normally," Dave points out.
As for Ara, she prides her relationship with Dave as one being founded on two people understanding the value of being self-made. She's been in showbiz since she was 14 and almost three decades later, she's become a pillar in the industry and continues to work on film and TV projects. She rose up the ranks with talent and dedication, things that Dave is equally familiar with.
Dave is currently the CEO and president of the Philippine International Trading Corporation, a corporation of the Department of Trade and Industry, and has worked just as hard to get to where he is today. In his words, he's a simple man that comes from an ordinary family, which means success wasn't handed to him on a silver platter.
It's exactly this background of Dave's that Ara is so appreciative of; without having to explain much to him, he gets that she has to work, he understands the importance of keeping commitments, and he encourages her pursuit of her own dreams outside of their relationship.
Can anyone say #CoupleGoals?
Will you marry me?
This now brings us to today, a couple of weeks after Dave asked Ara to marry him.
"I even fought with him the night before! I wanted to cry because I didn't know he prepared for it. I wasn't expecting it, especially because we argued, and no one would think that a proposal would follow that," Ara jokes.
"It was just a petty quarrel though!" she laughs.
Dave had planned on proposing to Ara in December. But work got busy and other things needed to be prioritized that the big moment had to wait. Come January, Dave had everything thought through; he'd asked help from trustworthy friends and family and even booked a photographer and videographer to capture all the day's best moments.
He convinced Ara that they were going to head over to the San Pedro city hall in Laguna for a quick errand when in reality, he'd outfitted the location's veranda with an aisle of flowers leading up to a view of a mountainside that had a "Will you marry me?" sign propped upon it.
Ara had no idea what was coming.
"...When I saw the flowers, it still didn't occur to me that it was a proposal. I even asked what it was all for and I was wondering why there were flowers, but I never thought it was a proposal. It's very unusual. I love watching proposal videos, and it's so unusual for a proposal to happen at city hall!" she says.
Dave kept his cool even with Ara's continuous inquiries about the pretty setup.
"He wasn't talking even when I kept asking what it was for. Then he pointed to a signage that said 'Will you marry me?' I got a mental block! I looked at him and even hit him then I looked at the 'Will you marry me?' sign again. I wasn't sure if I was dreaming," she describes.
The moment Dave got down on one knee and opened the little box containing a ring symbolizing so much more, Ara understood.
And she knew exactly what to answer when Dave asked.
"I was nervous! I was nervous even up to the last step that I did last week when I proposed. But I'm very certain about everything I've done, beginning from day one when we met," Dave says.
Ara and Dave plan to get married within the year.
Whatever Ara wants, Dave wants, too.
"I want to give her her dream wedding. Because of course, brides have their own dreams and [a wedding] will only happen once. My dream is her dream. If that's her dream, I'll be happy and satisfied if her dreams are satisfied. Her dreams are part of mine," he says.
So far, they've agreed on hosting an intimate wedding with just a select handful of friends and family. Ara would have wanted a bigger ceremony with all her friends in attendance, but with restrictions and precautions, they'll have to make the most out of things.
"I'm sure people will understand but I hope by that time, this year, things will ease up and it will be easier. Looking to the future with the vaccines, maybe there will be big developments and what we're doing now won't be the same and we'll return to normal. We're very positive about that," Dave says.
Ara is already working with her wedding team. They're in the middle of zoning in on a theme and she's excitedly shared her ideas with them. We can't wait to see what her big day will be like, dress and décor and all, but most especially Dave's reaction when he sees his bride walking towards him.
For most of his life, Dave didn't really think destiny was real. People choose who they want to be with, and that self-determination is what makes love happen, not destiny. And then he met Ara—a woman he'd previously just watched on television at home after school and after work. "Unexpected" is a light way to put how his life's turn of events has led him to become the man she will now marry.
"I've always believed in fairytales and happily ever after. I was always thinking that we were destined for each other. And if you're destined for each other, you're going to give everything, big or small," he says.
And what's bigger than asking Ara to share the rest of their lives together, now and forever?
Check out our exclusive "Metro in Love" feature with Ara Mina and Dave Almarinez below:
Photos from @davealmarinez @therealaramina @niceprintphoto