When Yoshitaka Kikkawa proposed to his girlfriend Hanna Mari Ando last July 2018, he didn’t just get her any engagement ring.
“It was originally owned by Hanna’s mom. Sort of an heirloom,” says Yosh in an email interview. “When they lost Hanna’s dad, her mom had to pawn the ring due to financial problems. I found the chance to get it back not just for Hanna but for her mom.”
A gallant display of affection, for sure. But for the most part, this couple’s goal is “making your partner feel loved and special even through simple gestures every day.” (Read: The Pope’s Tips to Keeping Your Relationships Healthy and Loving)
Yosh, 32, is an account director for an advertising agency, while Hanna, 26, works as a senior manager, client experience in a PR agency. Besides their shared love of “weird internet memes, Ayala Avenue’s stray cats, and food,” the two (who are coincidentally both half Japanese) are also behind Smol Girl x Big Noms, a personal vlog of the “nomventures of a Smol Girl and her behind-the-cam Big Boy.”
With February 14 fast approaching, the couple shares their love story and plans for the day of hearts at a time of social distancing.
How long have you been a couple?
We’re already in our fifth year as a couple. We met when we were both working as account managers for an advertising agency in Makati. I wouldn’t call it a whirlwind romance. It was a slow burn that grew into a wildfire.
When the pandemic struck, our wedding plans were pushed back. We got engaged in July 2018 and were supposed to get married last June 2020. (Read: How This Couple Beat ‘Wedding Mishaps’ Amid Taal, COVID-19 Disasters)
Please tell us about how you proposed.
It was an ordinary weekend for us (at least I tried to make it feel as ordinary as possible). I brought her to the place where we had our first date as friends—Mitsuyado Seimen on Jupiter Street, Makati. The place was designed to look like Japanese streets so naturally, part of the design were posters.
The day before, I already coordinated with the staff and had them install stylized posters of me and Hanna. On the big day, she didn’t notice the posters up until I went down on my knees. It was simple, quite intimate, as there were only a few people in the restaurant.
How do you usually celebrate Valentine’s Day?
We don’t really have traditions in celebrating Valentine’s Day. I guess what’s different is the choice of flowers I get for Hanna not just during Valentine’s Day. (Read: The flower arranger who found love where she least expected it)
While others go for tulips and roses, carnations always remind me of Hanna. They are simple but really lovely. On their own, yes, they are pretty. But when placed next to other flowers, they stand out. Other than that, what we usually do is bond over food. It’s a bonus if the dish or the place is something new for the two of us.
What will your Valentine’s Day be like during this pandemic?
It is definitely challenging. Unlike before when planning was easier, there are a lot of factors that we have to consider now. The less crowded a place is, the better. After all, while we want to celebrate the love month, we also have to keep our older loved ones in mind. We wouldn’t want to bring home an unwanted surprise.
What can you tell couples who want to make Valentine’s Day special?
Do not feel the pressure of a commercialized day to profess and show your love. You may do grand gestures that day, but that bears no weight if you can’t make your partner feel loved and special even on ordinary days. (Read: 3 Netflix Movies to Give You ~Kilig~ Feels on Valentine’s Day)