Bathed in sunrise glow, medicine student Samantha Luna walked down the aisle alone in her dream wedding dress, without a groom waiting for her at the altar. It's the happy ending she made for herself after a broken engagement, one which many other heartbroken Filipinas can make for themselves.
Luna's former boyfriend of seven years bailed on their wedding and until now, she couldn't make sense of it. She realized she didn't have to because she only needed the resolve to move on.
Her story resonated with thousands on Facebook, where her groom-less bridal photos showed how women can be happy even without a man in their lives.
"Our wedding was supposed to be in 2020. We have a date na, may venue, church. I already had my gown made and then nakipag-break siya so hindi natuloy yung kasal," Luna told reportr.
In June this year, Luna still received the bridal gown she had made for her cancelled wedding. At the time, she said she was no longer interested in seeing the dress or remember the painful memories since she was already moving forward with her life.
"The gown and him, the ideas were interlaced in my head kasi siyempre when I had it made, I had my ex-fiancé in my mind," Luna said. "Nung pagdating nung gown never ko na siyang binuksan. I know what it looks like. I don't have to check it out and cry."
Closing the chapter
Unsure if she has really moved on from the breakup, Luna said she told her friends of her wedding gown and her plans to sell it. A longtime friend, Athina de Ocampo, who knew of Luna's narrative offered a "creative" way to close the painful chapter in the latter's life--a bridal photoshoot.
"Naisip ko na mas maganda siguro i-close natin 'yung chapter na 'yun but in a creative way para it's closed but with a beautiful ending," De Ocampo told reportr. "Ang ganda ng story niya and I was super moved on how she handled it and was able to move on and what the process was."
Luna said she was hesitant to do the photoshoot at first given that she was afraid of her emotions once she sees the dress. But once she finally saw and tried it on, she realized that she really had moved on.
"Nung binuksan ko siya wala na ko nafi-feel eh so totoo na pala na okay na ako," Luna said, noting that it was even De Ocampo who was crying during the shoot.
The photos, posted on Facebook, earned thousands of likes for the empowering message: women don't need men to feel whole. Each photo was captioned by Luna to express her emotions over the ordeal and show her moving on process.
"I am who I am and I make no apologies. I am my own person," she wrote in one of the photos.
"I can be – and will be – happy and content even without you. I am beautiful. I am amazing I am loved. I am strong. I am enough," she wrote in another.
Luna said she wanted to represent women who had been in the same situation as her and was surprised to find out that many actually have been in the same spot.
"Kaya siguro ang daming nako-comment at nag-share kasi madami pala yung pinagdaanan din yung pinagdaanan ko so it shows na hindi dapat ikahiya, na you're not alone," she said.
Now, Luna is in a happy relationship again and is starting on a new adventure: studying Medicine.
"Ngayon nagawa ko yung mga gusto ko talagang gawin for myself. Childhood dream ko talaga ito na naput-off. But now I realize, God really has better plans," she said.
"Hindi end of the world ang breakup. Things really happen for a reason. Dumaan din ako sa hindi mo mahanap yung rason. Apparently, hindi mo dapat hanapin at nangyayari na lang 'yung reasons," she added.
If there's anything that she learned from her heartbreak, Luna said is to trust in God's plans and to know her value.
"Things will make sense eventually," she said. "You just have to believe in yourself. Know your value and your worth so that next time, alam mo na yung dapat mong ma-deserve. Alam ko na ngayon."
* This story originally appeared on Reportr.world. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.