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Tatum and Celina: She says, she says

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Tatum (left) and Celina (right) hit it off immediately because they love talking long hours.

From all indications, they’re friends. They could have been classmates from way back when. Or maybe they grew up together in the same neighborhood.

But there’s more to the pairing of Tatum Ancheta and Celina Fernandez. They are a special couple. A partnership, actually. They belong to the lesbian community. After a brief getting-to-know phase, they decided to live together.

We recently invited Tatum and Celina to the Daily Tribune. The Lifestyle Section has met them before. Tatum is the editor-in-chief and founder of DrinkManila.com while Celina does public relations work for Benefit Cosmetics. Theirs is a relationship that is not exactly unique, yet, it’s not common. The lesbian community in Manila is replete with such pairings, each evolving and transforming as the couples enjoy life, face challenges and look forward to a shared future.

Daily Tribune is pleased to share our conversation with Tatum and Celina, hoping others with similar persuasion would learn from their exciting dyad.

Daily Tribune (DT): Tatum, you are the editor-in-chief and founder of DrinkManila.com. What is this website all about?
Tatum Ancheta (Tatum): It’s a drinkcentric website. If you think of it as a person, we are your learned drinking buddy. You can look at it if you’re looking for places to drink, where to drink. You know, features about new products or beverage products, liquors, spirits, features on bartenders, new bars. It’s all there. We’ve collaborated also with various brands, liquors and spirits.

DT: What about you, Celina? What do you do?
Celina Fernandez (Celina): I work for Benefit Cosmetics. My role is to curate and make events for VIPs. It’s public relations focused on the customers and VIPs. Aside from the makeup, Benefit Cosmetics is known for doing brows like waxing. So we shape the brows using wax. We came to Daily Tribune last time. We call that office invasion.

DT: How did Drink Manila  come about, Tatum? What’s your career background?
Tatum: I used to be a lifestyle editor for Manila Standard. I used to be a creative director of People Asia magazine, then Young Star magazine, so I’m really in the publication side. And I have a digital background. When I was in the digital advertising side, I handled mostly liquors. Most of the accounts that I handled were drinks. My former boss wanted me to put up a new lifestyle magazine and I think there are so many already, we’re saturated, and I’m into liquors, bartending and the cocktail industry. I told him, I had an idea and no one was doing it yet so I proposed it to him and they said yes. They forked out initial investments for it. I put the project together and we developed DrinkManila.com.

Last year they wanted to concentrate on different publications so we acquired it fully already. I’m now with my business partner who is also an entrepreneur who’s a bar owner. It’s an online magazine. We have events as well. It’s a publication concentrating on beverages.

U-hauling

DT: When and where did you meet each other? What were the circumstances of your first meeting?
Tatum: It was December 2016. We have a common friend. I was a little bit sad and getting over a breakup. It was December, almost Christmas time. My friend messaged me three days before Christmas.

DT: When was this?
Tatum: In 2016. So we’re currently reaching our third year already in January. In 2016, my friend messaged me on Facebook, and she was like, ‘I have a gift for you.’ And I said, ‘What is that? My friend recently got single as well so I want you guys to get together.’ And I’m like, ‘You’re giving your friend to me?’ because it sounded like that.

DT: How about you, Celina?
Celina: Our common friend messaged me, and we met up at a bar and and I told her that I was single. A couple of days after, she messaged me. She said she was going to introduce me to someone but she didn’t mention who. She just sent me pictures.

DT: And then?
Tatum: She was messaging both of us, sending us pictures of each other. Of course, we had an idea of who the person was. Apparently we had seen each other before, but we hadn’t been introduced. The lesbian community is very small. Practically everybody knows everybody. But we’ve never been acquainted, never been introduced. After that, I asked her out before Christmas. Was it before Christmas?

Celina: I think it was after Christmas.
Tatum: Exactly on 26 December. ‘Cause you were so busy. On 26 December, I asked her out and then we went out 27, I think. Technically, after Christmas. There, that’s how we started dating.

DT: How long was the dating thing before you decided that you were meant for each other?
Tatum: Are you familiar with the term u-hauling? Like u-haul, the company that hauls your stuff when you’re moving? In the lesbian community there’s such a thing as u-hauling. When you start to meet each other and you start moving together, that’s how fast it is.

Tatum: December we started dating…
Celina: Afterwards I left for vacation. And then we met again, like a month or so. I think it’s different when you’re both female in the relationship, like the connection is different.

DT: So Tatum, what do you like in her? If there’s such a thing.
Tatum: (laughs) When I first met her or now that we’re together?

DT: No. That time. What was the initial attraction?
Tatum: Usually when I meet people there’s a tendency that I intimidate them. Like especially in women when I meet them. I used to date younger women. I thought she was younger than I. When I met her, ah, okay she was not scared of me. That’s what I liked. We can talk for hours. When we dated, we were talking. We were just, you know, ‘cause I’m in the drink industry I brought her to the places where people know me. I brought her to ADB — it used to be one of the top bars during that time. I brought her to Mandalay, a secret bar as well. And then after that we had coffee in the morning in Peninsula.

DT: That long?
Tatum: That long. We were just talking. That’s what I like. I’m talkative. If you can talk to someone for long hours, I think that’s a good sign.

DT: In your case, Celina, what was the initial attraction?
Celina: Like what she said, she loves intimidating others. It didn’t get to me. She was trying to intimidate me but I was like, ‘Hello, I want to get to know you.’ And I like the fact that we’re both healthy eaters. She’s pescatarian and I’m vegetarian. But when we met I was not a vegetarian yet. I haven’t been eating fast food for a very long time.

DT: How was it living together for the first time?
Tatum: She didn’t want to move in. I asked. I only have my dog with me. I told her, ‘You know the house is there, just come in.’ She lives all the way in Cainta and I told her it would be more efficient because her office is in BGC. So it’s easier for her because I live in Makati. I’m like, ‘Try it out, let’s see what happens.’ Okay, she started bringing in small stuff. Eventually she occupied the entire walk-in closet already. She just kind of slowly eased in. It was hard for her. She didn’t want to live with someone yet.

DT: What is the division of labor? Who does the cooking?
Celina: She loves cooking but sometimes I cook also. But she cooks most of the time, when she has time.
Tatum: What we love to do is grocery shopping. It’s very domestic. We enjoy doing that every Sunday market. We love to get organic produce and we usually cook in. So, if I cook, she washes the dishes, She cooks, I wash the dishes.

DT: Is this something that your friends know?
Tatum: Yeah.

DT: Are you renting a place?
Tatum: Yes.

DT: Is it a condo?
Tatum: Yes, a condominium.

IF Tatum cooks, Celina washes the dishes.

Like sisters

DT: You know, if one looks at you and one didn’t know, no one would think that you were partners.
Celina: Yeah, we get that a lot.
Tatum: We look like sisters. People say we have similarities.
Celina: I’m not sure if it was Tatum but I was dating this girl before and we were at the bar and a couple of men approached us. I told them this is my girlfriend and the guy thought that I was just joking. It came out like that.

DT: How do you celebrate special days or milestones?
Tatum: I’m a little bit of a hopeless romantic I always like to try to surprise in a way. Well, she started it when we first started dating. It was my birthday, I told her to go with me to Baguio. And she surprised me, like the entire room was filled with balloons. There was a cake waiting for me because I love spirits, I collect scotch and whiskey and then the cake was shaped like a whiskey.. She talked with everybody and I didn’t know what was happening. It was such a surprise for me.

DT: That was quite a party.
Tatum: It was my birthday. We were staying in Le Monet in Baguio. They gave me a room there so I was like ‘Okay, go with me.’ I didn’t know she talked with everybody, even the housekeeping. Even the driver. They brought the cake, I didn’t know it was my car. So many stuff in the room she cramped in the car. I’m like oh no, now I have to do something romantic as well for her birthday. The condo I live in has a balcony and the entire rooftop is mine so you can see the entire Makati Avenue and all of Buendia. I set up like a barbecue area with lights and everything. She’s like me also. She doesn’t like big surprises.
Celina: And a lot of people.
Tatum: It kind of irritates you. I texted her, ‘Come upstairs.’ She was so worried that everyone was going to be there because she was not dressed, she was not prepared. But it was just us. We usually do stuff like that intimately. She’s not the type of person to bring friends over and I’m not like that as well.

DT: How about the sharing of money?
Tatum: We really didn’t talk about that. But when you’re living in, you do your part. She manages groceries and utility bills, I pay for the rent. It’s my condo so I pay for it. I didn’t ask her but she started buying the groceries, paying the bills. I guess, eventually, you talk about that. If I don’t have money, she pays for everything. I mean, whoever has the capacity to, you’re the one who’s paying. Even when going out, eating out. Whoever asks you to go out, she’ the one paying for it. It’s the same with heterosexual relationships.

Both feminine

DT: So, who’s the girl and who’s the guy? I’m afraid I am confused.
Celina: Sometimes you can ask people who’s the guy in the relationship. It’s always like that. Kasi we’re both feminine and they always ask ‘Who’s the guy in the relationship?.’ I think it’s hard for them to grasp na there’s no guy in the relationship because we’re both feminine. I think being the guy in the relationship is a question of who’s more domineering. Like, who’s handling the relationship. I guess that’s how it is even with the heterosexual relationship.

DT: Who handles it?
Tatum: I guess, since we’re both women, it’s a given thing. You actually wouldn’t know if you met us outside. Even when we’re shopping someone would see us as sisters.

DT: You don’t stare or gaze at each other?
Tatum: We are very sweet even when we’re outside. People would know.

DT: But they still wouldn’t take you as lovers?
Tatum: Depends how sweet we are. I’d kiss her if I want to, even if we’re in public.

DT: What’s your public display of affection?
Celina: It depends on the location. If there are kids and then there’s none. Sometimes it hard for us to be PDA. But if we’re in a bar and they’re all other adults, it’s okay. We can kiss or touch each other.

DT: Let’s talk about conflicts. What do you fight over? How do you settle differences?
Celina: I think we fight over things because we lack communication and it’s something that we’re really still working on. We’re different when we fight. I don’t show emotion that much when I’m upset or when I feel something and then, she’s very vocal about it. As much as possible, as much as I can control it, I don’t show it. But she wants to talk about it.
Tatum: I like to discuss it until it’s done but she doesn’t like that. The start of the fight will be really small, like not washing the dishes, or you didn’t sweep the floor, or you didn’t put the makeup where it’s supposed to be, so we got a maid to take care of all that because I’m very busy. When I’m at home, I’m working. When I’m out, I’m out. Sometimes you just forget things like that and she hates it. She’s a little bit of an obsessive-compulsive in terms of that. She would scrub the floor from end to end.
Celina: I can’t function if it’s dirty, if the place that I’m in is disorganized or dirty. Parang feeling ko I won’t be able to function. Like I have to make time to clean. Then I’ll be okay.
Tatum: Those are the things that we fight about. Nothing big that we’d really have to cry about but we do. A small fight would turn into something like [bringing up something that you did in the past]. Sometimes it gets like that. Like me, when I’m upset, I say it and I talk about it. But when she’s upset, I would see it but she doesn’t want to talk about it and then it’s just gone. We’re still working on that.

IF Tatum cooks, Celina washes the dishes.

Two-way proposal

DT: What are your plans for Christmas?
Tatum: Usually, Christmas is with family. I go to the province in Cabanatuan City but I go to her after. During Christmas time, I go home or I usually have my family here. Christmas eve, we spend time with our own family. Christmas Day, we’re usually together.

DT: Okay. What are your long-term plans regarding your relationship?
Celina: We’re planning if we’re going to propose. It’s a two-way proposal. She’s going to propose, her version, and I’m going to propose, my version. We don’t know yet what we’re going to do.
Tatum: We still don’t know yet what we’re going to do because I’m a pastor’s daughter and that’s going to be so weird. If we do get married it’s probably out of the country because it’s also not legal here. We’ve talked about it. It’s on the table. But sometimes we plan to have a baby first.

DT: You will be adopting?
Tatum: No, she wants me to carry it. And I want to her to carry. I think we’re both going to carry. But maybe after a few more years.

Day by day
DT: How do you see both of yourselves in the future? Are you talking about forever?
Celina: It’s too soon to think that it’s forever. I’ve been in a five-year relationship and you would think that it’s forever but it ended so we can’t really tell, but for now, we’re just living it day by day. We talk about marriage, we talk about having a house together, we talk about having a business together, but we don’t really know what’s going to happen tomorrow.

DT: Regrets?
Tatum: Maybe I should have been more present because I have so many things going on in my head. You’re managing a business, at the same time you’re doing editorial work. It’s 24/7 when you own it already. Sometimes I’m not there but I would like to be more present and listen to her. I try to, I work on it but working on it is a progress.
Celina: When you look at her, she looks tough but when she has problems, she would push me away so I think that I shouldn’t walk away if she pushes me away. If I feel like we’re about to fight, I have to walk.
Tatum: I don’t like someone walking out of me. I like talking, finishing a conversation.
Celina: So I’m not going to walk out on her.

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