by KB Meniado
Been wanting some Filipino LGBTQIA+ romance? Celebrate! The book you’ve been looking for is here. Featuring M/M, F/F, F/NB romance stories with happy endings (and heat levels), the Start Here anthology is ready to serve you—yes, you, whatever pronoun you use—some real feels and maybe, also a few happy tears~ Check out this list of some of the most memorable lines from each of the story in the collection!
1.“To loving ourselves,” Ezra repeated with a smile, holding up his glass of water that by now, Caleb knew was all he ever drank. “I hear it’s the greatest love story ever.”—In the Moonlight by Agay Llanera
The story: Seventeen-year-old Caleb has been burned by a previous relationship. While on vacation, he meets Ezra of the sculpted calves and disarming smile, who surprises him with a moonlight kiss. Caleb retreats—and regrets his decision. Thanks to the internet, he knows where to find his summer crush, but the more pressing question is, will Caleb have the courage to bare his heart again?
2. “I think I’m just searching for the sake of searching. Because society dictates that I do so. That by this time, I should be married with kids. That I should aspire to that kind of a life. But I know now that maybe that’s not what I really want as a future,” you said.
“What do you want?” I asked.
“To be happy,” you answered.—Come Full Circle by Bobbi Moran
The story: You know you’re in love when you put somebody else’s happiness before yours. But waiting for fifteen years for someone to realize you are THE ONE may be taking this to the extreme.
3. You shouldn’t let what happened then ruin what you have now.—Gorgeous by Motzie Dapul
The story: Two home-grown Filipinos fall in love after a chance meeting on a train to Little Manila in Queens, New York. They learn, over time spent enjoying the colorful culture of New York City’s streets, that they are, by all accounts, perfect for each other—before some unexpected baggage and a surprising history threatens to tear them apart.
4. If the conversation ends this way, I guess I’ll leave him alone. I’ll just sit here, he’ll just sit there and we’ll eat our ramen.
Separately. David wished with all his heart that the conversation wouldn’t end there.—Shipping Included by Danice Sison
The story: Two cute guys sneak into a K-pop concert. Neither one could be called a fan of the music, but by the end of the night, they might just find themselves with a new favorite song and a few romantic possibilities.
5. She taught me to make onigiri. I taught her how nice it could be to wait all day for a single, magical moment.—Delubyo by Barbie Barbieto
The story: Pebbles has a strict four-month rule when it comes to relationships. But she’s about to find out what happens when you meet a woman who defies all your ideas of how long the space between endings and beginnings should be.
6. My lust level was already astronomical, but the lack of breath reminded me I was still on Earth.—The Other Story by H. Bentham
The story: A bored twenty-something goes to a sex club he frequently visits to while away the night and find that love sometimes comes at unexpected places.
7. When I was in university, I thought of what I wanted to do in life. I could have studied anything I wanted, my mother was very supportive of me. But I later realized that I wanted what my mom did. She shared beauty to the people and received it in return. So that’s why I want to keep the flower shop open. In that way, the cycle of beauty is never broken.—Blooms and Hues by Ella Banta
The story: Experience love in color and flowers.
8.“What’s to tell? I fell in love, or at least I thought it was love. I was so young.”
I hesitated. “It’s complicated.”
I breathed deeply. “I wasn’t supposed to be in love with this person. It was not… right.”
Lily stared at me. I felt her seeing through me, to what I wasn’t saying. “Said who?”
“Said everyone around me.”
“So what happened?”
“I followed their advice and stayed the course.”
“‘ Stayed the course.’ Sounds exhausting.”—Another First by Yeyet Soriano
The story: Jess finally gets to have a long-delayed romantic get-away to Bohol with her hot but busy boyfriend Matteo. Beautiful resort, check! Romantic ambience, check! But wait… Lily Rose, the resort’s resident singer and self-proclaimed mermaid, is distracting the hell out of everyone.
9.“Girlfriend?” he asked.
“Best friend. And yeah, I’m game.”
Chan smiled widely. “Awesome.”—Luck From the Skies by Katt Briones
The story: Asher Lee knew from the beginning that he was going to win the teen model search, but didn’t expect to share the title with his biggest competitor, Chan Valiente. Previously threatened by his former adversary’s talent and looks, Asher kept his walls up, only to find them crumbling down with Chan’s charms. Would Asher be brave enough to take the leap and actually find his chance at love? Or will he and Chan remain to be a fan-made bromance?
10. I don’t know how this goes. I don’t know if that’s just what it was, a one-night stand, or if there’s months of bacon and pancakes and couch cuddles to look forward to. I don’t know if this is going to be the worst decision of our lives, or if it leads to a life where I have to drive you to your colonoscopy exam because you’re too old and too stubborn to follow a diet.—Lemon Drop Friday by Brigitte Bautista
The story: Tala has been secretly in love with her best friend Liv for years. Living right across the hallway, she has seen through Liv’s revolving door of Friday one-night stands. The rule: they always say goodbye in the morning. But, what happens when a rainy Friday night leads Tala to Liv’s apartment in what looks like another one-night stand?
If you’re still here and reading this (and not scrambling to order a copy yet), thank you. Here are some words from the editors themselves, taken from the book introduction:
I never got those stories when I was young, but that doesn’t mean today’s young gay, lesbian, or non-binary kids can’t get those stories now. Here they get their kisses in the moonlight, their New York romances, their passionate lovemaking after being soaked in the rain. Here, in some small way, maybe we can make their life easier.—Ron
When LGBT+ people can’t even be protected from discrimination, the daily grind can get too exhausting at times. The endings aren’t always happy; the encounters not always worth remembering.
This anthology flips the script, throws it on its side. It celebrates. It uplifts. It inspires.—Brij
And those are what exactly what this anthology brings: the promise of finding happiness and celebrating love in all its forms—right here in the Philippines. A recommended read for ages 18 and up. ☁