Vagelyn and Janwell Janpac Pacio in Dubai in January, 2020.


LDR in the time of Covid-19: Filipino HR boss in Dubai shares love story


DUBAI – The Covid-19 pandemic may have drowned out any talk of June weddings, but even the coronavirus can’t keep couples apart, no matter the LDR.

Dubai-based expatriate Vagelyn Tumbaga-Pacio knows this well. The popular HR director of Dusit Thani Dubai has been in a long-distance relationship with her childhood “arch nemesis” for nearly a year.

“I never thought I would find love at 40, but it happened for me, and with my childhood enemy at that!” a grinning Vagelyn, who is now married to Philippine city councilor Janwell Janpac Pacio, told They tied the knot in an intimate wedding ceremony in Georgia in February. met with the couple at Dusit Thani Dubai earlier this year on Janwell’s last visit to Dubai a couple of months before borders and airports were closed due to the pandemic.

“If you love somebody then you would do everything,” Janwell told after he arrived in Dubai just to spend a week with Vagelyn and her family.

The couple, who hails from San Fernando in the Philippines’ La Union province, reconnected by chance in May last year, after decades of living their own separate lives. It all started after Vagelyn congratulated her “classmate” for winning the local elections.

“As kids, we used to fight like cats and dogs, but we connected really well in that single conversation after so many years,” she recalled.

Because she lives in Dubai and he lives in the Philippines, their conversations happen through online chats, video calls and voice calls. By September, Janwell made it his mission to spend more time with his then-girlfriend, making as many trips as he can to Dubai.

Vagelyn said their friends have warned her about the pitfalls of a long distance relationship. But the couple survived somehow. Their secret?

“We always find time for each other,” she said.

They schedule their calls around their work hours. She wakes up at 5am in Dubai, which is 9am in the Philippines so they can talk for an hour.

“In the afternoon he needs to be awake until late night so we can chat after my work. That’s the adjustment we are taking,” she said.

They also have sporadic calls during breaks or whenever there is free time. When they’re not physically together, they are connected by the advocacy that they share: helping the needy and people with special needs. They’re still as in love as ever, finding more things in common with each other every day.

“I think you really don’t need to find love. It will really come, at the right time. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how far you are from each other. God will make a way,” Vagelyn said. PIA/Expat Media

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