A love story that blooms even during times of hardship

by Ricky Rillera

NEW YORK – This is not a story of Oliver Barrett IV and Jenny Cavilleri from the 70’s film “Love Story” but of two lovely couple — Kim and Charles — from Woodside, Queens, New York who never thought of being in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected many lives including their own.

At the blink of an eye, their lives have changed and their plans altered just like in the movie but hopefully not in the same way as in its ending — with your help through your vote, which they seek.

Kim Dacayo and fiancé Charles Rico grew up in Woodside, in what is now known as Little Manila, less than a few miles apart, but did not meet until after college. For the past seven-and-a-half-years, they endured their love story and pursued their respective careers in the medical field.

Kim is a nurse and have worked in neonatal intensive care and pediatric units at NYU-Langone. Charles works as an acupuncturist at Sloan Kettering, one of the best oncology hospitals in the world, while also studying Naturopathic Medicine. He is scheduled to take the board exams this week.

The Proposal

The couple went on a trip to Mexico in early February. Kim was not expecting anything special to happen that day but to enjoy the trip when Charles held out a ring, knelt, proposed to her, and were engaged on the palindrome on February 22, 2020. They were on top of the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan in Mexico City, an ancient sacred site where its ruins are among the most remarkable in the world. Teotihuacán means “place where gods were born,” reflecting the Aztec belief that the gods created the universe in that place.

Kim believed what many astrologers say about the palindrome date. It indicates “immense and significant change” and is a period when major transformations occur.

“Little did we know just how true that would ring for us in the months to follow,” Kim told the Philippine Daily Mirror. COVID-19 was just laying out its mark in New York City around that time.

Death in the family

The day after the couple came back from their trip, they found out Charles’ uncle died. Later, his close childhood friend passed, too. The hardest and saddest experience, however, was his own father’s death. He died in March from complications of COVID-19 — the same day Kim was to be “deployed” to the COVID floors of NYU Langone.

When COVID surged, they were committed to quarantine protocols to protect their families since they were both going to be with COVID patients. It meant that they could not see their loved ones or even visit Charles’ father while he was hospitalized. They were not allowed to be present during Charles’ father’s death or hold a funeral due to the lockdown. “We have yet to grieve together as a family during this tragic time, but despite this, we both continued to work,” Kim said.

Kim had just completed her “2-Day Bootcamp” before the hospital had opened multiple COVID floors and planned to bring as many staff members as possible from many areas as they can. Many nurses without adult experience were given the 2-day bootcamp of 6 months of adult nursing.

Kim said that even though nurses and doctors are accustomed to responding to all sorts of tragedies, they rarely worry about getting sick themselves, infecting their family and friends, or working with the patients that have the same virus that took Charles’ father away. “Charles and I have supported each other every step of the way through the complicated process of healing, while also mourning the loss of his father,” Kim said.

The COVID-19 Front-Liner Wedding Giveaway

Meanwhile, with wedding plans put on hold, their neighbors and close friends have nominated them to a COVID-19 Front-Liner Wedding Giveaway in a beautiful castle located in the countryside of France. The giveaway contest is sponsored by Cynthia from Chateau Challain and Brett from Mister Brett Events which begun on July 19 and ends on July 31. Both sponsors have also gathered multiple vendors which are supplying their time and service.

Out of 250 entries, Kim and Charles were one of the 14 couples that was chosen. The couple who gets the most “liked” photos win the 1st prize; the top succeeding four entries will receive a free elopement as well. To join the “contest” they were asked to provide two of their chosen photos and whoever nominated them had uploaded their specific photos.
Kim and Charles are currently in Top 5. To help them maintain their position, They are asking readers of Philippine Daily Mirror, FilAms and their friends to vote for them in the link provided below. Just click on the photo below and register your “like” vote.

Charles Rico and Kim Dacayo | Contributed Photo

“Charles and I do not come from means. Our families are similar: immigrant, hard-working people who established themselves in New York and pushed us, their legacy, to help our communities. He is of Colombian descent; I am of Filipino descent,” Kim said. “We were not fortunate to have known each other our entire lives, but despite all these tough circumstances, we look forward to our future union.”

Kim adds to her appeal for your vote that “winning this contest would celebrate our love in a way that symbolizes the hope in despair. Winning this contest would honor the love our families brought with them, carried with them, and nurtured in us. Sharing our story would mean that the world would know that love blooms even during times of hardship.”