When I got married, I also became a brother to four younger sisters.
My own older sister has been pretty much independent throughout our lives, and while my little brother followed me around when we were younger, he grew to carve his own path in life, so we take care of each other differently.
My new sisters, they were different.
I met them when they were as young as 10 years old, so I always felt responsible to take care of them somehow.
Over the past couple of months, two of them got married, with one of the twins tying the knot just this weekend.
It was an incredibly intimate ceremony of about 50 expected guests that included select family and friends, but it was festive despite the heat.
That said, I felt the need to share their story.
Some years back, Kathreen took the chance to become an exchange student in South Korea because she wanted a better future for herself.
People may argue that she could do that without leaving the country, her whole family, her boyfriend, her friends, and her job among others, but these people may have a different view of what a "better future" is.
She went to a beautiful country that offered knowledge that could advance her career, but she had to deal with loneliness, the language barrier, and some complications with the program she chose.
She studied what she needed to and even learned to speak the language, but unforeseen challenges and loneliness cannot be overcome by just those.
At the time when she was at her lowest, fate would deal another shot in the gut as she learned how her boyfriend was unfaithful while she was miles away.
It was at around that time when we visited South Korea and met with her.
When we came to Busan, she introduced her housemate, JP.
The tall dude was respectful, reserved, and tried as hard as he could to strike a conversation with everyone.
But most importantly, I knew that he was all those because he cared for Kath.
Some months after that, Kath graduated from the exchange program and went back to the Philippines.
It didn't take long for JP to follow Kath back to the Philippines and get together as a couple.
When I asked Kath if she would move to Korea or if JP would move to the Philippines, she said she isn't looking too far ahead.
However, in November last year, JP proposed, and we learned that they were going to get married this January.
Like anyone else, I naturally thought that it seemed that their relationship progressed too quickly, but I knew that every one of us moves at a different pace.
When they exchanged their vows, I knew that even if it all happened in less than a year, there was no use to delay the inevitable.
"When we visited this place the first time, the staff asked me if I was a businessman," JP said.
"I said I was Kathreen's boyfriend."
"I realized that I was nothing but a lover of Kathreen."
With that short anecdote, JP bared his soul to everyone in attendance.
He was not defining himself in any other way - not a first time tourist, not by what he did, and not even by his name.
Even before getting married, he defined himself as a partner.
Meanwhile, Kath shared a different story that also showed why JP was the man she was going to spend the rest of her life with.
She said that her favorite cafeteria spots were right across each other, but she never talked to him.
In South Korea, suicide is rampant because of the immense pressure brought about by various factors in different age groups.
Knowing this, Kath was worried when she didn't see JP for consecutive days in the cafeteria.
When he finally turned up, she gathered the courage to talk to him.
"I didn't want to lose the chance to save him," she said in her vow.
They had pumpkin soup together when that first conversation happened.
It's not special by any means, but it started what became a beautiful friendship that blossomed into mutual care for each other.
They wanted to save each other, as they stood across one another while they delivered their vows, they both promised to protect each other from the cruelness of the world.
JP expressed how much Kath changed him, describing how selfish he was and how huge his ego was, so he felt that Kath saved him from himself.
He dreamed of a life that never even crossed his mind before Kath came along.
Meanwhile, Kath couldn't stop expressing her gratitude for being there at her worst, and felt that he saved her from utter depression, which helped give her strength to pull everything together and persevere through all her challenges.
It was an easy decision for her to start a new life with him in the country where they met, even if she didn't think about it when they first got together.
They have had each other's backs since they first met, and more than promise love that they already have, they both vowed that they will protect each other, and I believe every word of it.
As a big brother to that little girl who grew up to be a fine woman, I feel at ease to share the responsibility of caring for Kath with a man who has my same passion to protect her.
No matter how fast everything happened, everything just made sense.
They were meant to be together.
And now, they are.