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Beauty Sparks in Unexpected Ways (How I met Keith Martin)

Was meeting Keith that night part of my destiny, or just a result of coincidences? I think, destiny has its branches. This is the story of how I met the late American balladeer, Keith Martin, the first man in my life, one I almost married.


It was an exciting evening at Aliw Theater in 2004. As Miss Manila, I just took on a role in helping present an award to that year's best actress, Nora Aunor. Sa Isang tabi, I remember the late Eddie Garcia complimenting my looks in a classy manner and sophisticated tone he was known for. I thought those would be the best highlights of the evening. Hindi pala. Ang susunod na mangyayari ay tila simple lang. What I didn't know was it's going to change the course of my life, forever.

The show just finished. The theater was abuzz with goodbye besos (kisses) and celebrities vacating their seats heading to exit. I came there with a friend, and he had to use the rest room. Habang naghihintay, napansin ko na may nakatinging sa akin na isang foreign national sa isang sulok, and he looked kind of familiar.

He was just standing there alone, seemingly waiting for someone, but slightly looking a little lost. Then it hit me, parang nakita ko na sya sa TV recently. So, feeling like the Ms. Philippines that had to represent the graciousness of the Filipino people, I said hi from afar. I think I said, “Hi, are you Keith Martin, the one who sang Because of You?” He said yes, with a smile and a dreamy look in his eyes. He was wearing a suit, and his signature beret hat, just like when I saw him on TV. And then I asked him what he was doing in the corner, sabi nya he was with a friend, a popular Pinoy RnB artist (diko na lang mention kung sino), pero umuwi na daw. And so he had no ride home. I was surprised that as big as an artist that he was, he had no ride. So I asked where he was staying, and it turned out sa Manila din like me.

At that point, my friend came back from the restroom. As soon as I introduced the two, sabi ko sa friend ko, kawawa naman, ihatid na natin. I honestly felt bad for him. Thank you friend, because he agreed, and what followed was a short but fun ride with Keith talking about how hectic his schedule had been since he arrived in Manila. I know my friend was also stoked to have an international celebrity like Keith in his car, but maybe just a little disappointed that whatever dinner invitation he had in mind for me was not happening anymore. Yes, I realize now that my friend had a crush on me, but for what he did that night, I’ll always remember him as a good man.

What if my friend said no to giving Keith a ride? O kung uso na ang Grab car noon? We wouldn't all be in one car. And I wouldn't get to be intrigued by Keith’s humble aura. Perhaps we would still have exchanged numbers and Keith would still show up at my house a couple of days later. Because he did. But that’s for another story…

At that time, I didn’t really look at Keith as a romantic prospect. I think not anyone, I never saw anyone as a romantic prospect. If I ever was interested, always as a friend. Until the person pursued me and that’s when I would think about it.

But definitely, I was always interested in people’s stories and their values in achieving success - nakakainspire. Lalo na how they power through their vulnerabilities. Sikat na foreign balladeer, mag-isa lang walang masakyan? I felt I had to save the situation, just like how I felt I needed saving sometimes.

Was meeting Keith that night destiny, or just a result of coincidences? We refer to destiny as events that will necessarily happen, a hidden power that controls the future. I think, destiny has its branches. Dadalhin ka nya sa isang daan, pero ikaw pa rin ang maglalakad, tatawid, hihinto, liliko. Bibigyan ka nya ng materials, pero ikaw pa rin ang bubuo. Your fate is a result of what you make out of what you create and what you're given. Fate remains a mystery, but life is not about having all the answers. It's about experiencing the beauty of each moment - whether you expected it or not.

Life brings you sparks of beauty, remember to show up.

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