In Buluan, Maguindanao, the May-December love affair between Venus Usman, 23 years old, and Bapa Maxx, 63 years old, is a major talk of the town.
Bapa Maxx is a former barangay captain in the area. He would help Venus’ family out whenever they had problems.
At that time, Venus saw Bapa Maxx as a father figure.
Bapa Maxx was also the one who annulled Venus' marriage with her first husband.
So, how did the pair fall in love?
In 2018, Bapa Maxx's wife Linda suffered a stroke and got paralyzed. Because she couldn't perform the duties of a wife anymore, Bapa Maxx asked for Linda's permission to look for another wife.
As a Muslim, Bapa Maxx could have multiple wives.
He met a lot of women during his search for his future wife. But he could not take his eyes off Venus.
"Wala na akong kagustuhan na babae, basta si Venus na lang," he said, describing his feelings for his beloved during an interview with Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho (KMJS).
[I didn’t want any other girl. I wanted to marry Venus.]
When Venus found out about his intentions, she felt confused. Even her family did not approve of the older man.
"Isang buwan ako wala sa bahay. Ayaw ko siya makita. Parang naiinis ako. Bakit siya?" she said.
[I left the house for a month. I didn’t want to see him. I thought to myself, ‘Of all people, why him?!’]
"Matanda siya. Parang hindi kami magka-level ng edad. Parang lolo ko na siya," Venus recounted.
[He’s a lot older than me. He could pass off as my grandfather.]
They didn’t have a lot of things in common either. The young girl liked taking selfies, while the older man admitted that he barely knows how to use a cellphone.
Venus liked wearing makeup and expensive clothes. Bapa Maxx preferred girls who dressed simply.
Despite their differences, Bapa Maxx pursued Venus.
After a few months of courtship, Venus had a change of heart.
"Isa sa mga dahilan kung bakit nagbago iyong isip ko ay dahil sa pinapakita niya sa mga magulang ko iyong kabaitan niya. Tapos, iyong tulong na binibigay niya sa amin. ‘Pag may problema iyong pamilya ko, siya iyong sumasalo," she said.
[He showed me just how kind he was. When my family would have problems, he would help us out.]
Her family, after witnessing the kindness and genuineness of Bapa Maxx, also changed their mind about him.
The couple loved each other so much that they decided to get married.
On the night before their wedding, Venus admitted that when Bapa Maxx was courting her, she had a boyfriend. She questioned her choices and had second thoughts about remarrying.
But on the day of the wedding, which was coincidentally Valentine's Day, she showed up at the ceremony. This gave great joy to Bapa Maxx.
Later on, Venus told KMJS that no one forced her to continue with the marriage. She said that she made the decision out of her own free will.
She shared that she hoped her husband would allow her to continue her studies. She also said that she was thankful to Bapa Maxx and to his first wife "Auntie Linda" for making their union possible. — Angelica Y. Yang/LA, GMA News