Love Insider: The Marj & Ken Story

by | Feb 3, 2024 | Citizens of the Republic | 1 comment

Office romances do make for a sweet and memorable experience. Being able to have dates from the moment you both clock out, seeing each other anytime you want, and having lunch together on the daily are just some of the perks of working with your significant other. However, they do create challenges like continued work discussions outside office hours or personal arguments spilling over to the office. Given this, not everyone can pull it off. Nevertheless, there are success stories out there that show us how a bit more understanding, effort, and commitment can make this type of relationship work. Just like Brand Republic’s (BR’s) very own cute couple: Marj & Ken.

Like most love stories in the workplace, they initially intended to hide it. But as they learned over time, no secrets last forever. And that’s why we’re here to shed some light (and finally answer some long-standing questions) on how the Marj & Ken romance started in BR.

So how did this lovely couple come to be?

How Their Love Began

Their relationship started as a Team Lead x New Hire back in May 2022. Ken applied as a Junior Copywriter to Brand Republic and got placed under Marj’s team, Team Titanium (TT). But due to workplace circumstances, she eventually got transferred to a different team – which was the catalyst needed to start their love story.

Interviewer: So how did you find out na you like him?

Ken: I guess nung nakilala. Kasi we went out una as friends, ‘di ba remember? 

Marj: Escalera. Escalera ‘to.

Ken: Una lumabas tayo like as friends. Legit na… legit na as friends. Walang halong manyak. HAHAHA!

Interviewer: So saan kayo ulit unang nag-date?

Marj: Sa Escalera Cafe, Antipolo. ‘Di ko alam bakit ako nag-effort ng ganun para sa person. Bakit tayo napunta doon?

Ken: Oo nga! Bakit naman tayo napunta doon?

Marj: Pero naku-cute-an na kasi ako sa kanya prior pa.

Ken: Ay, ako hindi. HAHA!

With a few casual dinners here and there, their relationship started to build up as friends. But as they went out several times even after her transfer to a different team, they became closer than what they had originally planned. Marj said they previously had boundaries that stopped them from dating, but had then been removed after Ken left TT. 

Marj: Kasi naging close kami after niya lumipat. Naging TT kasi siya, ‘di ba? So sa akin normal naman yung like I reply to IG stories ng mga TT na tao. Na I try to engage with my people even after office hours… pero nung nalipat na siya ng team, it felt like… I think it was there before pero hindi ko lang siya… nasa peripheral yung thought na “ay, cute ‘to” pero hindi ko lang siya ina-acknowledge masyado dahil tao ko siya kaya automatic NO. Pero nung nalipat na siya ng team, nawala na yung blockage.

And from there, their relationship started to progress. The casual hangouts led to romantic feelings emerging. And when asked about the pace of their relationship when it was starting, each had their own perspective.

Marj thought it wasn’t too fast or too slow, and even shared how he got turned down by Ken.

Marj: Na-basted niya ako. Kasi ready na ‘ko, it was clear in my head. Kasi ako, I’m the type of person na I don’t like middle ground or gray area. Parang I wanted clear pareho. Kaya I asked her first kung ano ba sa tingin niya. I asked, from her perspective, what was “the going out” about and parang hindi siya sure.

Since Ken’s reply was “nothing yet,” they went with the status quo for a while, unclear with their relationship. 

In reality, Ken did not think of anything about their frequent meet-ups. From her perspective, it was just 2 friends hanging out. To her merit, simply going out does not necessarily mean “going out.”

Initially, Ken thought that the friendship was going well. It only became something fast when she was asked by her Team Lead if she should be “worried about something.” Without meaning to, it became the starting point where Ken became aware that a relationship with Marj was possible.

And from there, she couldn’t ignore the spark between them. Their relationship started to advance, which inevitably changed their status from “just hanging out” to “dating.”

Still, Ken viewed the pace of the relationship as normal despite, in her words, the “outside forces” meddling with them.

Ken: Pero after a while, naging ok na kasi ‘di na namin sila pinansin. So parang meron lang part na mabilis. Pero sa beginning and sa end, it was normal pace for me.

With that, they started officially going out. They had dates, staycations, and many more bonding moments that let them enjoy each other’s company. In fact, people in the office noticed a few changes with the two of them.

People often mentioned how Ken was “more inspired” and “smiled more” while Marj stopped overworking himself. As such, it became clear that both of them were positive influences to each other given how they made each other happier and better.

Struggles of the Relationship

But their love life is not without struggles. One of the most difficult parts of their relationship is that both of them cannot ignore work even at home. As such, oftentimes, it comes to a point that they need to consciously shut down the premise of work talk.

Marj: Hindi mo mapipigilan na ‘di pag-usapan ang work kahit nasa bahay na kayo kasi you work in the same place.

Ken: Pero parang may time na ok lang, lalo na pag chismis.

Marj: Merong times na parang super stressed, ayaw niya.

Ken: May times na sinasabi ko na “can we talk na hindi about work” especially ‘pag madaming nangyayari sa brands ko or sa copy works ko.

And to add to their struggles, Marj also mentioned that there’s just really less to talk about since you both know how each other’s day went.

Marj: Kasi syempre ‘pag kasama mo siya in a day, alam niyo na pareho yung nangyayari… so ano pa yung pag-uusapan niyo after?

Even so, they managed to find a way on how to overcome this.

Marj: Kaya usually, ang nangyayari sa amin is we talk about our lives before… it’s sort of a challenge but it also helped us know each other more.

Still, surprisingly, they did not mention anything about the usual lover’s quarrels spilling over into the office setting. When asked, Ken simply said “Parang no. Mabilis lang kami mag-away. But parang ‘di pa kami umaabot dun” – proudly asserting that they can not only balance their work and relationship, but they also keep their professional and personal lives apart.

Becoming Better Because of the Relationship

And, of course, their struggles to make this relationship work led to making their lives better on so many levels. Ken felt that she became more matured in life since she and Marj became a thing.

Ken: More sa life. Kasi… ano… nape-pressure ako maging adult. Kasi I hate doing adult stuff.

Interviewer: Does it help you?

Ken: Oo, it helped me become more adult. Not just legal stuff pero mga perspective about life. Para kasing meron time na we like to discuss insights about life. Tapos I enjoy that. Kasi may substance.

On the other hand, Marj talked about Ken’s convictions in life that made him view things differently. Her beliefs opened opportunities for Marj to explore more about a life that he never imagined.

Marj: [Ken] Enlightened me about stuff. Kasi, of course, she believes and supports various causes in life. Although I’m not converted yet to the lifestyle that she has. But at some point, I get to experience life on a different lens. Kasi pumupunta ako sa mga animal rights march and you get to meet new people.

Another thing Marj said was he had a moment in time when he was just all about work and was missing out on life. And that’s why it’s a good thing Ken came into the picture – because she was his balancer whenever he became “too much about work.” And with Ken being strict about having clear boundaries between work and life, Ken is able to pull him back every time he’s overworking himself, which he appreciates.

Marj: I was able to experience life more because of the relationship kasi I was all about work before… Now, more than the paminsan–minsang me time, kapag trip ko lang or pagod na pagod na, staycation, travel, food, adventures, dates, lakad sa UP ganyan.

Ken: Ayoko talaga ng always nagtatrabaho.

Marj: Take a rest, take a break muna. Bukas na lang. She pulls me back kapag I’m being too much, kapag tinatagtag ko sarili ko.

Now, after seeing how their relationship influenced them in a good way, we got curious as to how different the dating experience was for them with colleagues vs non-colleagues.

Ken: Lagi mo siyang kasama.

Marj: Kaya namin na ‘pag work ay work. ‘Di naman kami naco-compel na maglandian 24/7 dito sa office.

Ken: ‘Di siya naging issue ever… hindi pa! HAHA!

Marj: One of my achievements in life yun na we can handle it professionally.

Truly, their healthy attitude about boundaries makes the relationship work. With that, they fostered a better connection with each other that everyone admires and respects.

Things They Look Forward To

Setting goals, whether individual or shared, fosters a healthy connection between lovers. It’s what helps them retain their identity and create a connection that can’t be broken. So asking about their future plans, they were clear about their goals not only in the relationship, but also as individuals.

Marj: Well, we plan to move to a bigger space eventually. We also plan to own a space together. To allot time this year to achieve one baby goal na shared. And then, we have to ipon…

Ken: Ipon for individual stuff kasi it’s important to be your own person.

Marj: Yes. Saka meron kaming responsibilidad sa pamilya at saka pangarap na individual na shouldn’t be forgotten regardless if you’re in a relationship.

And they also shared a goal that, in my opinion, every couple should have.

Marj: Meron kasi akong nakita na 2-2-2. Two weeks, date sa labas. Tapos every 2 months, weekend together. Then every 2 years, 2 weeks na vacation. But for the year 2023, we tried to do like staycations every 2 months. Part of the plan is to have a version of that kasi medyo mabigat sa bulsa.

Ken: So every quarter na lang.

Marj: But we plan to have trips and staycations every quarter.

Ken: Para in a way, yung goal for the future is tangible siya. Pero parang emotional stuff din siya na magkasama kayo. To have that time together. Hindi lang na nandito tayo sa lugar na ‘to. To see the view, to enjoy the food pero as quality time.

Marj: Kasama ata yun sa top love languages namin.

Ken: Oo. Quality time. Important siya.

Maintaining this kind of effort supports the love that’s growing between two people. Maybe that’s why Marj & Ken have a winning relationship. They continue to find ways to spend actual quality time beyond the office hours that they have together. And people in the office can attest to how their love prospered because they keep on doing the “small stuff” that makes the relationship work – those consistent quality dates that they set matter more than any other one-time big gesture.

And there you have it. What Marj & Ken proved about office relationships is that they require more than just romantic feelings… they need effort, consistency, and a bit of creativity. To see their love blossom first-hand was truly heartwarming and I’m sure that people around them thought the same – that office romances can work if the people involved are willing to put in the work (pun intended).

So this Valentine’s, why not ask that officemate who you admire so much? Who knows, they might be the Ken to your Marj. 😉

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