Twenty-seven-year-old executive assistant Samantha Luna was engaged back in 2019. She was supposed to get married last December 2020, but her former fiancé broke up with her. They were together for seven years.
“I felt sad, shattered, and devastated—as if it was the end of the world,” she tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “I grieved about it and felt the pain, accepted what happened even if it was hard.” The turning point was when she decided to focus on herself and the things that matter most to her. She also credits her one-year healing journey to a strong support system comprising of family and friends.
One of her closest friends, her seat mate in first year high school, Athina Rose de Ocampo, suggested that they should have a photo shoot to close this chapter of Sam’s life. “I was very moved by how strong yet beautiful her story is, especially on how she moved on.” The idea came about when Sam told her friends that her wedding gown arrived already and she was thinking of selling it. “I told her that she should keep a souvenir of this whole journey, and, as a photographer, I’ll help her do this in a creative way.”
Not a lot of people knew about the wedding being called off, which is why Athina thought that doing this shoot will help her to finally move on and break free. Sharing this shoot and posting it online will also remind “people to love themselves first and to know their self worth, and that some things don’t happen the way we want/expect them to be—for a better reason.”
Brainstorming the shoot was easy, since the two have been friends since they were teenagers. “We were very specific of telling the true emotions and what exactly happened so we can stay true to her story. I wanted the focus of the direction to be on how she moved on so I wanted less of the details of the past, I wanted it to be about her and her life after that heartbreak,” explains Athina. “It’s to inspire women to move on from things/people who don’t deserve their love, attention, time, and energy. You should know your worth, you should love yourself first. A man will not complete you, you should be complete on your own,” adds Sam.
Shooting during this pandemic was a challenge, as expected, but this didn’t stop the good friends in pushing through with their shoot. What was supposed to be a reunion with their friends, her support group, became a solo shoot for Sam—due to conflict of schedules. But in hindsight, having her shot solo solidified how strong this woman has become.
When asked what her favorite photos are, Sam was quick to share the most memorable ones for her. The first one with her standing on the aisle of St. Anthony Padua Bolbok, Lipa City, “Simply because it looks amazing. I think this is a picture that all brides would want to have as well.” Second is when she was shot sitting and laughing with a natural glow you can feel from within, “This picture represents my genuine happiness when I realized how i turned into this amazing, strong woman i am today, because of the things i’ve been through.” Last is the photo with her wearing a doctor’s uniform, “Of course, this is one of my favorites because finally, I’m pursuing my childhood dream of become a doctor. This time, ako naman (it’s my turn).”
Browse through the Facebook album and you will find heartfelt descriptions in each of the photos because Sam herself captioned them.
When asked how she is now? Sam has learned a lot of things since then. “I’m great! I learned to see things differently now. I learned how to appreciate life and love in a deeper sense. I love myself and know my self-worth. It was a struggle to get here, but, hey, no one said it was gonna be easy, and I am very proud of myself.”
“I’m actually overwhelmed by all the support and inspiration that people extended because of this post. A lot of people went/are going through the same thing and yet not speak up about it. People should be proud of their moving on journey, and it’s amazing how this post was able to inspire them to move forward and look at the brighter side.”
She reminds all the single women, “Don’t lose hope and faith in love and in God. Love yourself first, know your limit, know your worth. Go, girl!” And as for her, what kind of “Sam” will we be seeing in the next five years? “Getting that M.D. after my surname,” she says with a smile.
- Shot by Athina de Ocampo Creative Studios; hair and makeup by Jomar Bautista and assisted by J Mercader Guita