Men are the top clients of this Filipina matchmaker 2
Dating coach Vanessa Antonio, a.k.a. Coach Vee. Photo from her Instagram account
Culture

This Filipina matchmaker will help you find love—if you’re willing to be coached

Most of her clients are brilliant, successful men. “They just don’t have time,” says Vanessa Antonio, “so they outsource it.”
RHIA GRANA | Sep 18 2022

Back in her early 20s, Vanessa Antonio used to wonder why she’s never had a boyfriend. Among her friends, there were those who were very dateable but, like her, remained single. During that time—the early 2010s—“the only activity we knew [for singles looking for potential partners] was speed dating,” Vanessa tells ANCX. You know the drill: single men and women gather in one venue for a series of quick dates. She and her friends forked out a thousand bucks each time for those short encounters, even if they always felt shortchanged. “We would have wanted more from it,” Vanessa recalls.

The constant disappointment sparked an idea. She and her best friend thought, why not organize a singles activity that would bring young professionals together. “Kasi we were working already. We wanted to be paired up with professionals as well.” Thus, in 2014, they started Singles Events Manila (SEM). The goal: “make finding love easy.”

While scouting for single men for the events, Vanessa would meet the guy who would become her first boyfriend. “He didn’t attend na the singles event,” shares Vanessa. “After our first meeting, we went out on dates, and the relationship developed from there.” 

But SEM continued. Their group had a different approach—no speed dating involved. Instead, they did team-building activities and played psychology-based games that allowed participants to get familiar with each other. “By doing so, you build memories, you laugh together. At saka na kayo mag-uusap,” Vanessa says.

Coach Vee
Men need to connect with a potential partner physically first, and emotionally second, says Coach Vee.

The making of Coach Vee 

Vanessa, who graduated with a degree in Sociology, enjoyed doing the events. She would later learn that the thrice-a-year ‘soirées’ helped many find their significant others. Some pairings even led to marriage. Inspired by the results, she decided to take matchmaking seriously and do it professionally.

While taking up her Masters Degree in Sociology at the De La Salle University, she ran studies on love and relationships. Eventually, she had the opportunity to work as a social researcher in the US and while there, took up a certificate course at New York’s Matchmaking Institute. “There, we really studied the science of relationships.”

Around late 2020, at the height of the pandemic, when everyone was holed up at home and deprived of social connection, Vanessa started hosting a live dating show on Kumu via the ABS-CBN FYE Channel. In the program called “Dating University,” which streams every Friday at 5PM, she is known as Coach Vee. 

“I was talking to thousands of singles, so I thought, why not share what actually works and what doesn’t when it comes to dating. That was how the Coach Vee brand began,” she says. “I was telling people, this is the best time to listen to dating advice and to equip themselves, so that pag pwede na ulit mag-date in person, ready na kayo.”

Initially, she was only giving science-based tips to improve her audience’s dating skills, e.g. five ways to increase your attractiveness, how to flirt, how to make the object of your affection fall for you. Eventually, the show started pairing up singles.  

Coach Vee
Usually, women get attracted to guys who are not necessarily attractive (although that’s a plus) but in whom they can see a stable future with, says Coach Vee.

Dating is an investment 

Through the years, Vanessa has learned that having a happy family life is tops in many a single person’s list of aspirations. 

To achieve this, one must first look for a partner. But many don’t give attention to their dating life or to developing the necessary skills for it. “You spend hours mastering a field in order to be successful in it. If you want to live a happy family life, you should also invest time in your dating life,” she advises.

And this is where a matchmaker can help.

People who want to get Coach Vee’s matchmaking services usually send an email to singleseventsmanila@gmail.com or via the Singles Events Manila Facebook page. She sends the prospective client a form that asks for basic information, including links to their social media accounts.

“We first have to vet if we think we could find them a match. If we feel that we can’t find them a match, we won’t take them in,” says Vanessa. These are people who don’t want to be coached, she adds, and are “set in their own ways. Feeling nila they’re a great catch when in fact, they have so many things to learn about dating pa.”

For this matchmaker, dating is still essentially about marketing yourself. It’s a dating concept that sounds a bit, well, dated, even superficial—but she won’t argue with what science has to say. “The brain of men and women are wired in such a way that we initially judge people based on their looks,” says Vanessa. “In other words, we have to get your packaging on point first, so we could simply focus on making a connection [with your potential partner] later on.”

What does a matchmaker do? Basically, Coach Vee arranges romantic dates for singles every weekend, often at a restaurant in Makati or BGC. But before she sends out her clients on dates, she meets with them first individually via a Zoom call. “That’s part of the coaching already. We don’t offer matchmaking per se. Kasama talaga sa services ang coaching to be sure that we uphold a certain standard,” she says.

Coach Vee
For this matchmaker, dating is still essentially about marketing yourself.

SWOT love got to do with it 

A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis happens during the first session with a client, which allows Vanessa to get to know the person’s dating patterns and history. “Hindi lang siya pera at ganda. We’re looking at data. Ano ba ang unang inaalam ng tao before they give you a chance to date them, before they even get to know you. The basic stuff, let’s lay that out.”

Men need to connect with a potential partner physically first, she says, and emotionally second. With women, it’s the other way around. Usually, women get attracted to guys who are not necessarily attractive (although that’s a plus) but in whom they can see a stable future with. “Dapat, you have your finances on point. Kung hindi pa masyadong okey [ang career status mo], huwag ka na muna mag-date. Pwede ka makipag-date, pero mahihirapan ka,” Vanessa says. But sometimes good looks can compensate for a good career status.

Thus, the coach encourages men to take the first tab when going out. This way, he subconsciously sends the message that he can provide. Meanwhile, according to Vanessa, when a woman is looking for a partner, she’s subconsciously looking for guys who can deliver on the three Ps: guys who could protect her, provide for her, and who’d profess his love to her.

After the SWOT analysis, Vanessa runs a match test to see her client’s “dating value”—meaning, “if people would be interested to date you based on science-based criteria, and what kind of men or women would get attracted to you.”

Vee says she’s very hands on with her clients. “I tell them, they can call me anytime if they have dating emergencies. Sometimes they call about what to do, what to wear, what to say.”

The dating coach shares an interesting observation: most of her clients are males who are successful in their careers—brilliant professionals, CEOs, founders of companies. “Oftentimes, the reason why they are hiring a matchmaker is not because they lack the network, but because they just don’t have time, so they outsource it,” she says. “Just like hiring a head hunter for their company, they hire a professional matchmaker to professionally hunt a potential good partner.”

Aside from arranging dates for her clients, SEM has a social club that meets every Saturday. They pick a hang out venue and introduce singles to one another. The social club started out virtually during the pandemic.

Those interested to join SEM activities may opt to avail of the annual membership of P20,000, which entitles the buyer to join all the SEM activities all year round. These include weekly meetups, big gatherings, and out of town trips. Members also get firsthand dating tips from Coach Vee. Check the other perks on this link.

The dating coach also offers six-month matchmaking services for 3,500 USD, with one to two dates monthly. This comes with coaching, to help build the client’s dating skills.

Coach Vee
“Kung hindi mo man mahanap agad ang match mo, ituloy-tuloy mo lang... Time will come, the universe will give your heart’s desire.” 

Hope springs 

SEM has had its share of success stories over the years, a few of which have been shared on its social media accounts.

One of her favorites was that of the couple MJ and Mitch. Girl was initially not attracted to guy but MJ knew in his heart Mitch was was the one for him. Vee coached MJ for six months, the coaching worked, and the couple got engaged in October 2021. 

There’s Nolan and Louise, who met through Coach Vee’s matchmaking service before the pandemic and announced their engagement last month. Fred and Kisan were introduced to each other virtually during the pandemic. They started out as friends, and ended up lovers. Mourise and Teresa, on the other hand, met in their singles events and have been together since 2017. The couple got engaged last February. 

Not every pairing is a success story, however. “Marami ding unrequited love na nangyayari,” says Coach Vee. There are also relationships that end in breakups, like Vanessa’s above-mentioned first relationship. But one thing she learned throughout her practice and also thru personal experience is to never give up. She  remains optimistic and excited that the best is yet to come. 

Kung hindi mo man mahanap agad ang match mo, ituloy-tuloy mo lang. Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa,” says Vanessa. “Time will come, the universe will give your heart’s desire.” 

Photos courtesy of Vanessa Antonio