MANILA- This is not an ordinary ending for a story that began with a series of thefts.
Armed only with black-and-white footage of two men deftly snatching her bicycle outside her house one night, Joy Chiong, 27, met Cris Aspera, 23, who lived blocks away from her in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City.
They then began chatting after they lost their bikes to thieves 3 days apart in May 2018, both instances caught on village security cameras.
"A friend tagged me in Cris' post about him losing his bike. Two also stole his, so I assumed we had the same situation. I told him we could help each other out," said Chiong.
Chiong, a segment producer for ABS-CBN, convinced Aspera, a Sangguniang Kabataan councilor, to be interviewed by this reporter for a story on the incidents.
The interview in May last year-- done outside his house--was their first time to meet in person.
This was where crime stories would usually finish: with a call for help or the quick action of authorities.
Not so for Chiong and Aspera, who took a few more months looking for and checking leads separately. They would then occasionally chat to ask for developments.
They said they did not read more into it because they were then in separate relationships.
Until a few months later, when both were single again.
Aspera said they began chatting more frequently.
"I was attracted to her unique personality. I would check on her and she would check on me," he said.
For Chiong, their friendship soon became something more.
"We really became super close. There was even no courtship period. We just became a couple," she said.
"If you love someone, there's no reason for it."
Aspera changed his Facebook status to "In a relationship" on November 4, which became their anniversary.
They've since discovered shared interests aside from biking: watching movies and TV series, a love for adventure and the outdoors.
For their third month as a couple, they celebrated Valentine's Day early with a trip to Baguio City.
They know they have a long way to go making sure their relationship would not be snatched easily from them.
Their dream is to go on a biking trip together.
Unfortunately, the culprits who stole their bikes remain at large.
But instead of hoping to get their bikes back, Aspera has already bought a replacement and Chiong is saving up for hers.
They say they've forgiven the thieves, whose crime even taught them a lesson.
"For what we may lose, something will take its place," said Aspera.
For Chiong, it was not the ending she expected, but a beginning that was a blessing in disguise.
"This may sound wrong, but I just want to thank them, since if it were not for them we would not have met."