Both of Us

When you Google the words “Both of Us,” you get on top of about 6,570,000,000 results of a song featuring pop singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. I have little recollection of such song. Maybe my children know it. But I first encountered the term Both of Us when Natasia Cunanan, a former colleague at the Bureau of Immigration, introduced me to her partner in life and in music, Sherman. They have been singing together since their school days. With Natasia on vocals and Sherman on guitar, the duo is now known as BOU. Their cover rendition of “More Than Words” has been used as a theme song for a popular Korean telenovela. BOU held a benefit concert a few days ago to raise funds for Natasia’s sick mother Ruby. Some of their friends in the music industry, such as Angeline Quinto and Benj Manalo, also shared their talents to support a worthy cause.

The repertoire of BOU songs during that enchanted evening was all about the different stages of love relationships. From the early stages of friendship and falling in love (“Game Of Love” by Michelle Branch, “Love Story” by Taylor Swift, “Getting To Know Each Other” by Ariel Rivera) to being heartbroken and letting go (“If The Feeling Is Gone” by Ella May Saison, “Love Of My Life” by Queen, “You’ve Made Me Stronger” by Regine Velasquez), from moving on (“Someone Like You” by Adele, “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus) to loving again (“Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake). BOU also sang a few of their original songs and, owing to my platinum blond hair, my supposed favorite song as well, “Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko” by Rey Valera.

But one of the highlights of the evening for me was when guest performer Katrina Velarde sang “Never Enough,” a hit song from the movie The Greatest Showman. While the lyrics evoked the human emotion of always wanting more despite having enough, Velarde invoked the need to have a personal relationship with our God. Before singing the song, she said that all of us will have “Never Enough” unless we seek God in our lives. In the Bible, Matthew 6:33 tells us, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you, as well.” Believers are taught that the pursuit of God first will inevitably lead to the fulfillment of material needs. Hence, believers ought to live without worry or anxiety. To make the pursuit more worthwhile and effective, I suppose both of our spiritual and physical being must be one and united in terms of seeking Him. Unless both our flesh and our spirit are one and at peace, we will have more difficulty in finding Him and eventually stop telling ourselves “Never Enough.”

I asked Natasia why the duo has chosen Both of Us as their name. In her words, Both of Us represents that both Natasia and Sherman “agree in many aspects of life, both personally and professionally.” Finding love and staying in love would require some form of harmony, or peaceful coexistence, at the very least. Otherwise, married couples or partners separate. Similarly, in our personal lives, our physical self would almost always disagree with our conscience. There is hardly any peaceful coexistence of both goodness and evil in any person unless he has a split personality like Jekyll and Hyde. Therefore, the key for goodness to prevail is to be more mindful of the presence of the Spirit that dwells within us. In the Bible, Romans 7:18 tells us: “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” The “Both of Us” in our inner selves is just as difficult to harmonize as the “Both of Us” in love relationships. There will be a constant struggle considering the inherent differences between the two as it is written in the Bible in Romans 7:19-20, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

But as for Natasia, I think she has learned how to have peace, both with her partner Sherman and with her inner self, by simply trusting Him in everything she does. When she was still an immigration officer, she was never involved in any nefarious or corrupt activities. Although she needed extra funds to pay for the medical treatment of her mother who has brain tumor, Natasia stayed the course. Her integrity was never compromised. Former United States President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” I am proud to have seen how Natasia has withstood the temptations of power and how she kept her own Both of Us (sinful mind and a good conscience) tilted in favor of goodness. People might perceive Natasia as a saint with her sweet and angelic voice. But what she has done for the Bureau and for her sick mother Ruby makes her close to one.

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