The story of Dyan and Joseph
How two journalists’ passion for social justice blossomed into romance and commitment
(Read at the wedding shower of Dyan Ruiz and Joseph Smooke on Sept. 15, 2013 at Don Don Isakaya restaurant, Toronto)
Dyan and Joseph met when they were both doing elections observing in the Philippines. It was the Philippine national elections in 2010. Joseph was in Manila as a photographer for a Filipino organization based in San Francisco, where he lived. At the time, Joseph was the Executive Director of a non-profit in San Francisco. Dyan was in Manila reporting on the elections for a newspaper there called The Philippine Daily Inquirer. They were both assigned to a very poor area called Payatas. Many people in Manila know the area because the homes are built on a garbage dump.
When they first met, they got along, but it wasn’t romantic. They talked about what they were seeing and Dyan asked Joseph some advice about going to journalism school. Joseph also offered to give some of his photos for Dyan’s articles for the Toronto newspaper, The Philippine Reporter. For all of you guys out there, who want to date a journalist, this works every time. But you better take good photos, like Joseph does.
They kept in touch after the Philippines by email and Facebook over the next few months. But it wasn’t until Joseph told Dyan that he was visiting Toronto that they began to email each other more. Soon they looked forward to hearing from each other. The month before Joseph’s visit to Toronto, they were emailing each other every day. For Joseph, he knew that this could be something more than friendship because Dyan offered to pick Joseph up from the airport.
The first day that Joseph came, they spent the whole day together. They walked around Kensington Market and Dyan even took Joseph to an organic vegan restaurant for lunch, even though she really likes meat. She found out that Joseph does too, but he’s allergic to it.
Then they went to the Art Gallery of Ontario. Dyan was impressed with how much Joseph knew about fine art because she liked art too. Dyan paints oil portraits. Joseph was trained as an architect at the University of California at Berkeley and had his first jobs as an architect. But then he decided to focus on low-income housing development, so he started to work for NGOs.
Dyan knew some of this already because like the good journalist she is, she online stalked him, trying to find out everything she could about Joseph before the visit. Their first date was at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and it was there that Joseph told Dyan that he really liked her. She could tell that he thought about what to say, and had this whole speech prepared and she thought that was sweet. They saw each other every day of Joseph’s visit to Toronto. Joseph was so happy being with Dyan that he didn’t even realize until he went back to San Francisco that he had pneumonia the whole time that he was in Toronto.
Dyan never told her parents this, but two weeks after Joseph’s visit to Toronto, she flew to San Francisco to visit him on her Spring break from school. This would be just the first of many visits before Joseph decided to move to Toronto to be with Dyan as she finished her Master of Journalism.
Joseph and Dyan have many things in common. They’re both passionate about social justice issues, so much so, that they started a nonprofit media company together called [people. power. media]. They produce videos showing voices from marginalized communities. Dyan is the reporter and Joseph is the cameraman. Like in most things, they make a great team.
One thing that’s been hard with their relationship is that when they haven’t been able to be together, they can only see other on Skype. Like in the past few months when they have been waiting for their VISA from the US. Once it gets approved they will get married in San Francisco and Dyan will move into Joseph’s apartment there. It’s in a great neighborhood and is good for their business, but it will be hard for Dyan to be away from her family, who she loves very much.