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Unexpected friendship: Two widows find strength and support in each other

By: - May 10, 2023

CEBU CITY, Philippines– The story of Joyce Borja and Renalyn Lovino from Northern Samar, is a heartwarming tale of unexpected friendship and mutual support amidst tragedy. Both women lost their husbands, former Patrolmen Rico J. Borja and Harvie Lovino, in the line of duty in April 2022 in Northern Samar, in a rural area where they were conducting Retooled Community Support Program.

They first met while filing cases against the perpetrators and processing their claims for their late husbands’ death benefits. This shared experience paved the way for a deep bond between them as they understood the pain and grief that each other was going through.

“We had to file a case against the perpetrators and that’s where we first met. Our friendship started when we both had to process our claims for our late husbands’ death benefits. We traveled together, go to different government offices to process our claims, and from then on, we became each other’s shoulder to cry on since we share the same pain as a widow,” said Borja. 

Over the course of a year, Borja and Lovino embarked on various adventures together to help alleviate their pain. They leaned on each other for emotional support, discussing the difficulties of life and how to overcome their trials.

Despite the immense grief, they found solace in each other’s company, sharing laughter and tears. Their friendship became a source of comfort and strength as they navigated the challenges of being widows.

“We always talk about how hard life is, if how are we going to overcome these trials in our lives, And we felt the same emotions, grief, loneliness and the immeasurable emotional pain and longing for the presence of our husband. 

“We are always here to comfort each other. But despite all pain and struggles that we’ve been through, we still manage to smile and laugh. Trying new things together, cry together and most of all we found peace and light out of darkness because we  had each other,” said Lovino. 

Unexpected friendship: Two widows find strength and support in each other

Joyce Borja and Renalyn Lovino. | Photo by: Gail Geraine

Fate seemed to connect these two widows in more ways than one. They were married in May 2021, and tragically, both lost their husbands in the same month and year.

To commemorate their love for their departed spouses and celebrate their unexpected friendship, Borja invited Lovino to join her planned photoshoot for their first wedding anniversary. By doing so, they not only honored their husbands’ memories but also celebrated the bond they had formed.

Lovino, who now has a new partner in guiding her daughter, Kagumi Nyrie, expressed her gratitude for Borja’s friendship. She assured Borja that she would always be there for her, emphasizing that their friendship was unforgettable and worth cherishing.

Unexpected friendship: Two widows find strength and support in each other

Renalyn Lovino with her four-year-old daughter, Kagumi Nyrie with a photo of her late husband, former policeman Harvie Lovino.

The “madams” as what they call themselves share a short message for each other. 

Lovino to Borja: 

“Ate Joyce (“Madam”our friendship endearment haha) remember that despite of everything I Am one call away . Thank You for the friendship . It’s unforgettable and Worth keeping 🥰 Only God Knows everything. Love you 😘.”

Borja to Lovino: 

“To Renalyn, I’m thankful for this unexpected friendship. We may never know what kind of life is ahead of us, but surely, I’ll forever treasure the friendship we made out of this life’s misery. 

“I am proud of the small winning steps we continuously make. I am proud of the strong woman we become, I am proud that we made a pact to never give up in this life. I am proud that you are my friend, a strong woman, a loving mother. 

To the women who lost their partners, we are one. We are each other’s reflection of a true  fighter. Our pain are our foundation to becoming a stronger and better person. We might be living in sorrow now, but in God’s grace and unending guidance and love, we may live purposefully in his time and will. We’ll definitely make it. Stay strong kapwa ko widow warriors 💪❤️.”

The story of Joyce Borja and Renalyn Lovino serves as a testament to the power of friendship and support during difficult times. Despite their shared sorrow, they found light in each other’s presence, helping each other heal and move forward. Their story is a reminder that even in the midst of tragedy, human connections and companionship can bring solace and strength.

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