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Two women, a kiss, and a crime.

Stop Kiss Manila: Fall in love, choose love.

I have never loved a woman. I have looked at women with longing, and wondered what their lips felt like, what it would be like to touch their hands, to feel their hair falling on my face.

I have never loved a woman, but I have loved men, their rough hands lifting me, their rough lips on me, their weight pressing me down.

I have never loved a woman, but I love this one, and I don’t know what this means.

I imagine these are the lines we don’t hear, the confusion and the overwhelming longing, the joy and the agony, clawing at Callie’s heart.

I imagine a quieter but no less passionate voice in Sarah, a voice speaking things unfamiliar, perhaps terrifying, but no less true.

I imagine the fear of knowing who you love, and not knowing what to do with this love. I imagine seeing the woman you love, every night, seeing smiles and tears, hearing laughter and snores, drinking wine and beer, and wrestling within yourself: “What is this? What do I do?”

Love is love. Love is beautiful. Love means spending hours laughing over wine or silly card games. Love means knowing and loving who you are, who you want, how you want, how many you want. Love means showing up, being kind, being honest, being brave.

It shouldn’t matter whom you love, whom you kiss, or even how or how many, or where or why. But we live in a world that doesn’t understand or accept that; a world that would literally beat you up for kissing the wrong person.

And that is the pain and the beauty of Stop Kiss.

Written by Diana Son, Stop Kiss was first staged in New York, and is now onstage in Manila. It stars Missy Maramara and Jenny Jamora, and is directed by Ed Lacson Jr. With a stellar cast that includes Tarek El Tayech, Gabe Mercado, Robbie Guevara, Jay Valencia- Glorioso and J-mee Kantayag, Maramara and Jamora tell the story of Callie and Sara: two women, a beautiful friendship, and an even more beautiful love.

And the hate that almost destroys it. 

It’s a story that is told with extraordinary beauty and honesty by Maramara and Jamora, traveling between joy and despair and anger and awkwardness. It’s a story told with amazing precision between two points in time—before the crime and afterwards—with the set design as crucial a storyteller as the brilliant cast. It’s a story told in small questions and assumptions by the most supportive of all casts, by subtle costumes and changes, by the way the lights play with the shadows, and by the way the blankets drape over feet.

Stop Kiss, for all its twenty years, is a timeless story of love and hate, strength and survival, honesty and courage. It’s a story that tells you it doesn’t matter whom you love, it doesn’t matter if the world literally kicks you in the face. None of that matters, as long as you get up again and choose love.

Choose love, every day. Stop fearing. Kiss the person you love.

Stop Kiss runs July 12 to 14 and 19 to 21 at the Power Mac Center in Circuit Makati.