MANILA — "She blew me away," Jeremy Jauncey said of his now-girlfriend Pia Wurtzbach, recalling the first time they crossed paths in London.
The Beautiful Destinations founder and the Miss Universe titlist shared the beginnings of their love story in the June 2020 issue of Tatler Philippines, which features them as covers stars and which also marks the official confirmation of their romance.
"He came up to me and told me about how much he loved the Philippines, where he had been to a few times for work," Wurtzbach said.
"There was definitely an immediate spark. We couldn't stop talking. I found him to be such a warm person and I liked that he was always smiling."
They had dinner that lasted until midnight. During their conversation then, they established that they once nearly met in New York in 2016, when Wurtzbach was still based there as the reigning Miss Universe.
"I guess it wasn't time yet," the beauty queen surmised.
At the time, Wurtzbach had a brewing romance with celebrity racer Marlon Stockinger, who would become her boyfriend of three years.
When Wurtzbach first met Jauncey, her relationship with Stockinger had just ended, according to Tatler. She asked Jauncey that they go through the traditional courtship stage, to pace herself going into a new relationship.
"She set the parameters, and I happily accepted," Jauncey said. "It was a chance to show that I was serious about her and that I wanted to be a gentleman about it, which was very important to me."
Another layer that showed Jauncey's genuine intent was their distance. Wurtzbach is based in the Philippines, while Jauncey stays in New York.
"Imagine, we first met in London, then Hong Kong, then Indonesia, and then New York — talk about unconventional. I don't think either of us would have made the investment if we didn't think early on that it was worth it," Jauncey said.
Wurtzbach described Jauncey as her "male version," owing to their many similarities.
"I never thought I would find a guy who is just as motivated as I am — and then he came along," she said, when asked what she loves most about her boyfriend.
"He is so passionate about business and health; I've been learning so much from him. We come from completely different backgrounds but easily find ways to connect and relate with each other. He's also very loving and funny. We always have the best time when we’re together."
Jauncey, meanwhile, credited Wurtzbach as a new source of inspiration in accomplishing his goals.
"I grow more inspired to do things when I'm with her and I love it. Pia is a strong, independent woman that always delivers while being kind, loving, and sweet. People know her for her Miss Universe success, but she also has great business instincts and is just as switched on behind the camera. Plus, she's even more genuine when you meet her in person," he said.
Not being able to regularly see each other has given the couple profound, memorable moments when they do get together.
During a Bali vacation, Jauncey recalled feeling "absolutely in sync" with Wurtzbach, both figuratively and literally, during a kayak ride.
"There was no one around and no cell service — just us on the sand as the sky turned from blue to pink, from orange to black. On the way back, we got into some sort of a rhythm with our kayaking and made it in half the time it took to get to the island! There we were, heads down, not speaking, but absolutely in sync and on the same page," he said.
Hong Kong, however, remains to be their "special place," not because of any grand event, but an intimate connection formed.
"I remember sitting in a park, watching kids running around," Jauncey recounted. "It all felt so easy and natural. It was then that I knew I wanted to be with her."
Looking back at that same moment, Wurtzbach said: "It felt so special to me because I rarely have moments like that. I felt like he was getting to know me — me, as in just Pia. Not the celebrity, not Miss Universe. Just me. I felt like a real person."