The first time I felt kilig was in Grade 4.
I had a crush on this guy sitting behind me in class. We weren’t particularly close, but we knew each other because we’ve been classmates since first grade. He was friends with my seatmate and they talked a lot. And because I could hear most of their conversations, I started liking him for his humor.
One time, during class, my hair—which is not one of my best features—was up in a ponytail when he suddenly stroked it. I was startled. I looked at him as if to ask, “What are you doing?” Without preamble, he said, “Your hair reminds me of a horse’s tail. It’s so thick and long.” It wasn’t really what you’d call a compliment, but because he kept on touching my hair afterward, I assumed that he liked doing it.
I had always put my hair up in a ponytail because it’s always a mess, and it made me feel good that this guy liked something about me I’m not confident about. I didn’t know how to react, but all I knew was that I should always tie my hair up from then on.
The closest English translation of kilig that I could think of is probably “butterflies in your stomach” —except you only feel it when you like someone. Kilig is like a combination of thrill, anxiety, and delight. It’s what you feel when someone you like gives you flowers, draws a portrait of you, smiles and greets you, or likes a tagged photo of you on Facebook. You feel warm and fuzzy inside. You can’t hold back your smile. Sometimes you want to squeal or jump in excitement. Some of my girl friends even call the feeling “a fallopian dance” when the kilig level goes off the charts.
The thing with kilig is, for it to happen, there has to be uncertainty involved. Even if the guy you like touches your hair, you still don’t know how he feels about you. You like it but you don’t know what to do about it. You conjure scenarios in your head on how things can move forward but, most of the time, you can’t muster enough courage to act on it because the evidence of that person liking you is so flimsy. I mean, what if he just really likes touching hair? It all boils down to “What if you’re the only one who gets kilig?”
I haven’t felt kilig for a long while now. At first I thought maybe it’s because only teenagers are susceptible to these things. But I know that’s not true because some of my friends still have major kilig moments. It’s not that I’m unhappy or that my love life is bland. It’s just that I haven’t felt uncertain of my place in a relationship for a while. When my boyfriend gives me flowers, whether there’s an occasion or not, I feel happy. When I know we’re going out on a date, I’m excited. When he hugs me, I feel loved. My feelings are rarely confused so there’s less kilig, just more happiness and love.
Kilig is great. It feels good no matter how long you’ve been in a relationship. It makes you feel young. The key is that you move on to other emotions as your relationship progresses. Kilig alone is not a good foundation. Kilig is not something you strive for. (And I’m looking at you Maya and Ser Chief.)