Jeremy Jauncey and Pia Wurtzbach Get Candid About Their Much-Talked-About Romance on Tatler's June Issue Cover
If one were to run a joint Google search on Jeremy Jauncey and Pia Wurtzbach, it would yield a multitude of articles published on news, entertainment, and gossip sites, all fanning rumours of a romantic relationship. Eagle-eyed netizens were determined to put two and two together based on Instagram stories alone; matching Sunday brunch photos in New York City and beach trip snaps in Indonesia fuelled talks of are-they-or-aren’t-they. Wurtzbach finds it funny. Jauncey finds it flattering. “That photo taken in Hong Kong with me in the background of a fan shot and the shot of Pia in Indonesia wearing my Ray-Bans with her reflection seen in my stove are all part of our story now,” shares the Beautiful Destinations CEO and Tatler Asia contributing travel editor. “People have been so supportive and so encouraging despite not really knowing the full story, and I’m very grateful for that.”
There goes your confirmation. They are, in fact, an item.
Wurtzbach rose to global acclaim when she was named Miss Universe 2015, with the coronation going down as one of the most memorable in beauty pageant history due to presenter Steve Harvey’s mix-up. During her reign, she used her platform to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS testing as well as to champion the rights of the LGBT community. Post-Miss Universe, she went on to become an endorser, television personality, businesswoman, and UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for Asia and the Pacific. Some time ago, she opened BesTea, a milk tea shop she co-owns with close friends Pauleen Luna-Sotto and Nina Almoro.
Jauncey’s work takes him on a journey to some of the most beautiful places in the world, which led him to parlay his passion into a multiplatform business. Jauncey’s Instagram page is as aspirational as any travel-centric social media account can get, showcasing wondrous sights that help bring people together. A Global Ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund and an advocate of sustainable tourism, he champions climate change awareness wherever he goes.
The pair first crossed paths in London, where Jauncey approached Wurtzbach (“She blew me away,” he admits) to introduce himself. It was a real life meet-cute; the two had recognised each other from their respective Tatler covers. “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,” says Wurtzbach. “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.” Dinner plans had been set; conversation flowed freely, and before they knew it, it was well past midnight. They realised that they had almost met at an event in New York back in 2016, but he had left just before she arrived. “I guess it wasn’t time yet,” she adds thoughtfully.
Though the connection was instantaneous, it took some time before the two decided to become exclusive. Wurtzbach, who had just come out of a long-team relationship, asked for a courtship stage before they moved forward in any capacity. Though she did not have reservations about dating again so soon, she was not actively looking for a romantic partner, instead keeping herself busy with work. Respectful of her wishes, Jauncey readily agreed. “She set the parametres, and I happily accepted. 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. 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.”
When asked about what she loved best about Jauncey, Wurtzbach zeroes in on his drive. “I never thought I would find a guy who is just as motivated as I am—and then he came along. I felt like I met my male version! 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.”
“I grow more inspired do things when I’m with her and I love it,” Jauncey enthuses. “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.”
Open communication was key in establishing the building blocks of their relationship. They spoke openly about their pasts, what they wanted to achieve in terms of career, and what they were looking for in terms of love. They also enjoyed the support and enthusiasm from family members and close friends, which, according to Wurtzbach, helped make things easier. “Everyone was congratulating me—as if I had won a contest or something,” she says.
As travel is a big part of both their work and personal lives, the pair have grown fond of going on dates around the world. Aside from that much talked about brunch in New York, they have also gone to Indonesia together, where they kayaked to an uninhabited island to watch the sunset. “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,” recalls Jauncey. “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."
But Hong Kong is and may always be their special place. It was nothing grand: just the two of them, walking around the city, talking about everything and anything for hours on end. “I remember sitting in a park, watching kids running around,” shares Jauncey. “It all felt so easy and natural. It was then that I knew I wanted to be with her.” Adds Wurtzbach, “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.”
The pair have been notoriously private, keeping to themselves despite all the rumours floating about. It was important to them to lay down a solid foundation of trust and understanding before they came out in the open. Shares Jauncey, “I’ve always felt a close connection to Filipinos because they’ve always been so kind to me. So to all the detectives out there, thank you! We knew how much we liked each other, but we wanted to spend quality time with each other and build something strong before we made any official announcements. To be able to build the future we are planning, we will always make time just for each other. We both greatly appreciate the support we are getting. Finding a balance between our public and private lives will be what we strive for moving forward.”
“We actually found it funny when people were trying to connect our stories and posts,” shares Wurtzbach. “I promise it was unintentional on our end! We wanted to enjoy getting to know each other first. But Jeremy and I appreciate the support even though we have not confirmed anything yet. We wanted to make sure we set a good foundation for our relationship before we came out in the open. I’ve made the mistake of sharing too much too soon before, and I wanted to make sure I did it right this time.”
As they are both busy individuals whose jobs often have them jetting off to different parts of the world, distance and time management are sure to weigh heavily on this relationship. Wurtzbach says they both enjoy having full schedules, adding that this allows them to motivate each other to reach greater career heights. Daily texting helps with the distance. So do weekly breakfast or dinner FaceTime dates. Vacations are scheduled a few weeks to a few months in advance—they share their calendars with each other to help with planning—to make sure things are set in stone. “It’s nice to have something to look forward to together,” Wurtzbach adds. “We made a promise to always make time for each other no matter how busy we are, no matter where we are in the world. We don’t see the distance as a disadvantage; rather, we think of the world as our playground.”
The travel restrictions brought upon by the current COVID-19 situation have altered their current circumstances. Trips to Palawan and New York City have been postponed. But as with most matters, they are making the best of what is available to them. “We video call often,” shares Jauncey. “We text or call every day to keep updated on each other’s lives. If she’s in a different timezone, I’ll usually find Pia in her kitchen with a green smoothie or a coffee, getting ready for her day ahead. On weekends, we try to have a special Saturday date night where we dress our tables, light some candles, and put on the playlist she made for me on Spotify. There’s one place in Manila that still sells flowers, so I get to send some to her.”
Wurtzbach admits that the situation is overwhelming. “I feel for families who worry about the very essence of their survival. I feel for those in self-isolation who are unable to see their loved ones. I also think about our frontliners. Everybody is affected by this crisis.” And so she asked herself: “What can I do to make myself more useful?” Wanting to be of help, Wurtzbach began by sourcing out suppliers, putting in an order for 5,000 masks to donate to four hospitals when she got in touch with a reputable one. This initiative quickly ballooned, leading her to set up a crowdfunding page as a way to invite people to pitch in with either small or large monetary increments. Ordering in bulk would help bring the prices down, which would equate to more masks to give out. “My initial goal was to donate 25,000 masks, but with the help of everyone who donated, I was able to give out 44,000 masks [approximately PhP1M worth] to 30 hospitals as of this writing,” shares Wurtzbach. “We’ve also been sending meals everyday, for five weeks now, to the ICU unit of Makati Medical Center. I’m very grateful to everyone who helped me with this donation drive. It was a success considering our limited resources, limited movement, and that we’re only a group of five.”
“I am so proud of her,” Jauncey enthuses. “She is an inspiration to millions and continues to inspire me everyday. I am incredibly grateful to all the frontliners that have kept going through this crisis to support people. We still have a long and difficult road ahead, and they deserve all the praise and support for what they have done.”
Concludes Wurtzbach, “I believe that there are a lot of lessons from this. I hope that when this is over, we’ll never take things—like the chance to hug our loved ones, to travel the world, to live life—for granted ever again.”
- Photography Nigel Barker
- Location Equinox Hotel and Hudson Yards Mall New York
- Styling Jasmine Caccamo
- Hair Zullay Sevilla
- Make-Up Yuko Takahashi