Today, March 18, 2018 marks the 75th wedding anniversary of my parent and if Dad did not pass away in May 2007, I’m sure there would be a party. Filipinos love parties. They will find any excuse to have a party.
What made their marriage endure for so long? Love, patience, total commitment and resilience. Dad being a businessman had his share of worries and problems. It was feast or famine at my house growing up. One day, Dad had three gas stations or had an exclusive on iron window grill business bringing too much money and then one day, he was totally broke. We managed somehow. Dad was on a cash basis. If he did not have the money, he did not buy anything. No credit card, no mortgage on the house. (I wish I have that luck.) When he bought land and built a house, it was cash basis, no mortgage. The house was built slowly as money came in. They did not have a perfect marriage. There were some rough times, financial and emotional ones although I never heard them quarrel. They endured and found solutions to their problems.
My parents got married in a simple ceremony at Bauan Cathedral on March 18, 1943 in the midst of the Japanese occupation during WWII. Because of the Japanese notorious propensity to rape “dalaga”, Philippine maiden, Mom was so afraid that such tragedy could happen to her so she decided to get married sooner than she wanted to. After all, Dad had been courting her for four years already. My poor father kept on waiting while Mom was playing hard to get.
For their 50th wedding anniversary on Mar. 18, 1993, my three brothers and I were summoned to go home for the big celebration. It was my first trip back home since I left in 1967. I’m always afraid of flight and for fear that something might happen, I told my brothers that we should all take different planes in case the plane crashed. So we all booked separately on different airlines arriving at Manila International Airport within a few hours of each other because someone had to pick us up and take us all to Batangas. Manila is about 2 ½ hours’ ride to my hometown.
My oldest brother arrived first and I got in an hour later. My other brother’s flight was delayed in Hongkong so we had to wait for him for two more hours, at about midnight. My youngest brother with his wife and two children were coming early the next day and they would be picked up by my sister-in-law’s brother. They were to stay at a hotel in Lipa City, not far from my hometown.
We reached my parent’s home at about 3 am and of course we had to catch up on the news. We were still on NY time zone so we were still wide awake. My parents probably were tired but we talked for an hour before we all settled in.
When we all left the nest and went to the United States, (I to NY, my two brothers to NJ and another one to Vermont) my parents decided to move back to the province from Makati just outside Manila and so Dad built a new home with solid construction: granite, marble and steel-reinforced cement, hoping to withstand earthquakes and typhoons but it only has two bedrooms for the two of them and a live-in maid. When they decided for all of us to come home at the same time, they put in a two-bedroom extension in back of the property.
The house looked rather small looking in from the street. It was deceiving because the property is deep. Dad enlarged the living area again later on so the place goes on forever. It’s surrounded by a tall fence and a gate so no one can get in easily. The gate is always locked. We the children always joked that it was like Fort Bonifacio.
Here are some pictures from their 50th anniversary party. Unhappily I don’t know many of the guests. The whole town seemed to descend at our place.
The backyard was all set for the party. In back behind the head table is the 2-bedroom extension.
From the back looking to the back terrace.
Getting ready to go to church. That’s me in front to the right.
The highlight of the wedding ceremony was when I went up the lectern and read the Papal Blessing from Pope John Paul II which I obtained through the assistance of Msgr. James Collins of St. Dominic Church in Oyster Bay, NY. I handed the framed certificate signed by the Pope to the officiating priest who gave it to my parents. It was a very emotional moment for me and my parents. There was a thunderous applause from the congregants.
Family picture after the wedding ceremony at Alitagtag Church. L-R, my niece, Stacy; her mom, Rosemary; Myself; Mom and Dad; Rene, my eldest brother; Robert, my youngest brothers; Eddie, my middle brother and my nephew, Stephen.
Back at the house, Mom and Dad on the back terrace surveying the guests.
Guests lined up for the buffet table.
Some guests from my father’s side of the family. His youngest brother and only living sibling in front of Dad.
Some guests from my mother’s side of the family. Mom’s three siblings still alive at that time: her youngest brother sitting next to Dad, my other uncle next to Mom and my aunt in striped dress on the left.
We had a marvelous time and my parents were extremely happy to see the family together. It was a memorable occasion.
I just might write another book about their interesting life story after the war.
Until next time. Keep on reading.