WHEN the officiating priest told Boots and Olive Cruz to reenact “the kiss” as he gave the couple his final blessings that capped off the renewal of their wedding vows at Palacio de Maynila yesterday, he was unaware of one major detail: there was nothing to reenact as there was no first kiss at all, at least not in public, that sealed the union.
Eric Pineda, one of the couple’s (for lack of a better term) pseudo nephews and a good friend of mine, related to me that the priests then at San Agustin Church, where the couple exchanged I do’s, found it unthinkable to allow pairs to show such public displays of affection.
Yes, even among already married couples, who must have paid a considerable sum to use the historic church in Intramuros, Manila as a venue for their wedding. And to make sure that they toe the line, they were made to sign a contract days before the event.
Instead of kissing, said Eric, Tito Boots and Tita Olive shook hands before leaving the church and proceeding to the reception venue. Now, how weird is that? Well, that was 50 years ago. The last time I was in San Agustin a few months ago for my brother Ronnie’s wedding to my then future sister-in-law Namfon, no such prohibition was in place.
Despite the absence of that first public kiss, it didn’t stop the couple from bringing into this world four lovely and accomplished children: Girlie, Orlie, Winnie and Yvette.
Except for Orlie, a singer and all-around performer based in Jakarta, the rest of the bunch are all accountants. Singapore-based Winnie, who’s married to Philip, is also a mother herself to a handsome and well-mannered boy named Tim.
(As an aside, I think I’m beginning to hate the Cruz siblings because all of them, even Ate Girlie [at least she tried and was surprisingly in tune], can sing. They’re another living proof that life is indeed unfair! Why, even young Tim can carry a tune.)
Eric and Orlie have known each other since elementary school, while I’ve known both of them since high school. But it was only fairly recently that Orlie and I became close, thanks to Facebook, SMS and Blackberry Messenger. I’ve had the chance to visit him in Jakarta more than a year ago, and we got to reminisce and talk a bit about more serious stuff.
Members of our big little group composed of graduates from UST HS were mostly present. The party was, in fact, an extended family affair, as Eric, a fashion and costume designer, did the couple’s renewal finery. Anjoy Hipolito, an interior designer-slash-stylist, did the floral arrangements, while the Cruz children, led by Orlie, provided the entertainment.
To be honest with you, I don’t really know Orlie’s parents that well. But based on the few interactions I’ve had with them, I find them a decent, unassuming and friendly pair.
Tito Boots, in particular, is perhaps the exact opposite of Orlie, who, as a performer, naturally thrives under the limelight. Orlie’s old man is one of the most gentle of gentlemen belonging to his generation I’ve happen to come across.
Friendly is also probably an understatement. When we were in high school, for instance, we had two favorite hangouts outside the UST campus: Edwin Perez’s stylish house a short jeepney ride away from school, and the Cruzes’ “remote” residence bordering Farview, er, Fairview.
It was in Orlie’s then newly built two-story house a little over 30 years ago that we spent many nights chilling and exploring our untapped creativity as “indie” (before the word even existed) performers singing, dancing and doing all sorts of reenactments culled from the best movies of the day.
We usually did our almost nightly soirees during summer vacation when everyone in the house was already asleep. We had free rein of the first floor, especially the huge living room, which effectively became our stage.
Although the house was fairly big especially by today’s standards, there was no denying the fact that we generated quite a racket trying to express ourselves and expend boundless youthful energy. In other words, there was no way Orlie’s parents and siblings could have been insulated from all that noise that crawled and penetrated into their bedrooms on the second floor.
Not in the slightest
They were either heavy sleepers or imbued with the patience of Job because during all those years they never complained nor showed the slightest displeasure in the morning.
Not once were we shushed as we exchanged crisp one-liners and tried in vain to stifle our giggles during the wee hours. For the life of me, I also can’t remember a single instance when Orlie reminded us to tone down the noise level a few notches or so, as not to disturb the rest of the family.
Thank God Anjoy’s skateboard, which found its way rolling across the Cruzes’ marble-floored living room, didn’t leave scratches in its wake, as that would have been the day. In hindsight, though, I’m now beginning to doubt if the couple would have mined.
Noel Crisostomo, also a fashion designer, had this inspired idea of asking certain members of our group to chip in to get Mr. and Mrs. Congeniality something special, which they can enjoy anytime between now and the rest of 2013.
Nothing we buy on earth can ever repay your kindness, but at least you can’t fault us for not trying. Tito Boots and Tita Olive, we hope you enjoy our small token.
Despite people’s increasing lifespans, 50 years of wedded togetherness has become a rarity these days. We must sit down with you sometime soon so you could let us in on your secret. Congratulations and happy anniversary!
Hendrik and Marta’s firstborn
Earlier in the week, a day after Christmas, to be exact, I also had the privilege of attending the baptism of Sofia Ines Garcia, firstborn of my new friends Hendrik and Marta Garcia, at the San Agustin Church. Lunch followed at nearby Barbara’s.
I got to know Hendrik and Marta fairly recently through our mutual friend Paul Henson. But I’ve had the chance to meet Hendrik’s parents, Ambassador Victor Garcia and Connie Garcia, years ago during a trip to Moscow. (Hendrik’s father was then the Philippine ambassador to Russia, and the Garcia couple welcomed us to their home.)
Unlike the flamboyant Connie, Hendrik, by comparison, is low-key. But mother and son share a natural ability to make near-strangers feel instantly at ease. That’s what I felt when I first met Hendrik and his then pregnant wife Marta months ago over dinner in Makati arranged by Paul.
As for Marta, I’m quoting an American who once paid me one of the sweetest compliments I’ve ever heard with these words: “You know what? I’ve never met a Filipino I didn’t like.”
Well, that line sure applies to Marta, a Pole, too, because “I’ve never met a Pole I didn’t like.” Prior to becoming friends with Marta, I have a Polish friend, a journalist based in Cracow by the name of Ewa Losinska.
Ewa and I met and got to spend a few months together with a group of journalists during a journalism fellowship in the US more than a decade ago. We’ve managed to remain in touch all these years through occasional emails and letters.
Lest I’d be accused of sweeping generalizations, the Poles I’ve met and become friends with so far are very warm, sensible and intelligent people. I must be doing something right in their eyes, as Ewa and Marta seem to be enjoying my sense of humor.
Well, congratulations, Hendrik and Marta. Now that your baby has been born into the Christian world, I can’t wait to see little Sofia Ines grow up to become an intelligent and beautiful young lady in the near future.