Thursday, February 08, 2007

Just checking in...

Photo from
Hello, my dear readers! I have been away for a while and that's because I am attending to so many things.

First, the wedding. Second, the magazine. Third, our new home!!!

Funny, of the three we're most excited about the house (then our magazines, then the wedding last). I guess that's because the wedding's just a silly little party while the condo unit is our future home. We are so thrilled! We want to move in ASAP!!!


Not that I don't care about the wedding.

I am so glad I work in a magazine. Fixing a wedding in less than three months is actually quite a breeze! I have no idea why there are stories about bridezillas, and brides and grooms and mothers fighting, or brides needing a year or two to plan a wedding. Really, it's just like one big photo shoot.

Well, it does help that I know a lot of people in the photography, beauty and fashion industries. And my experience as an editor makes it very easy for me to review locations and services, ask the right questions, and book vendors. I did all of that in a week! It also helps I have the most amazing future sisters-in-law, Lizelle, Anj and Reza. My goodness. I do not know what I'd do without them! If I can only make them all my maids of honor, I would. They have helped me A LOT.

So I have the loveliest little garden chapel to get married in (Archbishop's Palace), the most elegant restaurant to hold our reception (Le Soufflé at The Rockwell Club), Manila's darling designer to make the gowns for me and my ladies (Kate Torralba), a talented makeup artist and hairstylist to do my hair and face (Jigs Mayuga and Nhey Guese of L'Oreal), and my own brother to provide the music with his string quartet (Theodore Amper, cellist for The Manila String Machine). Now, all I need are the rings, the cake, the flowers, and... well, I need a lot of other things. But so far, so perfect!

Weddings are a piece of cake.


Now the house is an altogether different story.

What a complicated business buying your own home is! So many papers, so many taxes, so many fees, so much... government! Grabe. The condominium unit we purchased is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom affair with a breathtaking 90-degree view of the city. It is an amazing place. I kid you not. Great way to start a new life together!

And then the government stepped in. The fees and taxes just kept coming and coming and coming. We paid for so much more on top of what the house cost. It is not right.


Speaking of that, let me go back to the wedding. When we went to our city hall to apply for a marriage license, Vince and I could not believe what was happening. Every question we asked cost us P10. Unbelievable but true. And I was naive enough to ask for a receipt! I am so stupid. Faced with corruption, I did not know what to do except to ask for the right thing. And when it was refused me, I was lost. Buti na lang marami akong barya! Finally, Vince told me to stop asking questions.

When we were also getting Vince's baptismal and confirmation certificates, we found corruption yet again. At the Dela Strada Parish Church along Katipunan Ave., the parish workers gave us Vince's confirmation certificate without a hitch or money exchanged. In the Parish of the Sacred Heart Church in Sta. Mesa, I observed that this time we had to pay for the baptismal certificate. It was okay since the church looked like it needed it and it was just P45 (I heard the woman behind the window charge the lady ahead of me). But when it was my turn, I got charged P55 for the same thing! Was it because I was dressed well and the lady before me wasn't?

It's not right. Dela Strada did not charge us anything and it was a church in a wealthy neighborhood. Sacred Heart was in the middle of an impoverished place—their parish people shouldn't be shelling out money anymore! Well, it does make sense that Dela Strada won't charge; perhaps their offerings every Sunday are more than enough. Still...


I am learning a lot these past few days. I am learning a lot about how churches work, how the government works. I am learning about how families work, mine, Vince's, and combined. I am meeting so many different kinds of people. I am seeing so many new places. Some bad, most good. If there's anything I'm grateful for because of this wedding (aside from getting me a mighty fine hubby!), it's the experiences.

They are amazing.

Now, I don't know when I'll be back but do drop me a line now and then!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Hear ye, hear ye!

Photo from
Vince and I are (officially) engaged!

It happened on December 22 at exactly 10 AM.

Actually, I proposed to him first! Yup, that's why I said we're officially engaged now because when I proposed to him, nobody took us seriously *roll eyes moment*. So last December 1 with the Sony Playstation 3. I bought him one and as he was happily connecting the cables to his Bravia, I knelt before him with the controller in my hands and after intoning his full name, I said, "I love you with all my heart. Will you marry me?" Vince got all red in the face as he grabbed my hands (or maybe the controller?) and replied, "Heart lang? Of course, I'll marry you!"

He didn't want me to tell anyone until I had the ring, though. But I told people anyway! It is after all the 21st century so I think it's perfectly okay for me to tell people we're engaged (besides, the PS3 certainly did not come cheap! It's a very good... no, it's a fantastic engagement gift!). However, people didn't seem to believe we were engaged at all! They kept asking, "Eh, where's the ring?" Darn it.

Turned out Vince had asked his mom's jeweler to make me a special ring. And it sure took them some time to make it! Vince said he was getting nervous because it had been weeks (and he had turned over the wads of cash) and still there was no sign of the ring. But at last, a few days before Christmas, it arrived. His mom surreptitiously gave it to him while we were at lunch and I was none the wiser. That night, at the dinner table, his dad suddenly asked me, "So where's the ring?" Everyone at the table gasped in horror (stupid me, I wondered why). I shrugged, "Oh, he's still having it made po." And then I noticed everyone smile in relief, which I thought was weird (still stupid!).

The next day, everything became clear! Early next morning, I opened the door and there on the living room floor was spread a red picnic tablecloth, and on it were real wine glasses and real china. There were red wine and fluffy pastries. I was surprised but I still didn't get it! So I sat with him and asked for iced tea (who drinks wine in the morning?) and chatted away. Then as I was looking at the gifts under the Christmas tree, Vince suddenly took a little blue velvet box from under the tree and... then... I... finally... understood!

He knelt before me, opened the box, and there nestled within was the most sparkly diamond ring I've ever laid eyes on!

I don't remember what happened next. By the time I came back to my senses, we were in a hug and the ring was on my finger. But it was a blur! I don't remember anything!!!

He told me later that he had said my full name, had asked "Will you marry me?" and I had said "Yes!" and he then slipped the ring on my finger and then we had hugged. Then he had asked, "Why aren't you crying? You always cry when I give you gifts." And I had replied, "Because you told me before you don't like drama." And he had retorted, "Well, this is one of those times you're supposed to do drama!"

Or something like that. Like I said—it was such a blur!

I am so happy! And Vince is, too! He keeps calling me "my wife" these days, though. What a strange man! I so love him!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The perception of happiness is a strange thing

Photo from

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Kate invited me to the introductory meeting for the Landmark Forum. The Landmark Forum is a weekend seminar (that costs a whopping 19k, meals not included!) that will help you achieve your dreams, overcome the barriers in your life, improve personal relationships, and basically help turn you from a loser into a winner. How they do this I do not know. It's a tightly guarded secret unless you fork over the cash and attend the seminar in January or February.

Now I have nothing against groups of people who like to help others so I trotted along and found it all very interesting. I especially was amazed that Kate—my neurotic insecure and overly-nice friend who lets people trample all over her (yes, she's that sweet!)—has changed into this lovely peaceful and confident woman. So this forum must be doing wonders. Her relationships with her family, boyfriend and friends have improved, she says. And I believe her. In some circles, this change can be attributed to finding God. In Kate's case, she found the Landmark Forum.

Vince says there's nothing wrong with that. "We find God in all sorts of forms and places," he shrugged. Well, seeing the change in Kate, I'm glad she found her answers.

Anyway, she brought me there because she says she wanted my life to be better. This surprised me. My life is great! My only problem with my life is it's so great I'm scared something bad will happen to balance out the positive. Like I keep mentioning in this blog, I feel I need to pinch myself sometimes to make sure I'm not dreaming because life is so good.

Apparently, Kate doesn't think so. And so did the other people at Landmark Forum. Take this conversation for example:

Man: You're saying you have everything you want?
Me: Well, I'd like a marriage, and that's happening soon... so yes, I do have everything I want.
Man: Your relationships are perfect?
Me: Nope, but I am constantly working on those relationships. My parents, my family and my boyfriend know I love them to bits. We argue sometimes but we fix things soon enough. We like to talk, you know. So it's not perfect but it's wonderful.
Man: And your career is okay? Don't you want to be a boss?
Me: Er, I already am a boss. And yes, my job is very fulfilling.
Man: (shaking his head and smiling) No, no, no. You're only 30. You can't be happy!

So I was very frustrated and irritated! I mean, why must I defend my life to these people? Why can't they believe I'm happy? Yes, I used to be very angry and insecure but I've dealt with those issues. It took me a decade or so but I'm glad to report my anger is gone and my insecurities are over. How did that happen? By having this huge faith in God. I would never have reached this state of completion and happiness if it were not for God's grace and mercy. He has blessed me profoundly and I am humbled every single day because He continues to be there for me, guiding me, scolding me, comforting me, blessing me. He is the one friend of all my friends who never betrayed me, never failed me, never disappointed me. He was always there through my anger and bitterness and hate at life and the world and people. He brought me through all that. And He's still doing that because I admit, the demons of my anger and hate still haunt me sometimes. And when those shadows come, then I call on Him and He is there.

That is why I am happy. And that is why my life is good. Because God is good. And I trust Him, only Him, with my life.

But it surprised me that the people around me don't see my life that way. I guess it's because I'm not living the traditional life. I'm 30 but I'm not married. Most every girl I know my age has a husband and about three kids. I don't like having a lot of friends (residue of having been betrayed and hurt by my friends before) but the ones I do have, I treasure. So I guess people find it weird that my idea of a good time is being alone with a book, or alone with Vince, or alone with a friend or two. I don't like big gatherings, big parties, and big places filled with people, but since it's part of my job, I've learned to deal with it. I still don't like it but I can be cool. And I'm okay with myself being like this. Sadly, other people don't think that's okay.

On my side, I'm also guilty about this perception of happiness in other people. Yup, I realized that, too. A couple of months ago, I berated my brother Theodore and his girlfriend Rose for wanting to get married with only P3,000 in their bank account. I said they were fools. I also said that they will never be happy because he's a temperamental artist and she's a simple quiet girl. Well, what do I know about their relationship anyway? They've been together for ten years. There must be something there I couldn't see, the way Kate couldn't see my happiness. Some people think it's okay to get married even without money. Some people think opposites attract. So what do I know? Rose told me later on that she did not deserve to be judged that way. And you know, she's right. I don't know her. And she also told me that she knew my family didn't want her for Theodore but that she stuck around because she loved him. So she must be made of sterner stuff. She also said that she will never become close to my family, she won't even try. And you know what? I'm okay with that. It's not right I think, because marriage is all about family... but whatever rocks their boat, I can come to respect.

I think like this now because I realized that people have their own standards for happiness. Mine? As long as I'm writing and reading and can buy myself a pretty pair of shoes now and then, I'm happy. As long as Vince is around, I'm happy. As long as my family is healthy, I'm happy. Some people think a marriage and kids will make them happy. Some people think a career will, or a pet, or a house by the beach, or lots of friends, or the approval of others. We're all different.

And that should be okay.