Thursday, October 08, 2009

Walang Ligawan

The following article, by a stroke of luck, got published in the Youngblood Section of Philippine Daily Inquirer in its Feb 10, 2000 issue. I retyped the piece (as published) so it could hopefully inspire people to fall madly in love--as doing so, I believe, is one of life's most wonderful events!

I submitted this piece with my pen name "Pise," to make it anonymous although some friends and relatives, who knew me by that nickname, guessed that I wrote it.

At the bottom of the article, the following information about me appeared:

Pise, 24, works as a research associate at the University of the Philippines Los Banos while pursuing a master's degree in development communication.


If divorce were legal in this country, chances are our own statistics on divorce would approximate those of the United States. This thought leaves me wondering why, in the face of all the complexities that family life brings, I still cannot shake off my desire to be married.

I come from a broken home. But I was blessed to have a great woman for a mother. After my father deserted us, she picked up the pieces and strove to make us a family again. After some time, she met another man. And when they decided to live together, she brought me along.

I was only five then. My two older sisters stayed on with my lolo and lola, while my stepfather helped my mother raise me and paid for my education. Now, I have a 15-year-old sister by him, and she is the angel in the family.

To the credit of my mother as well as my stepfather and my grandparents, my sisters and I finished school. All of us are now gainfully employed.

The separation of my parents was not as traumatic to me as it was to my sisters. I don't harbor any resentment against my father since I have very few memories of him. One thing I am sure of is that he was good-looking and he welcomed the attention the girls gave him. It still amuses me to dig up from my lola's baul old pictures of him and his girlfriends.

My father took after my lolo, who also could not resist a temptress. My lolo was a soldier, and he had a wife wherever he was assigned, my lola said. And like my father, he had children by other women.

My eldest sister will be turning 33 this year. My father's youngest child is just three years old. If he had remained faithful to my mother, he could have retired by now. Well, I suppose his six other children are now his source of pride and joy.

Still, it's quite sad that he will not be the one to walk me down the aisle when the time comes. I think it's proper that the one who raised me and sent me to school be the one to give my hand away. When my eldest sister got married, it was lolo who marched with her. We sent father an invitation, but he didn't come.

Let me make it clear that it is not my intention to tarnish my father's name. Our family's history was never a secret. The truth might hurt a little, but we have come to terms with the past and I am happy with the way things turned out for all of us.

What I would like to write about is my fetish for marriage, which is quite strange since I know from experience the risks attached to it. I've been nagging my boyfriend to take me to the altar. And for about two years now, the talk about our wedding has spread like an infection. Wherever I go, people ask, “Is it true? When?” I guess the blame is on me because my standard reply is, “Yes, it will be soon.”

But I give that answer only to stop any further inquiries. It's hard to find excuses for why we still have not settled on a date.

The truth is, it's not only the date that my boyfriend and I are still trying to agree upon. There are a multitude of other details we have to thresh out.

He wants a simple wedding with only a selected few in attendance, I want all those who would like to come to be invited. He wants to hold the wedding in some faraway province to discourage guests from coming, I want everyone to celebrate with us.

He has other weird ideas, but I think he is just using them to send me one message: “Wait a minute, girl. I am not ready yet!” He insists that we should tell our guests to come in very casual wear (read: jeans and shirts), reasoning that he hates formal weddings where guests need to dress up and watch their manners. He says he wants everyone to feel happy and at ease during the wedding.

But his craziest idea yet is to indicate in our wedding invitation that we do not expect gifts, but instead, we will be charging an entrance fee for the reception. To me, that's a surefire formula to to turn our would-be guests away. It is enough to make me cry whenever we discuss our wedding plans. So it is not surprising that while there has been much talk about our engagement, we have no definite plans until this time.

My boyfriend and I had an unconventional courtship. We were in the same batch in college and took the same course. At first, we were not even civil to each other. I thought he was too arrogant, but I had to admit that he was charming. He did not seem to notice that I existed and so I also did not take much notice of him.

Then after our graduation, circumstances forced us to be together. Our work took us to many provinces in Luzon. During the long trips we had to make, we would engage in casual chats while stuck together in a van for hours on end, and often ended exchanging barbs.

After the trips, he would, in his own unique style of storytelling, tell Kleng and Marlon (who happened to be my “sis” and “brod,” respectively, in a college organization) how much he hated me but would later admit he could not deny that I was affecting him. In my case, after spending several days and nights with him, I discovered with great surprise that he was a good and intelligent person. My disgust slowly melted and a deep admiration took its place.

Then one day, while our officemates, Alvin and Locel, were doing a survey in a distant province, I was left in the office with him. He asked me out after work. The timing was perfect as I could no longer contain the feelings I had been suppressing for months.

We went out and after gulping down a bottle of beer and a glass of margarita, I was instantly consumed by the alcohol, and the floodgates were opened. So there I was confessing how much I hated him for not showing any interest in me. I was gesticulating wildly while I told him everything. The sight of me acting drunk caught the attention of the bar owner who decided to come to our table with a cup of coffee, free of charge, to sober me up. But it was not the coffee that made me sober (I did not even touch it), it was the embarrassment. So we left the place in a hurry and went to a playing field in a nearby school campus.

It was his turn to make a revelation. He said he was afraid to admit that he was falling for me but since I had already told him my feelings, there was no point in keeping his own to himself. We sat on a bench for several hours, telling each other about all the things that were important to us, including our families.

That eventful night of August 12, 1996 became the official date of our anniversary. We felt that it would be ridiculous to go through the process of ligawan as we aleady knew what the answer would be. Thus for a long time, our friends in the office had no idea that we were already going steady. I could not let them know since that did not even see him court me.

After that night, I knew in my heart that he was the one for me. I felt how good God could really be. I was not expecting such a beautiful blessing, He gave it to me unexpectedly. Amid all the chaos in the world, life is full of wonderful surprises.

I have been in this heady state of being in love for about four years now. And each day I thank God for entrusting me to a man I know I will one day marry. Meeting him changed my perspective on marriage. I have no worries about what lies ahead. I trust him completely. He makes me want to grab the future and build my own family as soon as possible.

I know my boyfriend is still hesitating to take the plunge, but I know that he wants to do it as much as I do. And now that everyone we know will start anticipating our wedding on account of this article, he might just be finally convinced to take me for his wife.

Post Script: Let (my husband's name) and I got married in 2001. Here are some of our photos with our friends mentioned above who followed our story, and photos from the wedding with my high school friends and some guests from UPLB.

With SEARCA colleagues at the then newly opened Enchanted Kingdom. That's Let in black shirt, and that's me beside him. :-)

With distinguished UPLB professors - Dr. Gino Ables, Dr. Lex Librero, and Dr. Chito Protacio.

With my friends from high school - Free, Amy, Ghi, Cha, and Teddy, at the wedding reception.

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