It was the most joyful thing I had seen in such a long, long while. There she was, “a vision of loveliness,” as a half-forgotten song described the bride who inspired the lyric.
Wearing a gown exactly like the one I had envisioned a daughter of mine should wear, Mariz Umali stood still as her groom, Raffy Tima, raised the veil to give her the traditional and much-awaited (by the guests) wedding kiss, but what we saw was a widely smiling bride, the smile so wide it left no space for Raffy to kiss her! And so they had to resort to what I think was something much more meaningful—a very loving hug, the kind you would expect from best friends, which they are and have been for quite a time.
It was just so beautiful. But you will have to pardon an incurable romantic like this writer who grew up on Louisa May Alcott (you know, “Little Women,” etc.), idolized Susan Roces, swooned over Elvis Presley and memorized all the lyrics of every love song recorded by Vic Damone.
I was actually writing the concluding paragraph of my column for Monday, something I believed I had to write, although merely thinking about it threatened to throw me into the pit of depression—the brutality and inhumanity, the cruelty and mercilessness, the ruthlessness and senselessness and ugliness of it all made writing it, for me, an act of masochism. It was about another young woman, in a totally different set of circumstances but almost typical in this day and age, who will never spend another Christmas in this godforsaken world.
And then there was Mariz with the loveliest smile I had seen, again, in such a long, long while, and I decided what the heck, I needed a break for heaven’s sake. After all, this was not the first time I scrapped a whole article and wrote another one an hour or two before deadline.
I don’t know Mariz personally although I watch her on TV almost every day. But Raffy I got to watch up close and personal while we were covering the Sipadan hostage crisis in Jolo 12 years ago, and I can say getting married to this beautiful girl couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. I wouldn’t know who is luckier between the two, but who cares? Certainly not Raffy and Mariz because the love they have for each other just jumped off the screen.
Young as they are, they have each paid their dues to become the media personalities that they are now. And while at it, neither one has succumbed to the “trappings” of most of today’s celebrities, which must have been difficult enough in this age when early pregnancies and serial affairs in the so-called “show biz” are celebrated like acts of heroism.
Sadly, these mindless made-for-teenagers movies are what young people watch, and so busy are they trying to ape their “idols” they don’t have time to watch authentic role models like Raffy and Mariz.
Thank you, Raffy and Mariz, for reaffirming for me and other incurable romantics that love—“old-fashioned” and beautiful, gentle and kind, faithful and true, funny and joyful, giving and sharing, selfless and patient—still exists in the age of cyberspace.
And as it should be, the church was filled with family, friends and colleagues, especially, who had watched them grow as professionals and their friendship blossom into true love, people who had known them for years and so showered them with truly deserved good wishes.
Yes, a dream wedding it was.
For what a relief it was not to see a baby bump underneath the lace. Simply said, they didn’t get married because they had to, but because they wanted to and had the wisdom and patience to wait for the right time, on their own terms.
How I wish that other young woman I was going to write about had been told that even in this day and age, even if you had to work your way through college, there’s a whole lot of options out there, other than falling into the trap of sleazy characters and false friends.
Just about all the best wishes for Raffy and Mariz have been said by their well-wishers, and there’s nothing more I can add except, maybe, to remind Raffy to be sure to wear a good life vest next time you go out on a banca in the Sulu Sea.
God bless these two beautiful people.
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