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With Due Respect

Welcome to the marry month of June

My wife Leni and I wanted to celebrate our Diamond Wedding Anniversary on April 8 at the Vatican or at the Manila Cathedral. However, due to the enhanced health protocols, we could not hold it in either venue. We originally sealed our wedding vows 60 years ago at the Immaculate Conception Church (now Cathedral) in Cubao, Quezon City.

Instead, the blessed day was commemorated by a simple online Mass. Only our close relatives (our children, grandchildren, siblings, cousins, and their descendants) participated from our respective homes in the Philippines, United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. I didn’t realize until the headcount how international our family had become.

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Via the magic of Zoom, the Eucharistic Celebration was presided over by our beloved adopted “anak,” Msgr. Gerry O. Santos, from his Sts. Peter and Paul parish in Makati. We first met him in the mid-1980s when he was a new priest. He catechized and taught me Catholic theology. We have become so close that he fondly calls me ’Tay, and Leni, ’Nay, and we, in turn, endearingly call him “Anak.”

To welcome lovers and couples during the coming marry month of June, let me share briefly the advice I delivered extemporaneously after our anniversary Mass. (Full copy at cjpanganiban.com)

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My first advice: “Talk it over.” During the last 60 years, Leni and Iʍlike other couplesʍhave had our ups and downs, our trials and triumphs. To cope, I dutifully observed two unbendable rules. The first is: My wife is always right. And the second: Always follow the first rule.

Well, happily, that is not the end of the story. Whenever Leni hears how I humbly defer to her, she invariably replies, “Thank you for agreeing but I think we should do it your way… If you can pass final judgments on persons accused of murder, rape, kidnapping, and other despicable crimes, I think I can trust you.”

Levity aside, when major disputes arose, we talked them over as a couple until we reached a solution. Suppose, after talking them over and after consulting family elders, priests, and trusted friends, still no solution came, what did we do? We talked again and again until we reached a solution.

Second advice: “Pray together every evening.” Aside from the big problems, we encountered little household irritants (like forgotten birthdays and anniversaries, calls or texts from strangers, or burnt barbecues) that hurt pride, irritated nerves, and elevated blood pressure. Well, it is okay to feel stressed and sulk once in a while.

How did we solve them? We made it a habit to hold hands and pray together every night before going to sleep. We did not recite memorized devotions; we extemporized in English or Tagalog.

We started by thanking the Lord for work well done during the day and for chores planned for the next morning; or by praising Him for simple blessings received like a safe ride home or a child’s high grades or a completed office task.

We did not let any quarrel last more than a day; the stress, depression, or sulking we mustered during the day vanished as we held hands and prayed in the evening.

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Third advice: “Trust the Lord always.” Sometimes, God did not seem to answer our prayers; at other times, He seemed to allow unpleasant obstacles to block our paths.

For example, as I earlier said, we patiently planned our 60th wedding anniversary in the Vatican. In fact, Cardinal Chito Tagle had already reserved the date in his calendar and our prospective ninongs and ninangs had agreed to fly to Rome.

Our “Plan B” was to hold it at the Manila Cathedral. As Ambassador Tita de Villa affectionately put it, “The Manila Cathedral will be a meaningful venue… you lavished its restoration with much love… symbolic of the love needed by marriage to be restored to its original beauty… with a small reception … in the new place inside the Cathedral grounds.”

But to our disappointment, our best-laid plans became impossible after the severe enhanced community quarantine was imposed on March 29 to April 11 that restricted international travel and local religious services.

Amid our frustrations, we remembered our Lord’s avowal: “My thoughts are not your thoughts and My ways are not your ways.” Duly reminded, we gladly welcomed the change of plan. And after the Mass, we exchanged “kumustahan” with our relatives whom we had not seen or heard from in a long, long time. That was a big, unexpected blessing. We agreed to do it again online every January 1st at 10 a.m. Manila time.

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TAGS: Artemio V. Panganiban, Marriage, With Due Respect
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