Stand firm, then, brothers, and keep the traditions that we taught you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
—2 Thessalonians 2:15—
Jennifer “Yeyette” Perey and I have been together for 14 years. She was my college classmate (the prettiest in class, if I may add), my barcada, my “ate” (she’s three years my senior), my partner in crime, my best friend. Hindí man niyá acó lubusang naiintíndihan, tacbuhan co siyá palagui sa touíng bad trip acó sa cung anó mang bagay sa buhay. And vice versa. She had no fondness for almost everything that interests me. Books and politics bore her to death. And she couldn’t care less for the difference between nationalism and birthday parties. In the same vein, I dislike her diversions: showbiz and fashion, and the usual girl talk.
But as children of the 90s, perhaps the only thing which drew us towards each other is our susceptibility to the frivolities of our youth. It was an era of youth itself, when youth in the history of Time was at its happiest, when “happy-go-luckiedness” was basic canon, an age when democracy in our country was having the time of its life, when hip hop and metal were waging war against each other, and when primetime cartoons and sitcoms were the subject of next-days idle talk inside classrooms. It was a time when rebelling was no longer dangerous but fun, a time when pop culture has reached its zenith to the point of being making itself stale (and it did).
When Yeyette and I met, it was a time when euphoria made itself blatant as the most sought-after objective of man.
We never ignored the future, but we cared less for responsibilities. Unselfishness was but a precipitation on a windowpane on which we merely used to write down our names. Youth was all there was. We thought it was immortal. Although it never lorded us over, it never commanded us to do anything, it, however, tolerated our every whim, blinding us with the “truth” about pleasure.
Fortunately for me, I was not your average petty bourgeois. I was also an observant SOB and a worshipper of books dealing with various subjects. And even before me and Yeyette were already an item, I was already in pursuit of truth. Religious truth, that is. And so: growing up with a non-religious Catholic mom, I freely received various books and pamphlets from her JW cousins; as a teen, I showed interest with my maternal grandmother’s UCCP; I then spent several months with the MMCC; a couple of weeks with the INC; was a fanatic Ang Dating Daan fan for about two years, etc. Becoming more adventurous, I then joined DeMolay.
Looking back, I believe that listening to all those sects led to my disenchantment with organized religion which was further augmented with my activities as a young socialist activist. Imagine just what kind of existential angst I had to go through.
During my training with De Molay, my friendship with Yeyette ended up with her getting pregnant. Then Krystal followed. Then life in its most ostentatious color.
Our frosty windowpane was shattered with just a snap of a finger. All of youth’s promises, lost (I imagine José García Villa mockingly slapping our faces with yellowing rough drafts of his “Footnote to Youth”).
Youth betrayed us. Pop culture popped rather hard in front of us, stinging our faces painfully.
Our first photo together taken at Bacoor, Cavite (circa 1999).
In the difficult events that followed (and being unable to make a compromise with my dad regarding Yeyette’s pregnancy), I resigned myself to the notion that life’s a bitch, so it’s better to love myself. I gave up the idea of God. But not my family.
My apologies; it’s not my intention to write a pathos-incensed story of our love life in one blogpost, so never mind the —if you may— kick-a$s intro, hehehe! It might take me forever to write about it. So let me just fast-forward things up to the time when me and Yeyette were already proud and happy parents of four kids: Krystal, Momay, Jefe, and Juanito. It took a family of my own to make me realize that God is real, God is true, God is within us, that family is the covenant He speaks of.
Yes, I became a Christian again, but only after torturous months of joblessness and defeat, reawakenings due to a rereading of Philippine History and philosophy (particularly metaphysics and theology), and wrestling against myself if I was to abort my second child or not. In the end, Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason) won over me. Life became clearer then. And I didn’t even have to read The Purpose Driven Life (as a matter of fact, I haven’t even read it yet).
And since me and Yeyette didn’t want to live a life filled with guilt over what we did (hooking up together much to our respective parents’ disappointment and heartbreak), neither did we intend to continue our lives in “fornication”. Although we were wed civilly, we are not yet married in God’s eyes. A couple of years from now, we’ll be in our 40s. We didn’t have any plans of going beyond that age limit before officially tying the knot.
And so three months ago today, on a dreaded Friday the 13th which was also our 14th anniversary as a couple, me and Yeyette were finally married in our parish church. It was a simple ceremony, really, as it never had the grandeur similar to other weddings. However, it had the elegance, the sacredness, and the character of a true Filipino wedding…
Photo by Mao Joseph Almadrones.
…because we were married using an ancient Catholic rite: the Rito Mozárabe or the Mozarabic Rite which was the original Catholic form of worship in the Philippines from the Spanish times up to the late 1950s. The wedding took place before the entrance of the church; it lasted for about half an hour. Afterwards came the nuptial blessing using the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, also known as the Tridentine Latin Mass. The languages used during the entire ceremony were Spanish and Latin, the way it should really be.
Ours can be considered a historic wedding because it was the first time —at least in the Southern Tagalog area— that a traditional Filipino wedding occurred since the late 1950s; a similar wedding occurred earlier this year, but it was held at the Holy Family Church in Cubáo, Quezon City.
And speaking of Tridentine Masses, it was a startling coincidence to find out later on that our wedding happened on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the promulgation of the celebrated apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI! And our wedding also occurred during the final months of the Year of Faith, probably one of the most awesome things to have happened to someone who was once faithless! Friday the 13th be damned!
Really, AWESOME is all I could muster from my thoughts.
Our wedding rings on my wife’s Filipiniana bouquet composed of sampaguita, gumamela, ylang-ylang, pandacaqui, camia, and champaca flowers. The bouquet was designed by renowned florist Serge Igonia, a native San Pedrense.
I said goodbye to my long hair on the day of my wedding, LOL! It was Ryan Panaligan, Yeyette’s friend who is a personal stylist of Jed Madela, Luis Manzano and other ABS-CBN stars, was the one who took care of our hair and make-up. And now he’s styling another hunk in this photo.
My bride and our daughter Krystal.
Our boys: Momay, Jefe, and Juanito.
The centuries-old and miraculous Cruz de Tunasán —a “victim” of José Rizal’s satire— became part of our historic wedding!
A modest string of sampaguita flowers are hanging by the church pews on either side of the carpeted nave. San Pedro Tunasán is also known as the “Sampaguita Capital of the Philippines”.
The bride arrives in an elegant looking carroza.*
The Mozarabic wedding is about to begin.
Locution of the admonition and exhortation. Reverend Father Michell Joe “Jojo” Zerrudo, pastor at the Holy Family Parish in Quezon City and also a renowned exorcist, officiates the rare wedding.
Union of our right hands.
Father Jojo blesses our rings and arrhae.
Fr. Jojo places the ring on my right ring finger.
Fr. Jojo gives me Yeyette’s ring which I then insert to her right middle finger.
Fr. Jojo transmits the arrhae to my hands…
…which I then transmit to Yeyette’s hands…
…which she then transmits back to Fr. Jojo.
Done with the Mozarabic Rite wedding! And nope, I’m not doing a rendition here of John Cena’s “you can’t see me!”. I was just proudly showing off my golden ring. :-)
The nuptial blessing begins (using the extraordinary form of the Mass). Both me and Yeyette were led by Fr. Jojo towards the altar. We were holding on to the edge of his stole as he recites Psalm 127. Go figure. :-)
The Catáquiz couple. Behind them is Señor Guillermo Gómez, a giant in Philippine history and letters who is also one of our wedding sponsors. Accompanying Señor Gómez is Valerie Devulder, French-Filipina granddaughter of the late Francisco Coching, “Dean of Philippine Comics”.
Sampaguita and camia flowers strewn all over the carpeted nave.
This moment brought me to tears, for I have not received Holy Communion in years. Tita Joji Alas, one of our wedding sponsors, is seated beside Señor Gómez.
My bride’s turn to receive the Body of Christ.
Sorry, no kissing in Tridentine Mass weddings. But of course, a couple should not show an intimate moment right in front of the altar. That is what I call a Novus Ordo Mistake.
Standing behind us: my cousin Jam, Tita Joji, Mayor Baby, my maternal grandmother Norma Soriano, Yeyette’s dad Jaime Perey, my dad Josefino Alas, Mayor Calex, and Señor Gómez.
Throwing rice grains to the newlyweds is an old Filipino custom. I just treat it as tradition. And hey, what our friends and family members flung at us are organic rice grains, LOL!
❤ ❤ ❤
CLICK HERE for more photos! And for an explanation of our wedding’s symbolism or the rite as a whole, CLICK HERE.
*Special thanks to Gerald Ceñir and the rest of the “Tridentine Boys” (Jesson, Mao, Juhnar Esmeralda, Satcheil Amamangpang, Miguel Madarang, and Justin Benaldes) for making this dream wedding come true (Gerald has been helping me in planning for this wedding since 2009!). Thank you also to former Biñán councilor Rómulo “Ome” Reyes for allowing us the use of his carroza, and to Mr. Ronald Yu for sponsoring it. To all who attended our wedding: ¡muchísimas gracias!. And more importantly, THANKS BE TO GOD!
Stay tuned for more of “My Filipiniana wedding!”