Of Marriage Proposals & Marking Commitments

This is an email and a chat interview. Before I wrote this article, I posted an announcement in Facebook. I asked them to share their funny marriage proposals either as a personal message or through email. I took one story and emailed some questions to her. Thanks to Anne (she preferred to use just her name) and by extension, her husband Matt.

Anne didn’t know what would happen that early Sunday morning. Since they became a couple three years ago, their regular dates moved from romantic to plain and simple. Why? Go ahead and read.

Fr. Jboy: Tell us about your love story.

Anne: We started out as friends. We were both employees of BPI. We had our own commitments then, but we found each other as confidants of our intimate relationships. Our friendship deepened when both of us struggled with our personal and family lives.

When I broke up with my boyfriend, Matt was there with me. And when he had a rough time with his girlfriend, which eventually led to their parting, I was with him.

Fr. Jboy: But you were friends at that time?

Anne: Yes. We found ourselves casually going out and enjoying our “freedom” but we ‘enjoyed’ it with our barkada. It took four years to discover what we felt for each other. In 2002, we decided to be a couple.

Fr. Jboy: So you started out as friends, did you feel awkward when you became a couple?

Anne: Well, yes and no. It was awkward, because we felt that it was like “as usual” but not exactly the same as before. This time, we held our hands while walking, which we never did when we were friends. Sometimes there was “dead air” in our conversations. We were conscious of the new “level” but eventually, we talked about it. And so Matt decided to “re-start” our relationship just like many couples. He said that he wanted me to experience his way of courting a girl so that “nothing will be missed.”

Fr. Jboy: Did you find that important?

Anne: Yes, because it marked out the time between being friends and being a couple. One of the good things about starting out as friends is this: I developed my capacity for companionship and friendship. I learned how to deepen relationships and it did prepare me to enter into an intimate relationship with Matt.

Fr. Jboy: So how was the first part of the ‘new’ relationship?

Anne: We started out having romantic dates in the most meaningful places. Matt said that spending time in these places would make us learn more about each other. It was like a history tour, but the stories were our own.

Fr. Jboy: What did you first do?

Anne: Matt brought me to his hometown and gave me a detailed tour of St. Rafael’s Academy where he studied in grade school. He showed me his classrooms and the back of the covered courts where he had a fight with one of the bullies.

Fr. Jboy: What did you do?

Anne: I brought him to Camiguin Island, introduced him to my family and went to White Island where I promised myself that I would bring my future husband there before getting married. I had two litmus tests.
First, could he eat what we eat? So Matt had his first taste of boiled unripe banana with bagoong isda, and Northern Mindanao’s kinilaw with young lime and tabon-tabon.

Second, would he exert an effort to learn my dialect? So I also thought him Cebuano. I thought that if he showed interest in learning my dialect, it would mean that Matt was more than interested in just having an intimate friendship. Matt readily took on learning the dialect which eventually endeared him to my family.

Fr. Jboy: What was the difference between having him as a friend and having him as a boyfriend (well, now husband)?

Anne: When we were friends, everything was spontaneous. We relied on our mutual interests like unwinding in coffee shops and watching movies. We had a common topic: our jobs and the people at work, and of course, our personal love lives. It was convenient to have someone from my own world.

But when we became a couple, there was a certain regularity, like a schedule. We were “determined” by each other’s schedule, and we made a great effort to be on time for our regular dates. When we were friends, if I didn’t feel like going out, I did not have qualms staying at home. When we became a couple, I would exert an effort (though happily doing it) to be there even if I was tired. It was not spontaneous, but my decision to keep our dates became more conscious and fully willed.

Fr. Jboy: What was a “regular date” after all the “tours” to your place of birth?

Anne: On our regular dates, Matt and I, both working in Makati, would take Sundays for ourselves. Our dates became simpler as the relationship deepened: we would buy pandesal and canned goods in Sta. Rosa and have breakfast in Tagaytay. And then attend Sunday mass at the Pink Sisters’ convent before heading home.

Fr. Jboy: You mean, having breakfast in Tagaytay was a regular date? Don’t you go out on a “romantic candlelit dinner” or look for a celebration with the “spark” and the “fireworks.”

Anne: On special occasions, like our anniversary and birthdays, yes. It was strange that as time passed, our dates became just simple and uncomplicated. It seemed that we continually chose each other on the basis of the ordinary, mundane, every day living. To be able to experience each other on an ordinary day made me realize that this is the lifetime partner I was looking for. It was in these “boring” moments that I came to particularize my choice, after a long “socialization” process, finding whom I would like to be with and build my family with. These boring moments were the ones I cherished. It’s like a photograph of an old couple sitting together quietly — you know their love matured as they aged.

Fr. Jboy: So how did the marriage proposal go?

Anne: On that particular Sunday, I never suspected that Matt would propose, but I wondered why he bought a bag of huge Pan de Manila pandesal before he fetched me. So as usual, we went to Tagaytay Picnic grove, spread our checkered cloth on the grass and took out our food.

When I took out one piece of bread, I noticed that Matt was unusually nervous. He was looking inside the Pan de Manila paper bag looking for something. Suddenly I bit something and it was hard. I took it out from my mouth: It was a ring!

That was not Matt’s plan. He was suppose to break the bread where he hid the ring and say, “Will you spend the rest of your life having more than just breakfast with me?”

But I accidently got the piece of bread where the ring was!

Fr. Jboy: Well, our ordinary lives are not scripted.

Anne: It was very very funny that instead, we laughed so hard until our bodies were shaking. We kissed each other after all that laughter. He knew the answer immediately before we locked lips and we embraced each other tightly. Both of us made a choice and at the same time promised forever.

And part of that promise is to laugh our hearts out all the years of our lives.

(Anne and Matt got married in Camiguin Island in the northern tip of Mindanao.)

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