A wedding concert. Ding & Joy Hilario singing the greens

ding joyMANILA - Yesterday we were in Valenzuela City, which now I must call The Romantic City, first of all because of the shock and solace of the story of City Councilor Shalani Soledad, whom boyfriend and Senator Noynoy Aquino broke up with once he became President of his country, and who is now betrothed to a scion of the illustrious Romulos, Congressman Roman Romulo (see my story, "Stormy weather. How Shalani Soledad survived Signal #3," 30 September 2011, Flipinos, Flips! blogspot.com). The announced non-wedding was a shock; the announced wedding was too.

We were attending a wedding. This one was expected. I have 4 sons: Jomar, Paul, Ding and Edwin. The 3rd, July Salvador "Ding" Reynoso Hilario, got married yesterday, and that leaves the 4th as the lone bachelor. All good-looking boys, I must say. Friends used to tease me about my looks referring to the girls by asking an impertinent question, "Bakit magaganda ang mga anak mo?" Why are your daughters pretty? My pertinent reply, "Kasi maganda ang nanay nila." Because their mother is pretty. And it's all true.

The whole Hilario Family was there, father & mother and 10 children, those who are in the Philippines, including the grandchildren: From Taguig City, Jose Mario & wife Clarisse & children Sean Ryker & Lucia Agatha & Earl Clement; from Los Baños, Paul Benjamin & wife Celeste & daughter Yja; from Quezon City, Teresa Leonor & husband Toto Ilowa & daughter Samantha. From Los Baños, sons July Salvador and Edwin Dante. daughters Cynthia Mae, Jennifer Claire, Daphne Cassandra, Neenah Bonafe, and Graciela Antonia. Cristina Marie, eldest, is in Toronto with husband Christian Capati and children Maia, Tia, & Noah; Maria Lorena is in New York with husband Karl Cerni and children Gabby, Ina & Bea.

The wedding was at the Bahaghari Center at Valenzuela City, where bahaghari means rainbow. They made one of the colors the wedding theme: Green. Bahaghari is where members of Bread of Life Valenzuela gather Sundays for their weekly worship services. The Hilarios are Roman Catholic, so why do we have a son who is not? In fact, we have a daughter, Teresa Leonor, who is married to Armando "Toto" Ilowa, and they are both Bread of Lifers. And why is that? Because early on, my wife Ampy and I decided to let the children choose their own churches. Well, I was not a good Roman Catholic myself.

The invitation read:

Ding & Joy … whose hearts beat to let God's face shine through.
Together with their parents, Mr & Mrs Frank Hilario and Amparo Hilario
Mr & Mrs Rolando Andres and Victoria Andres
Invite you to share their joy as they are united in the Lord Jesus Christ
on Friday, the 23rd of December, Two Thousand and Eleven
8:00 am at Bahaghari Center, Valenzuela City.

For the Hilario & Andres nuptial, Officiating Minister was Pastor Manuel David Diamante. The one who pronounced them Man and Wife was Rev Godofredo Ricafort. Sponsors were 24, in the order of their appearance in the list: Lyle Hannah, Ignacio Andres, Modesto Bare, Mario Dizon, Ferdinand Huraño, Edgar Coquia, Teodoro Reynoso, Abelardo Nolasco Jr, Eduardo Reyes, Jose Mario Hilario, Jess Bacarra, Alvin Maddara, Rebecca Hannah, Marites Andres, Nenita Bare, Elizabeth Dizon, Edna Huraño, Olivia Acosta, Gloria Fabillar, Maritess Nicolas, Susan Reyes, Norma Andres, Eugenia Antolin, and Katherine Jean Diamante.

Best Man was Lemuel Cruz and Maid of Honor was Jay Anne Zaldivar.

Sponsors were: for Candle, Elias Evan Inocencio and Minerla Fabillar; for Veil, Neil Brian Dizon and Emvy Marie King; for Cord, Edwin Dante Hilario and Aizel Ebreo.

Bearers were: for the Bible, Ethan Michael Alfonso; for the Coin, Samantha Ilowa; for the Ring, Sean Ryker Hilario.

Flower Girls were: Amabel Ira Beatrice Andres, Yja Celestine Hilario, Lucia Agatha Hilario and Isabelle Kislap Diamante.

Members of the band: Ann Figueroa, keyboard; Jake Roxas, bass guitar; Allan Escalante, drums; Ding Hilario, lead guitar.

(I can't give you more details than those. I was just absorbing everything. I took very little notes - and then I'm missing them now! But I remember the surprises:

1st surprise. Rev Ricafort explains the symbols of marriage: Bible, ring, coin, cord, veil, candle. I never attended a wedding in any church where the symbols were explained in such detail. I remember about the veil - it goes on the head of the woman and around the shoulders of the man, to signify that, in my own words, the head of the woman is subservient to the head of the man. The Reverend was focusing (or I was) on love and submission, quoting from the New Testament: "Husbands, love your wives." And, "Wives, submit to your husbands." Thank you, Reverend!

2nd surprise. My wife reminds me not to forget the candle ceremony. Ah yes. There were 3 candles, the middle being the largest of them all. With the candle to the left, Victoria Andres was supposed to light it with a match, with Rolando cupping the flame against the wind; the candle to the right, Amparo and Frank Hilario were to do similarly. My wife is proud that she did it with a single strike; Victoria had to strike again. Then the ladies went up to the bigger candle to light it with their candles - I saw the ladies light the big one simultaneously. It was a beautiful sight.

3rd surprise. My son July Salvador was singer and he was playing lead guitar with the band. I was surprised because I had forgotten that he had been a member of the band of Bread of Life Los Baños. And he can sing.

4th surprise. My newest daughter-in-law can sing and hit the high notes too. This Andres is a little bundle of Joy.

5th surprise. The wedding ceremonies were supposed to start at 8 AM but it didn't, as happens in Filipino weddings. About noon, that was when the reason was made clear why Mr & Mrs Ding & Joy Hilario were singing together with the band. It was that they were in fact now holding a concert to give thanks to those who attended the party. I have never attended a wedding party that was also a wedding concert, with the newlyweds doing the concert yet.

6th surprise. Of the songs sung, I remember, of course, "Joy to the World." But the one I like best is the song originally sung by Mega Star Sharon Cuneta, "Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko," but which July Salvador revised and sang as "Kahit Maputi Na Ang Dreadlocks Ko." You see, the groom has locks as long as 10 years old or older.

7th surprise. As token of thanks to their parents, the newlyweds gave each one a heavy green bag of "Healthy Options" that comes with the slogan "Life is beautiful in a world of Healthy Options" (healthyoptions.com.ph). I opened my gift bag and out came a heavy bottle almost full of a light brown liquid. It says on the label: Lakewood Organic Fresh Pressed Pure Apple. It is made of thick glass with 100% apple juice, not from concentrate, all of 1 quart or 946 mL. It also says that it "(a) helps restore vital body electrolytes, (b) supports the digestive system for overall well-being and vitality, and (c) helps maintain normal cholesterol levels and supports the immune system." Truth to tell, it has this caveat in bold letters: "No supplement alone can provide the important complex nutrients found in a variety of fruit and vegetable juices." Perhaps not.

The word organic is all over the label. I have no doubt that the apple fruits pressed to make the juice have been organically grown, with no added synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or growth regulators. You know what? This is a historical reminder for me. In the mid-1960s, I was already writing about organic farming in the student newsletter of the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture and the Philippines Free Press, but the PhDs of this Cow College were laughing behind my back. In 1968, I brought my organic farming ministry to Xavier University College of Agriculture, and the young Nicanor "Nicky" Perlas bought it hook, line and thinker. That started him on his road to biodynamic agriculture, trying to change the universe of chemical agriculture, and lately on the road to missioning the world to change from scientific materialism to spiritual & organic meaningfulness.

Organic. Marriage is organic to the world. "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder" (Matthew 19: 6). A marriage of convenience is not organic. Little green apples are organic.

Little Green Apples

And I wake up in the morning with my hair down in my eyes, and she says "Hi."
And I stumble to the breakfast table while the kids are going off to school, goodbye.
And she reaches out and takes my hand and squeezes it, and says, "How you feeling, Hon?"
And I look across at smiling lips that warm my heart, and see my morning sun.
And if that's not loving me, then all I've got to say,
God didn't make the little green apples, and it don't rain in Indianapolis in the summer time.
And there's no such thing as Dr Seuss, or Disneyland and Mother Goose, no nursery rhymes.
God didn't make the little green apples, and it don't rain in Indianapolis in the summer time.
And when myself is feeling low, I think about her face and go and ease my mind.

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