Daphne's Wedding. I father reinvent singing for love

clip_image002SAN PABLO CITY, 01 February 2014, Valentine's Month, and we are all in love. We are at the altar of the San Roque Parish Church located at the Buncayo Park Subdivision in San Roque, San Pablo City, towards Alaminos, Laguna. This is after the church rites, time for a great many pictures to be taken. I don't like firing-squad shots; I like flash drives but not flash bulbs, but I'm not the photographer here. Daphne (dark) & Mark Gonzales (darker) are in the middle, all the fair bridesmaids in the row, best friend Roanna next to Daphne. Skin color is skin deep. All's right with the world.
At my daughter Daphne's wedding, the parents of the bride are late by more than 1 hour; we have been holding up the wedding ceremonies, and this is the 7th Hilario wedding. It's good I didn't invite any friends – the arrangements, the cake, food and everything have all been Daphne's, with help from bridegroom Mark of San Pablo City. 9 of my 12 children are here: Jomar with wife Clarisse and their children (Sean, Lucia & Earl), Teresa with husband Toto Ilowa and their girls (Sam and Mandy), Jay (Paul) with Celeste Banaticla and daughter Yja, Dinggoy (July) with wife Joy Andres, Cynthia, Jinny (Jennifer), Daphne, Neenah, and Ela (Graciela). 3 are not here: Edwin is occupied in a call center in Makati; Tina (Cristina) is with husband Christian Capati and children in Toronto; Dida (Lorena) is with husband Karl Cerni and children in New York City.

The principal sponsors are: Pio C Prado Jr, Erna P Prado, Augusto A Reyes & Judith Y Ang, Ronald B Gonzales & Marieta L Quinita, Ryan M Sarmiento & Darren R Baguiler, and Rolando T Cruz & Wilma T Cruz. The reception is at Maria Paz Royal Gardens in Santa Filomena also in San Pablo City, towards Manila; the first evening together of Mark & Daphne as husband & wife is at Sulyap Bed & Breakfast at Del Remedio also in the City.

We have Larry M Prado as Best Man and Roanna C Matic Matron-of-Honor. John Brian C Cia & Mary Anne Michelle A Lauricio are Candle Sponsors, Jerome C Jacinto & Neenah Bonafe R Hilario Veil Sponsors, Michael Alex A Lauricio & Wella L Absudio Cord Sponsors. Groomsmen are Manuel P Marcaida III, Arlan James D Rodeo, Quinoy E Ybañez, and Erwin R Arcillas. Bridesmaids are Ma Adela J Lacao, Nerissa S Sangre, Jocelyn A Amarante & Cristina B Miralo. Noel Brayan M Gonzales is Ring Bearer. Gian Carlo C Prado is Coin Bearer. Jean Raqu'l M Eusebio is Bible Reader. Samantha H Ilowa, Marianne C Prado, Heart G Gallardo, Amanda H Ilowa, and Chev Jayvyn N Morales are Flower Girls.

At Maria Paz, the food is good, and I am eating most of the time, some of it the concoctions of Daphne, who is into self-taught baking and catering – she baked her own wedding cake too. And the sounds are great; I particularly note that, and you will see why in a little while.

I make sure to ask if there is a Message from Parents portion of the reception program, and I'm assured there is. I have a pleasant surprise, as it turns out. Yes, I am ready with My Little White Book of 16 pages in printout, and what to say from the beginning to the end, not written but in my head. I have had some practice in my head.

When my name is called, I grab the microphone and say, more or less (some of it I'm translating freely from Tagalog):

My message to Mark & Daphne is made up of only 1 word. 1 word. (Then I show them My Little White Book.) But the explanation is 16 pages. (Laughter)

So, we were not late. (Laughter) We were very late! (Laughter) Part of the reason is that our vehicle broke down. (It had brake trouble.) Part of the reason is that we botched our own schedule. And we had to go around the world. What do I mean? Naligaw. (Laughter) We got lost. (Actually, we got lost in time, but I don't tell them that.)

My 1-word message is: Sing! 
Now, I shall demonstrate to you what I mean in case you don't understand. (I gesture with My Little White Book, which is a songbook actually, which I desktop published myself in Word 2013 yesterday.)

Those of you who are fond of texting, do you know that your message doesn't go directly to the cellphone of the one you're texting? It goes up to heaven first, then it comes down, then it reaches your target cellphone. Around the world, that's why sometimes it arrives after 3 hours, sometimes the next day. (I forget to say that Mark & Daphne first met through text; theirs was love at first text.)

I look at the front page of My Little White Book, folded short bond paper twice stapled at the middle using my own deep-mouthed long Plus-3UE stapler, 1 page 1 song, a booklet full of songs I have sung before and whose lyrics I copied from the Internet, songs that I know I can shift from one to another just like that (I have had a little practice, singing softly to myself). I had selected from memory and from some 50 others in the World Wide Web; I typed those selected songs myself, all the more to remember the lyrics, setting the text in 16 pt Arial Narrow, printed in black, titles in 18 pt small caps, printed in red, for readability. I say:

By the way, I don't want any accompaniment while I'm singing because the guitarist will just shame himself, making mistakes. (Laughter) 

(The truth is, I've had no practice with any musical accompaniment in any of the occasions of my singing. About 50 years ago, as a young boy I sang quite a few songs to serenade young girls visiting our village Sanchez in my hometown of Asingan, Pangasinan when I was home from Cow College, I mean the UP College of Agriculture, and the guitarist just had to follow after me, no practice. Anyway, the object was to charm the girl with the song, not with the guitar.) I say:

I need notes because I'm 74. (I point to my white hair. I forget the lyrics, for lack of practice.)
So now I'm prepared. Am I nervous? Just a little bit. I sing from "Around The World" by Matt Monro:

Around the world I've searched for you
I travelled on when hope was gone
To keep a rendezvous
I knew somewhere, sometime, somehow
You'd look at me and I would see
The smile you're smiling now.

I get it right, full and low. The audience is surprised. I'm not. The audience is not clapping; they must think I am going to finish the song.

I always knew I could sing, and as I listen to myself singing, I'm happy to note that it's a much deeper, clearer voice than I had sung to charm the girls back home, or to entertain the guests in my daughter Teresa's wedding reception at the Alumni Hall of UP Diliman 10 years ago, 2004. If the talent is there and you cultivate it somehow, you can summon it anytime. Just like now. It just takes some guts.

I don't finish going "Around The World" just as I have planned. Right after I sing "The smile you're smiling now," holding my mike on my left, with the right hand I flip to the next page, "Fascination" by Nat King Cole; I sing at once:

It was fascination I know
And it might have ended
Right then, at the start
Just a passing glance
Just a brief romance
And I might have gone
On my way to heartache.

Nice! Right after "heartache," I flip to the next page, "Love Me Tender" by Elvis Presley; I sing at once:

Love me tender, love me sweet
Never let me go
You have made my life complete
And I love you so.

Yes! Right after "so," I flip to the next page and song, "Always" by Frank Sinatra, and sing at once:

Days many not be fair always
That's when I'll be there always
Not for just an hour
Not for just a day
Not for just a year
But always.

Fair enough. Are you getting the hang of it yet? I had planned this a week back, even as far as Pangasinan where I have been on a team teaching consultancy with Butchoy Espino and Dormie del Carmen (who attended the wedding, invited by Daphne, who is her workmate), and which I finalized this morning of the wedding itself, while waiting for the ride to San Pablo City. Remember, my 1-word message: "Sing!"

I don't finish Sinatra; after "always," I flip to the next page of my book, "Our Love Affair" by Nat King Cole, and sing at once:

Our love affair is a wondrous thing
That we'll rejoice in remembering
Our love was born with out first embrace
And a page was torn out of time and space.

Good. Right after "space," I flip to the next page, "Mona Lisa" by Nat King Cole and sing at once:

Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa, men have named you
You're so like the lady with the mystic smile
Is it only 'cause you're lonely, they have blamed you
For that Mona Lisa strangeness in your smile?

Fine. Are you with me? I can see my audience is listening.

Right after "smile," I flip to the next page, "As Time Goes By" by Louis Armstrong and sing at once:

You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss
A sight is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.

Strangers in the night
Exchanging glances
Wond'ring in the night
What were the chances
We'd be sharing love
Before the night was through.

Moon River wider than a mile
I'm crossing you in style someday
You dream maker, you heartbreaker
Wherever you're going I'm going your way.

When you're weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes I will dry them all
I'm on your side.

Flip, sing, flip, sing, flip, sing, flip, sing. Fine, fine, fine, fine.

That's 4 parts from 4 songs sung straight, from changing voices from the beginning of a song to the beginning of another song, or from middle to middle, something dangerous, as your voice can break, something that's never been done before. Well, I'm a creative writer, so why not take a risk and be a creative singer? And it's all for fun, after all.

After all my efforts, I think I've just reinvented singing. 
"Strangers In The Night" is of course by Frank Sinatra, "Moon River" by Andy Williams, and "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" by Paul Simon. I have 16 songs in My Little White Book.
And no, I'm not done yet.

I introduce the next song by saying, "With this one song, I got a girl. Really." (Cheers) I hear my wife saying something at the back. I point to my back without looking and say, "Not that girl!" (Laughter). Oh, oh. Again I point to the back and say, "She's worth more than a song!" (I hear, "Oh! Bawi!" The word means I have recaptured lost territory.) The song is "My Funny Valentine" by Johnny Mathis:

My funny Valentine
Sweet, comic Valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Yet you're my favorite work of art.

No other love can warm my heart
Now that I've known the comfort your arms

A long and lasting love
Not many people find it

Love letters straight from your heart
Keep us so near while apart
I'm not alone in the night
When I can have all the love you write.

Good, good, good, good. That's "No Other Love" by Jo Stafford, "A Long & Lasting Love" by Billy Preston, and "Love Letters Straight From Your Heart" by Nat King Cole.

My audience doesn't know but I'm on to my 2nd-to-the-last song, and I sing it whole. It's "He Will Carry You" by Steven Curtis Chapman:

There is no problem too big
God cannot solve it
There is no mountain too tall
God cannot move it.

There is no storm too dark
God cannot calm it
There is no sorrow too deep
He cannot soothe it.

If he carried the weight of the world
Upon his shoulders
I know my brother that He will carry you
If he carried the weight of the world
Upon His shoulders
I know my sister that He will carry you.

I hear my wife complain, "Your message is too long." I don't know about that; I'm enjoying all this. I say, "There's more." And then I flip to the next page; it's "When I Fall In Love" by Nat King Cole, and I sing at once:

When I fall in love, it will be forever.
I make a perfect stop. But my audience doesn't know that. After just that first line from the song – remember, I have it all planned – I let the audience wait for the next note ... of course, there is none. The end. Then I say, "Tapos na." That's all, folks. (Cheers and clapping)
Why did I stop at forever? Because it's the best stop of all!
You never saw a singer like me and heard songs sung like that, have you? No, it's not a medley; it's not your usual mixed song where you combine into one song parts of many songs to make a new song, only one, different songs sung in the same melody. No, mine is unique and original, not a copy from anyone. I sing parts of one after parts of the other as different as the songs are, different melodies. Beginning, beginning, middle, beginning. I'm singing Matt Monro, I'm singing Nat King Cole, I'm singing Elvis Presley, I'm singing Johnny Mathis, I'm singing Steven Curtis Chapman and so on one after the other and pausing only to flip the page, without taking a deep breath. I don't imitate any of those voices; it's my voice; I just sing myself.

The message after all is: Sing! Sing out your troubles, come on get happy! 
After my message of a song, Dinggoy says, "I didn't know Tatay can sing. Now I know where Manong Jay and I got our singing talents." Jay used to sing as a member of Lisieux Music Ministry at UP Los Baños; Dinggoy and wife Joy are members of a church band, Alabaster, for Bread of Life Bulacan. My wife reminds me Jomar used to sing for the music ministry of Beloved Children of God Community also at UP Los Baños. Of my singing, Jomar himself says, "Nice song."

Frank's song, Frank's voice, Today, mine is a new way of singing many songs as one song. I shall now call what I have just invented, paraphrasing the British nursery rhyme: Sing a Song of Suspense. You don't know which song the singer is going to sing next; you don't know if the singer will make it and not be out-of-tune. I love it. It is all love songs. Children of all ages love songs.

So now I have shown you that in his daughter's wedding message, a father's word is worth a thousand words – this essay is 2,500 words. All's right with the word! Today, the world learns a new lesson in a wedding with music: A father's word is worth a thousand songs.

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