The Best Man’s speech

24 03 2013

(I listened attentively while my friend Raoul was delivering his speech as Best Man at Sead and Mitzi’s wedding.  The very moment he was through, I liked a lot what he said that I knew I had to ask for a copy.  As it is always the case with me when I encounter, say, food I fall head over heels for, I turn to a persistent solicitor of recipes. So in this case, I had to have a copy of his speech.  It’s in the sincerity and the unpretentiousness, peppered with just the right anecdotes.  Here is his speech, published with his permission.)

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The Best Man, Engr. Raoul Masangcay, speaks as the newlyweds listen attentively. (Photo by Engr. Aris Gaduyon)

GOOD EVENING.  I’m Raoul.  I am really glad to be here on this occasion to celebrate this wonderful day with my two good friends.  But first of all I would like to raise a glass for the Zildzic and Nuda families for bringing us such a wonderful people together.  Thank you very much!

I met Sead five years ago during my stint in Folsom.  I had the chance to work with him because I needed his expertise.  Right?

The first time I met him, I already knew that he was a good person.  He is kind, very approachable, and easy to work with.  He just has this aura that will make you feel intimidated by him.  I think that is because he is too good looking.

Getting to know him more through our regular meetings and meet-ups (that is when he visits Singapore) I can say that he is a great man, a true born leader, and a very responsible person. I’m really impressed on how he manages the challenges at work and how he makes complicated things look easy to handle.

With such qualities, I am confident that he will raise a good family and will be a very good husband and a great father in the future.

Mitzi, you are really lovely and beautiful tonight.  I’m very happy that you have found what you’re looking for.  I know Mitzi as being a conservative person when it comes to a relationship.  Even back in Cavite I already knew she had suitors that couldn’t win her heart.  That’s why I was so excited when I first heard that she was dating Sead.  And that was before we were able to guess the person she was always talking with over the phone during our night outs and the person who always sends bouquets of roses.  That was very sweet!

When I found out it was Sead, I already knew that there’s a happy ending to this story.

“Marriage is not about finding a person you can live with.  It’s about finding the person you can’t live without.”  And I’m so happy that my two friends have found that person in each other.

I wish you two the very very best as you start this new chapter of your life.  I wish you both an eternity of happiness.

I would like to invite everyone to raise their glasses in a toast.

Here’s to a lifetime of happiness and love for Sead and Mitzi.  Cheers!

.

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Scenes seen at a wedding

21 03 2013

SO THIS is how it must feel to have a hangover.  I guess it’s actually part hangover, part appreciation for really nice snaps taken by a shutterbug I actually know.  The name’s Aris – make that, Engr. Aris – a colleague and friend here in Singapore.

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Engineers all – Aris, Raoul, Sead, and Mike. These are some of the people whose intellect, character and professionalism I really admire, and yes, aspire for. Notice how different the ties are – yet they work together for one cohesive look.

 

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This takes the cake for Best Stolen Shot. The DJ and Iron Man. Theirs is a “walang iwanan” friendship. Every person should have that kind of association.

Of course I like the choice of subjects, the play of light and shade, the asymmetry at times, and the angles.  It’s a plus that his images captured my countenance in a manner not hazardous to human sight.  So brownie points for that.  Hahaha!

Eventually, the question begged to be asked.  Apart from his being a photography enthusiast, I had to know what his (current) choice of tool of the trade is – it’s the Canon 60D.  Like how I reacted to the speech of the Father of the Bride (Mitzi’s), the discovery of the camera make and model just left me pensive.  The image of a Tibetan monk perched on the summit of Mt. Everest – a Sherpa by his side – contemplating the future of post-Mayan Apocalypse Earth comes to mind.

I guess I should save up if I really want one.

With permission from Aris, I’m sharing here some of his photos that I really R–E–A–L–L–Y like.  All the rights to these images are his.  Thanks, Aris!

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Sealed with a kiss! That’s my good friend Mitzi and her man, Sead. Notice how they are framed by two suits. Nice.

 

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Sead and Mitzi and their thoughtfully selected Principal Sponsors.

 

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Sead and Mitzi with their Best Man, Maid of Honor, Groomsman, Bridesmaid, and all those cute kids who either carried something symbolic or showered their path with flowers. Ok, for the kids alone, this photo is so cute!

 

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“She’s mine!” / “He’s mine!”

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“All that really matters in this crazy world is you and I together. Baby, just remember. The first day of a dream…”

 

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“Okay, let’s seal it one more time.” In the backgroun, the lady in purple is Rez, who to me will forever be the quintessential Quality and Reliability Manager.

 

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Let’s try to answer: “What is love?” … Hmmm… I think love is knowing that not everything is in your control. That you need to learn to trust someone else, let go, and allow someone some freedom to take flight. Haha! Way to strecth the metaphor. All I want to say is, “Sead and Mitzi release the doves!” Haha!

 

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Lovely couple Aris and his wife, Joy. I only met Joy here in Singapore.

 

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I move in professional circles with these three – Aris, Raoul and Brian – and I’m reminded that not one person, especially myself, has monopoly on intelligence. Ok, let’s also throw it in there – charm! Me, charming is what I hope people see me after I win them over with my personality. Me?! Personality? Haha!

 

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What is a Filipino photo shoot without the requisite wacky shots? Haha!

 

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Alluding to that line from Moulin Rouge, “Come and get me, Sead!” … I call this the dramatic glance back.

 

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Hey! Hey! The gang’s all here! – Rez, Omeng, Joy, eNTeNG, Mike and Brian.

 

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Let’s try it one more time! Aris jumps in on the action.

 

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Table No. 7: Shanghai… My fave table and exactly where I was seated.

 

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Ready for its close-up – A tight shot of the really beautiful blooms.

 

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Once more with feelings… S–H–A–N–G–H–A–I…

 

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On with the show! Being part of this celebration made me really count how many times I’ve emceed a wedding reception. Sead and Mitzi’s come in at number… 10! I’ve done it all for just really close friends. Gratis et amore all the time.

 

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Sead and Mitzi make their grand entrance moving to the beat. Couldn’t you tell? It’s all in the shoulders.

 

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Of course I sang for them. I sang … not one … but two songs! Hahaha! As is usually the case, I would come close to offering to pay just to be allowed to sing. Hahaha!

 

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Sead’s Best Man, DJ Raoul, here with his “Best Woman” – wife Erin.

 

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“Right on, dude!”

 

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All The President’s Men. Err, make that “All The Groom’s Men” – The Best Man, The Second Reader, The Secondary Sponsor and The Groomsman all ready to party!

 

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The Groom with two of his colleagues from the States – Manoj and Adam.

 

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Hey DJ keep playin’ my song all night. On… and on… and on… DJ Raoul in action.

 

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The couple that move to the beat together… are most likely dancing. Hahaha! Seriously, the couple that move to the beat together, move to their own song and only with each other. Lovin’ the outfit changes here. All the best, Sead and Mitzi!

 

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





The universe conspires and makes dreams come true as one comes forth from two

17 03 2013
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The very classy invitation, personally delivered to Singapore by the Best Man himself. I love both the cursive and block fonts used.

MARRIAGE IS the feeling of one in the understanding of two.

After hearing that from the father of the bride, I walked away from my latest wedding reception emceeing gig with the persona of a pondering, pensive young man staring at one of life’s truths foisted on his way.

You live your life single long enough that you soon miss out on life’s little truths and – dare I say – life’s little pleasures.  It takes a wedding to bring things to light.  One could easily dismiss the speech of the father of the bride as the requisite dispensing of pieces of advice – often about how the newlyweds need to be patient with one another and, it has to be said, “work” on the marriage – but that evening, the words I heard reverberated with a deeper meaning and the thoughtfulness of someone who really meant well.

At weddings, we often hear well-wishers encourage newlyweds to nurture the best things that they like about each other, as their separate lives become one life; separate homes, one home; and, separate fortunes, one fortune.  Throw in individual backgrounds that trace their roots to two different continents, and you realize that as a well-meaning friend, you share in your friend’s joy just as much as you whisper a prayer of thanks that this really is one of those when – hold on for the cliché ahead – two become one.

I looked at my good friend of many years, the blushing bride, Mitzi, and I knew that all this time, her life has been made a bit more interesting by the possibility of having a dream come true.  She said so herself in her vows.  Her dashing groom, Sead, dapper in his coat and bowtie, fulfills her dream by coming to her life just when she was ready to receive him.  I’ve always believed that there is something so magical about weddings.  But at that very moment, I also got reminded of Paulo Coelho’s  The Alchemist because it did feel like all the universe conspired to help realize – and make successful – the Zildzic–Nuda nuptials.

The wedding march started at the exact appointed time at San Agustin Church and Convent inside the historic walled city of Intramuros in Manila.  One of the most popular venues for weddings, San Agustin Church is one of only four Baroque churches in the Philippines to be designated as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.  A place with such rich history and importance proved to be the only fitting place to solemnize and bless the first day of Sead and Mitzi’s lives together.

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The façade of the historic San Agustin Church and Convent, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

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The ceremonies started at the appointed time. One can’t be inside San Augstin Church and not feel being transported in time by the ornate carving, grand chandeliers, granite floors, and all the gold gilding.

 

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View from the ornately carved main door. Simply breathtaking.

Through this church’s ornately carved main door and beneath a historic  trompe-l’œil ceiling, Mitzi, radiant and doll-like in her white wedding gown with an intricately beaded bodice and a skirt that brought to mind the restless billowing sea, took her trip down the aisle to meet Sead waiting for her at the other end.  Framed by the afternoon tropical sun, Mitzi, my good friend, was a vision.

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One more look at the façade and it was time to head to the reception venue for some final pre-work.

 

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I kept time in check – running to and from home, the church and the reception venue – by wearing a Rolex to this very special event.

 

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Notice the earphones plugged into my Blackberry? It’s because I used all the time I was in the car to rehearse “in my head” the two songs I sang at the reception. One was in Filipino and the other was in English.

As both guest and emcee at the wedding reception, I knew that I had to cut short my partaking in the church ceremonies.  I took one quick glance at my Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air–King and knew that by the time the first reading (by Engr. Rez C. Punzalan) and the second reading (by Engr. Michael S. Borreo) were done, I had to rush to the reception venue to make it to the strict call time of 5:00 PM.  (Being given a “call time” made everything feel quite professional apart from the very personal aspect of being asked to emcee this event many months prior.)

This being an event wherein “all the universe” conspired to make it happen, I wasn’t surprised that at the helm of all the planning was Beautiful Weddings Bridal Consultancy and Wedding Planners, headed by the very lovely and gracious Ms. Ann Samiado.  As planning for their wedding was a huge production of international proportions – Mitzi and Sead are based in the States, their families are scattered throughout Europe, Northern America and the Philippines, and their friends and members of their bridal entourage are split between Singapore and the Philippines – the couple opted to get the services of a real pro to ensure that their exceptional day will become exactly that – exceptional.

From the church, I hopped back in the car and after a couple of turns along four blocks found myself staring at the impressive façade of La Castellana, as if caught in a space–time continuum that warped me back to Spanish Colonial Philippines.  Located at Cabildo corner Beaterio Streets, Intramuros, Manila 1002, La Castellana, which used to be an ancestral house, further underscored the sense of family and respect for time-honored traditions that Sead and Mitzi’s wedding was clearly becoming to be.

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The impressive façade of La Castellana, the wedding reception venue.

 

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The very first thing I did was meet up with Ms. Kristine, then… I just had to check my outfit on the mirror. Hahaha! I usually wear an all-black ensemble and just put a pop of color by wearing the wedding motif as the color of my necktie or bowtie. For Sead and Mitzi’s wedding, I put on a new pink dress shirt of Italian provenance and a bowtie in fuchsia pink. In my left hand is the clear folder that contains, of all things, the printout of my e-Ticket for my flight back to Singapore the next day. My very trusty travel agent of years now had provided it to me earlier in the day.

 

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The Bayleaf in Intramuros, the venue of the final rehearsal and where I first met Ms. Ann of Beautiful Weddings and her team.

 

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The marker at The Bayleaf Intramuros

I was told to look for Ms. Kristine of Beautiful Weddings who would brief me on the last-minute, final adjustments to the reception programme – just the changes from the rehearsal and “final” run-through we had a couple of nights back at the Bayleaf Hotel, also in Intramuros.  But before I could do that, I had to soak in the sights that were before me.  I walked through the three-paneled entrance and found myself admiring the grand foyer, for a split second finding my synapses struggling with which between the amber crystal chandelier and the huge flower arrangement atop the solid wooden table was the focal point.

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The Grand Foyer, La Castellana. Notice the granite floors, the solid wooden table on which rests that huge flower arrangement, and the famed amber crystal chandelier.

 

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There was a mirror at the Grand Foyer. I couldn’t help it. Hahaha! My perfume of choice for this event? The classic EGOISTé PLATINUM by CHANEL.

I admired the granite flooring, made my deep aubergine English leather shoes of Singapore provenance play against the texture, before my peripheral vision caught the striking color motif of this celebration – fuchsia pink against a backdrop of pristine white – and got reminded what I was there for.  To prepare for my emceeing job and contribute in my own way to make Sead and Mitzi’s day even more special, if that was at all possible.

I stretched my hand out in greeting, as I introduced myself to Ms. Kristine.  Like clockwork, she knew what to pull from a stack of papers, handed me a bag on to which was indicated “For eNTeNG” and quickly went over the final reminders.  As I’ve been emceeing wedding receptions for really close friends for quite a while now – this one should easily be at least my tenth time – I’ve always made it a point to prepare my own cue cards.  I was quite pleasantly surprised that Beautiful Weddings was a step ahead and had actually prepared for me a “professionally made” cue card set.  (This had happened only once before.)

Nerves had always played a part in my emceeing – and singing.  I felt that if I had lost this, together with it would go the excitement that undeniably makes me try my best to do a good job.  I often deal with this by taking a few minutes right there at the reception venue, while it would still be quiet, marvel at how beautiful and appropriate the décor is, and on a piece of paper just write away my opening spiel about what this particular wedding reception is all about.

The Salon de Joaquin Ballroom was set with linen-laid tables, perfectly balanced with the use of Tiffany chairs, very shabby chic in the gold glint of the glossy wood.  The flower arrangements in tall crystal vases, the linen, and the table settings popped as the table-and-chairs décor was not overtly done with fabric.  Everything was elegant and quite stylish.  Even the welcome hors d’oeuvre platter of a selection of crostini by Hizon’s Catering Services Inc. oozed with the discriminating taste of the refined palate.  I took my seat at Table No. 7: Shanghai and turned my attention towards the direction of El jardin de la Luz (The Courtyard).  I saw more beautiful flower centerpieces in a different dominant shade, imagined how romantic the fountain would look at dusk, illuminated by cascading crystal lights, and got reminded of the portents that led to this day.

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Ready for the celebration. A view of the Salon de Joaquin Ballroom.

 

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I like it that they opted for the more classy Tiffany chair than the usual fabric-covered chairs with huge ribbons tied around them.

 

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Table No. 11 is special to me. It’s FOLSOM! I heart FOLSOM.

 

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Table No. 2 is close to my heart as well. It is, after all, my current second home – Singapore!

 

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The welcome hors d’oeuvre platter of a selection of crostini by Hizon’s Catering Services Inc. oozed with the discriminating taste of the refined palate.

 

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Beautiful flowers at the center of each table. There are touches of lilac here. It’s the wedding’s secondary color motif.

 

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Welcome to my table, Table No. 7… SHANGHAI!

 

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I heart SHANGHAI. Once of my best friends in the whole wide world lives here.

 

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My favorite number, 5, is assigned to Sacramento. It never fails to bring to mind the line “If San Antonio sweeps Sacramento…” from the movie “My Best Friend’s Wedding”.

 

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Awash in fuchsia pink at its special corner in the Ballroom is the three-tier wedding cake. In place of the usual bride-and-groom cake topper is a bouquet of purplish pink roses rendered in fondant.

 

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The wedding cake was a study in contradiction. Outside it was pristine white, punctuated only by touches of the wedding’s fuchsia pink color motif. Inside, the fondant ensconced a sinfully rich, devilishly deep dark chocolate cake!

 

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Right in front of the wedding cake table was the sound system and musicians setup. Here. one of the technicians was performing the sound check. Kudos to the sound people. For an open venue setup like Sead and Mitzi’s, I found the acoustics to be top notch, the speakers well-balanced. (But of course I will defer to the professional opinion of the DJ Raoul on this matter. Haha!)

 

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Subtle touches all around the Ballroom evoke images of the ever-present things in Sead and Mitzi’s life. Pretty ornate suitcases like these two in front of the newlyweds’s table speak of how much travel has been part of their individual lives and more so now as husband and wife.

 

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The newlyweds’s table. Notice how the Tiffany chairs are the same yet subtly different? I could tell which one’s Mitzi’s and which one’s Sead’s. Haha!

 

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Outside at the El jardin de la Luz (The Courtyard), several tables for cocktails and drinks were propped up. On top of each was this beautiful floral centerpiece. Very pronounced on the touches of lilac on these ones.

 

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Beyond these flowers you shall see the Spanish Colonial architecture of the courtyard, the cascading crystal lights and the palm trees that couldn’t help but provide a romantic backdrop to the festivities.

 

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The reception table where guests were orderly received was likewise beautifully set up.

 

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The Zildzic-Nuda nuptials was another exceptional event by Beautiful Weddings Bridal Consultancy and Wedding Planners. The firm is headed by its Principal Wedding Planner, Ms. Ann Samiado.

I tapped my fingers on the linen and found myself overwhelmed with happiness for the beautiful couple.  Before I knew it, the words were escaping from inside me, leaping off of my consciousness as pen hit the surface of paper.

TONIGHT IS a very special night.  I can’t think of a better place to be in to be part of the ultimate celebration of love – than in a wedding.

Tonight, Sead and Mitzi requested the honor of your presence as they give their love its fullest expression.  Fullest expression – don’t you just love those words?

We are all here because there’s always something so magical about weddings.  Look around and you will see that it brings family and friends together – some of you traveled miles, even halfway around the world to celebrate our couple tonight.

The table names echo just how much our couple’s love for each other defied distance and made “home” not just a place you can point to on a map or associate with a country code, but a reflection of them, their love for each other, and beginning tonight, right here, “home” is the reflection of their shared life.

Tonight, it’s about these two people who are willing – you can even say, brave enough – to take a chance in front of all the people they care about.  It’s incredibly inspiring.  It’s incredibly hopeful.

It just feels great to be a witness to that.

What I found to be most touching about this wedding was the presence of people from practically all over the world, a clear testament to just how much Sead and Mitzi are well-loved.  Families and loved ones came from different regions in the Philippines, Europe (Norway), and the United States.  Colleagues from Folsom in California, Singapore and from the Mitzi’s university and previous companies in the Philippines were well represented too.

It was noticeable that the couple assembled the people closest to their hearts to stand as their Principal Sponsors, Secondary Sponsors and members of the Entourage.  Clearly, people who hold the most influence to them from among family and the various stages of their lives – from student to accomplished professionals – were all accounted for and given the unique opportunity to help shape their young married life.

Among all these well-wishers, I waited in particular for the speeches from the Maid of Honor and the Best Man.  On a personal note, having known the Best Man Engr. Raoul M. Masangcay for years now, I marveled at hearing him speak in length and with such thoughtfulness for the first time.  He took a trip down memory lane, complimented the couple, and led everybody else in wishing the best of health and wealth for the newlyweds.  It was music to the ears.

And from the opening strains of “Seasons of Love (Theme from the Broadway musical RENT)”, lovingly interpreted by ANIMA Choir and Strings, it was clear that Sead and Mitzi’s union is a celebration of love, and that they will only allow it to be measured in terms of seasons of the same.

Congratulations and Best Wishes, Sead and Mitzi!

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Honor Guards lined the red carpet for Sead and Mitzi’s grand entrance, both at San Agustin and at La Castellana.

 

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I took this shot against the backdrop of the dinner buffet queue during the first break in the reception program. I later realized that I failed to take photos of the couple and the many guests on my own camera. Though we did manage to snap lots of shots with many other people’s DSLRs and iPhones.

 

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The very colorful and pretty dessert table. Beside it was a very retro touch – a chocolate fondue station!

 

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The guests were serenaded by the vocal stylings and top musicianship of the ANIMA Choir and Strings. That’s their manager Roger on his solo.

 

 

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The “strings” section of ANIMA Choir and Strings is composed of a percussionist, a flutist, a keyboardist and a violinist. The guys are awesome. They were only informed by Ann of my two songs a couple of days ahead, and we only had exactly one dry run less than an hour before the reception started. But I felt like they were able to take my voice where I wanted to while at the same time downplaying my vocal flaws. A–W–E–S–O–M–E. No wonder they’ve been a byword in the wedding industry.

 

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Doesn’t The Courtyard El jardin de la Luz transform into a place perfect for a romantic rendezvous at night time?

 

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i realize that I only managed to snap a shot of the couple during the bouquet and garter toss. Bummer! (I’m waiting to copy photos from my friend and colleague Engr. Aris’s DSLR.)

 

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This elicited a lot of cheers from the guests as they prodded Sead to go L–O–W–E–R! I couldn’t agree more with the Best Man in saying that our friend Mitzi was at her most radiant, most beautiful that evening.

 

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I don’t have all the photos to show for it, but I have to say that one thing that Sead and Mitzi’s wedding allowed was a veritable “reunion” of sorts among colleagues and friends from across the miles and seas. This one photo that survived the editing is of me and my good good G–O–O–D friend Adam from our company’s offices in Folsom, California. The last time that we bumped into each other was during business meetings in China. I was just so glad to see him at Sead and Mitzi’s wedding (Mitzi did tell me Adam was coming over). It was also nice to meet his girlfriend who he brought along.

 

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When it was already party time –WITH THE BAR OPENED WITH FREE-FLOWING WINE AND BEER!!! – another set of musicians took care of the sounds. This group is called, quite aptly, “Totally Mesmerized”. I loved their version of Gangnam Style that I found myself totally wanting to break into dance!

 

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That’s my cue card set which I made especially for Sead and Mitzi’s wedding. Notice that the first card is handwritten, as has always been my own “tradition”. I write my opening spiel only when I’m already at the venue of the reception. Some sort of belief that … “It will come to me!” Hahaha! Though I have to say that this time, I did end up using for the most part the cue card set provided by Beautiful Weddings. They have quite an amazing team – Ms. Ann, Mr, Jason, Ms, Kristine, Ms, Aya, and many others.

 

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I hope that Sead and Mitzi will forgive me for running away with my table’s name card – “Table no. 7: Shanghai”. I just simply loved it and thought it is the perfect souvenir. As you can see from the list, I shared the table with some of the most beautiful people.

 

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Cue cards and lyric sheets! As you can see, I prepared three songs (Hahaha!). I sang Filipino 70s band Hotdog’s “Ikaw Ang Miss Universe Ng Buhay Ko” (Sead took a liking to this song, among many Filipino hits)… and Lionel Richie’s “Truly”. As backup, I have Baron Barbers’ “I Will Always Stay In Love This Way”. This song was the first ever that a couple asked me to sing for them. So I always have it in my backpocket so to speak.

 

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The beautiful wedding invitation! This is a nice addition to my growing collection.

 

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The Principal Sponsors, Best Man, Maid of Honor, Groomsman, and Bridesmaid.

 

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Esteemed collegues, family, really close friends and their little kids played the other important roles.

 

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Before long, it was time to bid La Castellana – and the party – adieu!

 

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One last look at La Castellana before my family and I headed off to another historic part of town – ONGPIN (a.k.a. Chinatown)!

 

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Chantilly in Milazzo

22 11 2012

I HAVE the utmost respect for purveyors of good food.  I guess that’s why my admiration for Ms. Sonja L. Ocampo of Cupcakes by Sonja hasn’t waned through the years.  And her shop is always on my list of must-go-to places every time I find myself back home in the Philippines.

There is always a noble purpose, a deeper meaning when someone makes edible works of art.  Think Juliette Binoche as Vianne Rocher in that 2000 film Chocolat.

So when my new friend Michele, who just started reading my blog (yey!), told me about his brother and sister-in-law’s confectionery shop in Sicily, I just have to have a look–see.  The place is called Chantilly, the name alone evokes images of deliciousness in either one or all three incarnations – the city in France, the lace it inspired, or the cream, lightly whipped, sweetened just a touch.

We were talking earlier and I wondered if Chantilly delivers worldwide.  I’ve been bitten hard by the images of the gelato, the artisanal chocolate and the wedding cake with cascading roses in blue and white.  Visit their site at http://www.chantilly.sicilia.it/.

Oh my, pastry really does make this world a better place.

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





An emcee for all seasons

17 05 2012

ONE OF the notes I have received from friends whose wedding receptions I emceed said, “eNTeNG, you really are the emcee for all seasons.”  To me that’s one of the best compliments anybody has ever given me.

Tonight, over dinner of a couple of bowls of Master Sham Pork Ribs and Lotus Root Soup, a couple of bowls of piping hot steamed white rice, a couple of honey-glazed roasted chicken wings, and a couple of mugs of iced milk tea – all mine, I have to make clear – one of the closest friends I have made in the past 10 months I’ve been here in Singapore, asked of me what he said was a “huge favor.”

Of course I said yes.  And I sealed it with a gentleman’s handshake.  I’ll be emceeing his wedding reception here in Singapore, end of this year.  To be asked to do this is always such an honor.  And this being my first ever non-Filipino event, I feel so trusted.

He asked further, “Would you like to sing?”

Now there’s no turning back.  Hahaha!

Walking from the train station to my flat, I got reminded of the many wedding receptions I have emceed for friends, all the way back in the day when mobile communication was still a figment of my imagination.

I have managed to chronicle on this blog some of these memorable events.  I’d like to reminisce a little and share them with you as well.  (Click on the links below to read more)

Bom & Rizzie’s Wedding

Bom & Rizzie, 10 January 2009

 

Ian & Marie’s Wedding

Ian & Marie, 15 August 2009

 

Jossel & Vel’s Wedding

Jossel & Vel, 10 December 2010

 

Tom & Jen’s Wedding

Tom & Jen, 02 January 2012

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





One Love. One Lifetime.

10 01 2012

And with these rings, bind them...

“Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.”

PARTNER AND THE BOY WONDERJen and Tom, respectively, to everybody – brought me along to one of their appointments at Cartier at ION on Orchard.  This one time, they were having their wedding bands engraved.  They knew that just like a kid in a candy store, I would feel right at home in the midst of vitrines of Santoses, Tanks, Pashas, Calibres and Ballon Bleus while they attended to their official business.  And that that was all that was in store for me.  I thought so too.

But just like what that oft-quoted saying says, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans,” I witnessed, on that very moment, what love and lifelong commitment could mean and that it could happen, just when I was busy ogling at timepieces I couldn’t afford.  When asked to add a line (motto) to their initials and their big day’s date, I half-expected Partner and The Boy Wonder to struggle to come up with something witty or profound.  But in a minute, they motioned for me to approach and asked for my opinion.

One LoveOne Lifetime.”

I was speechless.  I guess that when you meet that someone – the one – you just know.  And that you won’t have to struggle for words when asked on the spot to commit your feelings to be impressed into the back surface of 18K yellow gold.  Clearly, just how you feel for “the one” is something you carry in your heart always, all the time.  I knew right there and then that two of my closest and most important friends have found love in a hopeful place – in each other.

Last Monday, the 2nd of January 2012, they chose to make this commitment official and blessed by God.

Within the hallowed walls of the Basilica Minore de San Sebastian, Asia’s only all-steel church and a fine example of Gothic architecture in the Philippines, my own faith in the sanctity of marriage got renewed as I witnessed two of my best friends take a chance on each other, in front of the most important people in their lives, the only ones they care about – their families and friends.  Perhaps some may say this to be a bit naïve, but to me it’s rather hopeful and magical.

The hallowed walls of Basilica Minore de San Sebastian

The Altar

The church still had the trimmings of Christmas.

Beautiful chandeliers lit up the church.

The part of the ceiling right above me.

And if I did indeed believe in magic, it all would be too easy to explain the sight of Partner, the very moment the basilica’s massive doors were swung open.  Famed for her beauty, brains, and breeding, my best friend was undeniably breathtaking on her special day, quite resplendent in her Joel Escober wedding gown of intricate beadwork and delicate lace appliqué that cascaded down to a billowing skirt of silk organza.  Ever the one to strike a balance between tradition and modernity, Partner later livened up the white-on-white during the reception by choosing to wear her color motif as a crystal-studded belt that cinched her already defined waist.  The seriously long train that she drew along the red-carpeted aisle left not only a trail of luxury, but the promise that this was going to be happily ever after.

The blushing bride, on board her white Mercedes Benz bridal car. I was going to and fro between the church and the car (mine) when out of nowhere, she called out to me, "Partner!"

The detail of Partner's wedding gown. She kept gushing about how almost-perfect the fit was when she first tried it on.

Marching down the aisle...

As if on cue, I moved my gaze to the altar, at my other friend, The Boy Wonder, the groom, and just as I had suspected, he was in tears.  I knew it was inevitable for his lachrymal glands to be wrung dry as this moment was the very fulfillment of his life’s deepest longing and his heart’s most fervent desire.  As friend to both of them – to Partner first, then to The Boy Wonder second – I couldn’t be any happier that this time had finally come.  And that I was there to witness it.  I almost clapped when The Boy Wonder, himself very dashing and dapper in his custom-fitted Hugo Boss suit, took Partner’s hand from her mom.  I tell you, it was just magical.

Tom waiting at the altar.

"Shall we?"

All the male members of the entourage wore suits.

The Secondary Sponsors

The homily was short, sweet, and solemn, cracking me up only at that point when the priest told a story about a girl and her three suitors, playing around the line, “Leave her alone, she’s mine!”  But I would always be brought back to the solemnity of the occasion, much thanks to the music that was provided for the most part by The Sound Salad, who would later play at the reception.  When they sang “Lead Me, Lord,” I was tearing up, feeling that I was right where I wanted to be, spending one of the only four full-packed days I had back home with the other family I have made – those of Partner and The Boy Wonder’s.

The marriage rite

The vows

"TOM, wear this ring..."

 

"Brothers and Sisters, before us is the newly wedded couple, TOM and JEN."

"You may now kiss your bride..."

Sealed with a kiss

We all felt just how much love they have for each other.

I wanted to stay for the recessional and shower the newlyweds with bubbles, but one look at Ma’an, my co-emcee at the wedding reception, and I knew we had to take off to The Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel.

The very lovely and beautiful "Singapore Girl" Genie and my co-emcee Ma'an, at San Sebastian Church.

This is Genie's first time in the Philippines, and what better reason is there to come over than for the wedding of a dear friend?

Macon, Genie and Ma'an. Macon did Partner's make-up for their pre-nuptial photo shoot at IKEA and Marina Bay Sands.

Partner and The Boy Wonder’s wedding was a wedding of “non-negotiables”.  The wedding gown has to be by a top Filipino designer known for uncompromising professionalism, quality and artistry (Joel Escober).  The suit has to be Hugo Boss.  The shoes – his and hers – have to be Louis Vuitton.  The wedding bands can only be Cartier Love rings.  Favors are by Burberry.  And the wedding reception has to be at The Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

"TOM ❤ JEN"... such a lovely touch. What a loving gesture.

Clearly, there was no doubt as to whose party we were all headed. This setup greeted guests at the Registration Table.

Favors were by Burberry, no less! This is my good friend Dennis's. He was Candle Sponsor.

And this one is mine! Until now, I haven't touched it. I took a peek. But I don't want to use it just yet.

But while that is true, theirs is also a wedding that is truly a labor of love; highlighted in the little details that bear the bride’s and the groom’s individuality and their melded tastes as a couple.  The tables were named after scents they love.  The dinner napkins were bound in handmade lace rings, with handmade dinner menus tucked in.  And scattered on each table were photo albums that chronicled the couple’s happy times together, albums that doubled up as guest books as well.

Dinner Menu Cards made by the couple themselves. They had them tucked in with the starched dinner napkins, and held in place by homemade napkin lace rings.

The place setting was simple, yet quite elegant. And I ended up using all the cutlery. There wer 26 dishes spread across six courses! Yes, I counted. Nothing comes between me and the food. Oh, a song number perhaps. Haha!

As a wedding reception emcee, I have always enjoyed the privilege of that “first look” of the venue.  While the others guests would mill about and enjoy the cocktails, I would be inside, taking in the soul, the spirit, and the importance of the reason for the celebration.  Among us friends, we would refer to Partner as the Disney Princess Sleeping Beauty, Princess Aurora.  And the look that The Sofitel put together, in partnership with the couple, was a silent homage to my friend’s relation to animated royalty.

This photograph doesn't do justice to how breathtaking the ceiling treatment was! There were yards and yards of tulle, crystals, and chandeliers everywhere.

The crystal snowflakes that hung from the high ceiling gave the feel of winter, thawed by the lush blooms, ethereal lighting, and the warmth of the couple's love. I told you it was magical.

There was a section for the kids! Who knew?!... I found this to be quite thoughtful of Partner and The Boy Wonder. This was the first time that I saw such in a wedding reception venue.

Crystal snowflakes that hung from the ceiling from long strands bridged the holiday season, the most joyous of occasions to this one, yet another joyous occasion.  Flowers were in abundance, in tall elaborate centerpieces and in numerous little arrangements that ran the whole length of the VIP table.  Tiffany chairs have got to be the most elegant, sophisticated and stylish seating anyone can provide.  But the one element in their reception venue that made me chuckle and realize that we were celebrating a really thoughtful couple was the fact that they provided a seating section – almost a play area – for all the kids that were in attendance.  While it is any couple’s prerogative to restrict their most special day to be an “entirely adult affair,” Partner and The Boy Wonder welcomed their friends’ whole families to share the moment with them.  Tita Baby, Partner’s mom, hinted at wanting little ones running around the house.  I guess she just knows how much the couple does adore children.

This has got to be one of the more lavish VIP table settings I have ever seen. There were about four or five imposing gilded candelabras, an array of tall and short flower arrangements, lots of votives, and crystal in various shapes and sizes.

An instant hit for me were these arrangements of a couple of flowers weighed down by little decorative rocks and submerged in water, with a votive candle floating on the surface. I think this was the first time I ever saw this.

I have to say that there was a noticeable order in the seeming chaos of various colors, textures, and heights. I will go out on a limnb and say that the setting was understatedly ultra chic in its apparent shabby chicness.

The wedding cake

I chuckled when I saw the cake topper. To me it is an homage to Tom's persistence and to the test that he had to go through to really win Jen's heart. And those blue roses? Let's just say they played an important role in the blossoming of their relationship.

The cake topper awash in a sea of purple.

And this time in warm tones.

Truly, Partner and The Boy Wonder’s wedding reception was a celebration of families and friends coming together.  Loved ones flying in from as far as New Zealand and Singapore (this contingent including the very lovely “Singapore Girl” herself, Genie), among many other far places, underscored just how beloved the newlyweds are.  The Maid-of-Honor, Maan Miranda, a friend of the bride’s from when they were all of seven years old, had to fight back tears of joy at finally seeing her best friend happy.  When words failed her, she relied upon silent knowing glances, which between the two of them had been one language only tried and tested long-standing friends have.  The Best Man, Hennessy Portem, the groom’s best friend of 13 years, cracked jokes about the Tom he knew, only to choke up when the tone became serious, speaking about how his buddy has finally found the one.

It couldn’t be denied just how very happy all the people were, that even the country’s biggest stars – Judy Ann Santos, Sam Milby, Kim Atienza, and Anne Curtis, among others – from arguably the biggest TV network, ABS-CBN, had to send in their congratulations and best wishes by way of the video made by an artistic and creative genius, Paolo Emmanuel Ramos, director of all of the network’s station IDs.  (This one was such a treat!)

For our part, my co-emcee Ma’an, the bride’s close friend Eugene, and I decided to say how much we love the newlyweds by way of songs.  Trained in the rigorous world of musical theater, Ma’an effortlessly belted out Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You,” while Eugene sang about “The Promise.”  As for me, accompanied live by The Sound Salad’s keyboards and saxophone, I paid homage to the moment with “Got to Believe in Magic.”  All of our offerings would later pale in comparison to the bride’s niece Bea’s rendition of Shania Twain’s “From This Moment On,” complete with stomping of the feet and just the right amount of head and hand gestures.  She sang from the heart for her Tita Jen and Tito Tom.

My co-emcee Ma'an and I offered a song each for the newlyweds. She, "If I Ain't Got You." I, "Got To Believe In Magic." I loved how The Sound Salad's Keyboardist and Saxophonist got exactly my pitch and the arrangement I wanted.

The Sound Salad Band provide the music. I loved them at the Church. And even more so at the reception! Amazing, powerful, yet soothing vocals!

Of course, anything food is never lost with me.  And while in previous hosting gigs I would fail to touch the buffet, at Partner and The Boy Wonder’s wedding reception, I found myself stuffing myself crazy with all the sumptuous creations on offer.  Not even the dread of singing on a full stomach prevented me from gorging at the Boneless Roast Leg of Lamb with Rosemary Jus from the carving station, which I had with a lot of the Greek Salad, Pasta Salad with Raw Ham and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Tomato Salad with Onions in a Classic Vinaigrette.  A few more rounds acquainted me with the six-course meal, totaling to at least 26 dishes (I counted!).

The carving station featured Boneless Roast Leg of Lamb with Rosemary Jus. This was melt-in-your-mouth good meat! I came back again... and again... ang again! And I'm not a lamb lover!

Homemade Cookies

Black Forest Cake

Bread and Butter Pudding

Dark Chocolate Mousse

A wedding being steeped in tradition, the one that pulled the most at the heartstrings was the couple’s second dance, which was done in place of the bride’s dance with her father.  Knowing for a fact just how much Partner will always be Daddy’s Little Girl, I felt how bittersweet the moment was for her as she fought back sobs, her face at times buried in the arms of the man she loves.  I had to tell her that her daddy was looking down at her and Tom that very moment, happy that she is finally happy.

Happy that the two of them have finally found their One Love, in this One Lifetime, happily ever after.

Partner and The Boy Wonder. Jen and Tom. Tom and Jen.

Partner, The Boy Wonder,

I read somewhere that in this world, relationships – love, actually – have become so cheapened.  And in that kind of world, only friendship is the kind of love that refuses to be cheapened.  I’m not referring to my friendship with the both of you.  I’m talking about your friendship with each other.  And knowing just how you were as friends – where you and all of this started – I couldn’t be any happier seeing you finally together.  I will always be there wherever and whenever you need me.  While there may be no question where my absolute loyalty lies (Hahaha!), you can both count on me during the good times, and most especially on the not-so-good times.  That’s the very least I can do.  I hope and pray for you all the best.  I love you!

eNTeNG  c”,)™©

The newlyweds with their emcees.

The newlyweds with the Singapore contingent.

eNTeNG and Partner

Partner with two of her longest-standing best friends, Meryl and Janice.

All the pretty ladies. Partner gets a buss on the cheeks from Meryl while Janice beams.

Four of Partner's closest friends, Kevin, Eugene, Hope and Anna.

Macon, Ma'an, and Genie.

All of us who stayed behind and danced (haha!) got a piece of the wedding cake! Haha!

eNTeNG and Hope

Partner and Hope

Partner and Louis =)

The perfect Louis Vuitton shoes for her big day. The groom was also soled in LV =)

Eugene and Louis

The groom sported a brand new Tag Heuer Link Automatic, one of the bride's gifts to him. Sweet.

Genie, Miss Behavin'...

Genie and Partner

Eugene, Partner and eNTeNG

The newlyweds with Eugene and Anna.

My loot from the wedding – the invitation, menu cards, misalette, favors.

eNTeNG and two of his best friends, the newlyweds Tom and Jen.

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Promises not made to be broken

23 05 2011

Partner and The Boy Wonder. They make such a beautiful couple!

PARTNER AND I collaborate excellently.  And it was not something that developed over the course of several years.  It was instantaneous.  The chemistry – vital to a co-hosting job as it is essential in an intimate relationship – was there from the get-go.  We first met on the morning of our first event together, yet something told me she would be a friend for keeps.  That hunch was undeniable in the subtle gesture of her telling the hair stylist when we were getting made up, “Honey, put some of this on his hair.”

While I did recognize the apprehension as to how my hair, so used to being wash-and-wear with the occasional treat of a-few-pesos-a-pop “clay doh” wax, would acquaint with Kérastase, what I picked up more was the birth of an amazing friendship.  It has been over four years since.

She has always believed in my talent that whenever she would have her own gigs, she would never fail to recommend me or tag me along.  Most memorable was this beautiful December wedding we co-hosted.  One day, at some point after that, she looked straight into me and said, “Partner, when I do get married, I want you to host my wedding reception.”  I remember smiling not because I found it amusing – sometimes people blurt out spur-of-the-moment declarations not necessarily because they mean them but because they need to articulate an emotional build-up impossible to contain – I smiled because I knew she meant every word of it.

Little did I know that it would come sooner than I would have hoped.  Little did I know that it was to become one of her “non-negotiables.”

I did know, on her birthday this year.

We’ve constantly communicated.  She being in the Lion city for close to three years now and me being here at home has proven futile in making us lose track of each other.  And of course there’s my usual birthday greeting for her here on my blog – never the best gift she receives, but my best effort to make her feel special every single time.  Each one would be followed by a flurry of e-Mails, phone calls, or text messages.  What she revealed to me on this last one – her birthday falls in April – turned out to be the best birthday gift to trump all birthday gifts.

The promise to grow old with someone who loves her and actually loves her more (than she does him – which should be the case, if you ask me).  I couldn’t be happier that the guy happens to be one of my closest friends, The Boy Wonder.  Two of the best people in my life coming together in love?  What else is more beautiful?  And the surprise proposal, done way up The Marina Bay Sands, was nothing short of cinematic, yet deeply personal.  Just a moment between two people in love.  And a ring.  THE ring.  Of course after Partner and I had gone through the nuances of the proposal, talk shifted to the bling.

One ring to bind them both. Well, at least until they put on their wedding bands!

 

Both from The Boy Wonder... Partner's engagement ring and my red string bracelet bought in Korea.

So you could imagine how breathless in anticipation I was when I went to meet them up last Tuesday.  They took a short break to come back home and work on some of the details of their wedding.  Details being, as they unfold, a list of some of their own “non-negotiables”.  Again, at least from Partner’s end, my role happens to be one of those.  I’m so honored.

Fresh from their facials and couple’s massage, we met up at Town for dinner.  “You really have to wear from the same color palette?!”  And with that line, Partner knew I had already seen them.  And with shrieks of “Partnerrr,” hugs and kisses all around, off Partner, The Boy Wonder, and I went.  “Where do you want to eat?”  “Your call, Partner.”

From the many options on the second level of Corte Delas Palmas, I led the way to Cibo.  It actually just seemed I led, because Cibo happened to be the unanimous choice.

Listening intently to Partner's updates.

 

Finally, The Boy Wonder asked us to look his way.
 

Partner came toting her new Goyard which she bought online and had shipped to her hotel room during a recent trip to the States.

 

Partner and her Goyard!

 

Goyard!

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





For as long as Jossel is with Vel

13 12 2010

FOR A brief moment, I thought where I was was autumn in New York.  It was breezing and I could see the leaves falling from the tree, buoyed by the slight wind.  From my vantage point at the edge of a pew, I smiled as some of the leaves attempted to touch the delicate tulle that by then had covered the bride, extending meters behind and around her.  It was a dramatic sight – she, framed by the massive cathedral wooden doors, bathed in the little sunlight that managed to pierce through the thick afternoon clouds.  On cue, the live music played and it was as if an angel rejoiced at the most joyous occasion, singing, “Ikaw lamang ang pangakong mahalin…  (You alone I vow to love…)”  My hair, including that at the back of my head, stood on ends, defying the holding power of the matt-finish wax I had slathered onto it.

My good good friend, Vel, ready to take her walk down the aisle to meet Jossel at the altar.

 

The bride like I've never seen her before.

 

The imposing façade of the Imus Cathedral

Really unforgettable weddings are feasts for the five senses.  And when one does get touched – most likely when one least expects it, unable to pull back anymore a tear threatening to drop from bursting lachrymal glands – that’s when an unforgettable wedding truly does become magical.  My good good friends Jossel and Vel had one last Saturday, the tenth of December.  But it was not just a wedding.  It was the lovely couple’s very important plan together with God, coming to fruition.  Their union was solemnized at the Imus Cathedral which was where they would regularly hear mass, and where, more importantly, Jossel professed love for Vel, and where he proposed two years later.

The altar

 

The light breeze was kind of dramatic! (All photos are courtesy of Omeng, a.k.a. Chax, unless otherwise specified.)

Like some of the many people around them, I would lay claim to witnessing how Jossel’s and Vel’s love for each other was born, blossomed, was nurtured, and was planned to be given its fullest expression.  They’re two of the nicest, most hardworking and smartest people in the office and undoubtedly, two people I really really like.  Theirs is a love story that started with a simple crush on first sight, pursued through text messages that said someone cares, and after a year, made official by a declaration of love that merited acceptance.

And oh, in the course of all that time, a lot of food helped conveyed Jossel’s brewing admiration that just couldn’t be held back – suman (sweet, sticky rice roll) from Antipolo, Mrs. Field’s cookies, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  See, as I would always say, be careful who you feedor cook forthey just might not want to ever let you go.  From the looks of it during the priest’s homily and sermon, Jossel and Vel just ever won’t.

The bride and groom

 

The bride and groom both wore creations by Paul Haute Couture.

 

The bride and groom with the veil sponsors.

 

Jossel and Vel couldn't help but smile at one point during the mass.

 

This was a really heartfelt, touching sight to behold.

 

Mabuhay ang bagong kasal!!!

I would’ve stayed for the couple’s recessional, where I would most likely elbow my way to be able to shower the couple with flower petals or confetti.  But duty called, and together with my wedding reception co-emcee, Alfie Madriaga, off I headed to Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park where the reception was to be held at the Tejeros Grand Ballroom.

Entrance to the reception venue, the Tejeros Grand Ballroom of the Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park.

 

Tejeros Grand Ballroom

The afternoon being overcast, and one of the color motif being blue, I took the irony tongue-in-cheek as I reached out my hand to shake that of Ms. Bleu, owner and head of The Bleu Team, the couple’s on-the-day wedding coordinator.  Alfie and I introduced ourselves as the co-emcees and like clockwork, one of The Bleu Team’s coordinators handed us our cue cards, tastefully done by Vel in her blue and bronze brown theme.  I actually lightly chuckled to myself as I recalled what Vel told me at the church just over an hour ago when I just had to catch a glimpse of her inside her white Jaguar bridal car, “eNTeNG, your cue cards are with the coordinator.  Get them at the reception venue.”  I smiled back at her as a thought formed above my head.  Vel was ever the hands-on bride – to the last minute – worrying more about my needs as her emcee than her most important moment.  Though I bet she was bracing for her walk down the aisle.  She probably just didn’t show it.

I flung the massive wooden doors open, and I marveled at the sight before me.  Everything was awashed in shades of blue!  I originally planned to rehearse my lines – no matter how many times I have done this (emceeing), I can’t do away with the nerves – but I realized it would be a waste not to admire just how tastefully done the ballroom was.

I loved their table arrangement / setting!

 

The table on the foreground is "Teal", right next to "Powder Blue" where guests are shown busy with the crossword puzzle!

 

Working on the crossword puzzles! That's Vel's manager Loradel, Jossel's former manager Rez, together with Alfie, eNTeNG, Lyndon and Melo.

 

These name cards / tags that direct guests to their tables were such a nice touch. Very Vel.

 

The place setting was exquisite... and quite thoughtful. This was the first time I saw a crossword puzzle left to help entertain guests. (Photo taken with eNTeNG's Canon IXUS860IS.)

 

All the AVPs were projected on to this screen. The onsite video made by FreshMinds was wonderful too. (Photo taken with eNTeNG's Canon IXUS860IS.)

Totally doing away with traditional table numbers, Jossel and Vel named each of their tables with – yes, you guess it right – shades of blue.  I espied tables named “teal,” “midnight blue,” “sapphire,” and “tiffany blue.”  I soon found where I was assigned, “baby blue.”  I took a feel of what appeared to me as “Tiffany” chairs and that was when I had a full appreciation of the meticulousness of the place setting, a reflection of the couple’s refined taste and strict attention to details – and needs.  The silverware was a given – a soup spoon, a dinner fork, a dinner knife, a dessert spoon, and a dessert fork – but what lay beneath the impeccably starched and folded pristine white table napkin were pleasant surprises.  This was the only time I found a crossword puzzle for each guest (a test on how well guests know the couple!) and for kids, a coloring book.  Everything came with a blue pen and a set of crayons.  How thoughtful!  No wonder that the ballroom managed to keep a semblance of order as everybody awaited the newlyweds’ grand entrance.

The three-tier blue wedding cake.

 

So lovin' the cake topper!

A red carpet rolled from the entrance, framed on either side by beautiful arrangements of calla lilies, all the way to the stage where the couple’s table was set.  Cloaked generously in a richly embellished off-white fabric, it was set against a backdrop of a couple of screen dividers that created a checkered blue-and-white pattern against the lush blue draperies that framed the illusion of a waterfall right behind the couple.  To one side stood the beautiful three-tier blue fondant wedding cake ensconcing a moist chocolate confection inside.  The cake topper was an amusing touch.

Guests could have their photos taken at the FreshMinds Photo Booth. We lined up again... and again! That's me with my good friends Jing, Betchie, Glendz, and co-emcee Alfie.

 

One of our FreshMinds Photo Booth shots!

 

...and another!

As Alfie and I waited for the cue from Ms. Bleu to start the program, we helped ourselves with the pretzels and the cookies – for me a silent homage to the little treats Jossel would give to woo Vel – before proceeding outside to get our snaps taken by the FreshMinds Photo Booth.

Just married!... Jossel and Vel moments before their grand entrance to the reception venue.

 

Jossel and Vel's grand entrance! Look at Jossel, he's making the moves!

 

One part of a multi-genre dance number!

To the opening lines of Taylor Swift’s Love Story, Jossel and Vel made their grand entrance amidst thunderous applause, cheers, a shower of confetti and blasts of party poppers.  Taking their rightful place at the dance floor right in front of the stage, the newlyweds launched into a full-on production number.  I thought they’d first do a tango the moment Jossel picked up the lone stem of red rose and bit it.  Hahaha!  The couple came rehearsed, gliding through a personal selection of songs.  The special treat ended quite dramatically, with what Sex & The City fans could arguably call a “Hollywood kiss”.

Jossel sings, "Basta't Kasama Kita"...

But that was not the end of the evening’s surprises.  Once Vel had settled beautifully on the French sofa the “propsmen” set up, Jossel proceeded to serenade his lovely bride with their theme song, Dingdong Avanzado’s classic “Basta’t Kasama Kita (As Long As You’re With Me)”, with the Red Thread Band (these guys and gals are AMAZING!) accompanying him live.  Soon enough, the solo became a duet as Vel shared the microphone and sang with him, looking deep into his eyes, I suppose not even blinking to break the stare.  From where I stood, it felt as if Jossel and Vel were looking into the eyes of their heart’s deepest longing and their soul’s most fervent desire.

As a wedding is a union of families as well, I was moved by the presence of Jossel’s and Vel’s relatives who literally had to cross oceans and traverse hundreds – if not thousands – of miles just to share in the couple’s joy.  Jossel’s parents flew in from Italy just a couple of days before and were scheduled to fly back the following day.  A lot of his relatives also came in from as far as Oriental Mindoro and Catanduanes.  Vel’s 93-year old paternal grandmother came all the way from Australia, together with Vel’s sister’s family, just so she could witness her granddaughter’s most special day.  There were also people who traveled halfway around the world from the States.  In this fast-changing, digitally connected world, finding the time to be physically “there” for someone is a huge deal.  Even more so, if one has to make the time.  I felt a lump forming in my throat just thinking about these gestures of love and affection.

This love was apparent as well from the families that Jossel and Vel have made with the people they’ve met at work.  Vel put it simply when she said, referring to her Industrial Engineering department, “You have made this wedding your own.”  I choked on that one too, even more when she said a line that started, “No matter where the coming months take us…”  For a brief moment, I had to step away from the podium and turn around.

As tributes would go, I have to say that I have gained a whole level of respect and admiration for Ricci De Leon–Bejarin for the two videos she made for the couple – one tracing their story back from their childhoods, and another that captured the highlights of their pre-nuptial photo shoot.  The videos were thoughtful and really captured the essence of Jossel and Vel as individuals, and as a couple, and allowed us a short but meaningful glimpse into a love among equals… a love between two people who help nurture the best things that they like about themselves.  Ricci was ever so modest to try to evade my compliments.  But if I would have my way, I’d hand her the Oscar for Best Editing.

The fitting close to this wedding reception were the messages, both from the couple’s parents and the couple themselves.  Oftentimes, as an experienced wedding reception emcee, a standard spiel would be to say from whom the bride or the groom got their looks.  But beyond that, listening to Jossel’s and Vel’s parents showed me from whom my good good friends got their strength of character, fear of God, belief in the basic goodness of people, and capacity to offer themselves selflessly to someone else.  They happen to be someone’s good siblings too.  Jossel’s and Vel’s sisters words pulled at the heartstrings without even trying.  I couldn’t look at the couple because I too might cry.

With hugs so tight and thank-yous going to-and-fro, I knew I wasn’t in New York at autumn time.  I was at home, part of a huge family two good friends were kind enough to include me in.

Jossel and Vel, thank you for the honor of inviting me to your wedding and for allowing me to be one of your hosts.  Congratulations and best wishes.

Jossel and Vel listen intently to the special messages given by their families and friends.

 

Finally, it was my turn to give my message!

 

Jossel's younger sisiter, herself set to wed in January 2011, gave the couple a sincere, touching, grateful message.

 

The couple was all ears.

 

Vel was moved to tears towards the end of her father's message.

 

My good good friends were profuse with thanks towards the reception's end.

 

eNTeNG, the newlyweds, and Alfie.

 

Vel & eNTeNG

About the food:

I L–O–V–E–D everything!  The Farmer’s Soup, a bright orange concoction, was hot, chunky and creamy.  I especially liked the Chicken Au Gratin, quite a revelation as it is something I wouldn’t pick out ever on a menu.  But Island Cove’s rendition was a welcome melange of succulent white chicken meat chunks and fresh cut vergetables in a bechamel made more creamy by a topping of browned cheese.  It’s very tricky to cook white meat, as undercooking is a sin, while overcooking is an offense.  I wouldn’t enjoy fighting with stringy chicken meat.  But the one I had at Jossel and Vel’s reception was amazing!  I could tell that the chicken meat’s center was warmed to perfection – at 168ºF perhaps? – and then cooked no longer than 25 minutes!

After devouring all the chicken I could, I moved on to the Stewed Pork Knuckle with Black Sea Moss, something someone unceremoniously named as Pata Tim, though it was not quite.  It was something else.  I loved the black moss that swam all through the sauce.  For those who would rather not have meat, this was taken care of by the availability of the Pan-Fried King Fish with Tomato Cucumber Chili Salsa.  Besides chicken, fish is another one that needs special care in cooking, especially when made ahead of time.  But the cut I was served was tender and moist.  I scooped on top of each bite a lot of the fresh salsa and it proved to be quite a new taste sensation I could get used to.  I didn’t go crazy over the buttered corn, carrots and peas, though I saw some who did.

But wherever there is rice, there I am too!!!

Stewed Pork Knuckle with Black Sea Moss

 

Chicken Au Gratin

 

Pan-Fried King Fish with Tomato Cucumber Chili Salsa

 

Buttered Corn, Carrots and Peas

 

The co-emcees, with one of their great friends, Mabelle.

 

Shine and Janine, the amazing vocalists of Red Thread Band!

 

eNTeNG with Red Thread Band!

 

Co-emcees Alfie and eNTeNG. Alfie is the master when it comes to wedding reception games! eNTeNG not worthy!

 

So lovin' the ensemble – Barong Tagalog borrowed from brother a couple of days before (mine turned up with a tear on the left shoulder from the dry cleaners), charcoal gray pants, Italian leather shoes, and Philip Stein wristwatch.

 

Moments before the reception, eNTeNG going over his spiels.

 

The requisite solo shot in front of a mirror.

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