CELEBRITY WED­DING

VA­LERIE & LLOYD

YES! (Philippines) - - In This Issue - TEXT BY gabby reyes libar­ios pHO­TOS BY nice print photography

That’s ex­actly what hap­pened to ac­tress Bangs Gar­cia and her FilipinoBri­tish hus­band Lloyd Birch­more.

The sexy Ka­pam­ilya star—whose real name is Va­lerie Gar­cia but who came to be known by the screen name Bangs Gar­cia af­ter play­ing a char­ac­ter named Bangs in the 2006 TV sit­com Let’s Go— met the hand­some Fil-Bri­tish busi­ness­man in Jan­uary 2015 while she and her close friends were cel­e­brat­ing the New Year in the is­land par­adise of Bo­ra­cay, Ak­lan.

“My friends and I were hav­ing drinks just out­side Epic,” Va­lerie re­calls, re­fer­ring to one of the pop­u­lar drink­ing spots in Bo­ra­cay. “I was forc­ing my friends to go in­side with me, but they re­mained out­side. On my way to the bar, I saw my cousin, whom I hadn’t seen for a very long time be­cause we were not on good terms. It was nice that we were able to talk and rec­on­cile.”

It was dur­ing her heart-to-heart with her cousin that Va­lerie caught the eye of Lloyd Birch­more, who was also par­ty­ing with his friends at the time. “All of a sud­den, our eyes just met,” Va­lerie says. “And you know what, it felt like we were in a com­mer­cial.”

Va­lerie likened that mo­ment to a scene from a ro­man­tic movie: ev­ery­thing went hazy, and the only thing that came into fo­cus was this tall, hand­some guy who was star­ing right back at her.

The ac­tress ad­mits that it was the first time she was smit­ten by a man’s good looks. Hav­ing been in showbiz for many years, she was used to see­ing dropdead gor­geous men all the time. “I rarely get at­tracted to good-look­ing guys be­cause I’m from the showbiz in­dus­try,” she says. “But with him, for some rea­son I got re­ally struck. It’s like, ‘Wow, type ko ta­laga ’tong guy na ’to.’”

Turned out, the feeling was mu­tual. Lloyd was in­stantly taken with the volup­tuous ac­tress.

“She was very at­trac­tive,” he re­calls. “We both spot­ted each other, and clearly an in­stant chem­istry there. And I could tell that she liked me, and she could also tell I liked her by the way I was look­ing at her.”

Taken with Va­lerie’s beauty, the usu­ally shy and torpe Lloyd came up to Va­lerie to in­tro­duce him­self.

“I was the one who stood up and had the courage to speak to her. You know, she’s a lit­tle bit ner­vous at first. I said, ‘Hi, I’m Lloyd. It’s nice to meet you. What’s your name?’ I didn’t have to come up with some cheesy pickup line be­cause I’m not like that. I would only be my­self and be gen­uine. If she told me to go away, I’d go away.”

Al­though it was the first time for Lloyd to ap­proach a girl that he didn’t know, his charms seemed to have worked on Va­lerie.

“We just talked and talked, un­til our friends came up to us and said, ‘Hey, we’re still here, you know?’” she says. “We were so ab­sorbed in our con­ver­sa­tion that we to­tally for­got that we were with our friends.”

With eyes widen­ing, Va­lerie adds, “Can you imag­ine, we were talk­ing about life al­ready!”

What she liked about Lloyd, aside from his be­ing a gen­tle­man, was that he didn’t have a clue about who she was.

Be­fore they went back to their re­spec­tive group of friends, Lloyd asked Va­lerie if she wanted to meet him again the next day. Since she felt that Lloyd was a gen­uinely nice guy, she agreed.

When they did see each other again the fol­low­ing day, they de­cided to im­mor­tal­ize the mo­ment by tak­ing a selfie to­gether.

“We took a pic­ture with his phone,” she says. “It’s the same photo that we’re gonna show on our wed­ding. It’s our first-ever pic­ture! It’s so nice.” Turn­ing to her hus­band, she adds, “That’s so good that you took a pic­ture of us. Who would have known that it will go a long way, right?”

That fate­ful Bo­ra­cay trip was fol­lowed by an­other date. This time, it was in Ta­gay­tay City. And it was Va­lerie who did the invit­ing.

Lloyd and his friends had just come back from Palawan, Va­lerie re­calls. “I didn’t have work that day. I called up all my friends who would want to go on a road trip to Ta­gay­tay. I fig­ured Lloyd might not have been to Ta­gay­tay yet, so I in­vited him as well. I in­vited my friends so it would not feel awk­ward for us. And it’s nice be­cause we planned to go hik­ing in Taal and ev­ery­thing. Plus, I have a friend who owns a house there, so it was per­fect.”

Un­for­tu­nately, no hik­ing from Ta­gay­tay to the nearby Taal Lake or Taal Vol­cano area took place. The day the group was sup­posed to go hik­ing, one of Va­lerie’s friends got stuck in­side the bath­room.

“Noth­ing se­ri­ous hap­pened,” Va­lerie says. “It’s funny nga, e. While the oth­ers were try­ing to fig­ure out a way to open the bath­room door, Lloyd and I had the chance to talk more and get to know each other bet­ter. It took one whole day to get my friend out of the bath­room.”

Not want­ing to waste the day, the whole troupe drove back to Manila to change clothes and go club­bing in­stead. “We wanted to check out Valkyrie [a night club in the Boni­fa­cio Global City com­plex in Taguig City] be­cause it was new at that time. We didn’t stay long, though. The place was too smoky, so we went home.”

Va­lerie and Lloyd chose to have din­ner the fol­low­ing night at L’Aubergine, a fine- din­ing restau­rant at the Boni­fa­cio Global City com­plex. That would soon be fol­lowed by a short trip to La­guna, by which time both of them knew that their sup­pos­edly friendly dates were al­ready tread­ing on “ro­man­tic” ter­ri­tory.

“That La­guna trip was our first out-of-town date,” Va­lerie re­calls. “While we were in the pool, while we were say­ing sweet stuff to each other, it dawned on me that this guy was go­ing to leave me soon.”

To Va­lerie’s sur­prise, the words came out of her mouth be­fore she could stop her­self. “I said, ‘I re­ally hope this will work out.’”

Lloyd had a ready an­swer, be­cause he too was think­ing about his trip back to Lon­don. “I told her, ‘Don’t hope. We will work it out. I know we will.’”

It was the as­sur­ance that Va­lerie needed to hear.

“Hear­ing that from a guy is such a big deal for us girls. Be­cause girls de­pend on the as­sur­ance and sin­cer­ity that guys show to us. I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated the fact that he said that and meant it. It kinda gave me a feeling that this guy was re­ally into me, that this guy would do ev­ery­thing to make it work.”

Dis­tance didn’t keep the love­birds away from each other. Af­ter two months of video call­ing on Skype and chat­ting on What­sApp, the two were back in each other’s arms. But be­fore Lloyd came back to Manila, he told Va­lerie what he had been feeling all along.

“I was not sup­posed to say it be­cause I wanted to say it to her face,” Lloyd says. “But dur­ing one of our phone con­ver­sa­tions, it just came out. I said it. And she said it back.” And what did they say to each other? “I love you.” Lloyd and Va­lerie of­fi­cially be­came boyfriend-girl­friend on March 19, 2015. Their en­gage­ment hap­pened the fol­low­ing year, in Jan­uary 2016, while they were va­ca­tion­ing in Bo­ra­cay once again, but this time with their fam­i­lies.

“It’s our spe­cial place,” Va­lerie says. “Af­ter we had din­ner, we went to the Tides rooftop to party with my en­tire fam­ily. And then he wanted to talk to my par­ents ac­tu­ally. Pero I kinda felt na there’s some­thing go­ing on. Some­thing is gonna hap­pen. And I’m kinda ex­pect­ing that he will pro­pose the next day, coz that’s our an­niver­sary. But then I got re­ally sur­prised when he did it a few min­utes af­ter the fire­works.”

Va­lerie, who had dreamed of that beau­ti­ful mo­ment many times, was over the moon.

“We’re so happy and ev­ery­thing. He just sud­denly knelt down, and I was like, ‘What are you do­ing?’ And then it was so noisy. And then I didn’t hear him say, ‘Will you marry me?’ I was not re­ally sure if he was propos­ing or what.”

It was only when Lloyd fished a tiny box out of his pocket that Va­lerie knew what was hap­pen­ing.

“He took out the ring, and then I said, ‘What is the ques­tion?’

“He said, ‘I want you to spend the rest of your life with me.’ “I said, ‘That is not a ques­tion.’ “Then he fi­nally asked, ‘Will you marry me?’

“So I said, ‘Yes,’ and then I kissed him and he stood up and put the ring on my fin­ger.”

It has been never-end­ing love and laugh­ter since then for Va­lerie “Bangs” Gar­cia and Lloyd Birch­more.

wEd­diNg dATE Jan­uary 24, 2017 wEd­diNg ANd rE­cEp­TiON VENUE asya premier suites, sta­tion 3 bo­ra­cay, ak­lan

The blush­ing bride (in white) with the most im­por­tant women in her life: (L-R, front row) brides­maid Sheng Bel­monte; child­hood best friend Tr­isha Nalla; maid of honor and child­hood best friend Jack­lyn Ruiz; sis­ter and ma­tron of honor Vanessa Gar­cia-Ma­dayag; brides­maid Ishka No­lasco; child­hood best friend Bheng Gu­lanes; (back row) brides­maid Mar­lann Flores; brother-in-law’s girl­friend Emily Hook; child­hood best friends Rachel del Castillo and Kris­tine Don­ayre; and brides­maid Les­ley San­ti­ago (in shirt and trousers).

Moments be­fore the bri­dal march, Va­lerie shared some ten­der moments with her par­ents, Jesse and Vi­o­leta Gar­cia, who flew in from Davao.

Va­lerie says that years of be­ing in showbiz have not changed the way she is. She’s still one con­ser­va­tive Pi­nay, who could never ap­proach a guy and en­gage in small talk. And it’s all be­cause of her dad and mom, whom Va­lerie de­scribes as “con­ser­va­tive par­ents.”

On her wed­ding day Va­lerie shared a touch­ing mo­ment with her lit­tle brother Ayi.

“My younger brother is a spe­cial child,” she points out. “He’s 27. He’s ac­tu­ally very smart. He has a speech prob­lem, pero he’s very smart.”

Va­lerie adds that Ayi, de­spite his con­di­tion, is very so­cia­ble. “I think na­so­bra­han nga, e,” she ex­plains, smil­ing. “Kasi we’ve been ex­pos­ing him to the public ever since he was a baby. He knows that he’s well-ac­cepted and he’s well-loved. He knows that we’re part of him. That’s why he’s very af­fec­tion­ate, very lov­ing, and sweet. If he sees you, he would hug you.”

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