Destined By Love
It was January 2015 and I was in the middle of completing my post-grad studies in Madrid. I had recently spent the holidays in London where I found myself in a new and rather unexpected budding relationship. It was my brother Carlos who first asked me point-blankly in our family chat group:
“So, are you dating Mike now?” I was taken aback by how he had figured it out so quickly, given that it was a pretty random happenstance. Mike was no stranger to our family, but at that point in time, he wasn’t a mainstay either. Carlos always seemed to know things intuitively; he was so sure in his conviction that something was indeed going on between us.
Whenever people come to learn of how Mike and I got together, we usually get the same reaction – “it’s like straight out of a movie!” But it wasn’t your typical ‘boy-meets-girl and it was love at first sight’ kind of relationship. Our story actually spans over two decades -- we first met when we were kids, as both our families lived in Hong Kong in the 90s. In reality, we were destined to become friends even before we were born since our mothers were best friends since way back. We spent many birthdays and holidays together in HK, however I don’t actually have many fond memories of Mike whilst growing up. I always thought that he was a big bully – being the only girl in the company of five boys (Mike and his brother plus my own three brothers), I was usually left out of their boyish games.
Mike eventually moved to the UK for boarding school and my family moved back home to the Philippines. We lost touch and went our separate ways, but we unexpectedly reconnected when I was living in Spain for my post-grad. On one of my holidays to London, we met up and got to know each other again in a completely new light. Later on, we grew closer over Facetime calls and Skype movie dates.
We spent our first year together doing long-distance between Madrid and London, meeting up every couple of weeks in cities all over Europe. We were having the time of our lives flying to new destinations, exploring cities we had both never been to, and eating our way through the many places we visited. Soon after I graduated, I landed a wonderful job opportunity in Tokyo and moved halfway across the world, widening the gap in our longdistance relationship. It was definitely challenging, but we were determined to make it work.
In 2017, around the same time I moved back to Asia, tragedy befell my family. My brother Carlos, who was just
29 at the time, passed away after bravely battling a rare form of cancer. I was heartbroken. Needless to say, it was an extremely difficult time for my family, and it wasn’t easy making sense of what had happened. As a very close-knit family, we tried our best to comfort and console one another.
PHOTOGRAPHY Jaja Samaniego
VIDEOGRAPHY Jake Olaso
GOWN Rosa Clara
BRIDAL SHOES Espadrilles from Liliw, Laguna which were hand beaded by Mich Araullo for a personal touch
CHURCH St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish, Bagac, Bataan
RECEPTION & CATERING Montemar Beach Club
COORDINATION Joed See
CAKE Naked Patisserie
INVITATIONS Designed by Kara Pangilinan, printed by The Write Impression
EVENT STYLING Blue Trumpet (Kathleen de la Merced)
GROOM SHOES Sons of London
ENTOURAGE DRESSES Mich Araullo
MAKEUP &HAIR Nicole Ceballos and Russell Gonzaga
DJS Javi Vargas and Quark Henares
HOST James Deakin
It was even more difficult dealing with the grief alone, as I had no family in Tokyo and Mike was still living halfway across the world in London. Despite the distance between us, Mike’s love, support, and patience was steadfast. On nights I would cry myself to sleep, he would be on the phone with me until I was lulled into a deep slumber. When I was lonely and afraid, he encouraged me to be strong. And when I could no longer be strong for myself and for those around me, he gave the support and reassurance that I needed. I know now that Carlos sent an angel to look after me.
My brother’s death taught all of us a lot about life and love. Carlos was such an inspirational person who radiated positivity. Even on his bad days, he reassured us that no matter what would happen, there would always be brighter things to look forward to.
With time and healing, things did get better. On New Year’s Eve of that year, Mike proposed on the beach that my family and I have been vacationing in for as long as I can remember. As he was down on one knee, he echoed my brother Carlos’ sentiments, saying that there will always be a silver lining ahead of us and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life making me happy.
Immediately after the proposal, we wasted no time in preparing for our wedding. Believe it or not, prior to getting engaged, we had never even lived in the same city! We both knew we wanted a relaxed and intimate affair where we could finally intersect our lives with those who meant the most to us.
We celebrated our wedding a year after, in the very same beach where
Mike proposed. All our closest friends and family flew in from all corners of the world to be with us on our wedding weekend and witness our long-awaited union. It was such a surreal feeling to finally join our two worlds together! For many of our guests, it was their first time ever to set foot on Philippine shores, and so we really wanted to showcase the raw and natural beauty of our country, along with the warm hospitality and friendly spirit that Filipinos are known for.
During our welcome cocktail the day before our wedding, we released over 200 baby pawikan turtle hatchlings into the sea in memory of Carlos. It was a special moment which we were so incredibly happy to share with our guests. In my vow that I made to Mike at the church, I recall saying that no doubt, my brother Carlos must be smiling from Heaven, proud to call Mike a brother and even prouder that I had found in Mike the man whom I had chosen to spend the rest of my life with.