IZA & BEN
On the morning of October 8, 2017, Iza Calzado was on her way to Sonya’s Garden, a restaurant in Tagaytay City, for what she thought would be a Sunday lunch with her family, along with her longtime boyfriend Ben Wintle and Ben’s family. At the time, Iza had been dating Ben, a British-Filipino entrepreneur and the co-founder of the restaurant booking app Booky, for almost six years.
Iza, who was last seen on the small screen in ABS- CBN’s A Love to Last, was especially happy on her way to Sonya’s Garden because she would get to spend time with family members who had come home from abroad.
“My mom’s sister and my cousin flew in from Edmonton, Canada, and then Ben’s mom from Poole, England, and then Ben’s brother from Sydney, Australia,” Iza tells YES! in an interview via the Viber messaging phone app three weeks after that “Sunday lunch.”
“Basta, kumpleto kami,” Iza recalls. “Tuwang-tuwa pa ’ko, kaya talagang nagbihis ako. Kasi kumpleto, gusto ko mag-picture ’yong family.”
She wanted to get a family photo taken at Sonya’s specifically because it was the place where she had the last complete family photo with her beloved father—folk dancer, choreographer, actor, and TV director Lito Calzado— who had passed away in 2011 after a long battle with liver cancer. The actress thought she would recreate that photo after a relaxed meal with her loved ones.
So imagine her surprise upon arriving at the venue, where she found the love of her life, Ben, holding a large bouquet of flowers. Behind him, Iza saw the loving faces of their family and friends, who had come all the way to Tagaytay for that special moment in Ben and Iza’s life.
Finally, Ben got down on one knee and proposed to Iza in Filipino, saying: “Ikaw lamang ang gusto kong makasama kumain at sumayaw habang buhay. Mahal kita.”
In between tears of joy, Iza replied: “What do I say? Yes!”
What Iza thought would be a simple family lunch ended up becoming more special than that. And it was made even more special by the presence of loved ones, who came from near and far to witness a celebration of love. “Kaya pala kami nakumpleto, kasi may surprise,” she says.
And what a surprise it was. Congratulations, Iza and Ben!
It was actually Iza Calzado who gave Ben Wintle the idea to pop the question in public. At one point during their fiveyear relationship, the actress told her boyfriend: “When the time comes, I want family and friends to be there, and I want it to be recorded.”
The fact that Ben remembered that request made it all the more special for Iza. “I’m sure if it were up to him, he would keep it more intimate, more private.”