IZA & BEN

YES! (Philippines) - - In This Issue - TEXT BY SHARA CAYETANO PHOTOS COuR­TESY Of PAT DY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

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.”

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