The Long Road to True Love

YES! (Philippines) - - In This Issue - TEXT BY ANNA PINGOL PHOTOS BY FRAN­CIS PeRez

In Jan­uary of 2016, Ju­lia Clarete un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously left Eat Bu­laga!, the daily noon­time show that had been her home on tele­vi­sion for a decade. Her de­ci­sion to leave the show sparked ru­mors about her pos­si­ble preg­nancy, and she was com­pelled to ex­plain her move in the GMA news pro­gram 24 Oras.

There, she said: “Magpa-five-years na po kami ngayon [ ng ak­ing boyfriend]. We de­cided na maybe we can move on... Mag-level-up na kami.”

And lev­el­ing up, at that time, re­quired her to up­root her­self and her son Se­bas­tian from the Philip­pines to live in Malaysia with her then fi­ancé, the good-na­tured Ir­ish­man Gareth McGe­own.

Gareth, who works as the gen­eral man­ager for the re­gional op­er­a­tions of the global bev­er­age brand Coca- Cola in Brunei, Sin­ga­pore, and Malaysia, was sta­tioned in Malaysia at that time, af­ter spend­ing five years in the Philip­pines.

“He asked me to join him, but it was my de­ci­sion,” Ju­lia ex­plains to YES! in our on­line in­ter­view via Mes­sen­ger, the Face­book mes­sag­ing ap­pli­ca­tion. “It was a choice be­tween stay­ing with my EB fam­ily, and build­ing a fam­ily for us three.

“It was tough. But he gave me enough time to think it over (it took me about a year of se­cret cry­ing be­cause I knew I would miss EB if I chose fam­ily life).

“But here we are, go­ing strong and hop­ing for the best.”

Last July 22, 2017, Ju­lia and Gareth de­cided to up their ro­mance some more by ex­chang­ing “I do’s” in Gareth’s home­land, Ire­land.


Ju­lia met Gareth through TV host Drew Arel­lano, who hap­pened to be Gareth’s friend. “Gareth asked about me af­ter he saw me in a golf­ing event at the Manila Golf and Coun­try Club [in Makati] in Fe­bru­ary of 2011,” Ju­lia tells us in our on­line in­ter­view.

Ju­lia says Gareth found her “stun­ning.” She her­self saw him as “out­go­ing and smart.”

“We were just get­ting to know each other then,” she goes on, “so we were mostly just see­ing if maybe we could be friends. Pero di niya na­man aaminin na crush na niya ako no’n. :-P”

Gareth, ac­cord­ing to Ju­lia, had no idea that she’s a movie and TV ac­tress, let alone that she was then seen daily on TV as one of the hosts of the 38-year-old show Eat Bu­laga!

“He thought it was cool,” Ju­lia re­calls. “But he didn’t like the spot­light or at­ten­tion. He’s be­come more com­fort­able with it lately but still likes our pri­vacy.”

Ju­lia thinks she’s the one who ac­tu­ally courted Gareth even­tu­ally.

“He used to love walk­ing in the rain and would drag me around. Back then my sports were chess and bil­liards, so if he was able to make me go walk­ing in the rain, I knew he was spe­cial

“I made him ligaw. Ha! Af­ter ev­ery walk, I would cook and we would have din­ner to­gether. I’m still court­ing him un­til now, still cook­ing for him but now since we’re mar­ried, I’m also mak­ing break­fast.”

Ju­lia can’t place the ex­act date when they be­came of­fi­cially a cou­ple. “No of­fi­cial date, it sorta smoothed into place,” she says.

Gareth, through Ju­lia, says he later found out that the tal­ented Ju­lia is “charm­ing and warm, very car­ing and witty. And she has great pa­tience which I am sure is needed deal­ing with me.”

Ju­lia seems to agree, when we ask about the dif­fer­ence be­tween Pi­noy men and Ir­ish­men: “Malayo sa malumanay. Ha­haha!! Para rin silang Pi­noy, mas ma‑car­iño lang ang Pi­noy.”

Things didn’t go easy for the girl from the Philip­pines and the guy from Ire­land. “A big chunk of the re­la­tion­ship was long dis­tance, it re­ally tested us,” Ju­lia re­calls. Still, they man­aged to make it to their sixth year.

In those six years, Ju­lia would visit him ei­ther in Ire­land or any­where in the world where he was sta­tioned at any given time. “Sa Ire­land, many times na, suki na ako ng em­bassy.

Both their fam­i­lies also wel­comed the cou­ple with open arms. “They gave us a chance to prove it’s pag‑ibig.

Some­time in May 2016, Gareth fi­nally pro­posed.

“He speed boated me to a pri­vate is­land be­tween Malaysia and Sin­ga­pore… Cry­lalu kam­ing dalawa! Haha!”

By De­cem­ber of that year, they were al­ready plan­ning their July 2017 Catholic wed­ding, which Ju­lia specif­i­cally wanted to hap­pen in Ire­land.

wifey chores

These days, the McGe­owns are set­tled in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where they moved to 17 months be­fore their wed­ding.

Ju­lia says they’re pretty ad­justed now to the Malaysian way of life.

“I drive here. Am start­ing to speak the lan­guage (Ba­hasa), so I’d say, well set­tled. Ev­ery day is just like any house­wife’s: cook­ing, hatid sa school, imis, bud­get­ing, sound board ng mga stressed out. Haha! I’m very happy about my role. J”

Among her wifey chores, her fa­vorite is cook­ing.

“I cook very of­ten and when we have guests and din­ners in the house. Fa­vorite niya [Gareth] is my Chicken Tikka Masala. And he HAS to like ev­ery­thing I cook, be­cause he knows that is wise.”

Should Gareth ask her to per­ma­nently set­tle in Ire­land, would she agree?

“Yes na yes!” says Ju­lia. “Sarap ng food doon at marami ring rice, so no prob­lem. Haha! Chi­nese food in Ire­land is very good, too. But for now, Malaysia is home. But I do miss Manila es­pe­cially dur­ing Christ­mas. ”

“Gareth went boat­ing and fish­ing be­fore our wed­ding cer­e­mony, I did ri­fle and clay shoot­ing,” says Ju­lia about the photos on this page.

Ju­lia, Gareth, and Seb spent three days in Ire­land be­fore the wed­ding and stayed some three more days there be­fore go­ing back to Kuala Lumpur, their cur­rent place of res­i­dence.

Asked if Gareth caught any­thing when they went fish­ing, Ju­lia replies: “Any fish, at that point. May mahuli lang. Haha!”

Ju­lia left her son Seb in Gareth’s care the en­tire time. The boy, af­ter all, has al­ready es­tab­lished a good re­la­tion­ship with his fu­ture dad.

“Seb has been and al­ways will be a se­cure boy,” Ju­lia says of her son. “And be­cause Gareth has been a moun­taineer for young kids, he knew how to get along with Seb.”

The re­cep­tion was held in the beau­ti­ful and ele­gant Bal­ly­nahinch Cas­tle Ho­tel. Ac­cord­ing to its web­site, this “is one of Ire­land’s finest lux­ury cas­tle ho­tels. Voted #1 in Ire­land by the read­ers of Condé Nast mag­a­zine. Set in a pri­vate 700 acre es­tate of wood­land, rivers and walks in the heart of Con­nemara Co. Gal­way. This au­then­tic and un­pre­ten­tious Cas­tle Ho­tel stands proudly over­look­ing its fa­mous salmon fish­ery, with a back­drop of the beau­ti­ful 12 Bens Moun­tain range.”

These photos, Ju­lia says, were all taken af­ter the wed­ding cer­e­mony and be­fore the din­ner re­cep­tion. “Prosecco (or Ital­ian white wine) and cham­pagne were served to cool down. It was sum­mer when we got mar­ried, so day­light lasted un­til 9:3010:00 pm that day.” Asked what was her theme for the re­cep­tion, Ju­lia replies: “True to form na sim­ple lang ta­laga gusto ko. Green­ery was the theme. So we had lots of leaves, Ivy, Holly, etc.

“And be­cause my fa­vorite film is Casablanca, and Gareth and his mom like lilies, I or­dered Casablanca lilies for the flow­ers.

The Casablanca lily, ac­cord­ing to the gar­den­clinic.com web­site, “is the largest flow­er­ing of the lily fam­ily, stands alone as the most beau­ti­ful lily in the world, trea­sured by florists and adored by gar­den­ers for their enor­mous pure glis­ten­ing white, star-shaped flow­ers mea­sur­ing 20cm across.”

Ju­lia walked down the aisle as the song “A Thou­sand Years” played in the back­ground. The song, writ­ten by Amer­i­can singer-song­writ­ers Christina Perri and David Hodges, is from the al­bum The Twi­light Saga: Break­ing Dawn—Part 1: Orig­i­nal Mo­tion Pic­ture Sound­track.

The lyrics may hold a spe­cial mean­ing for the new­ly­weds. Heart beats fast Col­ors and prom­ises How to be brave? How can I love when I’m afraid to fall? But watch­ing you stand alone All of my doubt sud­denly goes away some­how One step closer I have died ev­ery day wait­ing for you Dar­ling, don’t be afraid I have loved you For a thou­sand years I’ll love you for a thou­sand more Time stands still Beauty in all she is I will be brave I will not let any­thing take away What’s stand­ing in front of me Ev­ery breath Ev­ery hour has come to this One step closer I have died ev­ery day wait­ing for you Dar­ling, don’t be afraid I have loved you For a thou­sand years I’ll love you for a thou­sand more And all along I be­lieved I would find you Time has brought your heart to me I have loved you for a thou­sand years I’ll love you for a thou­sand more One step closer One step closer I have died ev­ery day wait­ing for you Dar­ling don’t be afraid I have loved you For a thou­sand years I’ll love you for a thou­sand more And all along I be­lieved I would find you Time has brought your heart to me I have loved you for a thou­sand years I’ll love you for a thou­sand more Gareth calls his wife Pe­tal, and Ju­lia calls him Honey— “some­times, Kingkong.” But Ju­lia adds: “But re­ally in our best mo­ments, we call each other Boo and Sul­ley.”

King Kong, as the whole world knows, is a gi­ant mon­ster go­rilla. Sul­ley is the pro­tag­o­nist of Mon­sters, Inc., the 2001 Amer­i­can com­puter-an­i­mated com­edy film pro­duced by Pixar An­i­ma­tion Stu­dios. He is a huge mon­ster with shaggy blue fur with pur­ple spots, two small horns on his head, and a long tail. Boo, for her part, is a two-year-old hu­man child who has melted Sul­ley’s heart.

Ju­lia’s in­nate ele­gance was fur­ther re­flected in her choice of a sim­ple yet breath­tak­ing gown cre­ated for her by her de­signer friend Dar­win Soon.

Ju­lia, whom Gareth fondly calls Jules, de­scribes her hus­band’s en­dear­ing qual­i­ties as “stead­fast and re­spectable.”

She adds: “I feel I fi­nally have some­one I can en­trust my life to. He is a gen­tle­man and is se­cretly warm and fuzzy.”

Gareth, by the way, wears a suit by his friend Louis Copeland, who, Ju­lia says, also does the suits for Ir­ish celebri­ties, in­clud­ing singer­song­writer Bono, lead vo­cal­ist of the rock band U2. A lit­tle Google search shows that Copeland’s A-list clien­tele in­cludes U.S. pres­i­dents Ron­ald Rea­gan and Bill Clin­ton, ac­tor Pierce Bros­nan, and Ir­ish rugby player Brian O’Driscoll.

The groom’s aunt, Denise Crofton, showed off her bot­tle of wa­ter. “It was nice and sunny all day,” Ju­lia ex­plains. “So we had bot­tles of wa­ter with us ev­ery­where.” The bride’s cousin, Lisa Clarete, whom Ju­lia calls Ate Lisa, flew in from Saudi Ara­bia, where she works as a den­tist, to wit­ness her cousin’s wed­ding.

Ju­lia’s lovely mom, Alma Nuñez, flew in from Cal­i­for­nia, to per­son­ally hand over her daugh­ter to the lat­ter’s des­tined life part­ner.

Gareth’s mom and dad, Mick and Deirdre McGe­own.

Asked where they are spend­ing their hon­ey­moon, Ju­lia says via Mes­sen­ger: “Haha! Dami nam­ing gusto pang pun­ta­han, so it’s ei­ther [moun­tain] climb­ing in Scot­land or New Zealand, maybe back­pack­ing in Europe… Pero mala­mang end­ing niyan din­ner date sa Kuala Lumpur. Haha! O kaya ako maglu­luto sa ba­hay. Ha­haha!”

The McGe­owns are presently based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. But Gareth’s work as the Coca-Cola chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer and gen­eral man­ager (CEO/GM) for Brunei, Malaysia, and Sin­ga­pore ne­ces­si­tates a lot of trav­el­ing to these three Asian coun­tries and tem­po­rar­ily re­sid­ing in one of them.

Ju­lia says she and Gareth do have plans of giv­ing Seb a sib­ling, but they are yet un­de­cided about the num­bers. “Let’s see, busy pa si King Kong.”

King Kong is one of her terms of en­dear­ment for Gareth.

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