JULIA & GARETH
The Long Road to True Love
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.
THE BACK STORY
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.
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.