Sunday, October 24, 2010

*221. WITNESS TO THE WEDDING: Castro-Del Rosario Nuptials

WEDDING DAY BLUES. Two Kapampangan families--the Castros of Mabalacat and the Del Rosarios of Angeles--were united in the 1949 wedding of Ecteng del Rosario and Dong Castro--my lovestruck parents. 15 May 1949.

My parents used to keep an album of their 1949 wedding, and I remember poring over the pages many times, enthralled by the pictures, the newspaper write-up and even a feature of their wedding cake, which made it to the page of a magazine. Over the years, the album just crumbled, until all we had left was half of their wedding invitation, and a fragment of their wedding announcement published in the papers. Being the self-appointed ‘family historian’, I had the good sense to save the remaining pictures in a new album, which my Mother, the former Estrella Castro del Rosario, stowed away in my late father’s cabinet.

She had always told me about that special day in her life, albeit, in bits and pieces—and photos of her show her indeed, relishing the moment, her smile full, her face beaming. It was only recently that I had the heart to go through my Mother’s stuff again, over a year since her death, leading me to find more details about that magical 15th day of May, one morning in 1949.

My mother and father had a whirlwind courtship, getting hitched three months after their chance meeting in Angeles. My mother worked at the botica-cum-gift shop owned by her doctor-brother and it was here that my good-looking Dad introduced himself to her, on the pretext of buying a tin of Vicks. To make the long story short, my mother was swept off her feet by this short, Ateneo high school drop-out, and next thing she knew, he was asking her hand in marriage. I still keep their love letters and read them every now and then. I am both amazed and amused at my father’s sugar-sweet notes, parts of which I am sure were copied from a “how to write a love letter" book and which were certainly enough to convince my mother to give her ‘yes’.

The wedding was just a family affair, but it was complete with all the trimmings of a grand wedding. After all, my father was the eldest son, a junior, no less—and a wedding of this magnitude was a privilege of his rank. In reality, however, their wedding cost so little, thanks to wise budget-cutting and planning. The wedding itself was solemnized at the San Miguel Catholic Church (Pro-Cathedral), with Rev. Fr. Pedro N. Bantigue as the officiating priest.

My mother, just 21, was given away by his eldest brother, Dr. Pablo del Rosario, as her father had passed away two years before. She wore a printed ecru satin gown with beautiful butterfly sleeves. On her head, she wore a heart-shaped headdress, which accentuated her trademark widow’s peak. She lived long enough to see her wedding gown and headdress, framed for posterity, now hanging in my living room. My mother was every inch a picture of a radiant bride on her wedding day.

On the other hand, my 25 year-old father was in an all-white Americana sharkskin suit, the style of the day for young grooms. He wore a blue printed silk necktie and a matching hanky. Unlike mother’s gown, my father’s suit did not survive, but his necktie did. I wore his necktie for my high school graduation photo; so did my brothers, who borrowed it for their formal parties. My dashing father had his hair slicked with Brilliantine and I remember him using pomade on his hair right down till the 1990s.

Maid of Honor at their wedding was my mother’s sister, Jesusa or Imang Susing. Her counterpart was Tatang Maning, my father’s younger brother, who acted as the Best Man. Standing as principal sponsors were Pedro M. Lansangan and Paz Dizon de Gomez. Among the secondary sponsors were then my mother’s brother Renato, or Tatang Ato, (Veil), Orlando del Rosario and Nila Tayag (Cord). Sonia del Rosario (my mother’s niece) and Marcelo de la Cruz (my father’s nephew) were the well-behaved Flower Girl and Ring Bearer respectively.

The Breakfast Reception was held at the Riviera, a popular restaurant for social functions. At 4 pesos per plate, the newlyweds managed to save a lot on their reception. They even had a wonderful wedding cake that had a man-and-wife cake topper under a decorated canopy. The official photographer was X’OR Studios, which presented my parents lots of photo proofs of the event for their approval. But when they were shown the bill, my parents almost fainted. They chose not to order a final set of photos but kept the proofs instead. These pictures are what they kept in their album, complete with “Proof Only” marks, stamped on their pristine white dresses.

It is interesting to note that when my mother assumed my father's last name, she just switched her Del Rosario surname with her maiden name --which was also Castro (her mother was Felicisima Castro). Some say it's a coincidence, but to my parents, it's destiny, their meeting written in the stars.

My parents were together for 49 years, and while many felt a tinge of dismay for not reaching their golden wedding anniversary, I like to believe that it is not only in the number of years that one should count love’s ways. My father was no poet like Elizabeth Browning, but he sure meant it when, just 11 days before their wedding, he wrote my mother: “Remember, my darling, an hour or two with you is just like a minute and a minute without you is like a year. I shall always be loving you, my darling, whether in sickness or in health, till the end of our lives”.

Every time I read this part, I always get "kilig to the bones". Now that's true love!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Heartwarming ya pu ing story...