Cheska ready to walk down the aisle

After Danica Sotto, guess who’s ready to walk down the aisle with her cager-boyfriend next year? Answer: Cheska Garcia, who has set an October garden wedding for her and Ateneo/Cebuana Lhuillier player Doug Kramer in 2008.

October is special for Cheska and Doug since it happens to be their anniversary month as sweethearts. Doug already had a long man-to-man talk with Cheska’s dad about it.

Doug started broaching the topic by saying, "I know how much you love your daughter…" It took him all of two hours to finally ask for Cheska’s hand in marriage.

Dear dad’s reaction?

"He asked me if I was serious about getting married," relates Cheska.

After all, their relationship has withstood the proverbial test of time. Cheska and Doug have been going steady for three years and six months now. She has learned Ilocano words, since Doug’s mom happens to be an Ilocana from Baguio (his dad is an American who works in the US).

The funny part is, Cheska herself says, she told herself she will never go out with a cager. But when Doug courted her, she fell for his persistence and sincerity. So here she is, looking forward to many years of bliss with a basketball player.

"We’ll live in the Alabang house where I grew up," Cheska reveals more of her plans. "We’ll save money for two years first."

And yes, she’ll continue her showbiz career. Us Girls, which she co-hosts with Iya Villania and Angel Aquino every Sunday night at 8:30 on Studio 23, is marking its first anniversary this month. And Cheska is enjoying every minute on the job.

"The show taught me how to be a good host," Cheska relates. "Before, I would talk fast whenever a topic excites me. I’d butt in when I know something about what’s being talked about. But now, I’ve learned to listen to the guest I’m talking to."

She has changed from a mere bystander to an active presence in the kitchen. The shift happened after Us Girls had Cheska whipping up a delectable dish of foie gras with sea bass in one episode.

Her stint as chef was so unforgettable, Cheska began to appreciate the kitchen more. This will prove useful, of course, when she gets married and spends more time there with Doug, who happens to be a kitchen whiz.

"I can still cook the same dish if I have to," Cheska says with pride. She also found out that: "It’s easier to cook when you’re with someone looking over your work rather than when you’re alone with a recipe on hand."

With Us Girls well on its way to its second year, she will not only stay in the kitchen, but venture way beyond it.

Cheska and her co-hosts will paint the town red this summer. They will tour the Philippines as they hop over to La Union, the Hundred Islands, Cebu, Bohol and Davao.

The three hosts will turn backpackers as they surf, kayak, snorkel and take a hike. They’ll also let their hair down in one episode in Cebu where lies the largest spa Asia can offer.

After exhausting all the wonders of the Philippines, Us Girls will go to Bangkok, where Angel, Iya and Cheska will join a loyal kabarkada viewer in touring the land of elephants and nighttime bargains.

When she returns to the Philippines, Cheska will buckle down to work on a business she plans to put up with a cousin.

"We’re making a feasibility study for a kiosk selling fishballs," she reveals. "We’ll have to study the location, draw up contingency plans, etc."

Of course, she’ll also squeeze in time for her wedding plans. Us Girls will come in handy, since the show has introduced her to several wedding experts. Cheska won’t spend hard-earned money on her wedding with eyes closed. And the people she met through the show will go a long way in helping ease her worries.

No wonder Cheska loves Us Girls so much she won’t turn her back on it even after she ties the knot. Cheska will even spread her wings via a soap opera she will start taping.

At the rate things are going, Cheska will be a fool if she lets marriage stop her from her other love: romancing the TV camera.

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