Austerity & modernity for Dato & Kakai’s wedding

- Paula C. Nocon () - May 18, 2003 - 12:00am
Kakai, you’re not only marrying Dato, you’re marrying a part of Philippine history... And you, Dato, must protect this legacy," said Manila Auxiliary Bishop Socrates Villegas in his homily at the wedding of presidential son Diosdado Arroyo to Maria Victoria Manotok, referring to Dato’s lineage as son of current President of the Republic and grandson to another.

But it was less tradition and continuity that marked this low-key celebration, and more of austerity and modernity.

The wedding ceremony, for one, actually began on time and lasted a mere hour, with Dato driving himself in a Toyota Revo. Surprisingly, guests had already filled the pews of the Santuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park several minutes before the wedding procession.

Kakai continuously shed tears during the eucharistic celebration, while the beaming Dato was described by former President Corazon Aquino as "the happiest bridegroom she has ever seen."

The cocktail reception was similarly curt and straight to the point. The ceremonial hall of Malacanang Palace, official venue of oath takings, state dinners and vin d’honneurs, this time became a less formal scene of an exchanging of vows, cocktails and a wedding toast. Pop music was played by bands Hourglass and Hyperbeat in lieu of a classical orchestra.

Orchestrated by social secretary Bettina Aboitiz and the Bride’s Maids & Co., it was apparently a twentysomething affair. The 700-strong crowd was dominated by more of the couple’s friends, most of them Ateneans in their late twenties stepping for the first time in the presidential palace, and less of their parents’. Even the matrons looked younger, sans big hair and flashy jewels.

Megastar Sharon Cuneta, chosen as principal sponsor as the couple’s favorite artista, was the most ogled that evening as guests waited for her to break into a song. She did not oblige, but two of her hit songs were performed earlier at the ceremony by the Ateneo Chamber Singers minus her voice: the bridal march, The Promise, and Ikaw.

Other sponsors included controversial lawyer Arthur Villaraza, Arturo Macapagal, Enrique Razon Jr., Enrique Aboitiz Jr., Jaime Augusto de Ayala, Corazon Tamayo, Adela Kruidener, Teresa Gozon and Gina de Venecia.

The President, after relentless crusades supporting the Iraqi invasion and against SARS this year, seemed speechless this time. She stood in the sidelines and mingled with the guests while First Gentleman Mike Arroyo danced with last remaining single First Daughter Luli.

Kakai was resplendent in her blinding white gown of satin silk organza and Swarovski crystals by Joe Salazar, with shoes by Lila Almario. Just when you thought the King of Philippine Couturier had run out of ways to update the Maria Clara after two previous presidential weddings, he came up with a streamlined silhouette with the panuelo acting as upturned collar to fit the bride’s request for "something modern." The bride changed into an ankle-length lace dress, also by Salazar, for the reception. Fanny Serrano did hair and makeup.

Many other guests were spotted in Joe Salazar, among them the President, Angela Arroyo and the mother of the bride, Cynthia Manotok, principal sponsors Sharon Cuneta and Gina de Venecia, and sisters Mons Romulo Tantoco and Berna Romulo Puyat. At every compliment, these ladies only had the same three words on their lips, "Only one fitting!"

The minimalist and elegant floral arrangements by 1718 Flower Shop by Robert Blancaflor broke from the tradition of the usual jungle-like groupings or giant urns; hydrangeas following the bright fuchsia motif were placed in the tallest crystal vases, flanked by yellow tulips, white lilies and baby’s breath in varying heights. This gave the hall a summer garden feel that was matched by the summer colors worn by the female guests.

Minimalism, youthfulness and privacy were so strictly observed that TV crews were not allowed, and the couple did away with any dove-freeing, bouquet-tossing, garter-tugging and repeated calls for kissing. The only concession made to Filipino reception tradition was the cutting of the wedding cake.

Incidentally, the wedding cake appeared to be the only old-fashioned component of the wedding party, a white five-foot stunner by Penk Ching of Pastry Bin.

Guests raved about the food and unashamedly returned for second and third helpings from the cheese and dessert tables, as well as pasta by Cibo, sushi and sashimi by Sugi, and Spanish fare by El Comedor.

And just as guests arrived early, so they left–by nine p.m. the trickle exit had already begun, with guests clutching the rosary giveaways.

Kakai, a banker, and Dato, a law student, were dating for seven years and five months before getting hitched – quite longer than a presidential term, Bishop Socrates Villegas also remarked. And their marriage, a match made in heaven, should last longer than that, he added.

And if we are to believe that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will not run for another term next year and that Luli is "not seeing anybody," then perhaps Dato’s wedding, after his mother’s and his elder brother’s, is to be the last Macapagal-Arroyo nuptials in Malacanan... unless, that is, another another Macapagal descendant lives to run for the presidency for another time in history.

Photos by Gina De Venecia and Manny Marcelo
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