Sunday Lifestyle

Magic Around Us

SECOND WIND - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura - The Philippine Star

First there was much discussion about the wedding. He said we needed to get married legally either in front of a judge or a mayor. Then our marriage would be recognized by the church. He was sure about this. I was not. But my marriage was annulled legally. I had my legal annulment, dated 1991, typed on onion skin paper. My copy was a carbon copy but I knew it was valid legally.

Why are we getting married? I asked. You know me. I’m a libertarian, one who believes in as much freedom as possible. He is a traditionalist, one who believes in doing what is right and one who does not believe in committing sin. We will get married so I will not commit sin when we make love, he said, and I will not make love to any other woman because you are already my wife.

 Well, that was convincing. So guess who changed her mind and immediately said yes? You’re right. It was I.

Two families, one love: Jinggoy and Paton Ventura, Natasha Ventura-Reyes, Naynay Ventura-Montilla, Lala Ventura, Marrielle Ventura-Cruz, Loy Ventura, Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura, Risa and Panjee Tapales, Sarri Tapales-Coleman, Gino Cruz (all mine), Jeska and Almond Ventura

We put our papers together and he gave it to one of his friends who always said it could be done but it wasn’t done. The only clear thing that got done was my original legal annulment was lost. In the meantime I remembered that I had applied for a canonical annulment sometime in the 1970s and got turned down because the priest who handled it said something about changing the grounds and that failed.

But then my ex-husband had converted to another religion more than 25 years ago and married again. In summary, in the eyes of only the church, I cannot get married because I am still married to him. Does that make sense?

In the daze I remembered a priest whose guidance into priesthood was provided by my uncle, Fr. Jose A. Cruz, S.J., who passed away in 1999, after being president of the Ateneo for 16 years and principal of the Ateneo High School for many years also. I asked him what we could do and he said he could give us a blessing and that would get rid of the sin but we had to work for a canonical annulment and get a National Statistics Office certificate of my legal annulment. Then we could get married yet again legally and in church and he would officiate. Okay, we could promise to do that.

And so we took the first step, which among us we called a “wedding,” even as we knew there will probably be another one down the line when the papers are ready. But at least we are happy not to be sinning anymore.

We decided to get married at my cousin’s home on Lopez Rizal St. My cousin is Mandy Consunji, a descendant of Narcisa Rizal, who is married to Ruben Torres, a man who was an outstanding banker and a wonderful singer. I am a descendant of Maria Rizal, who just married Loy Ventura, who is an outstanding unconventional lawyer and a wonderful singer too. We became close friends because we would always see each other at Sunday Mass.

Earlier I had asked my daughter, Panjee, to take me shopping for a simple dress to wear to my wedding. We shopped at Shoemart in Aura and I bought a beige simple outfit. That was my something new. I bought a pair of shoes but discovered at the last minute that there was something wrong with it. I put on a pair of sandals I had before because they were the same color as my dress. That was my something old. I put together jewelry that I inherited from my mother — corals and turquoise that were about 50 years old — I thought they made my mother present at my wedding and also they provided a touch of blue. And I borrowed a handkerchief from Mandy. Those completed the something old, new, borrowed and blue.

 Loy had chosen his outfit two nights before and had his hair cut for the occasion.

The bride being given away by her two grandsons, Nicc and Paolo Magsino

There are very few words I would use to describe our wedding. It was wonderfully intimate, just the way we wanted it to be. It was just Loy and me, our children and their partners, and their children. Then Mandy and Ruben and their children.

Loy marched down the short aisle with his five daughters. Then because my family is smaller they marched down the aisle with their partners and children and my two tall grandsons — Paolo and Nicc _ with me between them. My grandsons gave me away!

Loy’s oldest son Paton and my only son, Gino, were “ringbearers.” Paton gave my wedding ring to his dad and Gino handed me Loy’s wedding ring. After the short ceremony we had our photographs taken, then we all sat down and talked, sang, danced, performed. Mandy was impressed by the simplicity of the wedding. “It was so nice,” she said, “and your children are so talented it was like watching vaudeville.”

What can I say? Thank you to all our family members who were there! Thank you profoundly, God, for creating such intimate magic around us.

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