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The secret to 50 years of marriage? unconditional love, patience & forgiveness |

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The secret to 50 years of marriage? unconditional love, patience & forgiveness

Maritess Pineda - The Philippine Star
The secret to 50 years of marriage? unconditional love, patience & forgiveness
Jesus ‘‘Susing” and Maritess Pineda: Golden love

MANILA, Philippines — To be able to celebrate golden weddings through three generations is a gift that our family has received from the Lord, and it is a gift for which we are grateful.

My grandparents Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Sr. and Juana Santiago; my parents Rizalino Mendoza and Adelaida Rodriguez; and now, my husband Jesus “Susing” Pineda and I, have celebrated our own golden wedding anniversary. I am humbled at receiving such a blessing and a privilege — one that I would also wish for my children when their time comes. Of four children — two daughters and two sons — only one has married: our son Paolo M. Pineda married Malou Lacson, and they have given us a pair of beautiful twin granddaughters. One of them, Sammy Pineda, recently tied the knot with Ernesto Barrera in San Sebastian, Spain. My two beautiful apos are my jewels — how they have grown up to become smart and lovely women we are all proud of!

Susing and I got married 50 years ago following a seven-year courtship. We actually met in New York, rather than here in the Philippines, as we were both studying overseas at the time: he was in graduate school in the United States and I was on Christmas vacation from the finishing school I attended in Ciudad Ducal in Ávila, Spain. I was spending the holidays with my cousins in the Big Apple at the time, and I met him at a party held in our honor. But since I had to go back to Spain for school, our paths did not cross again for the next three years. It was only some time later, after we ran into each other again at the Assumption Fair, that we began to get to know each other better. It took a while, and we each pursued our careers. We weren’t exactly sure if our relationship was going to work out or even if we were truly meant for each other. My devotion to St. Therese of the Child Jesus, observed regularly at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel where I went to daily Mass, helped and we decided to marry.

Standing: Patty Pineda, Carlo Pineda, Ria Pineda, Sammy Pineda- Barrera, Ernesto Barrera Seated: Paolo Pineda, Malou Pineda, Maritess Pineda, Jesus Pineda, Maiqui Pineda

Our wedding was held at the Santuario de San Jose in Greenhills East on Dec. 4, 1968; my parents celebrated their own silver wedding anniversary on the same day. I was fortunate that the famed Ramon Valera, the first and only National Artist for fashion, made my gown, as he was a good friend of my parents’; he was also the one who made the dress I wore at my debut a few years earlier.

Fast-forward to 25 years later on Dec. 4, 1993: as Susing and I celebrated our silver wedding, my parents celebrated the milestone of their golden anniversary at the original church where they made their vows: the Church of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in San Marcelino. A grand reception followed at the Fiesta Pavilion of the Manila Hotel, where our guests were friends from our generation as well as my parents’ friends. It was both heartwarming and delightful to see a much younger generation dancing with the older folks. On this occasion, my mother and I wore gowns by another family friend, designer R.T. Paras.

Who would have thought that Susing and I would celebrate our own golden anniversary last Dec. 4, 2018? This time, my gown was made by Patis Tesoro using a material that was embroidered with pearls kept by my mother. In addition, Patis also gave my terno a tribal touch by collaborating with the Bagobo-Tagabawa artisan Bae Arlyn Salazar (though Zarah Juan), on the beadwork. We chose to work with them because the Bagobo-Tagabawa people are an indigenous community who are a beneficiary of our ArteFino development program, whose main goal is to help preserve our culture through sustainability by giving local tribes a platform where they can market the unique crafts they produce. We try to help them level-up in terms of designs and production, so they can develop products that they can sell to a highly discerning market.

Twenty-five years since the last celebration, and joined by a new generation, we renewed our vows at the Church of St. Michael the Archangel in BGC — a very modern church with a magnificent contemporary silver crucifix crafted by the sculptor Daniel de la Cruz, who is one of the most important artists of our time. Our simple yet elegant ceremony was officiated by three priests — Rev. Frs. Dennis Paras, Gerard de Vesa and Jess Malit — all of whom have been part of our family’s journey, and who have been taking care of our physical and spiritual well-being for many years now.

Maritess Enriquez, Ambassador Bienvenido Tantoco

The highlight of our simple rites was the renewal of vows between me and Susing. We both thanked the Lord for the gift of 50 years, which have been happy despite the challenges we faced along the way. Recognizing what a blessing we’ve been given is what prompted us to celebrate this special occasion with a Thanksgiving Mass with our entire family and the friends who have been a part of our journey over the past 50 years. To make it even more meaningful, we requested our guests to help support the Jesus M. Pineda Scholarship Fund for a perpetual scholarship for a deserving student. Thanks to their generous support, we were able to gain the funds to start sending a deserving child to school.

Susing and I agree that our marriage would not have weathered through five decades without the constant presence of the Lord in our lives. Prayer has always been part of our daily life, and through it we have been able to see God’s hands in our life as a couple. Indeed, it does take three to stay married — ourselves, and the Lord. It is only our unconditional love for each other that has kept us going. Love, patience, forgiveness, and perseverance are the ingredients for a strong and united family. Love and respect for each other is the greatest legacy we can give our children. There is nothing more important in life than a happy and united family rooted in God. In fact, it was our devotion to St. Therese of the Child Jesus and to our Blessed Mother that helped me choose the right partner before we got married.

At the end of our lives, we all know that we will be judged by the love we have given and how we became a blessing to others — and it is a really great feeling to be so blessed with such a strong and happy family, with good health, and — best of all — the ability to become a model and a blessing for those around us.

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