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A love story

BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - February 21, 2021 - 12:00am

Lorelei Baldonado Aquino of Humans of Pinas (HoP), inspired by Humans of New York, invited my wife and me to join other couples sharing how they met and married stories during the month of February. This is part of HoP’s initiative to post on social media “engaging, empowering, enlightening and/or inspiring” stories. I am yielding my Sunday column to my wife Neni Sta. Romana Cruz who tells our story.

“Elfren and I first knew each other in college as student council presidents in the same school year – he from De La Salle and me from St. Scholastica’s College. But it was all council business then as our social lives revolved around different schools. It was only after college when we got in touch again and he cannot forget the time he invited me to lunch and I refused to eat at the building cafeteria. To date, I still feel guilty remembering his later confession that he was panicky because he did not have an allowance generous enough to afford a lunch at Sulo Café at the Makati Commercial Center – the fashionable place to frequent then. He hasn’t stopped teasing me about that.

“We have been married for nearly 50 years now and yes, we are still good friends. He says one secret to our continuing nurturing relationship is that we do not discuss our past relationships –not that it embarrasses us but because they are better cherished as wonderful college romances, certainly contributing to the persons we have become. But I told him, wait a minute, isn’t that the usual advice of widows/widowers on their second marriages?

“The most important element I feel is that we continue to have long conversations. I tease him about being professorial – as he was in the La Salle Graduate School of Business for decades. – even with me.  So that when I ask him any question, he will always ask, ‘So you want a short or a long answer?’

“We have shared interests in books, the arts, Philippine history and love of country. We continue to be busy in our professional and writing lives and though unspoken, have allowed each of us to continue to discover how far our interests and commitments take us. We write for different national dailies and when we launched a co-authored book (“The Aquino Legacy: An Enduring Narrative”, 2015) I loved saying it was to prove who of us was the better writer. He has written his own books and so have I. And who’s talking of retirement? With all these, books and papers just seem to continue to sprout everywhere at home – there goes the elusive goal of a Marie Kondo-styled home.

“Of course, it has not been moonlight and roses, especially during the dark martial law years, with detained and exiled family members and deep painful losses. But today, it is wonderful to look back and reminisce all that we have gone through and feel a sense of triumph that we have overcome so much. He is proudest of his tenure as head of the Presidential Management Staff and Metro Manila governor in the Cory Aquino administration – a privilege to be in government service in such distinguished and respected company. Truly, a once in a lifetime adventure. We were poorest when he was in government, but the experiences of that period are worth reliving – I guess, especially when we are old and grey(er), sitting on our rocking chairs. The three kids used to say the only advantage they had when their father was in government was that they were the first to know if classes had been called off.

“We are eager to see where the next adventure together will take us – whether to our favorite breakfast place or the newest restaurant in town or to Dublin in East Bay, San Francisco where our only grandchildren, all three of them, live. There is no urgent yearning to take flight as we have been fortunate to have visited most of our dream places in the world. Yes, there may be more to discover but we are happy enough to be sheltering at home together these days, with us talking about the inevitable, me asking him to please not to die on me as he is certain I will outlive him. We feel blessed and grateful – and have little to complain about. Not with the added bonus of a lifetime of friendship and memories!”

*      *      *

Below is a letter from Belgian Ambassador Michel Goffin in response to a recent column.

“My attention was caught today by your article on ‘Vaccinate both rich and poor’ where you stated that ‘in Europe, there is a threat by the European Commission to ban export of vaccines until Europe’s needs are satisfied.’

“I fully share your opinion on the danger of vaccine nationalism and I can assure you that there is no such intention in Europe and, in particular, in Belgium where two vaccines are being produced, Pfizer and J&J Janssen. Belgium is very proud to be at the epicenter of manufacturing vaccines during this terrible crisis.

“For your information, I attach a note that was sent to all embassies in Brussels clarifying the issue of export license and in particular with the message that ‘within the framework of this new procedure, these companies will be able to fulfil their contractual obligations towards third countries and the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines will not be interrupted.’

“Hoping that this information will rectify your message of today and in the future.”

*      *      *

An invitation to young writers:

Young Writers’ Hangout via Zoom on Feb. 27 with Rin Chupeco, 2-3 p.m. Contact writethingsph@gmail.com.  0945.2273216

Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

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