Souvenirs blessed by Pope Benedict XVI for Roman-Shalani wedding

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez -

It is a unique touch for a couple who agreed to love each other forever on a church pew, before an altar of God.

Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo asked Valenzuela Councilor Shalani Soledad to marry him while they were praying inside the Our Lady of Fatima Cathedral in Valenzuela, and even on their wedding day this Sunday, the couple decided on divine keepsakes.

After their wedding this Sunday, which will be solemnized at the St. Benedict Church in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna, Roman and Shalani will be giving away as souvenirs St. Benedict medals to their hundreds of guests.

The Italian-made medals, blessed by Pope Benedict XVI himself, were especially brought to Manila by Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican Mercy Tuason upon the request of Roman’s parents, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and his wife Lovely.

Shalani hugs her Tito Mon, in whose care she was left when her mother Evelyn was working in Kuwait.

Lovely Romulo always carries a St. Benedict medal in her bag. According to Catholic devotees, a St. Benedict medal, which is often attached to a rosary, is miraculous as it “wards off from both the soul and the body all dangers arising from evil; is powerful in obtaining for sinners the grace of conversion; procures assistance in the hour of death; often proved an efficacious remedy for bodily sufferings; and a means of protection against contagious diseases.”

“In times of storms, tempests and other dangers on land and sea, it has been found to be a protection,” according to Catholic online sources.

The medals, the wedding and engagement rings are the Romulos’ gifts to Roman and Shalani. Every other expense related to the wedding is taken care of by the engaged couple.

“Even the gown that I will be wearing (by Dennis Lustico) is their gift to me,” says Lovely.

The erudite and philosophical Bert Romulo composed the prayer that will accompany each valued St. Benedict medal that guests will be receiving this Sunday.

With Speaker Sonny Belmonte.

“We consider ourselves very fortunate to have her as a daughter-in-law,” Bert Romulo told me at a pre-wedding reception the couple hosted the other night at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City.

“You know, Roman is sometimes masungit (irritable), but one caress of his hand by Shalani is enough to brighten his face. She knows how to handle him, to make him smile, make him comfortable,” says Lovely. They say it is difficult for mothers to see their sons get married but Lovely has no such qualms.

“It is about time!” she jokes. Seriously, she admires the caring and dutiful character of her soon-to-be daughter-in-law because she has seen how much the latter takes care of her mother Evelyn Soledad-Yumol and her stepfather, who is now undergoing dialysis.

The one person who was all choked-up during the pre-wedding reception was Shalani’s uncle, former Valenzuela Councilor Mon Soledad, brother of her mother. Shalani told me it will be her Tito Mon who will be giving her away this Sunday.

Because her mother was a single parent when she was growing up, Mon Soledad and his wife Baby helped raise Shalani. In fact, it was her uncle who asked Shalani if she wanted to run for his seat in the Valenzuela council when he felt he was getting too old for politics. She agreed, and her life changed completely.

* * *

Roman’s sister Berna Romulo Puyat jokes that nowadays, her older brother has a new nickname, “Roman-za.”

“He is absolutely smitten by Shalani,” she says.

Roman, who calls Shalani “Lans,” once said to me his future wife is “very maasikaso (attentive), very caring by nature.” He likes her being softspoken, the fact that she doesn’t raise her voice.

At the pre-wedding reception, Roman and Shalani sang Kahit maputi na ang buhok ko.

“Yes, this is our song to each other,” said Shalani, who admitted to being “dazed but happy” five days before the wedding. She was wearing a pale gold gown by Inno Sotto, who also designed her wedding dress.

She is a sweet but strong-willed woman and all major decisions related to the wedding have her imprimatur — as all major decisions after.

The couple told me during a photo shoot last month they don’t “plan” to have a baby. It is a gift from God that they await, and Shalani says that if God blesses them right away with a baby after the wedding, they will be joyous.

If not, they are in no particular hurry, either, because, “we have each other.”

 (You may e-mail me at [email protected].)








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