My âlittle sisterâ Alex disinvited me to her wedding
The newly-wed couple Alex Alimagno and Andrew Felix.

My ‘little sister’ Alex disinvited me to her wedding

NEW BEGINNINGS - Büm D. Tenorio Jr. (The Philippine Star) - April 16, 2021 - 12:00am

If it were ordinary times and my “little sister” Alex Alimagno disinvited me on her wedding day, that would have broken my heart. But the times were different when she walked down the aisle to meet her love, Andrew Felix. Those were the days when the surge in the COVID-19 infection was peaking. And on the day of the wedding, another lockdown was in the air.

Alex and Andrew got married on the eve of the ECQ. The matrimonial ceremony, held at the St. John Bosco Parish and Center for Young Workers in Santa Rosa City, was witnessed only by eight people: their parents architect Ed and Connie Alimagno and Jorge and Yasmin Felix; and their four wedding sponsors Cabuyao City Mayor Mel Gecolea, engineer Patricio Garcia, Dr. Gigi Domingo and Aurora Genuino.

Not even Andrew’s only sibling Samantha Felix was allowed entry to the church. Not even Alex’s five sisters Mye Alimagno-Pascual, Nezlee Alimagno, Alona Alimagno Bowman, Mariel Alimagno and Aliw Alimagno-Santos witnessed in person the wedding of their youngest sister. All of them quarantined together “in a bubble” and all of them were present at the church’s grounds, watching the live streaming of the wedding. (Alona and Mariel flew all the way from the US and quarantined in a hotel for several days to attend the momentous day.)

The couple, who labored for months to achieve their dream wedding despite the limitations set by the pandemic, had a heavy heart calling each of their closest relatives and friends to say that they couldn’t be accommodated anymore at the St. John Bosco Parish, and at the planned banquet at The Monochrome in Nuvali. Instead, the small reception was held at the bride’s resort in Cabuyao.

Yet, the many people they invited still attended their wedding, dolled up in gowns and suits, too, as they witnessed the exchange of love between Alex and Andrew in the comforts of their homes — via Facebook live stream set up by the church upon the request of the couple. No one among us wanted to miss the moment. So we were there when the portals of the church opened to reveal the radiant bride in Alou Tan. We also cried when the groom cried at the exchange of vows and laughed when Alex displayed her funny self during the wedding.

From my screen, I saw how empty the pews were inside the church. But the church was filled with love — God’s and the couple’s. As Fr. Francis Ong said in his homily: “Man’s capacity to love and build relationships is something that stems from God. This is the beauty of your vocation amidst the pandemic, you got together in marriage with eight guests and yet it continues to shine forth as light through that darkness. A hope amidst the darkness that enraptures everyone in this world.”

While witnessing the wedding from my mobile screen, I wiped my tears with my pocket square hankie as my “little sister” Alex and my “brother-in-law” Andrew kissed for the first time as husband and wife. Love was in the air.

The groom’s family: Andrew with his parents Jorge and Yasmin Felix and sister Samantha.

The making of a 13-year-old bond

“Andrew and I have been together for 13 years, since late 2007. He was my first boyfriend, while I was his second girlfriend, though his first girlfriend was in Grade 6 pa,” Alex said.

My closeness to Alex stemmed from my closeness to the Alimagno family. Her late uncle Jun Alimagno, former mayor of Cabuyao, gave me a scholarship in high school. That gesture of generosity was the also the gateway to my flourishing relationship with Tito Jun’s younger brother Ed and his wife Connie. Soon, in UPLB, their eldest daughter Mye and I became close friends. From then on, no family affairs of the Alimagno family, no matter how intimate, would be complete without me in the picture — the only Tenorio in the sea of Alimagnos.

Alex added: “Like every young relationship, it wasn’t serious at first. Andrew actually stopped talking to me and ignored me for a few months in 2008 during our freshman year in college. He said he wanted to focus on basketball. He was a varsity player for the UST Growling Tigers then.”

“On Oct. 31, 2008 we saw each other again during a Halloween party, and from then on, I never stopped talking to Alex anymore,” Andrew said.

“I only officially introduced him to my family in 2012, the moment I graduated from college. He drove me to PICC for my graduation rites, and he was allowed to join our celebratory lunch in Emerald restaurant,” Alex recalled.

First meeting

“Before I moved to De La Salle Zobel, and Andrew, to the Ateneo de Manila and thereafter, Southridge, our paths had already crossed in San Beda-Alabang where we were apparently batchmates. Our paths crossed again in February 2007 when we were both invited to a pre-debut celebration of a high school common friend,” Alex said.

According to Andrew, it wasn’t love at first sight. It was attraction, and when he got to know Alex more, he fell in love with her. From then on, in the age of Friendster and Yahoo! Messenger, love blossomed.

The bride’s family: Alex is joined by her parents architect Ed and Connie Alimagno and sisters Mye Alimagno-Pascual, Nezlee, Mariel, Alona Alimagno Bowman and Aliw Alimagno-Santos.

A wedding in the time of COVID-19

Getting married in the time of the pandemic was difficult, according to Alex and Andrew. They were supposed to get married in 2022 but both decided to go on with the wedding before Alex starts reviewing for her Bar exams this year. Andrew is a topnotch graphic designer.

The challenges included the IATF rules on weddings and events. The Alimagnos and Felixes stayed in separate “bubbles” weeks before the wedding day so everybody could be present when Alex and Andrew exchanged “I do’s.”

The list of challenges continued — including their online wedding coordinators testing positive weeks before the wedding. So they had to look for a replacement.

A week before the wedding, the positive cases were again rising. Some of their guests started to beg off one by one. For the rest of the guests, Alex and Andrew had to call them to inform them that the couple could only accommodate strictly the parents of the bride and groom.

“For every challenge we encountered, we were able to adjust and make it work,” Andrew said.

“Then, five days before the wedding, the government announced the two-week bubble for NCR+. True, weddings and events were allowed, but each was only limited to 10 people,” Alex said.

So, at that point, I — and others — got disinvited from their wedding. And we wholeheartedly supported the couple in their move as we showered them with love and applause and as we watched them tie the knot in the comforts of our homes.

Congratulations, Alex and Andrew!

(E-mail me at bumbaki@yahoo.com. I’m also on Twitter @bum_tenorio and Instagram @bumtenorio. Have a blessed weekend.)

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