55 secrets to a long and lasting love

NEW BEGINNINGS - Büm D. Tenorio Jr. - The Philippine Star
55 secrets to a long and lasting love
Engineer Simeon Chavez and his wife Marina celebrate their emerald wedding anniversary.

No. 1 is loyalty. It is the commitment between a couple to choose each other every day. Even when at times love is not the most important thing to have and to hold because many other factors come in the way — raising a family, inculcating valuable lessons to the children, finding the resources to provide for the kids, maintaining individuality even if husband and wife forged a covenant with God to become one.

No. 2 is still loyalty. Loyalty is the invisible link, the infallible bond, the strong connection to a love that is long and lasting. And life, for husband and wife, with this proven and tested adhesive called loyalty, becomes a bliss — and a blessing.

And even if the secrets of a long and lasting relationship are stretched all the way to No. 55, loyalty will still be the answer for engineer Simeon Chavez and his wife Marina, a chemist turned educator, who celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary last Sunday.

The couple own St. Vincent College of Cabuyao (SVCC) in barangay Mamatid, that sleepy barrio in Cabuyao, Laguna where they are both from. The school has become the advocacy of the couple to the community because it offers quality yet inexpensive education to elementary, high school and college students. They have never uprooted themselves from the place where they met when they were in grade school, where they fell in love, where they build a dream on top of another dream.

“It was just like yesterday when we first fell in love,” Tito Sim said when I asked him how he felt about celebrating 55 years of married bliss with Tita Marina. I call them such because I am family to them and their children. So close that one of the last to visit my father when he was dying in the hospital was the Chavez couple. So close that their only daughter Jan Chavez-Arceo walked with me and my family behind the hearse of my father, under the sweltering sun, for almost two hours, until we reached the cemetery after an almost 10-km. walk.

“Loyalty to each other. Fidelity to our vows. That’s the secret to our lasting marriage,” said Tita Marina at the joyous celebration of their 55th wedding anniversary held at the school. The emerald celebration of their wedding coincided with the blessing of the new four-story building at SVCC; one of the ribbon-cutters was Christine Dayrit, my best friend of 28 years.

Engineer Simeon Chavez and wife Marina with their children Joel, Jan Chavez-Arceo and Jay Chavez.

Tito Sim and Tita Marina met when they were still kids. Tito Sim loves to joke that when he was in grade school, he would cross the railroad, then walk past the house of Tita Marina and he would hear her hooting at him. He would look around and he would see a giggling Marina. Then they would later see each other at Mamatid Elementary School where Tita Marina was one batch higher than Tito Sim.

He was lanky; she was confident. And what started as a childhood romance ended at the altar — 55 years ago.

“They met in grade school. From an early age my dad already had a crush on my mom, having seen her during various school events,” revealed Jay Chavez, who is SVP/COO of EMS Inc., the youngest of the three siblings. He is also chairman of SVCC.

“They were born in the same month of the same year with Tatay only a few days older than Nanay. My Lola Juleng told my Tatay to pursue my Nanay because she was an outstanding student all her academic years. Tatay courted, too, Lola Choleng, Nanay’s mom, until he won them over,” recalls middle-child Jan, VP for academic and external affairs of SVCC. She is also a Philippine Army Reservist Officer and founding advisory council and core member of the AFP Leadership Development Center and the first female battalion commander of the 403rd Ready Reserve Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

“Tatay used to wait for Nanay at the kanto (corner street) with his bicycle to take Nanay home when they were newlyweds. They built extensions to their house themselves! Just the two of them. They were not afraid to labor with their hands. They sacrificed their own leisure to be able to provide more for us,” said Joel Chavez, the eldest in the brood. (Joel, SVCC board of trustee, is my childhood friend.)

At the blessing of the new SVCC building are (from left) Landbank manager John Axel Melendrez, STAR columnist and Miladay owner Christmas Dayrit, Marina and Sim Chavez and Lt. Col. George delos Angeles of the Philippine Army.

Joel added, “She was waiting for him outside the exam room when Tatay took his engineering board exam. She prepared his snack.”

Joel, Jan and Jay all agree that the best lessons they have learned from their parents include hard work, perseverance, the never-say-die attitude, and the tenacity to overcome any difficulty or challenges in life, with charity and compassion.

“It’s the acceptance of each other’s weaknesses, flaws and idiosyncrasies that makes their relationship work, that makes their marriage lasting. They always show loyalty and fidelity to each other,” adds Jan.

What does it mean to Tito Sim and Tita Marina’s three children that their parents have reached their emerald wedding anniversary?

“That marriage is truly a commitment. That faithfulness to the marriage vows is sacred and not to be broken come hell or high water. They both have made so many personal sacrifices to stay together so they can make a good life for their children and grandchildren. What they have accomplished together is no small feat. It is our duty to ensure the good name they have made throughout their lives is not stained,” Jan says.

“That they have reached their emerald anniversary means so much to the whole family. It teaches us that relationships can last and it inspires us to work on our own relationships,” says Jay.

“That they’ve reached 55 years of marriage means a lot to me. An act to emulate. I remember she requested that she wanted to get married again for their 50th wedding anniversary in Lourdes, France. It was not an easy request but I accompanied them and arranged for them to be married in France for their golden anniversary. It was a very solemn ceremony complete with wedding gown and bouquets and new rings to match,” says Joel.

Tito Sim and Tita Marina brimmed with delight as their three children helped them entertain guests at their 55th wedding anniversary celebration. There was merriment in their cadence as they walked from table to table to make sure their visitors were well attended to. And each threw a lovely glance at the other when their theme song, Love Me Tender, was played. There was tenderness. There was love.

“Our love for each other has not waned, not diminished,” said Tita Marina.

“Loyalty is key,” Tito Sim reiterated.

And the celebration of their 55th wedding anniversary was sealed with a loving, tender kiss.

(For your new beginnings, e-mail me at [email protected]. I’m also on Twitter @bum_tenorio and Instagram @bumtenorio. Have a blessed weekend.)


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