Cresencio & Candida

NEW BEGINNINGS - Büm D. Tenorio Jr. - The Philippine Star
Cresencio & Candida
Cresencio O. Tenorio Sr. and Candida B. Dinulos were married on May 23, 1965 at the St. Polycarp Parish in Cabuyao, Laguna.
STAR/ File

They were not each other’s first love. But they were each other’s forever.

When my parents, Cresencio Sr. and Candida, got married on May 23, 1965, my father knew he would give his wife with whatever little he had. He was a farmer in his late thirties at the time; she, 20.

“On the eve of our wedding,” my mother told me in the vernacular, “he stole a kiss from me, on my cheek.” She blushed. (Even her blushing was captured in the more than three-hour video interview I took of her in 2020 while waiting for the pandemic to be over.) There was still a tone of innocence when she added that that was the first time a man had ever kissed her. Not even her ex of more than two years — the closest he got was putting his arms around her shoulders.

The stolen kiss was a perfect opportunity for her to intimate her thoughts to her future husband: “Ako lang dapat, walang iba. At kahit kailan ay hindi mo ko pagbubuhatan ng kamay (Let me be your one and only. And you will not hurt me, not even once),” she told him.

One sweet moment between the couple on Cresencio’s birthday in 2006.

“Matagal nang nanliligaw ang ama mo sa akin. Kahit may nobyo na ako ay sige pa rin siya sa panliligaw. Noon naman ay uso pa ring nililigawan ang babae kahit may boyfriend na. Kapag matino ang babae, hindi niya papansinin ang mga manliligaw niya (Your father had been courting me for a while. Even if he knew I already had a boyfriend. During my time, it was normal for a girl to be wooed by other men even if she was already in a relationship. If the woman was proper, she would not entertain her other suitors),” she said.

He saved P120 to give his bride a brand-new bespoke traje de boda. He rented a tuxedo. They even borrowed from the officiating priest in St. Polycarp Parish in Cabuyao the wedding rings they used in their exchange of vows.

“We had a celebration on the eve of our wedding. There was combo. Men and women were singing. I sang my songs. Your father sang, too,” my mother recalled. Batchoy and dinuguan were part of the feast.

“May ilang kaibigan ang tatay mo na may dalang baril. Binabantayan nila ang kasiyahan dahil may sabi-sabi nagagabutin ako ng isa kong manliligaw (Your father had some friends who were armed. They were tasked to oversee the celebration because there were talks that I would be taken away from your father by another suitor),” she recalled with a smile. Thankfully, no untoward incident took place that night.

On May 23, 1965, the day of the wedding, at 6 a.m., still sleepless from the night’s party, Candida, fair and beautiful, was being dolled up for the church ceremony.

“I just lost my mother months before the wedding and I grew nostalgic while my makeup was being done. My eldest sister Nenita had her own life because she married a year or two before me. My youngest brother Hando was still young and I brought him with me to Gulod for a while when I married your father,” she said.

By 8:30 a.m., the bridal car, borrowed from a ninong, was already in front of their house, whose silong was refurbished by my father with bamboo slats so it would not be bare. It was my father who spearheaded the construction of the silong as part of his pamamanhikan days before the wedding.

“Kahit tapayan ng mga kapit-bahay namin ay inigiban niya at ng mga kabigan niya ng tubig para manilbihan (He and his friends served us well before the wedding that they even filled up the earthen jars of our neighbors),” she recalled.

By 9 a.m., Candida, the blushing bride, was walking down the long aisle of the church. Her immaculate satin wedding gown contrasted with the red tint on her lips “that tasted like chocolate.”

At 11 a.m., their guests were savoring the sumptuousness of hamonado and menudo, among other fare. Reception was held in front of the house of my mother where long tables were put together with coconut fronds as perimeter design.

“Dalawang malalaking baboy ang inihanda ng Tatay mo sa kasal namin. Halos buong Putol (the barrio in Cabuyao now called San Isidro, where my mother was from) ay dumalo (Your father brought two big pigs for the wedding reception. Almost everybody from Putol attended),” she recalled.

After lunch, the newlywed couple rode the bridal car en route to Gulod, where Cresencio  would make his home for his Candida.

Along the way, as it was customary in those days in the barrio, their bridal car was stopped a few times by men and women on the road. They would block the car with a long bench, eager to see the bride.

“Masaya ang okasyon. Dudungaw sila sa bintana. ‘Ang gandang asawa ni Ising,’ sabi nila habang pinapalakpakan nila kami. Hindi lamang tatlong beses kaming huminto sa kalsada. Kay hahaba ng mga bangkong pangharang nila. Bawat hinto, aabutan kami ng Pepsi o ng Mirinda (It was a happy occasion. The bystanders would peek at us from the outside. ‘Ising’s wife is beautiful,’ they would say while clapping their hands. We were stopped on the road more than three times. The benches they used to block our way were long. In every stop, we would be offered Pepsi or Mirinda).”

When they reached Gulod, another reception was waiting in the house of the groom. It was meant for those who were not able to make it to the reception in the house of the bride.

“Pinaghandaan talaga ng Tatay mo ang kasal namin (Your father really prepared for our wedding),” Candida said, adding that a matching black-and-white checkered blouse and skirt were her change of clothes at the makeshift room of the couple in the house of the groom’s parents.

“Mabait sa akin ang mga biyenan ko—ang Lola Ilay at Lolo Doro mo. Nakisama akong mahusay. Pinakisamahan din nilaako ng matiwasay. Ni minsan hindi kami nag-away (My in-laws were kind to me — your Lola Ilay and Lolo Doro. I lived with them peacefully. They treated me kindly. We never fought, not even once).”

She laughed: “Noong hapon na, noong nag-alisan na ang mgabisita, kurebdeb na dibdib ko. Hindi ko alam kung anong mangayayari sa darating na gabi (When it was already late afternoon, when all the guests had left, I was very nervous. I did not know exactly what would happen that night).”

And it has been 59 years since the Dinulos-Tenorio nuptials took place. Both my parents are in heaven now — my father in 2010; my mother last year, two days before their wedding anniversary — and I recall with fondness how beautiful their marriage was. So beautiful that even when my father passed away, my mother would never forget to halve her McDonald’s burger; the bigger share she placed on top of her husband’s tomb, with a song and a prayer.

I will keep on talking about my parents because I am afraid to forget them, knowing that time can ravage memories. To remember Cresencio Sr. and Candida is to celebrate me, and what I have become because of them. Gratitude and memories are allies. I will always talk about them fondly.

The love story of my parents is still the best romantic tale I know. Happy 59th wedding anniversary, ‘Mang and ‘Pang. *

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