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What People Remember (and Praised) about our Wedding

Most newlywed or engaged couples would advise that come wedding day everything that was prepared for should be entrusted to God — “to let go and let God”. However, our take on this is that we should not only trust God on “the day” itself. We can always start with God from Day 1 of everything. I believe the reason why my husband and I had a beautiful wedding is because we lift everything to God from the start. We wanted to give God the spotlight on our big day because that’s a wedding should be. A wedding is not just about the bride and groom but also God who binds the two. Thus, the verse used commonly referenced during weddings,

A cord of three strands cannot easily broken. –  Ecclesiastes 4:12

The three strands represent God, the bride, and the groom. Sadly, with all the wedding trends that we have these days, God is commonly taken out of the big picture. 😦

My husband and I can only plan the wedding well, but it cannot be executed without the generosity, prayers, and labor of love from our ministry, friends, and families and the grace of God.

We chose the best suppliers we can afford and compromised on the things that we can. We may not be millionaires to afford such a wedding, but we believe that we are children of God, thus we know (and acted) in faith that we can pull off such a lovely wedding.

The following are the 6 things that people remember most and praised about our wedding:

1. The PLACE

We had our wedding preparations, ceremony, cocktails, and reception all in one place. Since our wedding falls on a Monday, we chose a place that’s near and convenient to our friends and families coming mostly from Metro Manila.

We booked Farm Hills Garden in Tagaytay way back February 2018 when the place was not completely developed yet. We booked it at first sight. Why? Because it is naturally lovely! The pine trees, the interior designs, the greenery, every little thing and corner is IG-worthy in Farm Hills. Their villas are themed per room (Scandinavian, Rustic, Tropical, Industrial, etc.) We stayed in five of their 12 villas, and everyone just loved their stay in the place. As to the ceremony area, the garden is plain and simple but is more than enough. Simplicity is beauty, always. For the pavilion and its styling, it was simply classy.

After the wedding, friends who see the photos and videos of our wedding said that the place is beautiful and picturesque. Those present in the wedding praised us for choosing the place. Some friends even want to have their weddings there too. Days after our wedding, our AE, Geanne, informed us that there are inquiries and ocular visits already for their place from people connected to us.

 

 

2. The PAGKAIN (FOOD)

This is definitely one of the things that guests will remember about the wedding, that’s why we made sure that the guests will remember ours in a positive way, and thankfully they did. The place and the catering are a package from Farm Hills Garden. The in-house chef, Chef Ryan,cooks deliciously well that each of our guests praised us for the food that was served. Not only the food taste good but the serving was generous too. Guests said that we never made them hungry from the cocktails to the dinner. Months after the wedding, some of my friends still cannot get over the menu of the wedding; they are even considering Chef Ryan to cater to their future events.

We are truly grateful that God led us to Farm Hills Garden. Up to the moment of writing this, the memory of my then fiancé holding my hand as we pray while scouting for a venue is still fresh with me. Truly, God was there with us from the start.

3. The PHOTOS & VIDEOS

We acted in faith and wisdom in this matter. We needed wisdom in this because the photos and videos are non-negotiable and non-compromising elements for us, and we definitely acted in faith knowing that we needed a lot of money for this.

While celebrity weddings are covered by creative teams amounting to almost half a million pesos, we spent only a hundred thousand pesos for our photos and videos. We didn’t get the top names in the wedding industry but we chose those who are best in their crafts. The price we paid may still be expensive for others and cheap for some. But, the shoot and the output was all worth it! Everyone who watched our AVPs and SDEs praised the photos and video. Until now, the views on our SDE keep on increasing. I guess our SDE is so awesome to the point that it is being used now as an advertisement by Vidlens.

More importantly, our friends, families, and guests loved working with the photo and Video team. They were not just professionals but they also acted out as friends.

Photo team: Ram Marcelo Photography

Video team: Vidlens

Ram Marcelo PhotographyRam Marcelo Photography

4. The PEOPLE

We only had 100 guests! But, Julius did not want the photo and video teams to eat crew meals, so the 16 of them were counted as well for the buffet, thus making our guests count to 116. Nowadays, 100 guests are already considered intimate, so everyone praised us for still keeping an intimate one. Our guests praised the wedding for the kind and polite volunteer coordinators, the superb service from the staff of Farm Hills Garden, the ever-friendly photographers/videographers (this is a must, so choose your photo/videographers wisely), and our cooperative entourage.

Truly, we can say that our wedding is beautiful not because it was our own, but because it was a celebration of our lives and love with the people who chose to celebrate with us and helped us make it beautiful.

Co-planner & Coordinator: Dara Obog

Host: Jeff dela Cruz

5. The POETIC Vows and Songs

Our friends from the Music Ministry were volunteer musicians for our wedding.

“Wala na. Finish na!”, were their words when I told them what songs we would like them to play. The singer and the musicians all agreed that the line-up of Danao and Dancel was amazing. When I walked down the aisle with Ebe’s Bawat Daan, even the singer started to cry. Our theme song, Hanggang Wala ng Bukas was also played at the recessional. I also made sure that the songs played on the wedding will be the same songs on the SDEs. After the wedding, my friends from UP said that it was such an Ebe Dancel soundtrack wedding. The songs added all the feels.

Wedding Singer: Princess Royon

Musicians: Joseph, Aaron, and Archie

The poet in me was also unleashed in my wedding vow. After the wedding, our friends (specially brothers in Christ) said that the Tagalog vows were amazing and truly remarkable. I still receive compliments until now, and I like that most of them were able to memorize some of the lines. The most favorite was,

Mahal, hindi mo kailangang magpaka-bayani, dahil simula ngayon, ikaw na ang aking bayan; pagsisilbihan kita at ipaglalaban.

Ram Marcelo Photography

6. The PREACHING

Yes! You’ve read that right – the preaching on our wedding ceremony was praised by our guests. While some couples do not give much importance on what will be preached on their big day and some guests do not pay much attention to the ceremony at all, we made sure that God will be glorified in every event of our wedding. Amazingly, almost every guest said that they loved the preaching on our wedding ceremony. God’s Words were highlighted on our big day!

Officiating Minister: Pastor Ryan Gidor of Victory Christian Fellowship – Alabang

At the end of the celebration, we are forever thankful not only because we were blessed with a beautiful wedding but because we were able to give the glory to God – the One who deserves all the praises for our wedding.

Ram Marcelo Photography

Our wedding is not just about our union but a day that glorifies the Lord, the Author of our love story.

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Pray for a Man who Prays

I’m writing this as I’m about to sleep after being prayed over by my fiancé on the phone. My heart is so full, that I just can’t contain how blessed I am to have someone praying for me and with me.

Exactly a month ago, my fiancé went back to his original mission assignment. Ever since the day he left, there is no morning that he missed waking me up with words of encouragement; there is no day that he missed saying “I prayed for you, Mahal”; and there is no night that he did not pray for me over the phone.

I’m not a prayerful woman. In fact, if there’s a ministry in church that I can’t join in that would be the intercessory. I’m not into lengthy prayers. I did not set a specific time for prayers, neither carry with me a list of prayers and petitions. But, I do make sure that I get to have a quiet time to pray and talk to God intently everyday.

Things changed when I started dating out my fiancé. With his line of work, as a Police Officer, I have become prayerful. I need to be his prayer warrior. But more than that, he is leading me closer to God, and I believe it’s enough reason to pray even more.

I’m also not a patient woman. I would easily lose my temper and snap over petty things. One time we were caught in a very stressful situation. I started ranting, complaining, and saying things negatively at my fiancé. Instead of firing back, he held my hand and started praying. I don’t know how to respond to that. Our situation turned upside down. I can’t help but thank him for pointing my focus back to God and not on our circumstances.

I like my fiancé’s cheesy lines, but I love his prayers more. Kilig will fade, but faith and love remains.

When things get tough, a man’s muscles will not guarantee his strength to carry on. But, a man’s faith is an assurance that he will not be shaken.

If you would ask me if I have a “prayerful” characteristic in my husband-to-be checklist, the answer is “no”. Shame on me. But, I’m thankful that God gave me the things I didn’t ask for in a man.

Ladies and Gents, don’t be like me; pray for someone who prays.

Prayer is the way we communicate to God. Isn’t it amazing to have someone who talks to God concerning you?

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Of Asking What’s Wrong to Finding What’s Right

I’ve been wondering for so many years what’s wrong with me why I’m not in a serious romantic relationship when most girls and women my age are getting engaged, married, and having babies.

I asked myself countless of times, “Pangit ba ako? or Super taba ko na ba?” I’ve been trying to comfort myself with the words, “Matalino naman ako, mabait, at malambing. Masaya din naman ako kasama.” How come I’m not committed yet?

At times I get so used to the idea that being single is fun. I can actually date any guy who would ask me out. I have no commitments. I own my time. I do not have anyone to think of or care about aside from my strong, independent, and stubborn self. But, this train of thoughts do not soothe the longing to be in a relationship and the desire of having someone to have and to hold.

I became a hopeful romantic…

Everywhere I go, I welcome the idea of finding my one true love. I thought of meeting him in a bus or plane ride. Every mountain I hike becomes an easy climb with the thought that maybe he is already there at the peak. Every island is a paradise with the thought that maybe he is also there wandering and looking for me.

I waited, prayed, gave up, stumbled, prayed, and waited again. For years, I was thinking of what I have done wrong, or what’s wrong with me, or if I was looking at the wrong places. In this cycle, God made me see that there is nothing wrong with me, it’s just that it wasn’t the right time yet.

For 8 years, from 2009 to 2016, I have included “to be pursued by a man and be in a relationship” in my faith goals. Every prayer and fasting, I asked God for someone to love and to be loved in return.

Until 2017 came, I intentionally not include being in a relationship in my faith goals, not because I gave up on it or I lose my faith already, but because God impressed on me that getting married and having a family of my own is His plan and promise for my life. So, I don’t have to beg Him for it rather I should trust in His timing.

Lo and behold, when I least expect it, when I thought that the year is ending again and I’m still not in a relationship, and just when I gave up searching for love, love found me.

God moves mysteriously.

God has brought him to me at the right place and the best time possible. He is God’s gift to me, delivered just outside our home on my 28th birthday (literally).

Looking back on why our paths haven’t crossed before…

I started hiking way back 2012 with Mt. Pulag in Benguet as my first mountain while he was busy toiling their land on the other side of the mountain province. That was the closest chance I could get to meet him, if left to my own will and strength. I visited several islands and dive seas, while he was somewhere in the other part of the ocean, training as a diver. I ride commercial bus and planes, while he ride military/police service transportation. He has never been on an island for leisure but he was training in the forests. Most of my time were spent traveling here and there while he spent most of his inside their barracks. There is little to no chance of meeting each other if we will look at it in our own situations and differences.

But, God has His own ways of bringing us together.

Who would have thought that in this archipelagic nation of 7,641 islands, the two of us will share a seat under a beautiful night sky? I still can’t fathom how a man from the mountains of Ifugao (him) and a woman from a penal colony in Davao (me) found our ways to each other. I haven’t computed how many islands have separated us before or how many miles there is, but there’s one thing I know and that is – the world is too small in God’s great and gracious hands.

I’m grateful that as God took our hands, He leads him to me and I to him, so we can have and hold each other’s hands.

[10-27-17 Our first picture together taken after our first jogging around Sunken Garden. This is truly an answered prayer, for I have long been asking God to send someone who will run with me at night.]

God is indeed the One behind every best love story written. I can’t write our own story yet for we are only in the first chapters, but I am sure and is at peace that God has prepared the best plot for us two.

Both of us weren’t totally faithful in our individual seasons of waiting, but God is faithful to lead us to each other, just as He planned it.

I hope that as you read this, most especially if you are a single person, you will be more faithful to God and His perfect plans for your life. Remember that His promises come in His own ways and in His appointed time. He will make all things beautiful in His time.

Trust God in the waiting, in the weeping, in the wandering, and even in your past wrongdoings. Know that He alone can turn the wrongs to rights. He works wonders and writes the best love stories. Allow Him to author yours. 😍

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Let’s talk about Murder

War there. Killing here.

Corpse there. Bullets here.

Evidence there. Drugs here.

What made killings and illegal drugs so rampant and popular these days is that we are officially talking about it. Illegal drugs and injustice has long been an issue of our country. But, we only talked about it out in the open when the elected-President speaks about it like it is a common, usual topic. He talks about killing people like it is a normal thing to do.

BUT, isn’t it really normal?

Even before he won, there were killings everywhere, but we don’t talk about it. The media doesn’t put it on the headlines. We’re not informed about it, so we can not talk about it. We were silent.

How many innocent blood have been shed and lives lost that we have not heard of? How many children, mother, father, and old people who died a tragic death but were not mourned and prayed for? How many families cried for justice but were never heard in the past years and even decades?

Yet, we scream now #SILENTNOMORE

Why only now?

Where were us when the Prison Guards of Bilibid where shoot down by gunmen hired by those rich druglords in prison? Where were us when fathers raped their daughters and mothers sold their children to foreigners? Where were us when bodies were chopped and thrown in the ocean or locked in a luggage? Did we mourn for them? Did we cry foul? Did we say ‘enough’? Did we even blame anyone for it?

If we look at our crime rates, we can probably enumerate a lot of instances that we have been silent for the past decades, yet we only speak now.

During his presidential campaign, Mr.President said that if ever he wins, “it’s gonna be bloody”, and so it is now. It’s bloody because we can openly see it, hear about it and talk about it. Killings do not happen in the dark and shootings are not done in secluded areas anymore. Public areas such as malls, highways, streets, and homes are now the murder arena. There are bodies left dead out in the open. There are those who were killed and are mourned by a number of Filipinos because “we are silent no more”.

If we can talk about it in the open, then openly and collectively, we can address it. We are not to tolerate murder (because it appears to be normal now), rather we can confront it straight to the eye and condemned it as a sin, a thing that only the devil does.

Let’s talk about murder. Isn’t it what God has done when he faced Cain? He knows what Cain did, but He still asked of his brother. Do you think God was not there when Cain murdered Abel? God was there, but He also wants to hear it out from Cain, himself.

How about us? Aren’t we supposed to be talking about the murders of our brothers?

I just hope that before we open our mouths to be silent no more, may we also remember the deaths of those who do not make it to the news and our knowlege.

May we not neglect the fact that we are our brothers keepers and that the things we did to them and what we failed to do for them are still our accountability to God.

May we not blame one man alone, just because he was the first one to talk about this in public. You can call me bias, but this is a democratic country with millions of people who are supposed to be responsible for each other.

May we all remember that it is the Lord who gives and takes away life. He is the Author of everything. He allowed such things to happen from appointing the President to what’s happening in our country today. He was, is, and will always be in control.

This is not just the time to be silent no more, but this is the time that we confess our sins – a thing that Cain failed to do, even when God asked him to.

God said…

“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” -2 Chronicles 7:14

Photo grabbed from Google images

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Chase and Catch

Allow me to be very open with you (in this post), folks. The past years were tough in the area of dating and relationships with the opposite sex. Being beautiful, faithful and successful (ehem) has a very high toll you know. People are expecting me to be dating good men, but sadly, I didn’t. I failed in that area. 

Never heard about this, eh? ‘Coz I don’t post it on social media. 😂  Since I am secretive and proud, I’m not the kind who would share what I’m going through with anyone (until I stumbled). I won’t go into details about these past experiences and hurts of mine, but I’ll share with you what I learned (the hard way) in this area.

1. Never ever let your guard down. I learned this in Muay Thai, but I failed to apply it in practice. I keep on saying my heart was guarded, not knowing that my heart have already been opened wide and ready to be torn apart. I thought I was still guarded even after the first date, but nah, I let my guard down the moment I first replied with a “Hi” and stayed up late for midnight chats. 😂 Save yourself from heartaches and eyebags. Be with someone who would take time to talk with you eye-to-eye rather than someone who will cause additional weight to your eyebags. You are meant to be protected!

2. Never ever run a race not worth running. If it is not worth it, stop. I can run for hours in the treadmill ‘coz its for my fitness. But, running after someone? No way! Do you think God will be pleased seeing you run after a frog when there are princes available around? You are meant to be pursued!

3. Never ever pursue what is not meant for you. How did I know that it was not meant for me? I asked God, though I should have asked God first before I put on that running shoes and had that first step (but still it was better late than never). You are meant to obey God!

4. Never ever hold on to what is meant to be let go of. How will I know that it is already time to let go? Ask what will make God smile, running away or staying? I chose the former, and I can feel God’s pleasure when I did that. You are meant to be free from worry and pain!

5. Never ever attach yourself to temporary things, choose what will stay. I loved the “goodmornings” and “goodnights” messages, but I’d rather say “goodbye” than settle for what I know is not meant to last. You are meant to be loved forever!

6. Never ever settle for an “almost” and a “maybe”, choose what is “always” and “sure”. Do I even have to explain this? 😂 But seriously, don’t settle for what will make you wonder (and worry) about your future. Be with someone who you can see and build your future around with. You are meant to be secured!

7. Never ever settle for the pressure around you. If you are 27 and surrounded by older people, you will receive daily unwelcome advices. Just know when (and who) to listen! You are meant for God’s best at God’s perfect time, so don’t be pressured by others’ opinion and your biological clock!

Again, I’ve learned these things the hard way, and (after a haircut) I am now moving on and okay again for dating, hoping that this time I’ll do it right. I hope this post helps you. 😊

P.S. Remember what they say about having so many fish in the ocean? You are not the one supposed to chase and catch the fish. You are one of those fish. You are meant to be braved the waters with and to be patiently catched! You are a good catch, darling. (Just be careful with the baits. 😉)

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The God of my pain

A week ago, I witnessed another awesome creation of God in Nagsasa Cove, Zambales. Everything in that place was picturesque. The sunset, the sea, the rock formations, the surrounding mountains, the pine trees, and the skyline were nothing less than perfect. In this paradise, my heart never fails to declare how great and awesome my God is. How majestic are the works of His hands. In fact, I wasn’t able to count how many times I sang Cris Tomlin’s Indescribable and Hillsong’s Oceans.
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It is indeed very easy to worship God when we are in a place of paradise, when our wallets are full, when we are promoted at work or received a raise, whenever we are with our loved ones, or when we have what we’ve been praying for. When everything goes according to plan, we say, “God is good!”

But, how about when we are faced with difficulties, when we lose a job or a loved one, when the place where we are feels like hell, filled with torment and pain? Would it be easy to say, “God is good!” Or, will we be the ones who ask, “Where is God in my suffering?”

Before we reached Zambales, I was already having an intermittent abdominal pain and throbbing headaches. I tried to self-medicate with analgesics, but to no avail. On our way home Saturday noon, I had a worst headache followed by rounds of vomiting.

I was strong, just as what I thought, but Tuesday came and my tummy aches worsened. I cannot stand straight neither walk properly because of the pain. I endured until Thursday night, the pain along abdomen area was excruciating, my headaches are overwhelming that I cannot even move around my bed. On Friday morning, I decided that I’ll go to the hospital and have this pain checked. My whole abdomen underwent an ultrasound, my heart had a 2D-echo, my urine was tested and follow up tests were scheduled. I was given Proton-Pump Inhibitors as medicines, but still the pain persists.

A week of enduring such an excruciating pain was too much for my body. But, I smiled at the thought that I wasn’t asking where is God in this suffering. It didn’t crossed my mind that maybe God was punishing me or God was teaching me a lesson.

What came and assured me is that God is here inside me. He is worshiped, honored and revered, even in my pain. If someone would ask me, “Where is God when I was in such a pain?” My reply would be, “God is the God of my pain.”  

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. – Isaiah 53:4

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In my strength and in my weakness, God is God. My pain won’t diminish His greatness over my life. In my pleasures and in my pains, I will lift my hands to declare His goodness and love.

Just today, my ultrasound results (from last Friday) show normal internal organs. I’m still waiting for my heart and blood works result. There are still series of tests scheduled to be done on my body. My illness is still to be ruled out. I’m a bit okay now, but there are still the constant visits of pain. My medicines already doubled. But, as I believed, “God is the God of this pain. He is in control and He will always be. What will I fear?”  

GOD IS GOOD, not just in the good times, but ALL THE TIME!

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On Beauty and Compliments (and not to mention Hormones).

We, GIRLS, feel low at times especially when hormones are spiking and fluctuating; mood swings just come out of nowhere no matter how  we try to control it. And, even though I am secured with my beauty and figure believing that I am fearfully and wonderfully made still I have this “I feel so fat,” and “I’m so ugly.. Grrr!” days.

While I’m down with fever, headache, and flu (blame it with the heat as I travel to work at noon and uncontrolled AC in the office + hormones), someone gave me a compliment that made me feel elated. It was my REAL dad who commented on my picture in FB (the 1st comment below) just when I feel so guilty for eating too much these past few days.

My dad and I just met once and that was a decade ago, so he really doesn’t know what I look like in person, but He can say that I am beautiful (oh well, I’m his daughter!).

My dad somehow made me feel so beautiful by his comments, but I believe I really do not need those, for I should be secured on what my Father in heaven said, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  –  1 Peter 3:3-4

I must have a gentle and quiet spirit so that I may be fully secured on who I am and Who is in me that will make me feel really beautiful; this includes mastering over my emotions, hormonal changes, and guilt plus more time with the source of all beauty – God.

Moreover, I really don’t need praises every day or reassurance that I am beautiful nor compliments to flatter me, for my Father in Heaven said,  “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30

My fathers are right; I am beautiful, and I should never grow weary with that fact.  I don’t have to be praised every moment of my life, my fathers’  words are enough. After all, who I am including my beauty is created not just to please the woman I see in the mirror and the people around me, but the One who created me.

Let the King be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for He is your Lord. – Psalm 45: 11