Earthquake bride gets her wedding wish-A A +A
Thursday, October 17, 2013
CEBU CITY -- Dream weddings don’t happen easily.
It took Julie Ann Advincula over a year to prepare for her dream wedding in Cebu City, making countless calls and e-mails from her home base in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to make sure everything goes as planned.
Even their honeymoon in Bohol, scheduled for a few days after their wedding, was already set.
What the Advincula couple was not prepared for was a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that would make their wedding unforgettable.
Julie Ann woke up at 2:30 a.m. last Tuesday to have enough time for make-up and pictorials before the wedding ceremony at 9 a.m.
But at 8:12 a.m., when she was about to step out of the Mandarin Hotel’s elevator with her flower girls and bearers, the ground shook violently, sending everyone in a panic.
They ran to the nearest stairs to go out of the hotel, only to find that heavy chandeliers lined the ceiling above the stairway.
“Maoy pag-open sa door when it started shaking. I felt we were trapped because if we go down the stairs, the chandeliers could fall on us, but we also could not take the lift. I felt so helpless because I could not run in my gown and heels. I was with these children and I felt I was responsible for them. All I could do was kneel and pray to God to keep us safe,” she told Sun.Star Cebu.
Julie Ann, an accountant based in Ras Al-Khaimah in the UAE, said she was worried about her family, especially her mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer recently.
Weeks before flying home to Cebu for their wedding, she also lost her wedding ring.
Her husband Ozaman also almost lost his boarding pass for his flight to Cebu.
“Feeling nako end na to siya, that was it. But a part of me also believed that it could not be the end. After all the unfortunate incidents before our wedding, this is just another trial that we will overcome,” an emotional Julie Ann said.
Just the beginning
On the 16th floor of the hotel, Ozaman was with his groomsmen waiting for their turn to leave for the church. It was a special day for him since he was also celebrating his 33rd birthday.
Like everyone else in the building, they feared for their life when the room started to move. As soon as it stopped, they ran down the stairs until they reached the ground floor, leaving their belongings behind and the room door open.
“All I was thinking was dapat madayon ang kasal… Communication lines were dead and we could not contact each other. We ended up on the sidewalk outside the hotel. When we got to the church, it was worse. The stained glass windows were shattered and the debris was all over the floor. We had to transfer to a nearby chapel,” wedding planner Otep Arnejo said.
Aftershocks were felt throughout the ceremony, leaving the couple and their guests anxious. Even the priest had to pause several times to appease everyone.
As if the couple’s worries were not enough, their reception venue closed shortly after the earthquake and everyone was refused entry when they arrived.
Julie Ann said this was the most difficult part for her, since she was asked to sign a waiver stating that the club management will not be held liable if anything happens during the reception.
She said she did not want to sign the document, “but in the end, I entrusted everything to God, that everything will be okay.”
“Despite what happened, I did not consider postponing the wedding. I felt there was more reason to proceed because I knew God will not forsake us… Everything that happened, we considered it as God’s message that not even an earthquake can break our bond as husband and wife,” Julie Ann added.
However, they had to cancel their honeymoon in Bohol, where the epicenter of the earthquake was.
Honeymoon at the oval
Traumatized by the events, the Advincula couple and their family refused to go back to their hotel rooms, which were already booked for several nights.
They had all their belongings delivered to them at the lobby and everyone left to transfer to pension houses in downtown Cebu City.
Restless throughout the night, they decided to camp out at the Cebu City Sports Center oval, bringing with them one whole lechon and other leftover food from the reception to celebrate Ozaman’s birthday.
At the start of their wedding planning, Julie Ann asked her wedding coordinator only one thing—to make their wedding simple and memorable.
“No one can forget our wedding day. It’s proof that if we just have faith in God, He will not leave us, and that nothing is impossible if we just believe in Him,” she said.
Julie Ann said she got what she wished for—a memorable wedding day. She just didn’t expect that a 7.2 magnitude earthquake would make it so.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 17, 2013.