Couple gives honeymoon funds to quake victims-A A +A
By Januar Yap
Monday, October 21, 2013
ONLY a few months ago, Benjie Oliva, 31, went to Our Lady of Assumption Shrine in Dauis, Bohol. The church housed a wishing well peculiarly placed on the altar platform, and Benjie had one wish to toss into the well.
Another reason was that, a sympathetic friend of a colleague at the DA main office who he had been pursuing for a year tipped him that the latter was set for a Bohol trip with her clique. The lady, Joan Jagonos, 34, is Benjie’s townmate, and it seemed he needed to do more than sending anonymous flowers to her on a string of occasions. He had not been noticed, or Joan might have sent the message down pat by not acknowledging his gestures.
Benjie thought he needed divine intervention, and the church in Dauis has that portal of possibilities. When Benjie played host to Joan’s clique, he simply tucked the church in the itinerary.
Since then, true enough, God’s subtle ways gave him work assignments that allowed him to work closely with Joan. He seized the chance, and eventually persuaded her to a vacation in Batanes, although the trip extended to Boracay and it was there where he deployed all he could to overwhelm Joan into finally saying yes to him.
He took Joan to a walk on the beach and cornered the conversation into the topic of boats. Joan pointed at four outriggers strangely positioned before them, and right on cue, the boats each unfurled their sails with the words “Will,” “You,” “Marry” and “Me.” The rest was history.
They were to be wed on the afternoon of Oct. 19, but like Benjie’s courtship, it appears the rites may take a longer turn. Tuesday, Oct. 15, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocked a number of Visayan islands, with Bohol hosting the epicenter.
“That morning over breakfast, we were just talking about our preparations. My first reaction was I thought there was something wrong with my blood pressure,” said Benjie when he felt the tremors.
Benjie rushed to check the Dauis church and saw it was severely damaged. He checked the other churches, but they were in similar state.
“Maybe it’s God’s plan that we move it by the first week of December,” said Benjie. It was Joan’s first idea to have a December wedding, but Benjie thought their sponsors, which included a number of top officials in government, might be busy during the holidays.
“But it’s so hard to celebrate joyfully when our fellow Boholanos are suffering. How can we smile before the cameras? So it’s really hard,” said Joan.
Had the wedding pushed through, they were supposed to leave today for Sydney. That, too, has to change, and last Friday, they initially shelled P5,000 for the parish in Tagbilaran, which urgently needed it for relief operations.
“And then we bought food amounting to P55,000 for Catigbian. We also had the help of our entourage who also donated some money. Some of those were supposed to be their gifts to us, but we used it for the relief operations,” said Benjie.
Catigbian is one of the hardest-hit inland towns in Bohol.
Benjie and Joan had made the rounds asking residents in badly-hit towns in Bohol their urgent needs, and the couple would be back the following day with whatever they can carry on their pickup. Saturday last week, they went to Calape, Bohol to deliver relief goods.
“We also went to radio station DYRD to personally hand over to their station manager Peter Dejaresco a sum of P10,000, for the relief efforts,” said Benjie.
“The incident itself is, for me, a test of character. It’s about how sensitive you are as a Boholano. You celebrate for yourself, for your future wife and yet there is a calamity happening.
Our judgment is still based on our faith, our conscience, and based on our being Boholano by nature,” said Benjie.
“No argument,” said Joan, “we both decided on this.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 21, 2013.