Bautista: Friends

All in Good Time

I PURSUED Joy from the very start. We were friends in the Science High, we were classmates. Fortunate for me she was the bright one, I, the talented one. Well, just give it to me for now.

It was in 1993 soon after I got back from my try in the States, when I would try to be friends again. Unemployed, I had the chance to court her traditionally. Not sure how it would be but I, together with my best friend from high school, Jhets, we would be in Joy’s place and do errands and some handiwork on her place. Yes, friends we were.

I would wash her car and feed her dogs, Jhets mostly does the harder stuff like carpentry. I was doing what I do best, cook. It was funny how I would cook for her and also be friends with her house help and teach her how to cook other dishes. At times her boyfriend was present to eat the food I prepared. Yes, she had a boyfriend. I didn’t mind. He said my food was good. There you go. He lost her then on, I would guess.

I would wait for her from work even until the wee hours especially for the month end. At times wet, at times cold. I wasn’t allowed to enter her workplace, a bank. The guards also wouldn’t let me wait inside. I waited by the alley of a motel just beside. A few stares from people passing by. We soon became friends with the guards. I became Ninong to their children later on.

We would ride the jeep heading home, no lines there were then, every Juan just rushing inside. Joy was good at it, I, would always let the ladies and elders first, too friendly. Before I knew it, it would be full, Joy and I won’t be seating together, many times.

I was soon told to just use her car to pick her up. My plan worked. She had the most beautiful dream car. Anyway, I was her driver. Eventually, we had planned on getting married after a year. It also took us another year to plan for it too.

What a joy it was to plan for such a thing. We both made the wedding by ourselves with the help of some teacher friends in school where I worked. But mostly just us two. We both chose our color and theme. I designed the gift giveaways, they were all different, I said I was the talented Juan. The veil and cord we both made. I think we had the best invitation.

Engr. Ton and his friends converted the hall into a chapel. I rented a tux for me and JB my best man, from a friend, both for 1,000 pesos, “presyong kainigan” or friendly price. My classroom was my dressing room. Seriously. I was just a teacher then. Joy’s gown was that of my mother, her very own wedding gown of 25 years ago. Something old, something borrowed.

My Dean, ma’am Rosario, prepared French Cuisine together with my co-teachers and baked our wedding cake. I taught in HRM. My friends also played wait-staff just for me. The food court and canteen was our reception venue. It was again converted into a ballroom. How my engineer friends did it I don’t know, but it was regal and elegant just like the hall. My professor in U.P., Sir Ven Raymundo donated all the table and flower arrangements even that of the hall. Joy’s bouquet were orchids from Davao.

Our friends, Ompong Tan and Ric Maniquis would offer themselves to document the whole affair. Today, they are two of the most talented photographers and expensive surely. As friends, they provided the service at far less the cost another cost saving for us. Pictures were most beautiful when we saw it. Friends indeed as it was difficult to book them and they also could have sent their staff for us but friends they were to personally do it for a friend. Wanda, another friend, did all the hair and make-up of all the ladies.

Ninongs were Senator Bert Romulo, dads friend, Joy’s boss in the bank, Sir Oca Alcid +, my dad’s best friend in BMI Rene Lopez and Mayor Domogan. Godmothers were Narda Capuyan +, Luz Asperin +, Dina Suer and Lynn Damoco, dads little sister. Just eight of them, I had color motif Parker Pens made just for them to remember us by. All were present, despite it being election year.

I drove a borrowed L300 from a friend from the bank were Joy worked, that ferried the whole entourage, I didn’t think about not seeing the bride, that was the only vehicle I had then. No wedding car or a driver friend, just me with the bridesmaids. We all drove up to the school campus just before the wedding and I dressed up in my classroom, just that moment.

The ceremony was beautiful as my mom had asked her friends from U.P. to lend the Wind Quartet to join us for this. A mini concert it actually was. It was not formal, it was jolly, it was very exciting, no drama, every Juan in the mood. Friends of Mom and Dad were all there.

Every Juan mentioned about how wonderful the sermon of the officiating priest was. Both I and Joy didn’t hear a single word as we were both chatting just about anything. The priest by the way was another friend, the VP of the University, Fr. Cris Puruganan, whom I had asked for permission to Bishop Salgado in Vigan, his friend. A school affair it definitely was.

Most if not all of my friends in UB and the Bautistas were present during that time. Even friends of Joy from her workplace all joined in. Every Juan all together from the VIPs to our maintenance and workforce in the school and of course mostly the teachers present for it. Friends all.

Again I had no money for a wedding planner or a budget for anything. I had a salary of 2,500 pesos a month. Seriously. And glad to have my friends helping out. Our wedding bands were provided for by my Ninong Gil and Lilia. The most expensive was the reception at P60,000 which was paid for by mom and dad. Drinks were donated by Ninong Ed Co, a friend of Asia Brewery and Rene Lopez, friends of San Miguel. There you go, friends.

The other friends had asked for another reception which we obliged, there was butchered pig, goat and dog also prepared by my friends. Gin was the preferred beverage for most of my friends who at that time just wanted to take part in the wedding. Friends who all transformed the hall and canteen to something special and some of my students who served my friends for this.

The Commander’s Cottage in Camp John Hay was offered for us for our honeymoon after, compliments of my dad’s friends, being the managing director at that time.

Many columnists should soon write about how wonderful an affair it would be despite how it came to being and how we did it with friends. Many were so amazed at what can be done without spending so much but doing it right and with the right group of friends.

First, I had courted Joy in the 80’s her answer to me was, let’s just be friends. After all these years, we’re still FRIENDS. And until death do us part. Playing in the background is our song by Mike Francis, FRIENDS.


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