January 5, 2008

The Reception

If you can get to the church, you won't have to worry about getting to the reception. It's right next door, as in.. you will just cross the street (alley, actually). The restaurant, Baladin Rive Gauche, is a family-owned place that serves traditional French fare.

Nina's cousin, Ate Imee says, the attitude of most French chefs is, "What I serve, you eat!" And while many of us who love salt, pepper, ketchup, kalamansi, toyo and suka with our food may have a problem with this -- well, the chef is usually right.

We really wanted to give everyone a taste of traditional French fare so we really, really hope you enjoy the dinner.

Oh, and aside from the food, we hope you'll enjoy the music. The place is also a jazz bar so we'll have a jazz band performing that night. So aside from an empty stomach, please bring your dancing shoes.

January 4, 2008

The Church

Join us as we exchange our vows at the Church of Saint-Séverin in Paris.

The church is located in the 5th arrondisment of Paris, in the Latin Quarter. This is a very lively touristy area which is closed to traffic, so everyone will be walking and peering into the many quaint bistros and restaurants the area is famous for.

Saint-Séverin is one of the oldest churches that remain standing on the Left Bank of the Seine and is just a stone's throw away from Notre Dame Cathedral.

It has all the elements of a Gothic church...

Stained glass windows...

Vaulted ceilings....

and of course it won't be complete without the friendly neighborhood gargoyle (or is this a gryphon?).

The church is named after Severin, a 6th-century hermit, who was closely associated with St. Martin, the patron saint of travelers. Parishioners used to hang horseshoes here as a sign of thanksgiving for their safe return from a journey.

The exact address is 1, rue des Prêtres-Saint-Séverin, Paris, and the closest Metro station is the Saint-Michel station.

January 2, 2008

Parisian Life

"Ah, oui! La vie ça passe comme ça!"

Ah, yes! Life passes (through) that way. She knows exactly what she wants to say, my little four-year-old niece, Elisa. She’s not the usual kid. She loves bugs, spiders, grasshoppers, beetles, butterflies, you name it. She would scoop them tenderly in her dainty hands… talk to them in her own language… then set them free. Other kids would either scream, cringe or run away in fear, while others would give them the smack a.k.a. cruel death sentence, or the usual life(less) imprisonment. I was guilty of all those when I was a kid who didn't know any better. But Elisa… she is something else.

She knows life is more than playing with Dora, Hello Kitty or Eloise. In fact, she doesn’t play much with her collection of toys. She would rather go out in the park, pick up stones to add to her collection, and run! Boy can she run like a bullet! And she has the perfect runner’s form! One time she ran (and didn’t stop) from her house to their car which was parked almost 2 kilometers away. She reached the car sweating like a pig, “Whew! I’m so tired but I feel good!”

Feeling good also involves doing... wild and dangerous things. Well.. just, as her mum would say, a tid bit. Like goin down the slide head first. That’s when you’re looking.
She loves laughing and goofing around. She makes you taste something that she thinks looks like sugar, and says IT IS sugar… but turns out to be salt. You play along and she bursts into that perfect hearty, kiddie, Elisa laughter. Ahh… salt is sweet!

But just as she is loko-loko, she is also reasonable. One night her dad gave her a toy catalogue so she could encircle the gifts she would want to receive for Christmas. One particular toy caught her eye and she asked her dad if it was expensive. It was 149 euros. Her dad reluctantly said yes. She immediately flipped the page and said, “Never mind!” That’s my girl!

Oh but she also has her bad moments, when she’s sleepy or when her 6 year old brother Nicolas teases her. But nothing like tantrums. Brother and sister are unbelievably good kids.

Of course the apple never falls far from the tree. Mom is a cool, sporty, intellectual activist turned full-time home-maker. She was a peace corps volunteer who's done tours of duty in places like Thailand, Africa and war-time Bosnia. Not to mention she’s a hell of a good cook. Gourmet, mind you.

Dad is a hotshot consultant in Paris -- but at home, he’s the coolest, funnest, most playful, laugh-out-loud dad. He would run with them, dance with them, bake with them, and at night, he would read them stories.

But while mom and dad share everything with the kids, the best part is that they also let them be. They let them laugh, run, explore, fall, get a "tid bit" of scrapes and bruises if they must. It’s all good!

Life is good, but when it all comes down to it, for Elisa, it’s not as simple as saying, “C’est la Vie!”

January 1, 2008


All I wanted was a private wedding proposal, just the TWO of us. Vince knew that. And knowing Vince, I knew he wanted the same thing. So how in the world did he ever come to proposing, kneeling down and asking me to marry him, in front of all his relatives at a family reunion on Christmas eve?

I wanted to disappear. No, die.

I could see Vince’s brother, Raffy, laughing so hard in the background. His cousins looked happy but we knew for sure none of them wanted to be in our shoes at that moment. I think I covered my face with my two hands the whole time. This isn’t happening!

But it did, I said yes and here’s how.

December 24, 2007. I had work, as usual. The story I worked on was how 400 families, who lost their houses and all their belongings in a big fire just before Christmas, were going to celebrate the happiest time of the year. For the children, the coloring books, crayons, and stickers that I brought for a few of them elicited the happiest faces that I’ve seen in a long time. But the adults are more realistic. They realized they are now left with nothing so there is no reason to celebrate, not when your family is sleeping on cartons in the sidewalk. There is no such thing as Christmas when you have an empty stomach. At least one single mother with six children was more hopeful, she said they could always celebrate Christmas next year.

Another day at work.

When I finished writing and voicing my report for TV Patrol World, Vince and I went to Valenzuela to visit my beloved grandmother, Nanay, who happens to have cancer. My family was in Ilocos but most of my relatives on my mother’s side were there, including my mom’s identical twin who came from New Jersey. We had a great time. I played poker for the first time with my cousins and lost 500 pesos. Vince won a thousand bucks, haha.

At 11 o’clock, I wanted to go home because I was getting sleepy and still had work the next day. Vince insisted we go to his side of the family naman and of course how could I say no.

From Valenzuela, we drove to his uncle’s house all the way to Valle Verde. We got there at around 11:30 pm I think. Before entering the house, I saw his cousin who congratulated me on our engagement which caught me by surprise. As we entered the house, more and more of his relatives were congratulating us on our “engagement”. I felt more uncomfortable by the minute and when I couldn’t take it anymore, I pulled Vince to one side almost shouting at him in my frustration saying, “I’m not engaged! I’m not engaged!”. I wanted to go home.

We were about to “escape” when Vince’s uncle started calling everyone to gather in the gather because “Vince and Nina have an announcement.” Oh no, Vince and I looked helplessly at each other. What are we supposed to say?

Vince and I found ourselves surrounded by everyone who were all excited to hear “the news”. There was no escaping but Vince managed to disappear “to get something from his car” as he wasn’t prepared.

When he got back, everyone was cheering, I heard someone say, “he’s gonna propose!” Vince was so nervous and embarrassed, he just put the box on the table. Just like that. Then someone said, “open it!” So I did and sure enough it contained a beautiful diamond engagement ring. Okay, did he think I’m going to put the ring on my finger? So I gave the box back to him!

At this point everyone got more excited. I could hear all sorts of voices. Then someone said, “Vince, kneel kneel!”. So poor Vince got down on his knees. I kept covering my face with my two hands out of embarrassment. Then Vince gave a short speech, I don’t really remember much of what he said as I couldn’t concentrate. I just remember him saying something like, “I guess this is the time to ask you in front of my family…chu chu chu…Will you marry me?” And everyone looked at me.

It was surreal. I couldn’t answer right away because, I don’t know, I guess I was trying to think of a magic spell for me to disappear at that moment until someone said, “Nina, what’s your answer?” I realized I’m only human and it’s not a dream so of course I said yes! Everyone started clapping, etc. Whew! It’s done!

Oh no it’s not. His relatives asked me to give a speech. I couldn’t speak! I don’t really remember what I said. I think I said something like, “Thank you, I love you and your family, thanks…”. Hahaha. It sounded so lousy but I meant it. Vince’s family is the best, everyone who was there, his mom, brother, titos and titas, cousins, they tried to make me feel comfortable from day 1. I really really appreciate them all.

Then his relatives asked Vince’s mom, Tita Mary Ann, to give a speech and it was so touching because she said that Vince’s dad, Tito Ed who passed away 3 years ago, was fond of me and loved me and wanted Vince and I to end up together. Some of Vince’s aunts couldn’t help but get teary eyed. What would Tito Ed say? No one knows exactly what he would have said but he was in our hearts and minds and it was as if he was also there. I could imagine his laughter. Tito Ed was always laughing or smiling everytime I saw him. We miss him terribly.

I found out later on our way home that Vince had planned to propose in my house, no fireworks, nothing fancy, just the two of us, just how we both wanted it to be.

I realized that sometimes things don’t work out as planned because God has planned something better. It was a happy occasion and it is true, happiness is always better when shared.


Two days later Vince was on a bus to Ilocos. I was talking to Vince the night before and asked him, how’s that, my family doesn’t know. Vince had scheduled to talk to them a week before Christmas but they suddenly went home to Ilocos.

On the morning of Dec. 26, I called Vince’s house and was looking for him but his mom said he went to the bus station. Okay, I didn’t know. Anyway, so Vince took the 9 am bus to arrive at 7pm. Yes, the trip is 10 hours. Unfortunately the bus encountered some engine problems and had to stop for repairs, then to make matters worse, the aircon also got busted. So Vince arrived in our house in Batac at 10:30 pm, hot and sweating!

Fine, it’s not that funny. Anyway, he finally got to talk to my parents and now Paris, here we come!