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CALIFORNIA September 13, 2003

Jun Paynor

Tex Balmaceda

Nap Aquino

Ave Cruz

EB Fernandez

Rolly Malinis

Dan Perico

Bie Mainit



The clock tower at Algiers Point sounded off "Summer Time" at midday.  The chimes were fantastically crafted that it could still play the notes crisply, like a freshly baked sweet potatoes in a clay oven.  The tower was built in 1893.  It is now part of a court house serving the city of Algiers.  Across the clock tower is the building owned by Louisiana Power and Light.  The LPL building on Delaronde St. is like a fort.  I work here.  The only windows you see are on your laptop.  Graciously enough, the topmost floor was genetically engineered to have an aperture.  It served as a cafeteria.  Here, we indulged in Beignet, Gumbo and Bodin for lunch, as we enjoyed a panoramic view of the city of New Orleans on the other bank of the Mississippi river. Yes indeed, I'm in the home of the Mardi Gras, colorful beads and "Girls Gone Wild".  Ah, it's summertime, and the living is easy.

Getting to New Orleans from Los Angeles is $380 per round trip on economy fare.  Hampton Inn at corporate rate, $60 a night.  The Cajun Queen dinner boat ride, $35.  Walking through the French quarters on Bourbon St., with a "hurricane" (a potent potable) on one hand, $12.  Getting a marriage license at the Algiers courthouse, $25.  Getting married with 300 guests at the Queen Mary in Long Beach harbor, $30,000. Dancing to the captivating music of My Cadet Girl, priceless!!!

Stan David

Archie Almario

Ed Maranon

Delfin Lorenzo
(Class '80)

After 30 years of marriage and rearing three wonderful kids, Kristen, Josh and Zach, our mistah, Ariel Domingo and his beautiful wife, Rosanna, renewed their wedding vows at the church of Our Lady of  Refuge in Long Beach, CA USA, on September 13, 2003.  To love and to hold, for richer and richer, with Ariel smiling from ear to ear.  It was a quasi-military wedding, as he would describe it later.  But, for all intents and purposes, it was a full-blown, authentic, honest-to-goodness military wedding.  Ariel was wearing a made-to-order military "white duck" uniform - white pants, white shirt, white coat, with three suns shining as rank insignia on his red shoulder board, which equates to a police rank of Senior Superintendent in the Philippine National Police, or an equivalent military rank of Colonel in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.  He was complete with ribbons and colors awarded to him for a job well done from successful field operations.  His white coat had a golden band on his sleeves signifying all the golden hearts he amassed while in public service. A golden lanyard would have been appropriate, but, he humbly declined.  To provide accent to the whole ensemble, he had a spit-shined patent black shoes and a black service necktie to go with it.  Very sharp!


Our misstah, Rosanna, or Rochee as we would lovingly call her, was radiant in her beige wedding dress, made to order in the Philippines and hand carried by our royal misstah, Tess Paynor.  The fabric meandered gently down her toes, barely kissing the white carpet as she gracefully walked down the aisle.  Her cape was made of the same "pinia" material as her dress, which she loosely wrapped  around her waist and gently curled around her arms.  She carried a bouquet of white roses; I counted them and trust me, there were twelve, one each from her twelve military escorts.  Her shoes were made of gold, matching her golden necklace and her golden smile.  Aphrodite would have envied her. Joe millionaire would have proposed to her,  but, hey, eat your heart out, mister.  In short and simple language, she was too beautiful for words to tell.

"By the power vested in me by the state of Nevada, I now pronounce you man and wife.  You may kiss the bride".  This was the finale of my wedding in a chapel by the strip in Las Vegas, 1979.  It was presided by a minister authorized by the state to officiate  weddings.  The total expense was $50 for the ceremonies plus $10 for the tape-recorded music. 

The celebrant was Father James Henry, SVD who was very patient to perform the wedding ceremonies.  He was the parish priest and personally knew Ariel and Rochee. The theme of the first reading, which was read by Kristen (eldest), was about God's creation - the trees, the creatures of the air and the sea, the beasts in the fields.  Then, He created man, to whom He gave a companion.  He molded this creation from his rib and called it woman.  The second reading was read by Zachary (youngest), it was about love - "Love takes no pleasure in other people's sins, but, delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes".  Very uplifting.  As Father Henry would, later, say.  "When you are wrong, admit it.  When you are right, shut up".  The Gospel reading said, "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.  If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love".  Josh (middle) sang a song after the ceremony, beautiful.  It was a sharp contrast to my $60 quickie wedding 24 years ago. Our recessional music was Elvis' Hawaiian Wedding Song.  Thank, God!, Ching and I had a church wedding in 1988 to solemnize it all. 

"Ready draw, Sword".  "Ready down".  The "draw swords" practice was done the night before the wedding, at Ariel's house in Long Beach.  I was not able to attend.  I flew into L.A. from LA and landed at around 10pm, boy, were my hands tired. Dan and Charito Perico flew in from Virginia and their hands were tired.  Tex and Fatima Balmaceda flew in from Hawaii and their hands were tired.  Archie and Rose Almario, and Rolly Malinis drove in from northern California and guess what?  Their butts were tired. I had a chance to practice "draw swords"  on the morning of the wedding, both, at Ariel's house and at the church. 

"Outward face, March".  We marched in cadence towards the church portal and stopped at a designated position  previously marked by a green stick'm just outside the church door.  "Detail halt".  The center face was automatic after the halt command, as if it were a silent drill.  Man, did that remind me of Taipei.  Only this time, we were in Tuxedo pants, white coat, cummerbund, black bow tie and 34 years older.  Our sword was made of silver with a gold-lined handle inside a black scabbard.

 "Ready draw, Sword".  The command was precise and with purpose.  The execution was crisp and perfect.  The timing was Seiko-like. This time it was for real.  Our Sword Detail commander was the former Philippine Ambassador to Italy, and the current Philippine Consul General of Los Angeles, his royal highness Jun Paynor.  Tex partnered with Archie, the vanishing points.  I paired with Ave Cruz; Stan David stood opposite Delfin Lorenzo (Cl '80) in lieu of Bob Sacs who could not be present due to an emergency; Ed Maranon and Rolly Malinis; Gabie Mainit was opposite Nap Aquino; Jun Paynor and Dan Perico.  Believe me, everything was perfect - the step was in cadence, the arm swing was 6 inches forward and 3 inches back.  The swords were drawn out at a 45 degree angle, the other hand was holding a banana, the smiles were winsome and the pogi-ties were devastating.  What more can you ask, steamed rice? 

Ariel and Rochee were both bewildered as they walked under the drawn swords.  They couldn't believe their eyes.  Where did all these waiters come from?  Our misstahs took care of showering rose petals along the way - Tess Paynor, Eva Cruz, Mary Aquino, Precy Mainit, Rose Almario, Fatz Balmaceda, Tessie Foronda, Charito Perico and my lovely wife Ching.  At the end of the sword detail, Jun and Dan lowered their arms, only to be raised after Ariel kisses Rochee. The crowd became hysterical, the applause was deafening.  I could not tell whether they applauded for the kiss or was it for our performance. I think it was for us.    

I quit work at around 7:20p.m., so I could catch the 7:30 ferry.  Most of the consultants at Delaronde work at the same schedule.  You don't want to work too late, the ambience at the dock is not user friendly.  Algiers Point had seen hard times and is trying to recover vigorously.  But, once you cross the river, the whole atmosphere switches to party time.  After all, you are now in New Orleans, the jazz capital of the world.  You will be embraced by the towering towers of the Hilton, Double Tree, Hyatt,  Holiday Inn, Wyndham, "W", Marriott, Hampton Inn and all other world known hotels.  There may be some fun tonight, but,  I was looking forward for the party at the Queen Mary.

"Crazy, I'm crazy for feeling so lonely.  And I'm crazy, crazy for feeling so blue" .  Florence Aquilar entertained us at the Queen's Salon.  She is still good, but, I tell you, I've seen Mary Aquino scored a 100 doing "Crazy" in a Boracay karaoke.  The food was excellent and the atmosphere was very, very elegant.  When it comes to wine and dine, Rochee is my reference point.  She knows the best places.  The chairs were covered in white linen and a blue ribbon tied around it.  The table numbers were made from mother-of-pearl, hand-made from the Philippines and brought in  by May Paynor, Jun's sister.  The waiters and waitresses had the same black and white tuxes as we had.  The swords which Jun were able to borrow from the University of Southern California gave us a little distinction, but, Archie was almost asked to carry a plate of hor's devours.  The beverage was on the house. The music was totally ballroom. Lolit David was ready to dance.

And in the middle of the celebration, the soothing voice of Ambassador Paynor filled the air with our lovely song, My Kaydet Girl. All cavaliers stood up in line to dance with the bride.  The first dance went to Col Moreto, class '54'.  There were Col Ongkeko, class '51, Jamie Jaramillo '61, our class 1971 and the rest.  Rochee was in tears.  The occasion played out exceedingly romantic.  The audience was at awe.  To most of the guests, this was their first time to hear our PMA hypnotic song.  Oh, cadet fever, burn, baby, burn. 

"YMCA" was still top tune, "Todo-todo" and "Electric slide" were still favorites.  When will it ever end? I almost requested Florence to sing "Asereje", for a change.  Eva and Ave Cruz did a wonderful rendition of a Swing dance.  Ariel swapped his whites to a pure black attire.  Rochee came in as "Lady in Red".  Husband and wife did a Two-Step number, which was superbly executed through the fantastic choreography of Eva Cruz.  And the music played on and on and on.  We partied like there was no tomorrow.

The  Mississippi is over half a mile wide.  The ferry ride is for free, courtesy of the tourists of New Orleans.  When I take the ferry at night, I would normally stay at the lower deck to grasp an overwhelming  view of the city skyline.  Priceless,  I never get tired of it.  In the morning, I stay inside the air-conditioned room on the upper deck to escape the sweltering humidity.  Just nearby is the Mississippi bridge.  There are other bridges called the Mississippi as the river winds through different cities and states.  This one in New Orleans is tall, very tall and adorned with lights looking like giant beads in the sky.  Big boats, small boats and cruise ships use the river for commerce and pleasure trips.  I looked back at Algiers Point and stared at the fading harbor lights.  A big ship blocked my sight as it cruised upstream.  For a while I thought it was the Queen Mary.  Nah, the day was long.  I had catfish for dinner.  I needed a drink. 

Ernie B. Fernandez '71
Double vision, double dreams, double happiness, double time.

COPYRIGHT 2006: Philippine Military Academy Class of 1971