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.
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
"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
total expense was $50 for the ceremonies plus $10 for the tape-recorded
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.
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.
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.
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.