Destiny and Determination

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This is a year of changes and challenges. As the whole country watches the fifteenth President of the Philippines start his term, my whole world and Being will transition as well. From being single to married, from residing in the Philippines to elsewhere, from being a working woman to domestic goddess – I will experience the biggest change in my life. Just a few weeks ago, I became the wife of one of the most amazing men I have ever met.Sometimes I have a hard time deciding whether it was destiny or determination (and yes, that thought crosses my mind for President Aquino as well). Maybe it was a bit of both.

More than a year before we met, his mother told me “Huwag ka munang magka-boyfriend ha! Hintayin mo anak ko. Uuwi yun next year. Dapat ma-meet mo!” And so I smile, the way many young women do when being matched by a very well-meaning tita. Tita turns to her husband, who smiles broadly and nods his head with excitement. It was an odd place for such a conversation. We were in the middle of abuild site for a Gawad Kalinga village in Bukidnon. Tita and tito were in matching long-sleeves to protect them from the sun, their uniforms proudly saying TEAM CAMARINES SUR, their passion and excitement over the build activity (and the potential match for their son) made it impossible to believe that they had travelled more than two days on bus, boat and bus again to be with us in the middle of Mindanao. They are volunteers that love the poor and shared the overflowing love that they had for each other and their children for those that needed more love than they received. I wasn’t thinking about their son at that time – but I was thinking about how nice it would be to be in a relationship like that. To be like them someday.

More than a year later, I still had no boyfriend. Tita’s prayers must have been strong (or maybe my prayers for a boyfriend then and there weren’t strong enough). I got a call from my insistent tito from GK Camarines Sur. His son was in town for vacation. Being the obedient girl that I am, I meet the son. He was here for three weeks. We met on his second day in the country and spent almost every day after together. The night before he left, I asked him what his plan was. “Papakasalan kita.”

I was blown away by his answer. I didn’t quite understand where it came from. It couldn’t be love – could it?

I asked him to define what all that meant, what love meant to him and where he thought whatever we had was going. He said that it was basically a choice, sans the romance and all the fireworks. It is acommitment. Heavy words for someone who had met me just three weeks earlier and was about to fly off to Vancouver the next day. He had made his choice. He said he was going to marry me. A statement, not a proposal. He was sure of what he wanted.

A few months after he left for Canada, I found myself telling my parents that I was getting married. My parents were always very supportive and kind and welcoming to the boys I dated, but telling them this was different.It was definitive. Final. Serious. Crazy (I mean, I hardly knew the man). I had my hunches on how they would react – shock,disbelief, disappointment were among my guesses – as were excitement,happiness, wonder and confusion. I got a mix of all of the above. Not a bad reaction from loving parents – I wouldn’t have expected anything less.

It was all so fast – and I surprised everyone who meant the world to me. But I think I was the most surprised of them all. I didn’t see this one coming – not yet at least. But I also believe that amazing things happen if you let them. And I’m happy I rode the wave when amazing things came my way. I am grateful that I opened my heart at the right time because the greatest love story came my way when I least expected it.Who would have thought my journey towards my husband would begin on the day my mind was focused on digging a septic tank? The fruit does not fall far from the tree they say – and so as I look at my husband, I am assured that I am marrying a man that has a heart big enough for me, the people I love and the dreams I have for our country. His first experience with love was with his parents – so I’m definitely on the right track to being like them someday.

I look at my own family’s photo – taken at a time when we were all living under my parent’s roof. My mom and dad have gone through many changes and storms in their lives as well – beginning with the typhoon that hit them on their wedding day. Amidst the people they loved, sampaguitas and the crazy rain and wind – they made a commitment to each other, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish and everything else. My parents are the type to share their love story (from start to the wedding until the present day) – and in my head, from the stories and the betamax that documented their special day, it was a perfect wedding. The storm added to the perfectness of it. The beauty of the wedding though went beyond that day and can be seen and felt in the marriage that they have. I can attest to that since I’ve been around throughout most of their married life. They were in constant transition – moving from Manila to California to New Jersey and back. Obviously, it cannot be a perfect marriage – but it is a beautiful one in which they continue to grow together, learn about themselves, their children and the world.

I look at our own plans – from Manila to Vancouver and someday to Naga. I wonder if I’ll handle my own family the same way. I wonder if I will love my own children the same way. I wonder if I will be as good as them.

My lola would say that the greatest love story is that of her Christ, who lived and died for all of us. I can’t argue with that.

But the greatest love story is repeated over and over when I see the same love of Christ reflected in the lives of others – in the marriage of my parents, and in the marriage of my parents-in-law. It is through determination, sacrifice and patience that I can emulate the love of our mommy and dad and our mama and papa. It is in constant transition that I will experience the love of the man I married and I welcome the changes and challenges that will allow us to grow. According to my boss, the greatest love affair is the one we have with our nation – and it is the men and women we meet in the work, that appreciate the work, that are the greatest, most passionate lovers. There can’t be a clearer reflection than that.

It is our destiny to have been loved in such a way. But it is through sheer determination that we can love the way our God did.

~~ found this on my climb up ~~