Love and Marriage in a Pandemic

“Deciding to get married during a pandemic requires even more courage than usual.”

Deciding to get married is always a big decision. It might not be as bad as William Shakespeare seem to imply in As You Like It when a character says “Men are April when they woo, December when they wed: maids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives.” But choosing to love and live with someone for the rest of one’s life is in fact a big change.

Marriage requires a full and unconditional acceptance of each other, and not just of who the bride and groom today are but what they could be tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, a decade away, 50 years from now.

Deciding to get married during a pandemic requires even more courage than usual. And I am not thinking about the hassles of health protocols, the limitations on one’s guest list, or not being able to travel exotic places for destination weddings or honeymoons. What I would emphasize is the dread couples might feel about starting a family in a world that is faced with pandemics and the global climate emergency.

That is why I rejoice in witnessing IC and Joey, Mark and Rosette, and Raffy and Marian exchange wedding vows. With a world we face, there is nothing more important than being with someone you love and who will be at your back. There is nothing better than working with a life partner to overcome the challenges of our world.

I have known Joey La Viña Atayde all of her life, as she is the daughter of my sister Susie and her husband JJ. She is one of the sweetest persons I know, but also a determined young woman, trained in the rigors of ballet and the science of psychology. I am happy that she met and fell in love with IC Sta Maria, whose family and clan I also know quite well and who has impressed me as a serious young man. Their marriage was solemnized in the majestic Manila Cathedral last December 12, 2020 and they hosted a small reception of selected family members in Palacio de Memoria on Roxas Boulevard.

I had forgotten it until the priest in his homily mentioned that Mark Evidente and Rosette Ferrer met for the first time in a climate change project I led a decade ago. I pride myself in being a connector but this was obviously the more than usual connecting. Once in a while, it does work out and when it does, I am so grateful. Certainly, that was what I felt when I first heard in the grapevine of my mentees that Rosette, who was my student in the College of Law and whom I have been mentoring as an environmental and climate justice lawyer, was dating fellow Yalie Mark, the country’s top thinker on sustainable tourism.

Mark and Rosette got married in the Parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Antipolo City last February 4, 2021, and their reception was held in the Pinto Art Museum. Both the wedding and the reception venue reflected the beauty of this couple, who share a commitment to protect the natural beauty and built heritage of our country.

And then there was the wedding of Raffy Ricalde and Marian Chavez, just last Saturday, February 6, 2021. I am close to Marian, having taught her in the De La Salle University of College of Law and the San Beda Graduate School of Law. Although I teach in UP Law where Raffy was a student and whose parents I know, I never met him until Marian updated me that she was dating someone and how it all began. I could see that she was heels over in love with Raffy. Their wedding was solemnized in the Our Lady of Carmel Shrine in New Manila and a fun reception, with a Star Wars theme, was held in Manila Hotel.

One of the most touching moments in their wedding was the father of the groom’s speech, especially when Popoy Ricalde recalled the love of his life – his wife, my good friend Julie Ricalde. Julie, who died in a violent incident in 1999, was my colleague in the UP Law faculty. She was very welcoming and kind to me in the early 1990s when I was the youngest faculty member. I could see her smiling in heaven last Saturday.

These couples are truly good people and they really are gifts to each other. The world will be much better, in spite of pandemics and climate change, because of them and the families they have just found. As they begin their lives together, may they experience everyday miracles of Cana that will help them embrace and carry the Cross that always come with whatever life we are called to live. I pray for them the grace of unconditional love for each other, common friends, productive work, a good and happy home, children if they want to and God willing, shared values and interests, fun and adventure once in a while, and above all an ability to forgive anything and everything.

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