I never felt more adult than on the morning when I became the mother of the bride.
If he had his way, my husband of 37 years, Rolly Fernandez, who calls himself a pragmatic journalist, would have preferred that our youngest of two daughters, Miranda Bituin, nicknamed Ida, and her then fiancé Jordan Radovan, to be married in City Hall rites by the Baguio mayor. That would have saved him a king’s ransom.
But the minute Rolly, my granddaughter Kai, who would serve as flower girl, and I got our US visas, Ida booked us round-trip tickets to Los Angeles for two weeks in November 2019. We wondered where our baby girl got all the resources. But then she saved up for her big day during the seven years she worked as a preschool teacher in Singapore.
She and Jordan met five years ago—was it Central Park? Ida was traveling alone and wanted to preserve a moment in pictures. A male stranger volunteered to click her phone camera. That was how the romance began. I haven’t double checked if this story is apocryphal, but it has become lore when the couple came home earlier this year to meet the family. Ever since, the two became the best of friends and fellow travellers.
Jordan proposed to Ida at a corner in Yosemite National Park. In a letter to me addressed on my birthday in 2018, this Fordham University graduate wrote, “I wanted to reach out to you and Tito Rolly to ask for your blessing. I am planning to propose to your daughter next week when she comes here to visit. Ida will be coming to LA to spend time with my family for the US independence holiday, and then we will be driving off to San Francisco and Yosemite. Ida has been my best friend for the past three years. I love her, and I’ve decided that I want to spend the rest of my life with her. While I might be taking her away from you (as LA is farther from the Philippines than Singapore), I’ll make sure to take care of her and that she will have time to visit you whenever she gets the chance.”
Of course, I bawled my eyes out as I read those words. Images of my Lamaze baby flashed through my mind: her bouts of carsickness that made traveling to our then home in Antipolo difficult, my bringing her to and from ballet school for six straight years until one day she handed her tights and leotards to me and said she wanted nothing to do with dancing anymore, her fastidiousness in dressing, her sense of style that certainly didn’t come from me.
In his father of the bride speech, Rolly recalled life in monsoon-struck Baguio, “Another time Ida’s and Kimi’s school uniforms—blouses and skirts—were laundered late, on a Sunday, and didn’t dry well for the Monday class. What I did was pluck the hardly dry uniforms from the clothesline and apply a hot iron on them. The room filled with steam in the process, but my girls managed not to miss a day in school.”
He also quoted our grandchild Kai who, while he was drafting his speech, gave her tender impressions of Ida: “She’s pretty, she’s stylish, she’s kind and she’s funny. Sometimes she’s mad.”
He explained Ida’s mad streak: She is a “neat freak—the type who wants everything in its place and looks for a place for everything. Before she left for LA in August 2019, she labelled her worldly possessions that were to be given away, separating them from the things considered top priority and which accompanied her in her new life in the States. I can imagine your first home, Jordan, as a spic and span place—don’t ever make the mistake of leaving a wet towel on the bathroom floor.”
Ida exercises discipline in handling her finances. Rolly continued, “This passion for the orderly is also reflected in how she handles her finances. During her stint as a preschool teacher in Singapore, she was able to put away a nest egg of her own that enabled her to realize her dreams to travel far and wide in Asia, the US and Europe. When she goes into debt for any purchase, she also knows how to conscientiously set aside from her income the money that should pay for it. This habit of saving is among Ida’s strengths which will help her as a homemaker and life partner.”
My own mature adult feelings came to the fore as my adopted sister, Ruth Terania, applied make-up on my face that November 16 morning at the Airbnb we had rented in Long Beach, courtesy of elder daughter Kimi and youngest sis Gigi. I was up at 4:30 a.m. to take a hot shower that had me blinking back tears as I forced myself to accept that Ida was pursuing her own plans and dreams to create her own family far from the home she loved.
Rolly warned Ruth not to put “too much colorete” on my face. My second sister, Evelyn, who couldn’t make it to the wedding, packed a handy makeup kit and taped a number in sequence on the lipstick, the moisturizer, the powder, the eyeliner, the eye shadow, etc., so Ruth could follow the steps one at a time.
Gigi blew dry my hair, then we realized we had forgotten to bring some styling gel to keep the strands in place. It was way too early to rush to Walgreen’s to buy a tube. She had to blow dry my hair twice to add volume and keep it from falling flat.
From years of not wearing earrings even on special occasion, the holes on my ear lobes had closed so I was devoid of jewelry, except for the few silver sequins on the bib of my dark blue gown, an off-the-rack Mike de la Rosa number picked out by Evelyn and Kimi at Landmark Department Store in Trinoma, Quezon City.
Lest Ida accuse me of taking the limelight off her, I yield the rest of the space to her wedding pictures.
A hurried postscript:
Jordan went on a work-related trip to New York City in early 2020 with Ida tagging along. They managed to take in the sights, including a Broadway show, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down.
In the flight back to LA, she was ill already with severe cough and colds. Her symptoms were treated with flu medicine. She rested and hydrated until she regained her strength. She refrained from telling us the news until she got better. We’ve often wondered if the mysterious ailment was COVID-19.
Ida is on her last two semesters of graduate school at the California State University in Los Angeles, specializing in early childhood special education.
Looking back, she said, “It was a good call to hold the wedding before the pandemic. It turned out to be a last great vacation for most of our guests (our friends from the United Kingdom, Australia, the Philippines and Singapore) because we don’t know when travel for leisure would be possible again.”