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Winston "Arf-Arf" Arpon
PMA '64


Rendezvous with Reality


Yes, Vrad [1] we did it!

We exchanged “I Dos” in a ceremony that began promptly, in stark contrast to WTW’s growing reputation for tardiness, 9:30 on the dot, in the morning of January 5, 2010, at the Santuario de San Antonio church in Forbes Park, Makati City, Philippines.  


The bride, Victoria “Vicky” Pineda-Garchitorena, was beautiful and gorgeous in what was described in the following day’s newspaper [2] as a ‘vibrant fuchsia gown.’

She was stunning.

Me, the groom? Stunned.


My first wedding 45 years ago was on a Monday; this one, my second, on a Tuesday.

But once again, better banish that thought, Bj. I have no plans for another wedding on a Wednesday, let alone Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday.


On Monday night, a good, old reliable friend and WTW C5 [3] Cavalier Victor “VicE” Erfe ’69 sent me an email with a link to the recording of the song in My Fair Lady, Stanley Holloway’s “Get Me to the Church on Time.’

Heeding the advice, I got to church early and regretted it as soon as I realized that it was my first mistake for the day – giving time for many to notice and tell me that I looked confused.

My answer to those who asked was one and the same:  “The reason why I look confused? Because I am!”


Up and early Tuesday morning, I was already in my barong [4] when I opened the door of our hotel room to let the photographer in for the picture-taking with my family.

“Has the groom arrived yet?” the photographer asked me.


A case of déjà vu. Several days earlier, Vicky and I were at the Manila Polo club for the traditional food tasting. Addressing both of us, the banquet coordinator, one Lily del Rosario, asked: Are we waiting for the bride and the groom?

I must confess that at that very moment – being mistaken for being the parents, not the bride and the groom – made me think: maybe we should have opted for elopement.


But remember, Jappy reminded me in an email two weeks before our wedding, marriage is an institution.

Jappy, is an older brother of Vicky; a doctor – but not a psychiatrist; if he were, I would have thought he meant marriage as a mental institution.


Archbishop Soc Villegas who officiated in the ceremony revealed in his homily this was the first in his 25 years as a prelate to solemnize a marriage of a couple older than him.

True, but we’re neither septuagenarians nor octogenarians. Not yet, anyway.

Vicky and I – we’re still sexygenarians. We mean, sexagenarians.


With urgent matters to attend to in his diocese in Dagupan City, Archbishop Soc begged off from the reception. We asked Jose Concepcion, Jr. who readily consented to lead the prayer before meals to kick off the reception.

Joe Concepcion, ‘JoeCon’ to Vicky, sat on the presidential table where the archbishop would have been, close enough to Vicky to make her an offer, as if he had not done enough to ‘save the day’ for us, subbing for the absent archbishop.

His sweet offer: to be the ninong [5] of our child!


I could have told the former Chair of the NAMFREL [6] not to worry about a child of ours. As prerequisite to any marriage, Vicky and I had to attend a family planning seminar. 

But we would gladly consider JoeCon as a sponsor in our golden wedding anniversary.


The PDI article [7] described her as ‘chief of one of the country's most influential nonprofit organization(s),’  that called to mind the numerous times acquaintances and friends reminded me I would be marrying an icon.

Icon to Arpon – the troubling thought wouldn’t leave me. Until Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala, one of the principal sponsors, while walking with me to the reception, shared this trivia: arpon, in Spanish, means javelin.

A javelin; a sharp, piercing object, hmmmmm…… And with this thought, I felt better, much better.


Fiancée to wife – this was another story altogether; no troubling thought here. Seven letters, with that diacritical mark to boot, vs. four letters; three syllables vs. one; and for crying out loud, wife is easier, much easier on the tongue. The choice of wife over fiancée is a no-brainer, anytime of the day – or night – and a wedding, big or small, too small a price to pay for it.  


I could see how much she was loved by so many people who had come to share this memorable moments with us, I could not help thinking how much I owed her for giving space to squeeze in  my love for her.


“Our rendezvous with reality
The days were set for discovery
We met but once, ‘twas our first hello
We should meet again and you told me so.

“We’ll hug, we’ll kiss, then go with the flow
Let head and heart tell us what to do
We hope we’ll know all the answers to:
Are you for me,
Am I for you,
No doubts, no fears,
Come tomorrow?

“We’ll hug, we’ll kiss, then go with the flow
Let heart and head tell us where to go
To where we’ll know all the answers to:
Are you for me,
Am I for you,
No ifs, no buts,
Come tomorrow?”


Titled “Rendezvous with Reality,” or simply “RwR” [8] to the bride and the groom, this was one of the songs that the tenor sang at the wedding reception. The audience heard the song, all right, but not many heard him when he said that that this was written by the groom himself.


The original lyrics were written by Leo McCarey and Harold Adamson over half a century ago for the theme song of the movie, “An Affair to Remember.”
Feel free to sing RwR, if you feel like doing a Vic Damone or Nat King Cole – if you remember or even heard of them – singing  “Our Love Affair.” An RwR copyright is not in our plans.


And those two question marks in RwR? [9] They’re not typos. For indeed, these lyrics were written at a stage in our relationship when we had more questions than answers; a wedding in Hyattsville, Maryland or Foster City, California – or Las Vegas, Nevada – more remote than a wedding in Cana.


After the wedding, family and friends kept telling us it was a beautiful wedding, one without a hitch. If they only knew what I was going through and the pain of it all towards the end of ceremony.

When the good archbishop finally asked the bride and groom to stand up for the Sevenfold Blessing, I couldn’t have thanked the Lord more for getting me out of my misery. The relief from all that seemingly interminable kneeling couldn’t have come at a better time! “There is a God,” I muttered to myself. 

There really ought to be a law, ecclesiastical or not, that would require more padding for aching knees of brides and grooms in our age group or exempt them from kneeling that long or kneeling at all.

And how about a back rest on the seat for aging vertebrae?


My class at PMA, the Class ’64 [10] has the second smallest number of graduates [11] Former Chief of Staff, Secretary of National Defense and Executive Secretary de Villa a.k.a. Cavalier Renato “Rene” de Villa ’57, knows this, having served as Tactical Officer when we were cadets.

De Villa was overheard by one classmate saying that this has to be one occasion where he saw the biggest number of Class 64 present.


Five stars were missing at the reception. No, not Gerard Anderson nor Kim Chiu. But two classmates, Clemente “Clem” Mariano and Gualterio “Terry” de la Cruz. Both had other commitments on this week day, they made it to the church wedding only.

Mariano, a former AFP Chief of Staff, retired as a general and de la Cruz, as a commodore – that’s four stars and one star, respectively; five stars, in all.


Asking a captive audience to please indulge us, Vicky and I proceeded to sing two popular songs, Ted Mossman’s “Till The End of Time” and Charles Danver’s “Till.”

While singing solo the penultimate lines of “Till,” I may have caught a glimpse of my classmate, Cavalier Leonardo “Ding” Odono ’64. Was that a scowl on his face?

I can’t read lips but I thought I caught him saying this: I won’t stop to frown “Till You Stop to Sing.”


If truth be told, there was clear and present danger that our duet was not going to happen on this day. This was after I suddenly developed cold feet right then and there, unknown to the bride, upon hearing for the first time her oldest son Jaime, sing Kenny Loggin’s “For the First Time.” As one would expect from a former singer on radio in his earlier life, Jaime nailed it; sang so well and so professionally – a virtuoso performance that could only be intimidating. Subsequent performance of anyone, Vicky and myself included, could be amateurish, at best.

Only the thought of Vicky’s disappointment over wasting the time we spent for the rehearsal with the violinist and the organist a couple of days ago kept me from giving in to my cold feet and calling off our duet.


Inside the bridal car on our way to the Intercontinental  Hotel where we were to stay in the next couple of days – no, make that nights – something funny – no, make that memorable – happened. 

“Oh my God,” I heard her say, while searching frantically through her purse. She could not find her cell phone. 

We had to turn back to the Manila Polo Club. All the guests had left and only the waiters, Security and our wedding coordinators were there to help us find it.
None of them found it. But Vicky did. For the second time this day, I muttered to myself, “There is a God.”

The missing cell phone she found in her purse, the same purse she was searching through earlier.


On the New Year weekend before the wedding, my family – my children, two sons-in-law, two grandsons and three granddaughters – who came all the way from the US spent time with the prospective bride at her vacation home in Lipa City. Seeing for myself how she treated them so kindly, I told her, “If I were they, I would be very grateful to you.” 

“And I could be your slave forever.”

“You will be,” she told me.


I could see it: Wellington, New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia – perfect datelines for the next three issues of WTW [12]. And to make it happen, all I had to do was to get my wife to agree that I can bring my laptop with me.

“No way,” she said. “Not on our honeymoon.”


So, right now, wishful thinking has given way to second guessing – wondering if I should have said what I said in my speech during the reception: Vicky is not a lawyer, as you all know. But she is the ‘law.’ She is my ‘law.’


See you all, three weeks from now; same time, same place…..


@arf-arf ‘64
wtw 2010-01
makati city, philippines

[1]  For the uninitiated, those who have not followed this column or followed it only lately, Vrad is Punto a.k.a.Cavalier Vladimir “Vrad” Punto ’74. Vrad was responsible for convincing us to write this column (see  2009-01-07 WTW/”Thank You, Vrad”), even suggesting the title, Witful Thinking, to which we added Wednesday, to become, Witful Thinking, Wednesday.
[2]  Daxim L. Lucas, Biz Buzz, Philippines Daily Inquirer, Jan 6.
[3]  Cavalier Correspondent, Contributor, Conniver and Critic
[4]  Sometimes called ‘Barong Pilipino,’ it is an attire worn by Filipinos for formal occasions such as weddings
[5]  Baptismal sponsor
[6]  National Movement for Free Elections
[7]  See Notes 2 above
[8]  RwR, Rendezvous with Reality, was the second of five phases that we set in motion in July to bring ultimately to this wedding in January. The first phase, GTKY, Getting to Know You. The next two – MYnDC, Meet You in the District of Columbia and RP2009, Republic of the Philippines in Year 2009. And the last and final, but continuing, phase: KOMP, Keep Our Music Playing.
[9]   There’s not a single question mark in the original lyrics, but two in RwR.
[10]  Coincidentally, Vicky also belongs to the Class of 1964, College of the Holy Spirit
[11]  A total of 36 graduates and  3 shy of the 33 graduates of PMA Class ’59.
[12]  WTW 2010-01-13, -20 & -27