Getting Engaged: The Proposal

I’ve been dying to write about the wedding preps (it occupies 70% of my life now) but I have  OC tendencies,  so I wanted to do it  chronologically. I’ve decided to write about everything wedding – related from start to finish, from the engagement, to the nitty-gritty’s to eventually, the actual wedding (I really hope I have enough weeks left. More often than not I get distracted by other topics).

Last March 24 2012, my boyfriend proposed. And I have to say, my proposal was the best proposal everrr (rolling my r’s like a true Assumptionista). I’m pretty sure everyone who has gotten engaged says this, but seriously, ours was pretty awesome.  Details of the event can be found on our wedding website so will not get all gushy and relive it  blow by blow.Sharing some things I loved about the proposal however, as well as some behind-the-scenes anecdotes and bloopers. 🙂

1. The proposal still came surprisingly as well,  a surprise.

Before we actually got engaged,we’ve been talking about getting married. And shamefully, I actually gave him a deadline. Ok, before you judge me hear me out:  We’ve been together for a decade, and I think even the most patient, tactful woman would bring up taking things a step further if she was in my place.

Plus, he brought up all this marriage talk first. Even showed me goals he set out for us. In his goal book, he wanted to get married by 2012, at the latest 2013. In one of the talks, I made it clear that for that plan to get married by 2012 to be feasible, we needed to be engaged by March. So March became our “official” goal.

Honestly, having a deadline isn’t exactly my dream scenario. I may have low EQ but I’m still a girly-girl. And I would still want to be swept of my feet (as corny as it sounds) and be surprised that a gentleman caller is asking for my hand in marriage.

I was very determined to still get a bit of a surprise from the experience. After the talk, I tried my hardest not to expect that a proposal was coming soon.  It kinda worked. There were a couple of moments that I deemed proposal- worthy, but I kept my cool and pretty much got it into my head that those were just ordinary dates. 🙂 And sure enough, they turned out to be  just ordinary dates. 😛

In all fairness to my fiance too, his proposal scenario was something that was totally unexpected.. I don’t think I could have ever imagined having it in the  Ateneo highschool theater, nor did I expect him to write a play or hire  a choir audience to be part of the act. So I was, for all intents and purposes, swept off my feet.

Sharing a picture of us pre-play. Taken by Joel Dayrit, a friend who fiance had asked to take our pictures

2. Fiance put in soo much effort into planning the proposal

I was really bowled over that Mister I-can’t be-bothered-by-other-things-I’m-handling-multimillion-dollar-accounts-please-just-let-me-work , shaved off weeks of his time just to plan a production (literally). Not only did he take the time to write a play  he went back and forth from Subic to Manila for days to rehearse with the Sibol boys and to coordinate with my loved ones. In as much as I appreciated the actual performance, what was very heartwarming for me was the amount of effort he actually put just to ask me to marry him.

I’ve overheard him talk to alot of his guy friends about proposing and he thinks that the wedding is usually a girl’s affair, and the guys are just well, glorified props. The girl gets to make most of the decisions about the theme, the suppliers and is usually the center of attention. So for him, the proposal is the guy’s opportunity to squeeze out all his creative juices and express himself. So he really made sure that he put in a lot of effort to make ours memorable.

The boys delivering their lines like pros

3.  It didn’t go as smoothly as planned

Although fiance meticulously covered all bases, there were alot of hiccups experienced.

a. Blooper 1: The actual proposal was plan B. Fiance’s plan A? He emailed Brian McKnight and asked if he could propose onstage during his Philippine concert. Brian McKnight never emailed back. 😛 (which actually became a blessing in disguise, Plan B was much more personal than Plan A).

b. Blooper 2: They had to replace an actor the day of the proposal. One of the kids’ had a family emergency. So last minute, they had to drag another theater group member and rehearse with him. These guys were utterly professional though and you wouldn’t have been able to tell that something was wrong. Fiance did say  that the replacement adlibed the hell out of the script. 🙂

c.  Blooper 3: I almost found out about it via my  friend’s dad. The day of the proposal, I was “assigned” to spend time with a couple of friends. After hanging out with friend A, she drops me off at friend B’s house. We were having lunch when her dad walks in asks about her schedule for that night because he wanted to have dinner. My friend promptly replies that she wasn’t doing anything. Her dad looks at her curiously and asks “I thought you and your brother (who also happened to be a friend of mine) were going to Ateneo.”  She vehemently insists that those plans were cancelled. And her dad just as vehemently insists that he just talked to her brother that morning and he said that they were going to push thru. Awkward silence. My friend drags her dad to her room to show him “the leak” in the bathroom. And he comes out mumbling something about  making a mistake about the plans and it was probably their tita who needed to go to Ateneo.

While this was going on, I was happily munching on my bacon (side note: they have the BEST breakfast food, and they serve it the whole day). I found it a bit curious that my friends were going to Ateneo because they were hard core La Sallians.  BUT they own an events company, and they have done stuff for Ateneo before, so I figured they were probably doing something for the college graduation. Besides, I was in a befuddled state because Friend A made me go with her to meet my designer cousin at 8 in the freakin’  morning,  so I didn’t take this to heart. Only pieced things together when I saw them at the proposal.

d.  Blooper 4: Security guard almost gave things away yet again. Like I mentioned in our wedding website, the Ateneo college graduation was also being held on the highschool covered courts, so cars weren’t allowed to go inside the area. He took care of this by talking to the head guard the day before and asking for special permission to park inside. They were supposed to take note of his plate number, and we should have been let in, no questions asked. My friends and family meanwhile,  were advised to take the buses provided by the school for the graduation (how convenient) so there was absolutely no chance of us seeing each other on the way to the highschool theater.

It was a pretty nifty plan. BUT there were thousands of people in the area so the guards did not recognize the car. My fiance was so afraid we’d bump into one of my friends if we walked so he decided to call the head guard anyway to ask if we can come in. Without him saying a word, head guards picks up the phone and exclaims (loud enough for me to hear), “Sir Okay na po! Pasok na kayo!” Not only that, but he escorts us in with his vehicle  all the way up to the parking lot.

During this time, I was badgering him and asking why he knew the head guard ( I wasn’t thinking proposal thoughts though, I was just getting pissed that he was lying to me). He said something pretty vague about meeting the him while he was running in Ateneo which I really didn’t believe. (In hindsight, he should have used his gazillion parking tickets as an excuse. My boyfriend  would park anywhere in college, and his parking fee violations probably put a couple of scholars to school. It was so bad he was sent to the disciplinary committee.) Normally, this would have caused a long discussion, but it was cut short because the girls in my nail spa had some scheduling problems. So I had to put the guard quandary aside to fix things.

e. Blooper 5:  The Sibol boys misplaced the keys to the theater.  So we were in the parking lot for the looongest time. I was bugging my fiance and asking him why we couldn’t go in and get seats. He said he wanted the rain to stop before we left the car. Finally, after a lot of nagging, we got out and lined up with the rest of the crowd waiting by the door (they were our choir pala).  One of the theater boys comes out and asks us to follow him to the backdoor.

Turns out, we weren’t getting out of the car because my boyfriend was waiting for the boys to open the theater door (that was their cue that everything was ready to go). They never did because they had lost the keys! Worked out well though because we were ushered in through the backdoor, to the front of the theater, and did not notice my friends and family at the back.

I loved all these little bloopers because it gave the event personality. We had a lot of good laughs reliving these moments, and they became an integral part of our proposal story.

The “audience”/ choir

3. Family and friends were part of the proposal

A few weeks back, one of my best friend’s fiance asked us to go all the way to Clark because he was proposing to my friend during the hot air balloon festival. I remember grumbling because we literally had to walk an hour (no parking) to get to the site. And when we got there we had to wait for another hour before the proposal happened. But it turned out to be sooo worth it because we got to see the look on my friend’s face when she finally figured out what was happening. Truth be told I would have walked 2 hours to see how happy she was during that moment. And I was super grateful to be part of the experience.

When it was my turn, my friends and my family told me the same thing. They were all really, really happy to be part of our day. They gladly took time off their schedules to distract me before the proposal and were crying buckets when my fiance got on stage and took the ring out.

He had called everyone. My childhood friends, my college best friends, my work friends, friends from my masters classes etc. He even limited the number of friends he had in the theater so he could make room for all of them.

They were enthusiastically telling me about the behind the scenes preparations and were texting me happy messages even a couple of days after.   It meant alot to me because these same loved ones were there  during our rough times. And it was fantastic to finally share with them our joy and happiness.

Thaaaank you sooo much Sibol! Loved you when I was 13, love you guys more two decades later. 🙂

I loved our proposal story because it highlighted who we were as couple: It highlighted my fiance’s hardworking attitude and his resourcefulness, it gave importance to the  love and closeness that I have with the people in  my life and it showed our sense of humor as a couple.

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Government Blues: The Sad Truth About Working for the Government

comic strip from professivecomicstrips.blogspot.com

Last August 1, on our eleventh year anniversary,  a few days after I started this blog. I meet up with my fiance for dinner and he reveals to  me some very disturbing news; their positions in Subic are uncertain because of some controversy that the agency is going through.

(Side story: my whacked guilt complex immediately thought I probably jinxed things because I wrote about being a desperate subic housewife even before my move became final.  Self-centered much? :))

The absolute sad truth is, his boss had nothing to do with whatever anomaly that was happening.  People find this hard to believe,  but he really just does want to do legitimate work in the department. Those people directly involved in the fiasco weren’t even his people, they were inherited from a previous administration.

But because it happened under his watch, and because there are plenty officials  in government who want their own guys in his position, his post is being threatened. And because my fiance is co-terminus with his boss, if anything happens, he will also lose his job.

After weeks of countless hearings and meetings,  I seriously thought things were starting to stabilize.

But then there was another bombshell.  Friends who were in another agency were leaving their posts because their boss is the current flavor of the month of the media lynch mob.

Aaaand, wait for it: By some twisted government fate, word on the street is, this controversial official might end up getting re-assigned to Subic, to replace fiance’s boss. (Disclaimer: this is just speculation among countless other speculations, nothing has been confirmed. Need to clarify before someone decides to take me too seriously. Still a bit disconcerting though).

What a trip. It’s like Melrose Place meets West Wing  (just realized that the younger generation might not get my allusions to dated TV shows. Um… Gossip girl rigodon with the Game of Thrones power struggle.. is that better?? Sorry!! I have antiquated pop media knowledge).

The thing is, when my fiance started working for the government, it really didn’t take me long to realize that it was nothing like what we envisioned it to be.  Like every idealistic, optimistic citizen, I figured that if your intentions were in the right place, and if you just did your job the way it’s supposed to be done, you have the capacity to promote change. But things are never that clear-cut.

Here were some hard lessons I learned while living vicariously through my boyfriend’s experience.

1. The government isn’t a telenovela. People are not divided into heroes and villains. 

My first awareness of the Philippine government was during the Martial Law time, when Marcos was about to be ousted. In those days,  it was very easy to distinguish the protagonists from the antagonists. The heroes were in yellow and green. The bad guys were in red and blue (I was six years old. Cut me some slack). In that era of turmoil, when every act defiance against a clear-cut dictator could be deemed life-threatening,  even pre-pubescent children  can identify who they were going to root for.

But after everything stabilized, lines and colors became blurry and you were just left with alot of gray. Even politicians who we would like to canonize as saints have their shortcomings when it comes to running the country, and those who we think bartered their souls to the devil have nuggets of good and greatness left in them.

The thing is, I think the Philippine society still has that tendency to over simplify things. Our natural tendency is to separate the “good guys”  from the “bad guys” .

I think it would be much, much better for us as a society to really stick to issues and what’ s actually being said instead of rooting for personalities and clamoring for a real-life version of Walang Hanggan (grabe that series has the most caricature-like depiction of good and evil. It’s so riveting! If you need drama in your life, let go of TV Patrol and watch that instead).

2. We can’t rely on the media to  stick to the facts either

Call me naive, but I was truly utterly shocked when I learned that certain  media people were on the take. They spin stories in certain ways either to sensationalize  and give them more airtime/coverage, or to protect politicians that their companies were siding with.

I didn’t really believe it at first. It sounds like something a vindictive official would say to explain why he’s being lambasted in the news. But I actually saw it happening. There were  “reputable” reporters who would refuse to run another side of the story without asking for some sort of compensation, those who would ask officials how they wanted to “spin” certain stories and even much worse (at least in my book), journalists who would just take out lies out of their asses and masquerade them as facts.

Here’s an easily verifiable example: A certain Subic reporter, who was very unhappy with the changes my fiance’s boss was trying to make, wrote a scathing article about how fiance’s boss did not know what he was doing and was sending the agency to ruins. In that piece, the columnist gives a brief background on him and claims that he was the reason why a certain private company (he was a retired  corporate executive before he took this post in Subic) went into financial bankruptcy. I balked at this last piece of information because a bunch of my batchmates had worked under him when he was in the said company. He came in when they were losing money and totally turned everything around. You can easily check the company records to verify this. I really didn’t understand where the columnist got the basis for this malicious claim.

Just very recently too,  our friends’ boss  (same official mentioned above) has been demonized by the media for engaging in “suspicious” behavior. I’m not privvy to this official’s  business nor can I vouch for his character, but it seems extremely unfair to prematurely hurl accusations at him and deduce conclusions from the little facts that were presented.

What’s doubly frustrating is that people actually eat this crap up. I’ve long stopped giving me two cents worth when it comes to political scandals  because I’ve become increasingly aware that, like the rest of the public, what I know is nothing close to what’s really happening (once in a while, I give in to the urge to vent though…sorry Tito Sen. I restrained myself for the longest time, but you made it soooo easy). I just refuse to brandish my ignorance and add to the muddled clutter of “truths”  people seem to delight in exposing.

3. The inability for the system to change isn’t just because of corrupt government officials or a flawed system

There is corruption in the government. Granted. From entry-level clerks to high officials, there are anomalies that happen every single day in every single department. But there are also well-meaning officials who would like to turn things around. The thing is, not only do they have to fight a flawed system, but they also have to deal with adversity from ordinary citizens who  feel entitled to take what they can take from the government, but refuse to make the sacrifice to make things better.

It’s very frustrating for me to hear people whine and whine about what the government is not doing or how things could be better if we had better roads, less corruption etc. But when push comes to shove, these same people will not give up their own personal comfort to cooperate with officials. Like what JFK said, it’s always what the country can do for us, and never what we can do for the country.

When my fiance was working for a councilor in a particular city, they were bombarded with monetary requests from various informal settlers who needed certain things. There were the usual solicitations, asking for help because their son was in the hospital, they needed money because they needed to pay they next semester’s tuition fee etc. And there were ridiculous requests. The worst I’ve heard, people asking for donations for gay pageants or  raffle prizes for Christmas parties. Wtf right?? Seriously? You’re asking for tax payers’ money to pay for your tiaras???

When you would explain to these people that their requests cannot be granted because there were citizens that needed to be prioritized, they would throw a fit. To them, because they voted for this particular official, they were “entitled” to get dole outs from them whenever they needed it. They would totally disregard the fact that budget allotted could be put into better use.

And that mentality isn’t even exclusive to formal settlers. In Subic, my fiance’s agency is currently looking into imposing CUSA on residents  so they could pay for basic services (security, lighting, road maintenance). CUSA. I know every single building and village in the Philippines impose this on their lessors. And it’s not as if these residents do not have money. As a matter of fact, to prove a point, they have hired a lawyer (whose professional fee is  probably  much more expensive than the actual amount being asked of them) to stop this from being implemented.

Efforts to meet them halfway or to explain the current state of the agency have been met with scorn and suspicion. It astounds me how supposedly highly educated people refuse reasonable efforts for improvement because it will cost them a bit more.

I know I’m not the one in government. But alot of people close to me are. People who actually want to make legitimate changes for the country. It’s very painful to watch my fiance’s frustration especially since I know his heart is in the right place. Truth be told, a career in government (especially when you’re not engaging in shady business) does not pay alot.  His peers are earning double or triple of what he’s getting. He augments his salary by taking  two or three short-term consultancy jobs at a time.  Thus, not only is he getting payed peanuts compared to most of them, he  probably works doubly hard to earn a fraction of what they’re getting.

I know my fiance’s predicament is not unique. And there are probably hundreds of them just like him, from blue-collared government workers to higher -up officials, who are trudging on despite the difficulties of their respective circumstances because they believe in what they’re doing.

And I guess I just want to give a shout out to these men and women. I want you guys to know that there are actually people who are rooting for you. People who are aware of the personal sacrifices you had to make to work for a thankless job,  to serve ungrateful citizens. I honestly don’t know how you still manage to do your job well despite all the negativity.

So cheers to each one of you. Like you, I’m praying that your efforts will one day bear fruit.