A Retelling of Life

Archive for September, 2011

The Tao of Success

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more commonplace than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent. –  Calvin Coolidge

A Fun Wedding Needs a Great Host

The 2 months I had to prepare for the wedding were spent scouring the internet for tips and ides.  Thanks to a number of wedding blogs I chanced upon, hubby and I had a wealth of ideas to choose from.  I noticed though that when it came to the actual wedding reception, there wasn’t much material online.  We used a mix of the tips and through the help of our able and lively emcee, my sister and bestfriend, Dr. Kaye Parreno (now Parreno-Bautista), we came up with a program that we though would inspire our guests to unwind and just enjoy.  A special thanks goes out also to my other sister Mimin, who was the “sous chef” of Kaye.

In the spirit of giving back, I’m posting the draft of our wedding reception program to serve as reference for brides to be…

DINNER RECEPTION Program and Script

By Kaye Parreno

Call to Order

NOTE: Test microphone before speaking.

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen. May I have your attention please. We are about to begin our Dinner Reception so please find a seat and make yourself comfortable.

Let us begin this celebration with a prayer to be led by __________. Let us all stand, bow down our heads and put ourselves in the presence of God. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Opening Prayer by __________

Heavenly Father,

Love has been your richest and greatest gift to this world.
Love between a man and a woman which matures into marriage.
Today, we celebrate that love.
Lord for the joy of this occasion, we thank You.
For Your presence here and now and at all times, we thank You.
Protect, guide, and bless Raymund and Val and everyone present here.
Surround us with Your love now and always.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.


Welcome Address

A pleasant evening to everyone!  Welcome to the celebration fo Raymund and Valerie’s Greatest Day Ever.  This beach is indeed a fitting setting for our newlyweds as we mark the beginning of their life together.  So sit, down, enjoy the cool breeze, and enjoy the rest of the evening.

I am Kaye, the Maid of Honor, and your host for the night.  We thank you all for gracing this occasion, especially those who took a leave of absence from work or school, and those who have traveled miles just to be with us today.  In behalf of Raymund and Val, and their proud parents, I would like to express heartfelt gratitude for your presence tonight.  It is indeed a pleasure to have you all here.

Introduction and Acknowledgments

Parents of the Newlyweds

Before anything else, we would like to acknowledge the persons who took a great part of this joyous affair.  For without their support, this even would not have been made possible.  Ladies and Gentlement, it is with great pleasure to introduce to you the Parents of the Bride, Mr and Mrs. Joe and Carmen Parreno.

(Optional:  description of parents?)

And of course, let us get to know the Parents of the Groom.  Friends, let us give a big hand to Mr. and Mrs. Aaron and Nora Alova.  (Optional:  description of parents?)

Principal Sponsors

We would also like to acknowledge our Principal Sponsors.  Starting off with the ladies..

  • __________________ – description
  • __________________ – description
  • __________________ – description
  • __________________ – description
  • __________________ – description
  • __________________ – description
  • __________________ – description
  • __________________ – description
  • __________________ – description
  • __________________ – description
  • __________________ – description
  • __________________ – description

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, our most distinguished set of principal sponsors.  A Round of applause!  Thank you Sir and Madam, for taking time out to be with us.

Family and Friends

A wedding brings two people and their families together.  It refreshes the family ties and friendship that have gone stale and almost forgotten against the toll of time and distance.  For this allow me to give a very special welcome to the families and friends who traveled away from home to be here.

From the Bride’s Side:

  1. _____
  2. _____
  3. _____
  4. _____
  5. _____

From the Groom’s Side:

  1. _____
  2. _____
  3. _____
  4. _____
  5. _____

Also with us here togight, it is our pleasure to have Rev _____________, our officiating priest for the wedding ceremony.

So I guess that’s about it.

Entrance of the Bridal Party

At this point, I assume everyone has settled down. May I request our lovely cousin _____ (Manang Grace?) to please facilitate the welcoming party for our newlyweds.

Background Music:  __________________

Description – voice over/MC

  • Flower Girls:
    • ______________  Description:
    • _______________  Description:
  • Bearers
    • Bible:_______________  Description:
    • Coin:_______________  Description:
    • Ring:_______________  Description:
  • Secondary sponsors
    • _______________  Description:
    • _______________  Description:
    • _______________  Description:
  • Groomsmen + Bridesmaids
    • _______________  Description:
    • _______________  Description:
    • _______________  Description:
  • Best man + Maid of Honor
    • _______________  Description:
    • _______________  Description:


Tonight calls for a grand celebration and it is my distinct pleasure to introduce to you for the very first time Raymund and Valerie as husband and wife.  So without further ado, let us all rise and give our warmest welcome to Mr. and Mrs. Raymund and Valerie Alova!

(Newlyweds enter the hall)

(Grand entrance of the couple with effects like bubble and fog and confetti?)

(Spotlight on the couple)

BRIDAL PARTY DANCE: Music: Marry Me song c/o Mimin

– Whew!  What an opening number!  Excitement and positive energy are already starting to brew in this splendid beach wedding party, and that’s only the beginning!

To facilitate the official opening of this night’s event, a few words will be given by the Groom’s Parents.  May I request Tito ______ and Tita  _______ for the opening message.

OPENING MESSAGE:  from Groom’s Parents?

Thank you tita and tito.  Well I guess it’s time.  The food is ready and dinner will commence in a while.  May I call on _________________ to say grace.

GRACE before meals:  Nang Aileen

Just before DINNER

All right, dinner is served.  But not so fast, ladies and gentlemen.  First you have to prove you deserve this sumptuous feast by proving to us all that you know a little something about the Bride and the Groom.  So here’s the mechanics of this little pre-dinner game.  You are grouped according to your table. Each table has a name corresponding to every little adventure Raymund and Valerie have experienced.  I give out a Trivia Question and one member from each table stands up, shouts out the table name, and is given the chance to answer.  If the answer is correct, then congratulations!  Your table gets to approach the buffet table first!  Val, Raymund, you watch out for who stands up first.  If the first answer is wrong, the other tables get a chance to steal.  Ok?  Is that clear enough?  All set?

Now for the first question…

Trivia questions c/o Manang Pech

  • ??? – Congratulations table Corregidor!  To the Buffet Table now! J
  • ???  and so on…


May I have your attention please.  While you are eating to your tummy’s content, the newlyweds would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone personally for your presence.  As your table is called, please approach Raymund and Valeie to have your picture taken.  Simultaneously, our beautiful Bridesmaids will be distributing wedding giveaways and passing along the guest book so please stand by in your seats.

–           Souvenir Picture Taking while Background Music: “Favorite Hits”

–          Wedding Giveaways

–          Guest book

Val’s dear friend Dee and her dear boyfriend ______, will now have the chance fill your hearts with songs.  May I call on Dee and ___________, for a lovely serenade.

Thanks u Dee.  Now, may I direct your focus on a little presentation here, prepared by the Bride and Groom, to share with you the simple travels they have shared in their journey of knowing each other

–           AVP:  Video/ powerpoint presentation of Adventures

Thank you for sharing those memorable times with us, Raymund and Val.  Now give us the chance to share something special with you..

–          AVP:  Messages from people who are not present

CAKE cutting by Bride and Groom

Okay.  So are you guys done with the main course?  Ready to go for dessert?  By all means, help yourself.

Speaking of dessert, it’s now time for the traditional Cake Cutting by the Bride and Groom.  Raymund, Valerie, can you guys join me here..

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen.  The cake has been cut.  May I now request the waiters to please serve the cake to our guests.

–          Happy Marriage Secrets.  Each time the guests “cling” their glass for the couple to kiss, the couple would kiss and the MC would have them call on another married couple to share their “secret” to a happy marriage and then kiss.


–           Mechanics to be clarified further

–          Singled Out Bridal Catch

P.s. It drizzled during dinner.  We didn’t let that dampen our spirits though.  Of course, the chair covers got wet, hence, the “naked” chairs. =)

–          Picture with new “couple”


A celebration is never complete without a toast and a bottle of good wine.  While the wine is being served and poured, let us hear from the well-wishers who have been a significant part of the lives of the couple, who love them and wish the best for them.  Starting off with:


  • Tito Tony:  description
  • Gay:  description


Best Man waits for everyone to stand up and see to it that everyone has raised their glasses and says:  (something like)  Here’s to good health, happiness, good luck and prosperity to Raymund and Val! Cheers!

  • all guests are requested to rise and participate
  • what to serve?  Wine?

Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen.  You may now be seated.

GAMES:  Introducing the Game Masters:  Jill and Boogs!

–          Married Couple Statue Dance.  All the married couples at the wedding join the newlyweds  on the dance floor and each couple will be eliminated based on the # of years they’ve been married (the fewest to the most years).

TRIBUTE to parents

Video Presentation:  Tribute

Mother/Son – Father/Daughter Dance followed by FIRST DANCE:  Music: Teenage Dream

It is said that our parents are our first teachers, raising us patiently from childhood to adulthood.  They have been our source of comfort, support and inspiration.

Raymund and Valerie are truly blessed with such wonderful set of parents, and I’m quite sure when it comes to knowing what marriage is all about, hey always have a word or two to share to their children.  We would like to call on the Father (or mother?)  of the Bride, Joe/Carmen Parreno, to say a few words of wisdom.

Thank you, Dad/Mom.  Thank you for that inspiring message.  Now we would like to call on the Father/Mother of the Groom, for words of wisdom that life and experience have taught.

Thank you once again.  Let us give them a big hand for such wonderful and meaningful testimonies.  Tito and Tita, Mom and Dad, this video is for you.

–            Video:  c/o Nong Raymund and Manang Pech

–          (Music plays in the background, and the newlyweds invite their father/mother to dance)

–           Father/daughter and Mother/son dance

BRIDE & GROOM speech

The night and this celebration has almost come to an end but for our newlyweds, it is just a start of their new life together.  As we each go our separate ways, may this day be as memorable for all of us as it is to them.  To personally convey their heartfelt gratitude let us now listen to what Raymund and Valerie have to say..

(After speech, Raymund invites the guests to go by the shore and form a farewell circle)

THE FAREWELL CIRCLE: Raymund and Val go on inside the circle and starting from opposite sides, bids each guest thank you and goodbye until reach each other.

(Everybody hold hands.  Bridesmaids distribute sparklers)  Raymund and Val dances while the sparklers are lit up.

Music fades in from the background: ___________________

Another dance from the couple

EXIT: Golf cart with “Just  Married”

(MC leads the applause as the couple drive away.. Mimin, takes over..)

(People head back to the reception area.)

Well, what an exquisite ending to a beautiful day.  We have finally reached the end of our program, ladies and gentlemen.  It has been momentous, sharing this evening with you all.  Again, thanks for coming.  God bless, and enjoy the rest of the night.

MIMIN takes over and the DANCING BEGINS!

— Open Ending—

Tips for a Beach Wedding – Part 1

A week ago, colleague’s daughter got married in Boracay.  I’m reminded of my own beach wedding and the purpose of this blog.  Considering how long it has been since I’ve written about planning a wedding, I’d be remiss in my duty as a would be “wedding blogger” if I don’t post a wedding related post soon.   After all, December’s coming–wedding high season.  Its high time that I get started blogging my tips for brides to be.

1.  Tone/Mood

Light and breezy, that’s what beach weddings are about. Thus, when planning a beach wedding, keep in mind that your guests just want to have fun.  Throw formality out of the window..and put on your gayest smile.  Except for the church ceremony, the cocktails and the reception should be a big party, a laidback celebration of love.

2.  Church Ceremony

If you’re getting married in the Holy Rosary Chapel, make arrangements with your florists to decorate the chapel’s door.  If you want to create the ethereal effect of a bride entering the church, you’ll have to have a white curtain cover the entrance.  The door of the chapel is quite heavy and closing the door before the bride enters. is not something even the strongest of men can manage without a squeak.  Besides, why have them go through all that trouble.  In my case, my friend Lore of “Chic and Choc’s Party Shop”, did a beautiful job of creating a simple curtain for me.  Jez, Jans, Dee and their significant others where there to make sure that the curtains opened for me at the right moment.  (As you may already have noticed, DIY weddings won’t be possible without the support of family and friends.)

3.  Transportation

Remember that there are no taxis or jeepneys in Boracay.  You take your pick between a trike and a walk to get where you want to go.  I walked to my wedding under the sweltering heat of sun but I got away with it because our resort was just in front of the Church.  Given the proximity of the church to Boracay Plaza Resort, we also didn’t have to arrange transportation for our guests.

Life is a Marathon

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” – Oprah Winfrey

I remember Saturday mornings spent running from our high school to Capitolville and back.  I remember afternoons spent at the oval of our neighboring school (Yup, we had a tennis court and a softball field but NO oval..just showed you where track lay in the hierarchy of sports in our high school .. =). We didn’t let that get to us though.  We loved to run and that’s what mattered.

I remember my chest heaving heavily,cold beads of perspiration trickling by my forehead, my feet sprinting at the sound of the gun going off, the chill of the wind on my face.  I remember the soft cheering of my teammates (There weren’t so many people who’d stay behind to cheer us on , they’d usually go off to more “interesting” sports) and the swelling of pride that  came with crossing the finish line.

Unexpectedly, running is enjoying a renaissance.  It is finally getting the attention it deserves.  New runners have found out what the runners of old have always known, that there is a joy in running that other sports cannot bring.  Thus, there are organized runs held every month, in every major city of our country.

When you run, you run against yourself, you run to forget and to remember, you run against everything that is a mess in your life and for everything that is good and wonderful.  In running, there is freedom.   You are no one else but yourself.

My new life has given me the luxury of time to run and I am making the most of it.  I have finally reconnected with one of my old passions.  I pray that the Lord will lead to discover my other passions.  I have time…

Of Life and Death

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”Revelation 21:4


This afternoon, I was at a funeral of my colleague’s 25 year old daughter.  Tonight, I just received word that the brother of one of my closest friends, who’s not even 30, passed on too.  How are we to make sense of such untimely deaths? What can you say to the loved ones they left behind, when you know the awful truth, that no words can make the pain of loss, go away?

A few years ago, I lost a very good friend of mine.  He was 32 at the time he left us.  Even now, the loss of him is as real as it was then.

He was my own personal cheerleader.  In college, he along with another “mentor” encouraged me to come out of my shell [I was a bit shy then, a little introverted, uncomfortable in the presence strangers (especially boys! I blame my “all girls HS” for this blight in my personality :D], got me to embrace the “Manang Pech” in me and led me to fall in love with KAUSAP (Kausa sa Pag-hiliusa kag Pag-alagad Students’ Alliance for Progress).  KAUSAP–now, that is a chapter worthy of a separate blog.

In law school, he would accompany me at the Buildings and Grounds canteen during those moments when I needed to clear my head (And I had a lot of those, mind you.)  There, with the Manongs and Manangs, I would chat with him about my dreams and aspirations.

Later on, when I began practicing law, he would send me inspirational emails and songs to remind me to continue working towards the bigger picture.  He inspired me to want to make a difference, to use my profession to create a better world, one day at a time.  (This, is something I’m still working on though.)

I miss him still.  I wish he’d witnessed my wedding.  I remember the first time he met hubby..he took hubby aside and told him to take care of me.  I remember him giving me a subtle nod to signify his approval afterward.  Indeed, he is the older brother I never had and I will forever miss him.

But I know he is with me always, for his memories live in my heart.

She is Gone

You can shed tears that she is gone,
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her only that she is gone,
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what she’d want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

David Harkins

My Afternoon with The Historian

On a fine Sunday morning, I woke up feeling refreshed and eager to start a day of “getting my life in order”.  I had papers to file, a closet to organize and a host of errands to schedule.   But fate had other plans for me, it seemed.

When the power went out as it does in this part of the world every so often, I felt a little dejected.  I really was bent on being productive.  Fortunately, the feeling left me as soon as I chanced a look on “The Historian”.  I had been planning to read it for weeks since I discovered it at our local Book sale but work and life and my Kindle supply of  free e-books had gotten in way.

It’s now 4:30 pm and I have been to Bulgaria, Romania and back.  I cannot wait to plan a trip to Eastern Europe.   The Historian reads part history and part travel book, a sumptuous read that satisfies the adventurer in me. An  enthralling and thrilling investigative journey into the life of Vlad the Impaler, I found myself at once scared and excited to get to know the fates of  Paul, Helen, Elena, and the many characters Elizabeth Kostova so cleverly conjured.

Not since the Life of Pi have I read a book that I have fallen in love with.  The melding of history, dracula folklore and church tradition in one novel is a feat in itself.  I am disturbed by the capacity for cruelty of our race but I am comforted by the truth, that it is in the face of cruelty that heroes are born.

“History has taught us that the nature of man is evil, sublimely so. Good is not perfectible, but evil is. Why should you not use your great mind in service of what is perfectible? … There is no purity like the purity of the sufferings of history. You will have what every historian wants: history will be reality to you. We will wash our minds clean with blood”

“For all his attention to my historical education, my father had neglected to tell me that history’s terrible moments were real.  I understand now, decades later, that he  could have never told me.  Only history itself can convince you of the truth.  And once you’ve seen the truth — really seen it — you can’t look away.”

“Today I will go to wait for her again, because I cannot help it, because my whole being seems now to be bound up in the being of one so different from myself and yet so exquisitely familiar that I can scarely understand what has happened.”

“I’ve always been interested in foreign relations. It’s my belief that study of history should be our preparation for understanding the present rather than an escape from it.”

Indeed, history is a great teacher.  Thank you for a wonderful afternoon of learning, Ms. Elizabeth Kostova.

Dark brown book cover saying "The HISTORIAN"; then "A Novel" in a shiny gold stripe, then "ELIZABETH KOSTOVA". A few thin reddish streaks stretch from the top almost to the bottom.

The Mystery of Anawangin

Republished from an old travel blog of mine (2008).

I was feeling overwhelmed by work the day I said yes to Anawangin. Usually, I’d have read some blogs already, I’d have seen pictures of the place but I was just too busy to check. Thus, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that I wanted to get away for the weekend, to be able to forget my troubles if only for a short while. And forget them, I did…

I was drowsy from our 4 hour road trip. I sleepily got into the boat but the waves stirred my senses to life. The waves were unusually huge and it was disconcerting to see them have their way with our tiny boat (it could only carry a max of 4 persons!). To make matters worst, Anawangin was too far off to be seen from the pier. It was pretty much an adventure into unforgiving seas. I noticed our boatman navigating the boat, avoiding the rock formations that were around us. The waves crashed into the iceberg-like rocks and gave me an inkling of how our tiny boat would fare against the rocks. That boat ride pretty much summed up our Anawangin experience… a glimpse into the lush, raw and almost violent beauty of nature.

Thirty minutes later, we found ourselves in Anawangin. A wide stretch of almost white sand, alternately lined with pine trees (not coconut trees!) and tents greeted my sight. We arrived whilst another group was leaving. One of them had drowned and had to be rushed to the hospital in town. The fatalist in me didn’t let that incident dampen our spirits.

We hurriedly set up our campsite knowing that it would be dark soon. One group of campers observed our laughable and awkward attempts to set up our tent and came over to assist us. Seeing our difficulty in cooking our rice over charcoal, they offered us the use of their portable stove. Here, the Bayanihan spirit flourished.

There was no electricity in the area, no facilities except for tiny almost-makeshift shower rooms, no cell sites. This was it, the authentic camping experience. With no technology with us, the food and conversation kept flowing. We slept under the stars, sated with the realization that life is truly beautiful.

This was a place where time stood still. I could imagine myself lying on the beach and getting cozy while reading a novel. This was a place for reflection, a place where you could actually hear your thoughts.

Since we wanted to see the rest of the islands, we had to leave early the next day. The waves would be stronger in the afternoon and no boatman would risk a visit to the neighboring islands then.

The next day, we left early for Capones Island, an island that I found was full of contradictions. It was like you had visited three different places and not just one. Not only was there a beach and a small cove but there was a towering cliff where you could view the whole island. Atop one of the cliffs was a lighthouse. It would have been nice to visit the lighthouse but our boatman insisted that it was too dangerous to attempt to cross the waves to get there.

I was reluctant to leave. I wanted to drown myself in the experience. I wanted to get lost and be found again. But reality beckoned. Thanks to Anawangin, I felt my spirits revived. I was ready for the world again.


The Beginning

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

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When I turned 25, I resolved to visit the land of my childhood–Disneyland.

I am a Disney baby.  I grew up memorizing “I Can Show You the World” and “When You Wish Upon a Star”, I shed tears when Bambi’s mother died and I even wept for Wall-E, who roamed the streets of the Earth alone.  I am not ashamed to admit that I cried buckets the very moment I stepped on Disneyland.  It was a joyful homecoming…it was also when I found a new passion..I found the adventurer in me and I haven’t been the same since. 😉  It was quite fitting that I would realize my dream in the land where dreams come true.  =)

A Daring Adventure

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.  To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.” Helen Keller

I remember reading a book where the writer espoused the view that inspiration isn’t found, it is not something you look for.  He said that inspiration is something inside you, it is something that comes from within.  Today, I awakened to the truth of that statement.

All my life, I have been a restless soul.  For so long, I’ve been so worried about not having figured things out, about not knowing what I want from life.  I’ve fretted about dying before finding my real and all-consuming passion.  Recently though, I’ve found myself inspired by life itself, by the strength of love, by the enduring bonds of family, by the beauty that seems to abound in everyone I meet.  I don’t know if this will last.  This feeling of knowing that everything will be right in the world, that things may not be perfect now and they never will be, but that eventually, the imperfections won’t matter at all.

I thank the Lord for taking me on this journey.  It’s has been one thrilling adventure after another.  I haven’t been spared the hurts and tears that come with a journey but I have also been blessed with joyous moments and loving memories.  After 30 years, my heart is finally at peace. =) Indeed, life is beautiful.  =)

A Sojourn to Cambodia

There are few places in the world where you can feel time stand still, and such is Angkor Wat.  Its quiet majesty takes you on a ride into your soul and you feel awe and wonder.  It is a place of reflection, a place of prayer and healing.  It is a reminder to mankind that kingdoms and civilizations rise and fall, like life itself.