Scenes Behind the Wedding
People’s imaginations started flying the day after Mikee and Dodot called us to say, "We want to get married."
With the pamanhikan over, we discussed specific details and compromises.
There was no compromise for the following: Inno Sotto for the bridal entourage; photographers: Raymond Isaac and Eddie Boy Escudero; makeup artists and hairstylists: Mila Garces, Jerome Chang, Nonong, Patrick and Eric. Extra traffic security men to avoid a traffic jam so as not to inconvenience Dasmarinas and Forbes Park residents. The last was Peping’s idea with Kumpadre Cesar Bautista. And from Sonny Jaworski, an orchestra for the reception.
Lyn Jaworski and I found no need for a wedding coordinator and instead formed committees which Pete Cura, a l-o-n-g-t-i-m-e friend of Peping and myself, headed. Tita Ging de los Reyes set the mood. Pete set the vision… Turn of the Century… for a highly energized group that checked every minute detail.
This column is intended to say thanks to those who cared and worked to death for a single purpose… to give Dodot and Mikee a memorable July 25th 1999 wedding day.
First, the church staff of Fr. Tony Rosales like Bernadette, Benjie and Leo, should be thanked. Benjie, together with Mikee’s yaya Grace, Roland, Excel and Idang, my house-hold staff floor-waxed the choir loft’s floors. Peachie’s office boys, Ronnie, Romy, Jojo and Gil scrubbed the wall and ceilings. He yayas, Tina and Cristy and mine, Sally, Mida, Nene and Dina, tied peach ribbons and little flower on the missalettes whose readings were chosen by Dodot and Mikee themselves. They tied peach ribbons and flowers to small boxes which contained white enamel and silver key chains that had Dot’s and Mikee’s original signatures for our guests from the provinces who couldn’t come to Manila. These 500 key chains were from Atty. Louie Baltazar. They tied thank-you cards to giveaway pamaypays and cellophane 2,500 paper fans with Dot and Mikee’s pictures, a present from Andrew Lee, to distribute to their fans outside the Church and PICC. We selected "movie and TV fan spotters" from G-7, Mikee’s faithful fan group who follow her in every filming assignment to work with Louie B’s 11 men led by Rudy, Joey and Dodong, Buddha and Bexter. Lito Santiago and Bobby Millanes gave them out also like they did for Liaa’s and Pin’s weddings.
Mikee remembers that at the church, when her daddy entrusted her to Dot, he gestured with his hand as if saying, "O go na Mikee to Dodot." Mikee says she said to her Daddy, "Lovey-dovey Daddy" and kissed him at the altar steps. "Lovey dovey" is a phrase that Mikee invented at age three every time she embraced her Daddy. Mai Mai and China carried on the custom. And that’s as far as I will go on personal anecdotes as I might cry writing about Mikee’s sensitivity towards her family.
Let me move on… to the Philippine Pops Orchestra or Philpops for short. The decision to select them was initiated by Senator Robert Jaworski who wanted a full orchestra for Mikee and Dodot’s, and our guests’ entertainment. He called up Fred Mendoza and Vicky Manalang himself. This idea really made me soar up to the heavens. Fred Mendoza is a consultant to the Cebu Youth Orchestra chaired by Ingrid Sala Santamaria. Ingrid loaned us (thank you, Ingrid!) musical arrangements of popular music in symphonic form such as Gershwin’s Concert Suite. Someone to Watch Over Me and Rhapsody in Blue, Leroy Anderson’s Tango and Night and Day by Cole Porter, a favorite of Dodot.
To make Mikee and Dodot’s entrance to the reception hall of the PICC more dramatic and romantic, a contrast was created. Tympani funfare and drum roll for President Erap while five musical pieces commissioned by the couple and especially arranged for them by Philpops was played. They were Ikaw, popularized by their guest Sharon Cuneta, Your Love by Jim Brickman, Forevermore by Side A, You Were There by Southern Star and At the Beginning from Anastasia. The original score was given by the Philpops to Dodot and Mikee in a title kit to treasure for their children to play one day. Hopefully, one of their children will be musically inclined. If not, they can listen to the grandchildren of the members of the Philpops perform the pieces for them.
Jose "Peping" S. Cojuangco Jr.
Sen. Robert Jaworski
Pres. Joseph "Erap" Estrada
The dinner celebration began with an invocation, the idea of Tita Lupita, to make the occasion intimate. It was composed and read by eight-year-old Ina Cojuangco Guingona, helped her Lolo Edu Manzano, our master of ceremonies. The prayed said, "May Auntie Mikee and Tito Dodot find happiness in a long married life and may they have no problems." La Gazza Ladra by Rossini was instantly performed by the orchestra.
This orchestra is composed of 54 members who are the finest symphony instrumentalists in the country today, being an alliance of musicians from different orchestras. The Philpops is under the leadership of its musical director and principal conductor Antonio "Benjie" Bautista with maestro Ryan Cayabyab as music advisor. It is also the first musicians cooperative in the country; it will soon have its own health insurance for its members, Fred Mendoza boasts.
Philpops played the President’s favorite songs, which were Diligin mo ng Hamog ang Uhaw na Lupa by Ernani Cuenco, Mamang Sorbetero by Nonoy Gallardo and Kahit na Magtiis by Ernani Cuenco, arranged by Professor Rodel Colmenar of the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra with lyrics by President Erap himself.
The audience heard The Carmen Suite by Bizet and The Theme from Paganini to Rachmaninoffs Concerto. Both drew loud applause. All the Things You Are by Jerome Kern and Be My Love, a Mario Lanza song and the rousing finale of Voices of Spring by Johann Strauss enthralled the guests. I am describing their performance like they played in a jiffy. Not so. They performed for three hours without even taking a break. We could have listened to m ore except that it was well past midnight as they packed up their instruments.
The Flower Farm personnel should be commended. The entourage team was composed of Vicky, Virgie, Marilyn, Demi, Rowena, Pol and Ess. The Church team had Precy overseeing all arrangements with Doy, Joenel, Tony, Joey, Ponay, Manny, Joy, Miguel and Mundo. Judith and Angel were in charge of the reception them with Alex, Pen, Neil, Cris, Danny, Jaime, Gin, Aris, Boyet, June, Junnie, Roderick, Ramil, Darwin, Francis and Nestor. They are so thrilled that their names will appear in the STAR. The presentation was no easy task. Abel San Jose helped Tita Ging from May to July with Leo Almeria explaining how everything would look through his drawings.
Flowers from the Netherlands – blushing bride, carnations, tulips and delphiniums limited to colors peach, pink, white and salmon – were imported three days before the wedding and were used in the presidential table and the stage. Mikee wanted an assortment of different peach flowers, not just roses, to make the centerpieces less formal and bring in the youth of springtime.
The bridal bouquet was a replica of mine 37 years ago, which was of sampaguita leis but white roses were added to Mikee’s bouquet.
The long, long stretch white bridal limousine was the something borrowed from Gerry Geronimo and decorated by Flower Farm with white ribbons and peach-colored flowers.
I felt so sad as I walked ahead of the bride with the bridal entourage because I was not able to see my daughter alight from the car with her father or fix her bridal train as it was a crowded church that welcomed Mikee.
Rudy Pardo sewed customized coverlets for the sponsors’ and families’ pews and kneelers. Covers for the electric fans topped with ribbons Rudy sewed like he did for my two children’s weddings. The right beautiful candelabras loaned to us by Omeng Esguerra six men to carry each candelabra. Four of his boys – Arnold, Edgard, Arthur and Ogie -with Nomer, Fe, Roland, Jun, Angelo, Benjie and Tony labored to carry these wooden antiques.
I will forever remember Lady Ambassador Fu Ying of the People’s Republic of China, my friend since 1987, who lent us the Embassy’s dining chairs for the parents and godparents whose burgundy upholstery was coincidentally the same color and fabric as the chairs of Santuario de San Antonio. God was truly with us. He even granted us fair weather.
There was also the efficient Andrea of Senator Jaworski’s staff. Jessie de Leon of the PICC was the project coordinator assigned by Cely Villanueva, officer in charge of the Philippine International Convention Center and Rose Castro of the marketing events department for our celebration.
A week before, Jessie with Boy Liong, Ross, Larry and Pimentel changed 4,500 bulbs out of 6,000 from the reception hall chandeliers. It took five days to vacuum and shampoo the rugs, to wax and replace chipped tiles. In three days, they set up the camera platforms of Channel 7 and Viva Productions, constructed the stage for the Philpops and the dance floor. Jessie coordinated our sound system with Sound Check led by Rards Corpuz and his men, Boyet, Boboy, Zaldy, Jonnel, Bong, Larry and God bless three more souls I can’t remember. Our thanks to Century Park Sheraton which lent us the edging around the dance floor. The piano was moved into the hall by the PICC personnel, while Arthur of Via Mare instructed the movers on the table arrangements. Jessie told us Via Mare had called in 338 personnel for the floor and kitchen setup on the 25th. Glenda Barretto and her assistant Diana never missed a minute overseeing these preparations weeks before. Mikee requested: "Mommy, please no doves. It’s so unkind to animals. They’re trapped in a cage, let loose, and will get lost inside the hall. No garter also Mom, it’s not Filipino at all."
The morning of the wedding, as Virgie Ramos prayed with the help of the nuns of Santa Clara, 70 Presidential Security Guards led by Inspector Daro under the instructions of Maj. Dan Bagaforo and 25 of our Luisita guards led by Jose Gonzales with Col. Bodette Honrado and Lt. Col. Larry dela Cruz using countersigned pins with white enamel that read "Dodot and Mikee nuptials," positioned three scanners and the dogs to sniff around PICC. It seems our evening guests did not notice the dogs that were discreetly hidden, taking a whiff of the gifts as they were brought in. "Is our wedding going to the dogs?" Pete joked and we all laughed with gusto. Humor was needed to ease the tension.
The two reception tables with five Jaworski and five Cojuangco staff members each had flags arranged on them indicating "A – C," "D – G," "H – M" and so forth. Annie with her past congressional staff and Olive with her present Senate staff indicated table sections by issuing cards to the guests as Lito and Bobby (take note, they’re machos!) again gave out anahaw pamaypays with thank-you notes on them.
Elegance is what Dingdong Cabazor, a freelance stage and concept director for concerts, musicals, fashion shows and corporate events, contemplated for the entire hall with floor director Citas San Miguel. The wedding’s color motif was peach and pink so Dingdong combined these colors with amber and wash lighting. The hall had floral arrangements in gold leaf candelabras with 10 candles that were lit. He sustained this yellow glow with magenta color. The presidential table was highlighted with spots particularly for the newlyweds, their parents, ninongs and ninangs. The floor as well as the cake was lighted peach, pink, combined with amber. The basic stage had frontal and side primary color gels, and a combination of washed lighting to define the members of the orchestra. Tertiary color gels and combination colors like amber, aqua, magenta, combined with wash lights, done with haze, set the mood and tone for the backdrop; the huge pillars with off-white silk, drapes and fresh floral ornaments. Oca and Rards added 30 par lights and mixed them all together to remove the yellow gleams. Along the bridge on the way to the reception hall, you’d see Tivoli lights encircling the post along the way like it was Christmas.
It was touching that the President, concerned about the bride and groom, instructed Gen. Calimlim for Dodot and Mikee to use his personal air-conditioned, well-appointed holding room while he used Mikee and Dodot’s holding area that had no air conditioning except for five electric fans. In that warm room, Ninong President ate his Pastel na Balut prepared by Via Mare with his family and close friends.
There is much to be said about the finely selected wine and hard drinks purchased by Dodot and my daughter Josephine from Bacchus, Praises went to Via Mare’s US Angus roast beef, braised duck with fig sauce, Lapu-Lapu Caprice fillet pan fried and topped with bananas, salmon marinated with citrus honey, grilled prawns with chili sauce and rice presented in cones made of tortilla wrappers. It took only two days to cook all the food and two food-tasting sessions with Lyn Jaworski and Peping. Via Mare ordered 1,600 baby pineapples all in uniform sizes from Silang, Cavite.
The lemon sorbet was on top of these baby pineapples which were sliced in half. It took a Paete carver 12 hours to carve the pineapples. Diana Rosales says, "It was exciting preparing for the event." There were waiters from Via Mare Greenbelt instructed by Thelma Taduraan, the Penthouse staff from Tektite Via Mare Restaurant under Lawrence Tolosa were there to help that evening. Landmark Via Mare Restaurant under Marivic Rono and the catering boys of the Via Mare Restaurant with Ella Cano were on alert. Nieves Ng and Jean Pierre Migne took charge of the kitchen production. The table settings were by Boy Cano. All hands were on deck. Congratulations, Glenda!
The seven-foot cake by Heny Sison conformed with the size of the hall. Her little boxes with mini-carrot cake and peach flowers on top and her horse-shoe cookie with a basketball in the center was yummy. Some guests asked for Dryers ice cream. It was a present from the Senator for Dodot.
As Mikee sat smiling next to her husband, her hair pinned in place with the little diamond horse from Tita Virgie made into a bobby pin that I designed, crafted by Metiang de Leon, the staff never sat down to relax. This night had to be a memorable breathtaking event. Perfect and flawless!
Thanks, more thanks and endless thanks.
To all those who came or couldn’t but whose kind thoughts were with us, please accept our sincere gratitude.
Source: Tingting Cojuangco, The Philippine Star