I heard this love story from my mom, and I have never forgotten it.
She knew of a couple which were dating. This was around the early 60s. They discovered that they were compatible right off the bat. She liked his openness, attention and the strength and the caring he exuded. He liked her for her simplicity, her humor and the love she seemed to project. They went out a few times and not too long after, they eventually fell in love.
After a few months, they decided to get married. But there was just one problem. The guy had a very low paying job. It was around 200 pesos a month during that time. He was living with his parents.
While the girl’s parents liked him, they naturally were quite alarmed. How would he be able to support their daughter? What if she got pregnant early? Where would he get the money in case they had a child? They were full of questions and anxieties.
But the girl and the guy were too far in love to change their minds. It seemed like a deadlock that couldn’t be solved without some unpleasantness and pain.
Finally, the guy decided to do something. He went to talk to the girl’s parents and presented their case.
“I hope you do not doubt that we are truly in love’, he said.
‘No, we can see you are truly in love and that you have the best of intentions for our daughter’, the father answered.
Finally, the guy took a deep breath, faced them and asked with the most serious face he could muster the following question. ‘Would you let 200 Pesos stand in the way of your daughter’s happiness? I know I will not.’ He said. ‘And I also know that life is not static and I know good things will come my way in time. And with our love as our inspiration, we can overcome any problems we may encounter and create opportunities for more happiness.’
The parents were baffled. How indeed could they let a simple obstacle like a 200 Pesos salary jeopardize the happiness of their daughter. They thought about it in silence for a few minutes. It was the longest silence the parents and the guy had ever experienced.
Finally, throwing away their misgivings, they gave them the blessings to marry.
And yes, theirs was a marriage that lasted and was happy.
I thought that story was so romantic then especially since it was a true story. When I started dating my wife-to-be, I found myself often in the same boat as the young man. I had no money. All the other guys who were after Lydia were rather rich. They had cars. They would invite her to fine dining, and give her flowers and gifts.
Aside from taking her to the movies, I could hardly afford going out to do anything else much less take her to some expensive dining place.
One of our earliest dates was in Luneta. My cousin who had a car dated Lydia’s sister who was our designated chaperone. the arrangement was so convenient. At least we had a car.
When we got to Luneta, the 4 of us went for a long walk around the park and to the sea wall while we chatted away about so many things. We told jokes, exchanged stories while flirting. At the end of the night, my cousin and I bought our dates balloons which was all we could afford. But we enjoyed ourselves.
This may sound cheesy but to Lydia and her sister, we were quite unique. They were used to more ‘proper’ dates. My cousin and I were different and exciting to them. On our next date, we went to La Mesa dam to take their pictures under the big trees.
The best thing about this was it set the tone for us. When we got married, we hardly had money and only spent what we could afford which was not much. The reception was at home. We served cocktails, not dinner. But everyone present enjoyed the celebration. There was a ring of sincerity to it.
My father-in-law calculated how much we had spent and gave us a corresponding check as his gift. From our only set of ninong and ninang, we got some more and that was enough to get us started.
These days, I see people going all out for their weddings and a few years later finding out that they are not meant for each other.
Love is not about THE peak experience that you get by manipulating or controlling the outside world to give you the mood and thrill you desire. Lasting love is simple. It’s more about the peak experience between the two of you where the outside world may hardly even matter.