Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Second Chance

It was my second time to be interviewed for my U.S. visa application. This time around, I was doubly nervous. Though I had no expectation, and had psyched myself up for whatever outcome, the thought of being denied again a U.S. visa was eating me up. The entire process – from the submission of the passport and forms at the pavilion to the actual waiting for my number to be called for the actual interview and the interview proper – was whirling in my head. My heart was beating fast. I was thinking – I would rather do weddings than undergo such high anxiety. (Really, I would prefer planning a wedding than being interviewed by the consul.)

And then my turn came. Window no. 3. A young lady, probably in her mid-20's interviewed me. Unlike the first time, no papers were asked from me – no bank statements, no land titles, no nothing. I answered her questions about my work as truthfully as I could. After a few more questions, she went back to her database and found out I was interviewed last July. This time, I thought that my chances of getting approved were getting slimmer. Then nonchalantly, she told me, "I find no reason why you were denied the first time." I answered simply, "Same here. I also don't know why." At this point, I got a glimpse of the interviewer-consul through the next window. And there he was – the same consul who interviewed me the first time. I just wanted to blurt out to the lady consul, "Ask him why I was denied." Good thing, I stopped short of saying that line. After a few more tinkering with her database, she smiled and said, "You can now visit the U.S. I am giving you a B1/B2 visa." I couldn't contain my happiness. I wanted to kiss the lady consul. After mustering enough guts, I asked her what type of visa she was giving me. And she said cheerfully, "10 years multiple entry visa." I left the window beaming from ear to ear.

I plan to visit the U.S. in February 2009 for a maximum of three weeks. After that, I need to fly back to Manila because I have wedding commitments in March.

For those who prayed for me and with me so that my visa would be granted, thank you so much.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In Gratitude

It was early this year when I just came home from an event that I got a heartbreaking news from Raymond, my brother-in-law. His wife Tessa, my younger sister, is diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer. I could still remember how I tried to be strong when I went up to her room immediately after I learned about the ailment. There she was in a corner, staring at her only daughter. I walked up to her and assured her that everything would be fine. Deep inside, however, I was so scared for her. Who would have thought that a 30-year-old woman who does not have any vice, lives a simple and quiet life, and eats healthy food would be afflicted with cancer?

I phoned some of my doctor-friends and doctor-clients for options and opinions on her condition. She underwent a battery of tests and opted for chemotherapy. Her doctor told her that she didn’t need a mastectomy (removal of breasts) because the cancer was detected early on. It also helped that she was young and her physical condition at that time could withstand the rigors and effects of chemotherapy.

I never thought that my younger sister could be that brave for the duration of the treatment. She took on the battle with the Big C head-on. She was strong. She needed to be. We all had to be strong for her as well. I think more than anything else, the prayers of the family and friends helped us a lot.

With my sister's permission, here is the letter she sent out to our family and friends who stood by us during our most trying times. Tessa, my dear sister, I look up to you for the kind of strength you have shown during this entire process. Remember that we all love you.

Thinking back to the first days after I've learned that I had breast cancer, it felt as though my world had turned upside-down and inside-out. Terror and grief overwhelmed me. All I could think about was my diagnosis and the overpowering feelings that controlled me. My life was overturned in the most dramatic way with death staring me in the face. I remember the fear in the faces of my loved ones and the pain and grief I put them through.

After the last treatment, I know my life is forever changed by cancer. I realized I cannot return to my old life because I am a different person after the crisis. Having gone through chemo and radiation is like having gone to hell and back. I have battled the worst and have come out victorious.

I hope and usually believe that I am going to be okay. One reality that you cannot escape is the hard fact that no one can ever promise you that the cancer is completely gone, that you are cured, that you can live the rest of your life without worry. Sometimes I do get scared, and then I remember what I have already been through. My faith sustains me. I would never have thought that I could manage surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and feeling so ill but I did. If the future brings me more cancer, I now know that somehow I will manage.

One of the most important things I have learned from this healing journey is that God will use the cancer as a tool to reverse our life and make it better. Sometimes, it takes cancer to give us the clarity we need to see in our life; it’s always for something bigger and better. Breast cancer has changed me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I’ve learned a great deal about my capacity for strength, for courage, for empathy, and for love. If there’s one thing that cancer has taught me, it’s that I am stronger than I think.

I am proud to be part of a very special sisterhood ICanServe, and grateful for my companions on this journey. They have inspired me and reminded me once again of how beautiful life is and that it does not cease to be beautiful during or after cancer.

Thinking about my own life with breast cancer, I must acknowledge that my family, relatives and friends deserve most of the credit for my coping. Your prayers and support give me strength to continue fighting this battle. I will forever be grateful to all of you. I wouldn’t have gone through this without all of you by my side. I am overwhelmed by your powerful messages of love, prayers and encouragement. Thank you so much.

To my daughter Gela, thank you for giving me more than enough reason to fight this disease and for always telling me “it’s okay mom” whenever you see me crying. Your smile and laughter helped me go through the bad days during my treatment.

Most of all, I thank my husband, Mon, for always being there for me every step of the way. No matter what the future brings, we will get through it all together.

Thank you everyone... for everything.


Tessa with her husband, Mon and two-year old daughter, Gela - Christmas 2007.
Tessa during her sixth and last chemo session at Medical City - August 2008

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Real Weddings: Finally Together

Dan Tesoro-Dadang Desiderio
Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe
Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club

It never fails to warm my heart whenever I receive a message from former clients expressing their appreciation of the hard work I put in planning their wedding. It becomes all the more special and touching if the message came some months after the event.

One such couple is Dan and Dadang Tesoro. Their wedding proved once more that good things happen to those who wait.

This fun-loving couple went steady in college and have been together since. They had ample time (ten years, more or less) to know each other well before taking the plunge. The moment finally came when they decided to get married at the quaint Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Church which served as a perfect backdrop for a solemn ceremony witnessed by 300 of the couple’s family members and friends.
Dadang’s vision of something elegant but simple materialized beautifully throughout the wedding. Set in November, the event took on a “Thanksgiving Day” theme with Dadang opting for orange, plum and green as her wedding colors. All the printed materials—from the escort cards, programme cards and invitations—used maple leaf icons. The exquisite wedding gown, masterfully conceptualized by celebrated fashion designer, Patis Tesoro (who happens to be the groom’s aunt) featured multi-colored appliqués delicately attached piece by piece on off-white silk chiffon. The bride was made radiant by Cathy Cantada. Before leaving for the church, the couple, going against tradition, had their formal portraits taken by David Hanson at the lobby of Shangri-La Makati. Indeed, there was never a dull moment with this laid-back couple. Both food lovers, Dan and Dadang were incessant and meticulous in searching for and choosing the best food to serve their 300 plus guests. The Plaza, having catered to many of the Tesoro’s family functions, was the unanimous choice. Not to be excluded was the perennially famous ham which made The Plaza a household name. The scrumptious first courses, entrees and side dishes included Prawns Bellevue; Mesclun Salad with Ceasar’s Dressing and Light Balsamic Vinaigrette; Crème Dory Meunire with Tomato Basil Salsa and Caper Butter Sauce; Roast Beef; Whole Roast Turkey with Apple, Prune and Chestnut Gravy; Boiled Corned Beef with Vegetables and Horseradish Cream; Canneloni with Mushroom; and Spaghettini with Sundried Tomato.
A special dessert spread laid out by Juddah Liu of Costa Brava featured classic dessert confections—food for the gods, chocolate eclairs, tocino del cielo, lemon squares, sugar-free apple pie, caramel cake, nelusco, and white birthday cake. She also prepared a tower of soft butter chiffon cupcakes given as souvenirs for the wedding guests. The unique table centerpieces by Tony Padilla jibed perfectly with the “thanksgiving” motif complete with real palay stalks and fruits. Complementing the table centerpieces were dried maple leaves overlaid in sparkling gold, red and orange glitters. The night resonated with wonderful speeches by the maid of honor, Rawn Lopez and the best man, Dave Zuniga. Capping the program was the couple’s first dance which led to an evening of fun, music and merrymaking. Truly, Dan and Dadang, your wedding was a blast!

Friday, July 4, 2008

An Ocular Trip in Bohol

I went to Bohol for an ocular inspection in conjunction with the wedding of Remar Balatero and Joelene Sarmiento in January 2009. Aside from the team of Events! Events!, top Manila wedding suppliers will be flown to Bohol—Mimi and Karl of Fotogra Weddings; Jason Magbanua; and Madge Lejano of The Make-up Studio. Unfortunately, exquisite gown designer Veluz Reyes wouldn’t able to make it to the wedding since she has prior commitments in Manila. The occasion is touted as one of the biggest destination weddings all of us would be handling—with 300 anticipated guests, and still counting.

At the top of my to-do list during my three-day trip was the inspection of the venue for the dinner reception—checking and measuring the tables, dimensions of the room, cutlery, buffet set-up, pre-function area, and other relevant details. Since the couple is based abroad, I would be their proverbial eyes and ears for the wedding planning.

Armed with my ever reliable camera, I traveled all over Bohol to check out possible tourist spots—museums, shopping areas, old churches and white-sand beach resorts—where we could bring guests from Manila and abroad.

Some activities we will seriously consider include swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, parasailing, island-hopping, banana boat ride, and even jet skiing in Panglao Island. Some attractions we visited were the famous Chocolate Hills—considered one of the Philippines’ natural wonders,
the Tarsier’s Visitors Center that features up close one of the world’s smallest primates and definitely the cutest, and the Baclayon Church, an old colonial stone church where Remar and Joelene will exchange vows. We also have the option of arranging a lunch buffet on the Loboc River—a unique experience which took us up and down the Loboc River on a floating restaurant. We might end up renting the entire boat for all the wedding guests. We checked out a number of resorts/hotels where guests and wedding suppliers could be billeted. Around 100 guests from Manila and abroad are expected to attend.

An entire day activity could also be planned at the Bohol Beach Club, the largest resort located in a 60-hectare seaside patch of land on the island of Panglao. A set of activities can be scheduled including a day tour of the resort, a rehearsal lunch, and a free time for guests to enjoy the resort’s facilities and amenities. The Peacock Garden Luxury Resort and Spa which boasts of its European design is a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city life. Overlooking the sea, Bohol’s newest crown jewel features beautiful, well-manicured English gardens and a fabulous, tiered fountain.

I will return to Bohol in October, this time, to finalize the arrangements for the hotel, accommodations, guided tours and other requisites for the wedding. Kudos and many thanks to Auntie Bettie, aunt of Remar, for helping me out with the observation tour—this lady is a real trooper.
All pictures except for the last picture were lifted from Paul Borromeo's Photo Stream.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Details Diva: Vintage-inspired matches and unity candle set

Today, we are starting with the Details Diva Series which aims to inspire brides to add the “oomph” in their wedding through the details. No matter how small these wedding details are, they still create an impact.

The Series will feature the so-called “touches” that definitely make weddings more personalized, consistent and "branded." As what I have shared with Pagan, “weddings are not only a feast for the taste buds—it should be a holistic experience. It must be visceral—appealing to your sense of sight, taste, smell, touch and hearing. But the most important of which is the visual. After all, it's all about packaging.”

Who would have thought that an antique armband like this can turn into…. Materials used:
1 pc., 6-inch pillar candle
2 pcs., 8-inch tapered candles
2 boxes of matches
Antique armband
Glue gun and stick
Double-sided tape

First, dismantle the antique armband with a set of pliers. Next, using a double-sided tape, gingerly place a ribbon to cover the candle. Get another ribbon and cover with it the spaces in between the wide ribbons. Finish the task by placing a portion of the dismantled bracelet. Follow the same instructions for the tapered candles and matches.

I have also spruced up the flowers for the principal sponsors with the same ornament and this is the finished product.

Photos courtesy of Dino Lara.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Website Woes

We are currently having problems with our server (http://www.eventseventstm.com/). Please bear with us. In the meantime, enjoy browsing thru our blog - past weddings, supplier reviews and much more. You may get in touch with us thru ernestpascual@gmail.com. Thank you.

Monday, June 16, 2008

What is a prenup pictorial for?

Some couples have asked me what a prenuptial photo shoot is for. Firstly, this pictorial enables the photographer to know the couple before the wedding—particularly as far as their limitations and best angles in terms of poses are concerned—and basically to build rapport with them.

Secondly, there are many uses for the prenuptial photos. For one, they can be incorporated in a novel guestbook which affords guests the chance and space to leave messages for the newlyweds. Beautifully laid out, the guestbook comes in a book form which can easily be stored. It is a far cry from a traditional one which simply serves as a registry book.

Here’s a sample of a guestbook I personally laid out for Mandy and Janelle Real. To create a distressed look for the photos, I deliberately manipulated the colors—saturating them and adding a few brushes through Photoshop. The photos were wonderfully captured by master photographer, Dino Lara. Make-up was done by Jesi Alto by The Make Up Studio Team and hair was done by Steve Pagsanjan. Venue was the sprawling residence of Jona Atotubo.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Real Weddings: Heartfelt

Martin Lazo-Tetta Cañada
Our Lady of Lourdes
Taal Vista Hotel
The wedding of Martin and Tetta touched the heartstrings. The couple wanted a Baguio wedding but Martin’s family requested a venue near Manila, so they picked Tagaytay. Afterall, Tagaytay has always been one of Tetta’s favorite places to go, and Taal Vista Hotel satisfied their “destination” idea. The hotel itself was an amazing combination of elegance and picturesque beauty, from the cozy lobby to the commanding view of both the lake and the volcano.

Everything was all set for the big day when Martin’s dad passed away barely three weeks before the wedding. But the family of the groom gave their go-signal for the wedding just as how Martin’s father would have wanted it.

Despite the family tragedy, it was a happy occasion filled with warmth from family members and friends who traveled to Tagaytay to witness the union of the couple. It was surreal to us that Tetta, who has been emceeing for Events! Events! for the last four years was getting married. It took a moment for the fact that Tetta was really getting married to sink in. It was only after she was made up and had her gown on, that we finally realized that indeed, Tetta was our bride this time around.
Tetta carried a spectacular, all-white, textural bouquet of lisianthus, roses and carnations by Gina Galang of Royal Flower Shoppe while her entourage held elegant, earthy clusters of green and yellow flowers. Tetta’s bridesmaids wore pistachio green gossamer dresses all accentuated with champagne beadwork. During the ceremony, Tetta was every inch a bride in her Parrish Espritu Carlos white silk charemeuse gown as she walked down the aisle to meet her parents. The gown was off white with dolman sleeves and flowing skirt. It featured a detachable hand pleated layered overskirt and lace drimmed double width illusion tulle veil.The mass was officiated by a family friend who gave a good homily on what makes a happy marriage—interspersed with funny anecdotes. Cocktails were served in the sprawling greenery of Taal Vista Hotel. Guests enjoyed Charlie’s Pritson and the overflowing drinks provided by the couple. During the cocktails, guests were asked to look for their seats. To reflect the earthy tones of the reception’s setting, Tetta chose escort cards in green and white, which were actually two-wafer Kit-Kat Chocolates—something guests could munch on while waiting for their entrance to the main dining area. The program started with the newlyweds making their way to the cake table. Tetta and Martin cut a three-tiered cake covered in white chocolate bars, with a cornucopia of seasonal fruits topping each layer—another wonderful creation of Janet Madlangbayan of Recipes and Magic. A special game for married couples ensued right after dinner. The married couples were asked to kiss the most passionate way they could and then the newlyweds had to imitate how they kissed. (Some were carried away by the cool Tagaytay weather.) It was an evening filled with wonderful speeches of family members and friends—ranging from the hilarious to the tearjerker. But the most heartfelt (which made many an eye tearful) was delivered by the bride. It was the most beautiful speech we have heard for the longest time—poignant, real, hopeful, and heartwarming. Tetta and Martin, instead of giving away wedding souvenirs, made a donation on behalf of their wedding guests to Project: Brave Kids—a non-profit organization committed to assist children with cancer. A year had passed, but up to now, we could still recall the great time we had at Martin and Tetta’s nuptials. To you guys, happy first wedding anniversary! (All photographs taken by Mimi and Karl.) Some more photos:
Martin was a natural in front of the camera.
Tetta strikes a pose. This time, as husband and wife.

Confetti shower during the recessional.
Principal sponsors’ gifts were individually labeled with personalized gift cards— reflective of the wedding’s motif and bearing the monogram of the wedding. A candid moment during the reception. Martin and Tetta with friends—Tony-tony, King DJ Logan and Slick Rick. The newlyweds with Martin's family.The newlyweds’ first dance.

Copyright 2008 Events! Events!