wedding of the year
The story could have come from a tv soap opera in epic proportion.
A story of strong political couple, willfully ruling a place for some decades, with a vision of creating a perfect familial image.
In the early 1980s, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos might have tried mightily to control the minds of the Filipinos from their Malacanang Palace, but surely enough, they were not able to restrain the heart of their first daughter, Imee.
Apparently, Imee, who was already making her own political mark, as National Chairperson of the Kabataang Barangay, fell in love with a married sportsman, Tommy Manotoc. Obviously, during that time when there were no cellphones, no text messaging, no emails, and even no freedom of the press, such salacious, portently scandalous story would have to be spread through hushed tones, and word of mouth.
And the story took a wilder, more frighteningly turn. Tommy Manotoc was kidnapped. The alternative press such as We Forum, the precursor of Malaya Newspaper, had a heyday reporting the story, albeit there was a strong possibility of the paper being clamped down by Malacanang. Then all of a sudden Tommy Manotoc just came out of nowhere, reportedly from the New People’s Army camp in the mountains of Sierra Madre. But of course, the popular conclusion about this sordid tale was that Imelda masterminded the abduction.
Some years later, during in first few months of 1983, the youngest daughter, Irene would marry Greggy of the pedigreed and landed Araneta clan. Although Imee could maintain relationship with Tommy, and even start family of their own, they were not able to get the grand nuptials that the Marcoses wanted for them. Tommy who was able to get a divorce from beauty queen Aurora Pijuan could not merit another marriage as the Catholic Church would not allow such. Thus this time around, the Marcoses saw to it that a fabulous wedding would have to be prepared for Irene and Greggy.
Ryan Cayabyab, Irene’s personal friend and musical mentor from University of the Philippines, involved himself in composing a whole wedding cantata. European designer Renato Balestra was tasked to do the Italian silk and Philippine pina cloth wedding gown. The exclusive, and red bricked Fort Ilocandia Hotel in Laoag was rushed to beat the nuptial date deadline, as it was where many of the invited foreign dignitaries, esteemed government officials and chic members of the society would stay before, during and after the wedding. It was also the venue for the reception.
And of course, Irene and Greggy chose the heritage church of the sleepy town of Sarrat, where the Edralin side (mother) of Ferdinand Marcos came from, and where the ancestral house still stands. The Baroque and Neo Classical Sta. Monica Church had to be cleaned up, spruced and refurbished for the wedding. Hundreds were deployed to paint the walls of the edifice, and install large airconditioning machines in the cavernous church building. And beside the church, a huge tent was put up for the town’s local officials and people who might not have the necessary credentials and status to get inside the official reception area, and yet should partake in the lavish food prepared.
True enough, it was the grand social event of that year for the Philippines as the Marcoses, particularly Imelda would have envisioned. The local press put the event as the banner story, and paralleled it with the Diana and Charles’s royal wedding, a year before.
Some months later in August, 1983, a strong earthquake shook the church. And some days later, again in August, Ninoy Aquino arrived and shook the Marcoses. And the seeming telenovela story continued.