My dad, my hero.

An old photo my god sister Sam Valenciano found while digging through her dad's photos.

An old photo my god sister Sam Valenciano found while digging through her dad’s photos.

I look up to my dad. I think most of us do. Our dads are the ones who teach us how to love, and teach us how to live. If you really think about it, that’s not an easy job. They are the ones responsible for the person we end up to be. I don’t know about you, but I more often than not rebelled against what my dad tried to teach me. I wanted to be “independent”. I wanted to correct all what I thought were the mistakes my dad made in teaching me how to live my life. People make a vow to be “nothing like my dad”.

Does any of that sound familiar?

Personally, I’ve found that I’m more like my dad than I thought even though in most ways I am completely unlike him. Which is a good and bad thing.

My dad tried his best to turn me into the best human being he could, as best as he knew how. And can anyone ask for more than that?

Children are taught lessons by their parents. Good parents try very hard to make sure their children don’t make the same mistakes they did. But this, is not fool proof. Children screw up. Children will make mistakes. This is inevitable. The difference parenting makes is in the voice of conscience. If a child is instilled at a young age as to what is right and what is wrong, determines how that child will live their life. Because no matter how hard you try, a child will always make mistakes. That is just how life is.

My dad tried very hard to make sure I grew up knowing the difference between right and wrong but that doesn’t mean I never made the wrong decisions. Am I supposed to blames parents for that, or is that my fault? If I’m being truly honest, it’s my fault. Even though my parents taught me what was right and what was wrong, there were times that I did things that were wrong but those were my actions, not theirs.

As I was growing up I thought my dad was invincible. My dad was superman. When I got older, I learned that my dad was susceptible to kryptonite. As I got older, I learned that kryptonite came in many forms. When I got even older than that, I realized that life IS kryptonite. I saw my hero stumble. I saw my hero fall.

But you know what stuck with me? Was that I saw my hero persevere. I saw my hero overcome the problems of life.

Everyone in life will fall at one time or another. Everyone will face obstacles, everyone will have problems that will make them want to give up. But my dad showed me that no matter what life throws at you, you have to have faith that things will get better. Things in life will happen and you will have no control over it but you have to believe that things will get better. My dad and I share the same God, we may not share the same beliefs, but such is life. People have differences but just because they’re different, that doesn’t mean that they’re wrong.

My dad isn’t perfect and I’m not perfect. But he tried to raise me the best way he knew how. He loved me when no one else would love me. He forgave me when no one else forgave me. He was there when no one else was there.

Even though my dad wasn’t perfect I wouldn’t want to be raised by anyone else, because no one will ever love me like my dad loves me. Some of you who may read this may not have a dad like this. But the God my dad and I share, is like this.

Our God loves unconditionally. Our God forgives all wrongs even if we don’t deserve it. Our God loves even when you feel like there’s nothing about you to love.

I am blessed to have a father like mine. I only pray that someday I can live to be the best blessing I can be to my dad. We may not always get along, but without a doubt in my mind, my dad has always been my greatest hero.

My dad and I on Father's Day 2014.

My dad and I on Father’s Day 2014.

I’M GETTING MARRIED!!!!

November 23, 2013

Taken: November 23, 2013

Scarily excited or excitedly scared.

That’s how I would describe what I feel. For most of my life I haven’t exactly been the most responsible person, barely taking care of myself and much less able to take care of another person. But that’s what love does to people. It drives them to do crazy things. To break away from their comfort zone, to dive headfirst into new territory.

Arianna and I have been together a long time. We’ve had our fair share of ups and downs, shared many hard moments in time, and also shared many wonderfully amazing moments together. We’ve travelled around the Philippines together, we’ve been to Rome together and we’ve both met each other’s families.

So a question I was getting a lot from people was “when are you going to get married?”, and the main thing that was stopping me was the child in me. I knew I was still not that mature and not that responsible and how can I get married when I’m like that?

So I asked myself, “how much do I really love her?” and for a time it freaked me out, for such a battle within myself I had never experienced before, between the Peter Pan in me and the part of me who wanted to grow up.

After a time, I finally realized that I cannot take care of her if I think and act like a child. I can only take care of her if I grow up. And so I decided to leave Neverland.

I’d like to say that the change happened immediately, but alas, tis could not be so. I’d still have childish moments from time to time, until even today. But once the decision to grow up was made, those moments started reducing in number.

I had dinner with my eldest brother and told him my plans of proposing and he made sure I knew what I was getting into. That marriage isn’t just something you do out of impulse, that you have to prepare for many many things. He showed me that marriage may someday lead to children and children need food, clothing, shelter, love and an education. And it has to be provided for by me. My parents also told me that the decision to be married and to be in love doesn’t just happen one time, but has to be made daily. And so everyday, I choose to love Arianna, and in 10 months, I will make that promise in front of her, our families, and God.

The Proposal and the Ring.

 

The ring

The ring

Planning for this started around June 2013. We had a trip to Hong Kong planned with my brothers and their families for November 2013. Arianna and I both love Disney, and I love Disneyland. What better place to have a proposal in? So I emailed a friend who works in Disney and said that I was planning to propose in Disneyland and I asked if they could please help me out and make the proposal awesome.

So we started throwing ideas out back and forth, I asked my friends for suggestions. While the “how” was being planned, I started looking for the ring. Thankfully, I have a good friend who I have known for quite some time who is a jeweler, and I asked for his help. I told him my budget and he started showing me stones. Good grief it’s hard to choose a diamond. Especially when Arianna’s dad, uncle, and grandfather were all jewelers. That means if I choose badly, they’ll be able tell.. IMMEDIATELY. To top it all off, Arianna had very specific requests of what the ring should be. No pressure right?

Thus began my education in cut, V VS VVS, color, weight blahblahblah. Eventually it came down to two stones. One was bigger but yellowish, the other was smaller but much clearer. Arianna wanted a certain size but everything that size was either out of my budget range or too yellow. Headache.

Aside from that, you have to pick a design too! Good Lord, proposing is stressful! I was choosing from these engagement rings that Arianna and I had looked over together for fun, they were Disney princess themed rings, and I chose the one of Aurora. My sister in law is one of Arianna’s best friends and she knew everything about what Arianna wanted, so that if I needed help, she would guide me in the right direction. So I sent her the picture of the design and I thought it was okay na but later on that day, I get a phone call from her and she tells me, “no, you cannot choose that, it has to be a design that even if she’s 90 years old, it will still look good. The design has to be timeless”.

Goshdarnit, back to square two. (Square one was picking the stone)

So I went back to my friends office and said, “bro we have to change the design”. So I was looking at magazines and using the Tiffany and Co app to try and figure out what design to use.

After about an hour, his mom arrives at the office and he tells her that I’m trying to pick a design. She looks at the stone and studies it, then starts sketching a design. Then she hands me the piece of paper and as soon as I see it, a choir starts singing and a sunbeam shines through the window right onto the sketch. Okay I’m kidding that didn’t happen, but that’s what it felt like. And I knew that that was the ring.

WAIT! I forgot to tell you how I picked the size. Arianna’s ring finger, is my pinky. I figured that out by making pasimple and putting my hand over hers and then quickly looking at her fingers compared to mine.

After that commercial break, the decision on the ring is done, now to figure how how I’m going to propose.

I asked if the parade could be stopped and right there on Main Street in front of everybody, that’s when I do it. They said no.

Okay so I need something else. Our friend who works in Disney as the musical director, his name is Rony. I’ll just say his name now because if not I’ll be typing “our friend who works in Disney ” a lot, and he’s the one I messaged months and months before the actual proposal for help. Anyway, he suggested that we do it in the Stitch Encounter, where these audience participation, but that didn’t feel quite right.

Another idea was that my brothers and I have papers that say “will” “you” “marry” “me” and we bring it out when it’s picture time at space mountain, you know that part when it drops and takes your picture? But it was already done.

All this time I was like “Lord help I don’t know how to do this”, and about a week before our trip I had this idea of writing little notes of Disney quotes and then as we go around the park, random employees would hand her the notes one by one, and then we’d end up in front of Cinderella’s castle, and then that’s when the proposal will happen.

So I asked another friend who works in Disney to please print out these notes on Disney themed paper because I can’t do it in Manila and if I did, I’d have to hide it and I didn’t want risk it being found by Arianna.

So now we’re in Hong Kong, and on day 2 we go to Disney. Arianna thought I might propose in Disney but in the hotel room safe there wasn’t anything and she thought “what kind of idiot would keep a ring in his bag?”. This is where I raise my hand. I had hidden it in my bag. In my socks. Why? Because Arianna likes to snoop, and I didn’t want to risk her finding it and ruining the surprise.

Come the morning of our trip to Disney, I go to my brother’s room and ask if he can please keep the ring for me, as I have no bag, and my pants are too tight to have a ring box in it. We get to disney, and we have breakfast with Chevy, (he’s the one who printed the notes for me), and we sneak away from Arianna for a bit and he hands me the notes, which were printed on bond paper, and I panic because I have no idea where I’m going to keep them! Thankfully my niece Maxine had a bag so we hid it there.

Then after lunch Rony messages me to meet him somewhere and I hand him the notes and tell him my plan to propose, and I wanna do it at 3pm. And he tells me that he wants to create the perfect moment, and that there’s an illumination ceremony where there’s a parade and fireworks and music and Mickey lights the humongous Christmas tree and that happens at 6pm, and that moment would be perfect. Obviously this is leaps and bounds better than what I had planned and so taking his advice was the smart decision to make. And I gave him the notes and he said that he was going to shrink them down to a more manageable size.

Oh! I forgot to mention that Arianna wasn’t feeling well and she had a really bad cold. At around 4:30pm, she gets hit with a fever. Rony panics because he suggested the 6pm illumination ceremony and the proposal might not happen because Arianna wanted to go back to the hotel and rest. So we got her tea and give her meds but she still didn’t feel well. She was sitting down on Main Street looking so sick. Thankfully Shiela (my sister in law and her best friend) gave Arianna Biogesic and she almost immediately started feeling better, and Rony and I breathed a huge sigh of relief, because now our plan could push through!

Mind you, everyone who was there, knew that the proposal was going to happen. Everyone except Arianna and Hobbes (my nephew who cannot keep a secret to save his life).

I had no idea what the music was like so I needed to time my giving of the notes to the music, so in the video, you can see me looking over to Rony to cue me as to when to give the notes.

It’s 5:50pm. We are all on Main Street, and the music and parade start. Rony cues me to give the first note. People holding huge snowflakes start walking down the middle of Main Street where the lights have been dimmed because the snowflakes glow in the dark. I had already gotten the ring from my brother Lance, and had the ring box in my front pocket and Arianna was in front of me, and we were watching the parade. I’m so glad I had the notes because I couldn’t talk at all. My heart felt like it was in my throat and my ears seemed to have stopped working, all I could hear was my heartbeat. I’d give her the notes one by one and she’d look back at me and ask what this was all about and all I could do was either say “let’s watch the parade babe” then turn her back to face the parade. During the march of the snowflakes I gave her these notes.

“As soon as I saw you, I knew adventure was going to happen” – from Winnie the pooh

“I made a wish upon a star, I turned around and there you were” – from Bolt the movie

“To spend a life of endless bliss, just find who you love through true loves kiss” – from Enchanted

Then when I was cued by Rony, I gave the second to the last note which said,

“People do crazy things when they are in love” – from Hercules

I think this was when she knew for sure what was happening, she looked back at me with a smile and tears in her eyes, I turned her back to face the parade because that’s when the fireworks started, then at the last big fireworks barrage Rony gives me the signal to give her the last note which said, “let’s live happily ever after”, I turned her around to face me, I bring out the box, open it and start going down on one knee and before I even reach the floor she has her hands over her mouth and is frantically nodding. In her mind, I was kneeling on the floor for a long time and she was thinking it took me so long to say anything so she started nodding already. But in the video, you can see that I hadn’t even reached the ground yet and she was saying yes already.

I put the ring on her finger, she kneels with me on the floor, and as we embrace, fake snow starts falling.

It was a perfect moment. It’s top 1 in my life. Only to be beaten by when we get married, and when we have kids. I cannot describe the feeling. I’d be hard pressed to find a moment where I felt happier.

I’m so thankful that God have me such a beautiful and wonderful person to spend the rest of my life with. I’m so thankful for my brothers Lance and Lorenz, their wonderful wives Kat and Shiela,  also to Chevy and Tzee (who made the ring), and especially Rony who orchestrated the perfect moment that made my proposal so amazing. So now Disney is truly one of my happiest places on Earth.

She told me she didn’t know if she was laughing or crying.

She said yes!

She said yes!