NEW YORK - Former US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas fell deeply in love with Filipinos that he decided to marry one.
In a simple church wedding, Ambassador Thomas tied the knot with long-time Filipina girlfriend Mithi Aquino (no relation to President Aquino) at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Upper West Side, New York, Saturday (March 15).
The private wedding, attended mostly by friends and families, was officiated by Filipino-American priest Father Freddy Balinong.
Thomas first met the Jolo-Sulu native Aquino when the Holland American cruise line was visiting the Philippines in March 2011.
Aquino, a human resources executive that trains Filipinos for the cruiseline industry, was one of the employees the ambassador met that day.
"It was love at first sight for me, not at first sight for her, but these things take time and it's all worked out three years later," Thomas said.
"I'm just happy for the wedding, I feel so lucky to have Harry," Aquino said.
Aquino walked down the aisle with an Amir Sali wedding dress. Sali is a Paris-trained and Jolo, Sulu-native designer for the royalty of Saudi Arabia. Her veil is a vintage Rene Salud creation.
Aquino said the whole wedding was planned only three weeks ago.
"Since Harry is a diplomat, we're waiting for my clearance from the State Department to marry him and, ang tagal naming inantay yun, and it came out last February lang,and we decided na let's get married," she said.
Aquino said that was the reason why her kids and family did not make it to the last-minute New York wedding.
The wedding was also attended by New York community leaders who wished the newlyweds.
"The blessing of God and their happiness continue... Knowing both of them, it is happiness for life," said Loida Nicolas-Lewis.
"Definitely, on a personal level, for them it's a continuation of Philippine-US relations, I would say... And I'm very happy for both of them," Mario de Leon, Philippine Consul General of New York, said.
Mr. Harry and Mrs. Mithi Aquino-Thomas plan to settle in Arizona, while the ambassador is teaching at the Arizona State University while waiting for his next diplomatic assignment.
"I'll be working, of course, and wherever Harry is, I'll be there," she said.
Thomas says a Philippine wedding is in the works so that those who missed the New York wedding can join the one in the Philippines.