MANILA, Philippines - Miriam Defensor Santiago was beaming in her Inno Sotto gown as she renewed her wedding vows at the Manila Cathedral on Sunday.
The color of her gown, ruby, symbolizes her 40 years of marriage with former Interior Undersecretary Narciso "Jun" Santiago.
"I feel like a blushing bride although I have, of course, to rectify the record by saying that I'm a veteran wife," she said, laughing.
Santiago said she loves her husband dearly, but she refused to kiss him in public, even as her guests clinked glasses at the wedding reception at the Manila Hotel.
She said it is "too sappy for my age."
"If I'm as young as Heart Evangelista (a young actress who is Santiago's maid of honor) it would be endearing to kiss in public. But to do that at my age, I think it would be very disgusting," the senator said.
Asked if she is planning to get married again on their 50th wedding anniversary, she said, "Well, as long as I'm physically fit. But you know, we don't want you to see 2 old people riding their wheelchairs down the aisle."
In mini-interviews throughout the event, Santiago shared some of her views on love, marriage and divorce:
Why is it important to renew your wedding vows?
"That is a tradition in our country. Catholic couples are supposed to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, and then the 40th because they're still young enough to walk down the aisle, and then their 50th. But sometimes, many of them are already suffering from disabilities."
"When we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, we were a complete family. I had my 2 children with me. Now, one is gone, the one who was most like me in personality and intellectual processes. And the other one is living away from me with his own family with 3 children."
"So I have 3 grandchildren. They were the only reason why I celebrated my 40th wedding anniversary. I wanted my 3 granddaughters to march down the aisle with me and then too late I learned that Manila Cathedral has a rule that prohibits the presence of children who are below 5 years old. So I just went ahead with it anyway."
Any plans for a honeymoon?
"Excuse me, I'm not a blushing bride. I'm a veteran wife."
What's your secret to a lasting relationship?
"We never see each other in my house. That's the secret. Sometimes, I'm surprised that I'm married to someone so good-looking because I hardly ever see him."
"We sort of get surprised when we see each other in the corridors. In other words, we don't breathe down each other's neck. We have autonomy, we have space."
"My husband's completely free, he's a liberated man. I don't care what he does at night. He doesn't have to call me with his itinerary. I just presume he's going to be loyal to his marriage vows. And I've been extremely faithful to my husband. I've never flirted with anybody, even abroad."
"I've made very, very close friends, male and female, abroad whenever I attended my post-doctoral studies or international conferences but I've always been very attached to the concept that marriage is an inviolable social institution as our Civil Code provides."
Any advice for married couples?
"Be kind to each other. Because to people living together for 40 years as I have done, the impulse to commit mutual fracticide is very strong. So just be kind to each other."
What do you think about today's youth?
"Non-marriage now is apparently a fashion among young people."
"I think they're missing out on something. It's very nice to come home and obtain catharsis by scolding your husband if you do not scold anybody in your office."
What's your stand on divorce?
"I think divorce should be available to people who become homicidal at the sight of each other. That's so much better than making each other miserable for the rest of their lives and impacting the lives of their children as well. I've always made known my views since I was RTC (Regional Trial Court) judge."
"I am in favor of a divorce bill provided that grounds for divorce are very strict so that we will not encourage young people to rush into marriage and then rush out by divorce."