MANILA - In what has been dubbed as the political wedding of the year, Sen. Manuel 'Mar' Roxas II and broadcast journalist Korina Maria Sanchez tied the knot on Tuesday with well-wishers hoping for both a successful marriage and victory in next year's elections.
Roxas, 52, the vice-presidential candidate of the Liberal Party (LP), exchanged "I do's" with Sanchez, 45, one of the country's popular broadcast journalists, at the Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City.
The ceremony was held with only 3 weeks left before the start of the filing of the certificate of candidacy for the May 2010 polls. Candidates can file their COCs from November 20 to 30.
The wedding, snippets of which were aired over ABS-CBN's free TV channel and its cable news channel, ANC, is expected to further boost the popularity ratings of Roxas and the LP standard-bearer, Sen. Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III, who served as one of the "ninongs," replacing his late mother, former President Corazon Aquino.
The outpouring of sympathy for Mrs. Aquino, the Philippines' democracy icon, following her death last August 1 due to colon cancer, later prompted Roxas to give up his presidential bid in favor of her only son, Noynoy.
Bishops and oppositionists
Leading the who’s who in the Roxas-Sanchez wedding were Catholic bishops from Luzon and Visayas, including outgoing Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President Angel Lagdameo, who was the main celebrant of the Holy Mass.
Lagdameo has been a vocal critic of the Arroyo administration on issues such as human rights violations and corruption.
He was assisted by Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes, retired bishops Jesus Varela and Raul Martirez and nine other priests. Varela is bishop emeritus of Sorsogon while Martirez is bishop emeritus of Antique.
Among the principal sponsors was Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, with former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban as one of the offerors (wine and chalice).
LP stalwart and former Senate President Jovito Salonga, ABS-CBN top honcho Eugenio Lopez III and Roxas’s uncle, Jorge Araneta, were the other male principal sponsors.
Their counterparts were philanthropist Rosa Rosal, Roxas’ aunts Ruby Roxas and Maria Fores, multi-awarded journalist Cecilia “Che Che” Lazaro, and Helen Costales, best friend of Sanchez’s late mother.
Happiness and victory in 2010
Victor Ziga, an LP stalwart from Bicol, wished the couple that "they will always be happy--and victory, victory next year."
Former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, one of the Cabinet members who turned against President Arroyo following the "Hello, Garci" scandal in 2005, expressed hope that the Roxas-Sanchez marriage would "bring good wishes to all of us and the Philippines."
Sister Mary John Mananzan, an activist nun, said the Roxas-Sanchez nuptial was not a simple wedding. "Ito'y parang simbolo na kung papano sana magkakatulungan ang mga tao para mabago ang bayan," she said.
The Aquino-Roxas tandem is being promoted as a team backed by volunteers who want change and good governance.
Family friend Ching Montinola wished that the could would "live happily ever after," and for Aquino to win next year's presidential elections.
A boost to survey ratings
Their friends and supporters downplayed the view that the wedding was meant to further boost the tandem's chances in next year's elections.
The latest survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) conducted September 18-21 showed both Aquino and Roxas leading their opponents by a comfortable margin.
"Kilala ko naman kasi si Mar at si Korina. Sigurado naman ako na they love each other [I know Mar and Korina, and I'm sure that they love each other," said Joel Rocamora, a leader of party-list group, Akbayan, which is supporting the Aquino-Roxas ticket. Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros will be one of the LP's senatorial candidates.
"Walang gimmick at walang tamang panahon sa tunay na nagmamahalan," said former Civil Service Commission chief Karina Constantino-David, now a leader of the Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO), a group critical of Arroyo's bad governance.
UP Prof. Randy David, another Arroyo critic, described the wedding as "very simple" for a celebrity couple.
Salonga, a close friend of Mar's father, the late Sen. Gerardo “Gerry” Roxas, wished the couple "all the best so that they may become happy every moment of their life."
Opposition leader Joseph Estrada, who will be one of Aquino's rival in next year's polls, said his "friendship with Noynoy and Sen. Roxas is beyond politics...we are good friends."
ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. President Charo Santos-Concio urged the couple to "keep the fire burning," while ABS-CBN Corp. CEO Eugenio 'Gabby' Lopez III said he hoped Roxas and Sanchez would start a family.
The senator and Sanchez wrote their own vows.
In his wedding vow, Roxas described his bride as "God's precious gift."
"Korina, I take you as God's precious gift. I love you as you are. You are precious to me. I am happy we are together and truly thank you for taking me and putting up with me. I give myself to you as your best friend, to applaud when you succeed and encourage when you stumble. I offer myself to you as your husband in respect and in trust. Today I take you to be my wife. I promise to be with you and be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love and honor you all the days of my life," he said.
In turn, Sanchez said Roxas was the fulfillment of everything she ever wanted in a husband.
"Minamahal kong Mar, matagal ang panahong lumipas na tayo ay nagsarili ng landas at naghintay ng pagkakataong ito. Tayo ngayon ay pinagpala ng tadhana at ng Panginoon na mahanap ang isa't isa. Totoo pala na ang pangarap ay nagaganap.
"Ikaw ang katuparan ng lahat ng aking hinintay at minimithi ng aking puso na maging kasama, karamay, kaibigan at kakampi. Ikaw ang aking pinili upang alayan ng lahat ng iyong kakailanganin sa isang kasama at katabi sa buhay sa abot ng aking makakaya. Dumaan man ang unos, mga pagsubok, ang sakit, ang kabiguan, ako ay mananatiling dikit sa iyong dibdib kahawak ng mahigpit ng iyong mga kamay. Ngunit sabay din tayong lalakbay sa landas na itinahak ng Panginoon sa atin. Magkasama tayong ngingiti, tatawa, hahalakhak sa malaki man na tagumpay at sa pinakamababaw na biro.
"Mar, ang pangako ko sa iyo, saksi ang aking mga yumaong magulang na si Celia at Ramon, katuwang ng aking buong pamilya at lahat ng nagmamahal sa ating dalawa, basbas ng langit ang aking pagmamahal sa iyo at kasama ng Panginoon kahapon, ngayon at bukas, ako'y iyong-iyo."
The more than 2,000 guests inside the church applauded as the two exchanged vows. But they gave the loudest cheer when Roxas kissed his wife.
'Giving one's self to society'
The wedding ceremony started at 4 p.m. Tuesday as thousands of guests and well-wishers arrived to witness the union.
Crowds outside the church cheered and shouted "Korina!" as Sanchez, wearing a Filipiniana gown, stepped out of the bridal car. A white sheet held up by several ushers prevented people from seeing Sanchez until the start of her bridal march.
The Philippine Madrigal Singers sang “Ave Maria” as the entourage marched toward the altar.
As she was walking down the aisle with his brother, Sanchez shed tears of joy while Ray An Fuentes' “Umagang Kay Ganda” was being played in the background. Roxas, who was waiting at the altar, was also seen wiping away tears.
In his homily, Fr. Tito Caluag reminded the couple to love and serve one another throughout their married lives. "I believe that giving one's self to love brings blessing to one's self and to society," he said.
A veritable who’s who of Philippine society attended the wedding ceremony. Political and show business personalities as well as representatives from various political organizations and non-government organizations were invited to the event.
Among those spotted at the church were fashion designer Pitoy Moreno, Paeng Nepomuceno, Vehnee Saturno, Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno, Basil Valdez, Wilson Tieng of Solar Films, former Senator Letty Ramos Shahani, former socioeconomic planning secretary Ralph Recto, Lily Monteverde, Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin, US Ambassador Kristie Anne Kenney, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri and his wife;
Broadcasters Bernadette Sembrano, Ina Reformina, Willard Cheng, Alex Santos, Ted Failon, Joey Villarama, Julius and Christine Babao, and Doris Bigornia, former Senate President Franklin Drilon, Congressmen Teofisto Guingona III, Antonio Cuenco and Neptali Gonzales, Lopez family patriarch Oscar Lopez, Ayala Corp.'s Fernando Zobel, Rizal Gov. Casimiro Ynares III and wife;
Jacqui Aquino, Maurice Arcache, Viel Aquino, Joselito Payumo, Joey Lina, Lauren Dyogi, Greggy Araneta and wife Irene Marcos-Araneta, Renato Constantino and Karina Constantino-David, Sister Mary John Mananzan, and Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada.
White and Filipiniana
White roses and sampaguita, Sanchez's favorite flowers, adorned the church. Sponsors and guests wore Filipiniana attires.
Fans and supporters of the couple also gathered in church ground to get a glimpse of the bride and groom.
Roxas’ 16-year-old son, Paolo Zaldarriaga, stood as the senator’s best man, while Dang Cecilio-Palance was the matron of honor.
The ring bearer was Kris Aquino’s son, James Yap Jr., while Miguel Sanchez and Matthew Garcia were the coin and Bible bearers.
'Like bungee jumping'
In their earlier interviews on radio dzMM, both Sanchez and Roxas could not contain their excitement. "Hindi na yata mapipigilan ito," Sanchez said.
"Parang bungee jumping. Para siyang isang malalim na malalim na talon tapos hindi mo talaga matitiyak kung ano ang kala-landingan mo. Pero dahil mahigpit ang pagkakatali sa iyong binti ng lubid ng pagmamahal, alam mong ligtas ka na la-landing…. it's really a very exciting adventure," Sanchez added.
The senator, for his part, said he felt both tense and excited after waking up on Tuesday, knowing that he would be a married man at the end of the day.
"Ang unang agenda sa abot kaya ng panahon at tuhod ko ay magkaroon ng mga anak...Ang sarap isipin na sana may mga chikiting kami at nakaupo kami sa sofa. Nai-imagine ko ‘yong Sunday lunch na magkasama kami at mga anak namin at mga apo sana. Komportableng-komportable ‘yong imahe sa puso ko at sa kaisipan ko. Kaya dumating na 'This is it!'" he said.
There will be no grand reception after the ceremony. The senator from Capiz and the veteran broadcast anchor of ABS-CBN decided to donate the money to 6 charity organizations providing assistance to victims of typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng.”
After the ceremony, the couple met their guests in the church's courtyard where food and refreshments will be served.
Reports said more than 200 police were deployed in the area to maintain peace and order.-- With reports from Ces Drilon, ABS-CBN News; Reyma Buan-Deveza and Boy Villasanta, abs-cbnNEWS.com, and ANC