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My late dad's wedding speech, written by his dad

Many months ago, Laika asked me to give her away at the wedding, and to perhaps offer a toast or to say something at the party. I said I would be happy to walk her down the aisle, but no speeches for me please.

Then unexpectedly the other week, Nicollo visited the grave of Laika's dad - my son, Rayan. He offered prayers, and respectfully asked for permission to marry Laika. Permission granted, Nicollo texted me to let me know. I was deeply moved by the gesture, and right then and there I changed my mind. I decided I would say a few words, and share what I imagine Rayan might want to say to his eldest daughter tonight.

In the last few days I've done some talking with Rayan on my own, too. After some prayer and reflection, here's what I came up with, with a little help from a niece who knew and loved Rayan so well.


My very best wishes to you, my dearest Laika. Not that you need them badly, for I have watched you bloom - and what a woman you have become.

And to my new son Nicollo, how I wish I could have met you. But I am happy to offer my congratulations, as you've gotten yourself a diamond of a girl, no longer in the rough, but ready to be worn and shown off on any occasion. Laika is equally lucky to have you, for you are by all accounts a fine young man, with all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications to be a perfect husband and father.

It might sound bizarre coming from me: having married young, I could argue that I wasn't even half as ready as you both are today. Of your patience and preparation, I am extremely proud, yet on the flipside I could also argue that no one is ever truly prepared for marriage. All the years of fine friendship you have tucked under your belts offer but a peek of truth compared to the lifetime of rich secrets - the good and the bad that you will unearth about one another on your journey as man and wife. As Frank Sinatra once crooned, "The loving is easy, it's the living that's hard". And a favorite Sting song of ours goes, "I've never made promises lightly, and there have been some that I've broken."

Well, let us hope that no great promises will be broken. But some days, it will feel like it. You will quibble over many things, each singularly petty or grand depending on the day or the hour. Many examples come to mind, but tonight, just a few:

Perhaps one or both of you snore. Perhaps one of you will like cooking fried tilapia so much, it's all you ever have for dinner. Perhaps one of you will often forget to flush the toilet. And when the kids come around (and I do hope that is soon), perhaps you will squabble about what to name them. Perhaps one of you will prove a skilled escape artist when it's your turn for diaper duty. Or perhaps one of you will insist on always playing the good cop. There will be admonitions. You forgot to lock the door last night! A robber could have killed us all. Why do you squeeze the toothpaste tube in the middle and not at the bottom end? The aircon is too hot (or too cold). Ang tagal mo naman sa banyo; kanina pa ako ano ah! The list of offenses can be as long as your intolerance will make it.

But the truth is, neither of you ever will be completely right or completely wrong. As they say, even a broken watch is right twice a day. I've learned that few words will be more important than a humble and sincere "I'm sorry". Don't let the temperature in your room rise with words, only with love. Don't let the music stop. Keep your puppy-love enthusiasm alive as the years go by.

And if your troubles get bigger than tilapia or toilet issues, you will always have someone in the family who is older and wiser to turn to for advice. And I? I'll always be there to listen and to try to intercede, but not much more, I'm afraid. I am sorry about that. People don't see me, the youngest of four siblings, to be cut out for difficult life situations. People think I am comfortable reaching out only for the low hanging fruit. I always seem to have just one hand on the trophy but not the other. Halfway to a worthwhile destination I often seem to be running on empty. But this I assure you, Laika: I have a deep reservoir of unseen abiding love and deep concern for you and the rest of your siblings and your mom. People don't seem to see that either!

There are many things I wanted to do differently, you know that. And if there's anything you can learn from me, it's to appreciate every moment of your life together, because you never know how much time you have. Be present. And remain committed to improving yourselves, for one another, and for the sake of your children. And don't worry about me - I am happy in my own skin. My one great blessing and happiness is to have been given seven wonderful children by a wonderful wife.

It is therefore my wish for you both to have many children as well. Raise them to be better than I in all respects. You need not look far for role models: raise them to be like Aki, with his creative talent and drive. Like Julia, with her inimitable laughter and cheery, gentle nature. Like Robbie, with his pure and deeply caring heart. Like Marco with the robust combination of playfulness and scholarship. Like Holly and Tiago, both entrepreneurial, resilient and ready to be molded into useful members of society.

I will be here with my new pareng Minyong, watching over you, praying for you, and laughing with you. And as a good friend of the family would say, Stay mahusay. Stay mahusay, both, forever!

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