As most know my motto, and one I have strived to live by, is Make Your Dream Your Story. My life is a testament to the metamorphosis from dream to reality. I also preach that we should not be ruled by our fears. Ah but my life experience created a significant and justifiable fear of being married. Frankly it has been the single worst experience of my life, so why on earth would I want to do it again? Ergo the conflict I have been dueling for the last year.
To understand the conflict, one must look at the Filipino culture, it is a collection of hard beliefs that they really live by. The most significant is the love of family, it rules over all other human needs and actions, period. Donna comes from a classic model Filipino family; hard working loving parents who dedicated their lives to the happiness of their children with no exceptions. Coming from meager beginnings they made sure all the girls had access to higher education, three of the six hold degrees, two on the way. They were so cash strapped that when Donna was born they could not afford to get her birth certificate for a month, hence she has two birthdays. From these stark beginnings a remarkable family has evolved, all loving, dedicated, educated and unyielding in keeping the family strong.
The basis of the stalwart family structure is marriage. Coming from the west with a 50% divorce rate and quickie weddings done by an Elvis impersonator in Vegas, we are not prepared for the intensity of the Filipino nuptials. For starters there is no such thing as divorce here, period. I have recently been given a crash course on the legal complexities of the Filipino wedding, it is not easy nor is it intended to be.
So, with my deeply entrenched fears and fist thumping pledges of “never again” why am I sitting here, surrounded by family, preparing for “My Big Fat Filipino Wedding” and with heart throbbing excitement? Because I actually listened to my own advice!
Donna, like every Filipino girl, has dreamed of a big formal, all in wedding her entire life. This dream is as real to her as my dream of cruising the world was to me. Both dreams have plenty of “logical” reasons they should not come to reality, both fly in the face of common sense. For the last year or so we have had the fencing match, her dreams vs my fears. Honestly the day she dropped her sword on the ground and in a saddened voice said, “I give up, I will not be married, I know you will never marry me” is the day it hit me. Me, the trumpeter of Make Your Dream Your Story, had just killed the lifelong dream of the woman I so dearly love. I had won the sword fight but lost touch with my soul.
It was that day I wrote a blog entitled All In, and the day I started making plans for a monumental proposal. From that day on I have been All In, oh boy howdy. Without the basis of the Filipino family to guide me I did not realize I was also making a whole bunch of other dreams come true. It was the day Papa announced he was “killing a pig” for the pre- wedding party that I realized how huge this was to the family, a family I have grown to love. This will be the first time Papa gets to walk a daughter down the isle. That party has now grown to having a live band and wow, they’re killing two pigs! Mama has been flittering about the village inviting people and preparing for a massive feast. The sisters are all a flutter with talk of dresses and make-up. There are 5 ladyboy makeup artists needed. Even the children are jazzed, five flower girls!
I confess my original reaction to the wedding plans, “why do we need that?” or “can’t we get by with half that” are all gone, I am now the one doubling downing. They suggested a wedding singer, I said get me 6 and a trumpet player to do the Beatles song “All you Need is Love”. They suggested some confetti, I said, hey fireworks are legal here. They suggested a one-man band for the reception, we now have an eight-piece show band with light show.
My favorite trip to excess, the rings. First off, I inherited my mother’s wedding ring from her first marriage to my father. It has a large diamond, Grandpa was a jeweler. My parents were both great people and great parents but did not have a happy marriage, at all. The Diamond went on to another unhappy marriage so by the time I got it here I believed it to be cursed. I had considered selling it even though it is the only thing of my mother’s I own. Again, I faced my fears, and knowing a diamond was only as good as the love of the person giving it, I gave it to Donna as her engagement ring, she loves it. There were also some small diamonds in the box I got from Mom. Everyone knows my passion for whales and dolphins, and distain for the ordinary, so I had custom dolphin rings made for our wedding rings. I am blessed to be “marrying” a family not just one person, so we got Piam a matching ring. He will be the only kid in his village with a diamond ring I bet. I am adamant about making him part of all this, I do love the little rascal.
So, tomorrow the trumpets will play, the choir sing, the doves fly and the party begins and I will have conquered fears to Make our Dream our Story.
Make Your Dream Your Story
Capt. Brian Calvert