September 2010 – I was on leave from work for three days because I was hospitalized due to exudative tonsillopharyngitis (whatever that means ). When I went back, I noticed that the table next to mine, which was supposedly for a senior faculty member who doesn’t stay at the faculty room was already occupied (if not intruded) by a newly hired teacher. I was in a little disagreement when I realized that someone is occupying that spot since the same table is at times an extension of mine. However, I didn’t have any other choice but to accept her to be my seatmate since I wasn’t around to object when she occupied the said table. Having no choice, I went with my usual faculty room routine – read, prepare for class, eat and little chitchat with co-teachers including my new seatmate. Time and days passed when my seatmate and I learned to share stories and discover about each other. One of the notable discoveries: she is a cousin of a dropped-out of my class. 

The “First Friday” of October – my fellow teachers have “Sacred Heart of Jesus” novena as a tradition every first Friday of the month. Since my seatmate is new in the college and it is my birthday month, we felt the requirement of attending the said novena. By the way, tradition includes a little salo-salo after the novena, that’s why I needed to attend. Novena booklets were distributed to each one and while our co-faculty were reading their prayers, my seatmate and I were just flipping one page after the other. There we discovered that both of us are Christians – she belongs to Bible-Centered Fellowship – Camella and I belong to Paoay Faith Baptist Church.

Sometime before the first semester ends or the start of second semester – my seatmate arrived at school with a big black knapsack (as if she stalked away from home). I offered her a ride home since I knew that her place is still kilometers away from school. She agreed to my offer with a counter-offer that she would be treating dinner first before heading to their place. We drove to Robinson’s Place Manila. While strolling around looking for a good place to have dinner, we happened to bumped into our former colleague who secretly asked and teased her why we were together. There was just a short laughter and stare of disbelief from that colleague. After some more time of strolling, we ended up eating in a Japanese restaurant. A very fine and stories-filled dinner concluded our mall ramble.  I drove her to her condo in Alabang and bid our good-byes.

February 13, 2011 – my seatmate, another friend and I drove to Tagaytay. We roamed around and took pictures of different beautiful and later became memorable sites of Tagaytay. After a day of sightseeing, we had a pre-valentine dinner of bulalo and tawilis. And, the best way to end a day – coffee. We headed to a coffee shop where “life and love” stories were shared. While “life and love” tales were narrated, my seatmate and I were caught revealing that the next boyfriend/girlfriend we will have should definitely be our spouses. Our friend started to tease us and said we should start considering each other. There, I started to think that our friend’s idea is worth considering. But wait, before I fully consider it, my seatmate needs to really be God’s answer to my prayers and desires when I was younger, i.e. she needs not only be a Christian, but also from a Christian family. Moreover, her family, especially her parents, need respect before I completely “give-in” to her.

Sometime on February 2011 (after our Tagaytay trip) – she asked me to meet her aunt prior meeting her family. I agreed to her. My meet – up with her aunt was okay. Nothing spectacular, just getting to know each other and just few questions I need to answer. I really wanted to meet her family and that will make or break it. A week has passed and she finally brought me to her home and meet her family. It was a dinner of a huge pizza which her dad bought in a supermarket and a cake which we brought. The dinner’s menu include an appetizer of prayer for meals, a soup of getting to know one’s business, background and Christian upbringing, a main course of asking her parents for their blessing to me and to “us” and a dessert of teasing and mockery from her sister.  A fulfilling and God-directed evening!

March 6, 2011 – she invited me to watch a theatre show in her home church. She told me that it would be a culminating show for them and a show passing the baton of BCF – Camella theater ministry to the next generation of young people. I went to see it and after the church activities, I drove and brought her to one of her cousin’s condo, only to hear an answer of “I love you, too” whatever the question was. I invited her to go to a place where we could share thoughts and have prayer time. For the first time, we held hands and prayed together. That day and night was one of the longest for both of us. Our first long night ended with a pizza and a quick hello to her cousin – the one who dropped out from my class. (Funny and ironic but true)

Days or even weeks before June 9, 2011 – since we both love travelling, we planned going up to Baguio just to feel its cold breeze. Actually, this would be our first out-of-Manila trip together and to make this extra memorable, I thought of grabbing the opportunity of asking her to be my wife. I contacted her friends (local and international) and consulted them if this or that engagement ring design would fit her until finally we had made a decision about it. I went to the jewelry shop and asked to make the ring as fast as they could.
June 9, 2011 - We didn’t have any concrete Baguio itinerary except having prayer time and breakfast as soon as we arrive, meet the former senior pastor of my home church who was then Baguio-based and travel back to Manila the same night. The morning was still young when we reached Baguio.  We then decided to go to Camp John Hay for devotions, prayer time and breakfast. However, while devotion is going on, my big break really had its break. I brought out the ring from my backpack and showed it to her. There I asked her if she could be my partner in loving and serving God. She excitingly said, “yes!” J Again, another long day for us! And again had our hands intertwined and looked up to the Lord in prayer. Our breakfast of waffles also became our first meal as “engaged.” Our Baguio trip went to its way throughout the day.

June 9, 2012 – Unconsciously, we scheduled the traditional pamamanhikan on the anniversary of our engagement. I fetch my parents from the airport  for they are from Paoay, Ilocos Norte and went straight to my seatmate’s place. A pastor and his wife, her grandmother and family were all waiting for us. We ate and shared stories as one family. It was also my first time to hear her papa call my dad “balae.”

December 6, 2012 – This day marked our union as husband and wife. After months of preparations and prayers, we finally exchanged our wedding vows and promised before God and men to be each one’s lifetime mate. My intruder seatmate is now my God-given “lifemate.”

This chapter of our lives unfolded in 27 months – 27 months of knowing and discovering God’s plan for us – as individuals and as partners. Now, we are in awe experiencing how our Life Author is writing another chapter of “us”.

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