Only in the Philippines: Royal wedding version
But in reading about a celebrity wedding that happened towards the end of 2014, I kept coming back to the idea, "only in the Philippines." I hope readers who know of other cultures will prove me wrong. I enjoy discovering that silliness is, after all, universal.
And so, tongue-in-cheek, I present: Only in the Philippines – wedding version.
Kuya Dingdong, Tita Baby, and Tito Boy
Only in the Philippines do we have a wedding where "Dingdong" is actually the name of the groom rather than a description of what the Church bells sounded like.
"Ding" – like when Chuck Berry once sang, "I want you to play with my Ding-a-ling!" – and "dong," like when one of the actors in the film, The Interview, said, "Dd you actually say 'Dong'?" And lest the said macho groom get all upset about my laughing at his name, I must say that silly names that tend to infantilize grown men and women are quite Pinoy. Woe to the Filipino child who does not have an uncle named "Boy" and an aunt named "Baby."
Here we have a wedding, described as "royal" in a country that does not have a monarchy. And from what I have heard of the bride, she does not quite fit into the discreet, proper, and staid mode we have come to associate with HRH Catherine or Crown Princess Masako. Indeed I understand her to be of a decidedly non-cacique background. And lest the bride think this is a slur on her, I must reiterate that I rather like feisty women from non-cacique backgrounds. What I dislike about feisty women from non-cacique backgrounds is when they start taking on the air of... er... royalty.
Whether Their Royal Highnesses Dingdong and Yan-yan meant to have their wedding called "royal" is not known to me. It may very well be that the oodles and oodles of press agents, hangers-on, and gossip columnists, working for the star-making machines of a major television network did that. It was, after all, a slow news week, despite a major airplane crash and a typhoon. So maybe even the media needed something to fill the pages. Something more worthy than a mere wedding in our entertainment industry. Something like a royal wedding.
Besides how does one justify closing off some streets in a major city in the busiest of seasons? How does one justify allowing HRH Ding (my pet name for him, short for Dingdong) to go to the church in his black uber-machine Ducati? Helloooo. It's because they are royalty. HRH Ding could not get dinged in the head, peasants. Divine right of kings, Dings, and all that. Besides we wanted handsome pictures. Not pictures of some guy in a helmet. Not pictures of a messy-haired HRH Ding who had just taken off his helmet.
Spectacle instead of the spectacular
Is it only in the Philippines that ostentation and colonial mentality somehow coincide with aspirational in such a bizarre way? Surely we can aspire to truly spectacular achievements instead of aspiring to be part of a spectacle.
Yes, I know they are movie stars and their job is to look beautiful. I understand how those who want to make profits prefer we confuse "wealthy" (as in P2-million gown) with beautiful. But is getting married in such a public way part of the job? Indeed that would be true for crown princes and princesses who have to live up to their ceremonial duties. But not for, sorry to say this, Ding and Yan-yan, mere citizens. (Gasp! There I said it! Not royalty. Mere citizens.)
Really if they had kept the ceremony private, as some of those Hollywood stars do, then columnists like myself would have just shut our mouths about the P2-million gown. It would also not allow me to have made remarks about nicknames and class backgrounds. It would not have allowed progressives to criticize the unseemliness of the wedding in the face of hunger, right after these progressives post pictures of their families having great holiday treats.
But I digress.
Lastly, is it only in the Philippines where a majority are married by a man (aka as a Catholic priest) who has experienced only weddings but not marriages? I know that the goodly Bishop Tagle was not speaking from experience when he said that there will come a time when the ersatz Royal Couple will get a bit jaded about each other. However, someone in the star machine should have told the good Bishop the script. Someone should have reminded him that what happens after the wedding is neither his area of expertise nor part of the movie now showing. This movie is supposed to end with a happy wedding. The End. Curtains drawn. Happily ever after in an industry well-known for the fleeting nature of personal commitments.
Ah, but I have always liked Bishop Tagle. He is on to something when he says that the wedding is the easy part. And so, I will succumb to the spectacle by wishing this couple, whom I don't really know, the very best. And I mean it in all sincerity.
May Dingdong and Marian have the maturity and ferocity necessary for a shot at a long-term relationship. May they have the capacity to step away from bankrupt social prescriptions about the glamor and ease of loving one another so that they may do the daily, nitty-gritty, and down-and-dirty work of forming a primary relationship with the ever-changing other person.
May they have the courage to demand the best of each other, not just towards the outside world, but also towards each other. May they not give in to the idea that the loved one is duty-bound to indulge our bad selves as if our partner should be reduced to being our greatest fan. May they realize that one of the most corrosive elements to a real relationship is privilege – whether that be the social prescriptions of a husband's domination over his wife and children or the privilege of the rich and famous over the poor and anonymous.
May they eventually have what those of us old enough to have put in the years have – a relationship built over the decades because we were lucky in addition to our best efforts. In short, may they have the integrity and luck to stay together for only the right reasons.
It may well be that 50 years from now Marian and Dingdong will still be together. I would be happy for them if they were still movie idols then. But whatever their circumstances, I hope they will celebrate in the privacy of loving family and friends.
It is what we should all aspire to in a democracy: admiration and respect for the ordinary human being who has the right to find love and happiness in the freedom afforded by privacy. – Rappler.com
Author's note: I just realized that Cardinal Tagle was not at this wedding as I had stated. I was tracking another wedding (of friends actually) at the same time and, hence, my confusion. My deepest apologies to Cardinal Tagle and all who were offended by this inaccuracy. My statement above – that I actually find the Cardinal's statements sensible – does reflect my sincere opinion.