By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan
I did not ride the country’s first Light Rail Transit line in Manila until I reached college, but the LRT fascinated me growing up.
Not just because I haven’t ridden, much less seen, a train before, but more so because I frequently heard about it each August. In a way, it was the reason why I and my siblings are alive.
The story is hardly heard in detail, but we all know the gist—that my parents first met on this train in 1987.
It wasn’t one of those romance plots where at one look, love struck. In fact, as my mom tells it, she was scared that some stalker had taken a fancy on her.
It turned out they both left the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran one Wednesday and boarded the train at the adjacent LRT station.
Ma. Bella Saquido noticed a man eyeing her from an opposite seat. The guy had a companion, so she ignored the gaze. When she got off the train, she found herself being followed by him.
Her walking became brisk before she broke off into a run, but the man caught up with her. Catching his breath, he told her that he just wanted to introduce himself.
He gave her his calling card and left. She was startled when she read it: “Andy P. Bagaoisan, Architect.” It was one of the qualities she had been praying for in a suitor.
Andy, an associate at a retailer of locally-made furniture, was simply struck by the fair-skinned 27-year-old office manager.
But they would not meet again until Mabel’s brother Art arrived from abroad. They were furnishing a house and he was looking for narra fittings. Her store recommendation came instantly.
Aside from finding that he and Art came from the same university, Andy soon learned that courting Mabel also meant courting her conservative Albay-based family.
The son of Ilocano parents from Isabela, he began studying Bicol to gain an edge. It backfired though when it turned out that he learned a slightly different dialect of the tongue.
Nevertheless, his courting gained fruit. Mom says what got to her was seeing dad’s faith. When he visited them, he did not shirk when mom’s father Blas had him lead the rosary.
Soon, the two were engaged, but Andy went abroad to work. So his father Benjamin went down from Isabela for the “pamamanhikan” and met Mabel’s parents for him.
Andy returned for a short period just for the wedding. The place: Ermita Church. The well-chosen date: August 8, 1988. They were both clad in white, both their parents bringing them to the altar, and both of them vowing a promise of love through thick and thin.
My parents’ love story is a journey that flew them half way across the world and back, took them to a deeper faith in God, and brought out their devotion to their vows and to each other.
Their spirituality would define that journey. After all, before they took that train, they were offering separate prayers at a church nearby. Little did they know there was a bigger plan for them.
This August marks my parents’ 25th year as husband and wife, and this story begins my own Agosto series about them (after a friend who pens condensed short stories in Filipino dubbed as such for his blog). A personal way of honoring them in their silver anniversary.