GRANADA HILLS, Calif. – Romy and Evelyn Limbo De Las Alas, natives of San Juan, Batangas, now residents of Winnetka, Calif., celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Dec. 15, 2018, at St. John Baptist De La Salle here, starting with a Holy Mass officiated by long-time friend and spiritual adviser Fr. Ramon Valera.
Romy and Evelyn migrated to the United States in 1975, and established themselves as successful entrepreneurs. A certified public accountant, Romy retired as a licensed real estate broker. They now enjoy their retirement and spend time with their grandchildren who “fill spaces in our hearts,” said Romy, “that we didn’t know are empty. And they energize grandpa and grandma,” Evelyn added, “and make us feel young again.”
The groom walked to the altar escorted by Francis Montoya and Josefina De Chavez whom Romy and Evelyn regard as their ‘parents’ while their eldest, Archie De Las Alas, escorted his mom. Best Man was Mark Lococo and Maid of Honor was daughter Marjorie De Las Alas.
Their principal sponsors were: Julius Salud and NelSepina; Mandy Francisco and Elenita Santos; Ike Bacarse and Nini Maldonado; Bert Bagingito and Norma Aguila. Secondary sponsors were groomsmen Christopher De Las Alas, Alfredo Martinez Jr., Jeremy De Las Alas, and Rodney De Gracia; and bridesmaids Eva De Las Alas, Armina Martinez, Kaela Martinez, and Paulyn De Las Alas.
It was amusing to watch the dapper-looking boys carrying the symbols of love, treasure, and faith: Noah Martinez, the wedding rings; Evan Aranda, the arras or 13 coins; and Benjamin De Gracia, the bible. And the “adorable little flower girls” were Mai De Gracia, Elle Aranda, and Beatriz Ferrer.
Filipino weddings are steeped in traditions and Romy and Evelyn’s golden celebration was no different. To light their path, Celso Sepina and GingMangaliman lit the wedding candles which symbolize the presence and guidance of God in their married life. Romy and Evelyn are particularly devoted to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
To clothe them as one, Danny Reyes and Zeny De Leon draped a white veil over the groom’s shoulder and over the bride’s head, unifying them in marriage and signifying their commitment to protect each other. Completing the bridal rites, Bobby Sevilla and PrecyAndal placed a cord over the heads of the couple looped into a figure eight to symbolize infinite loyalty to each other.
Romy, the former ‘governor’ of the United Batanguenos of Southern California, was a “master organizer of events with impressive attention to details.” The church ceremony went without a hitch and was well choreographed, even without a rehearsal, in consideration of participants, many of whom were out-of-towners. So was the reception for more than a hundred relatives and friends at the Knollwood Country Club in Granada Hills.
To nourish guests’ spirit, before nourishing their bodies, an invocation was delivered by Cielo Arceo Carlos, followed by welcome remarks from Romy, a ‘straight from the heart’ expression of gratitude for the love shown by family and friends in attendance, as well as for those who couldn’t make it, but communicated their well wishes.
Archie raised the champagne glass for the traditional toast, followed by tributes from his sisters Armina and Marjorie; prayer for the couple from Archie’s wife Eva De Las Alas; and presentation of symbols: from Marjorie’s life partner Mark Lococo, an oversized bible; and from son-in-law Freddy Martinez, a very large rosary.
Guests listened to sweet sounds from violinist Julie M. Pusch; and Filipino love songs known as the kundiman from singer/bandmaster Willie Manacsa. The kundiman, the traditional means of serenade in the Philippines, reminded Romy when he was courting Evelyn. Willie also sang ‘Strangers in the Night,’ and the couple danced to their theme song. A break in the program allowed another ‘must have’ to the kids’ delight — cutting the cake!
There were even folk dances: Cariñosa (the affectionate, loving one, a dance of love), performed by granddaughter Kaela Martinez, her Mom Armina and Aunt Marjorie. The De Las Alas sisters also danced the ‘Jota Pangasinana,’ a lively ballroom (waltz) number of Pangasinan. Choreographer Jo Solomonson performed ‘Janggay,’ a dance from Jolo, where movements are slow and precise and mostly centered on the hands.
Being such spiritual people, the program ended with mass singing of ‘Mother of Christ’ led by Dorris Herrera, with grandson Jeremy leading the family carrying the statue of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Romy and Evelyn’s patron saint. And in the spirit of Christmas, and since it was a nostalgic time of the year, the start of Simbang Gabi, Willie led the attendees in a Christmas carol sing-along. Program finale was son Archie’s closing remarks.
“Romy and Evelyn have a lasting marriage,” commented Precy, “because they both believe that a ‘successful marriage requires falling in love many times, and with the same person.’”