March 23, 2023

#WERealWeddings: Love in the Time of Corona

Featuring Dr. Lauro “Sonny” Lim Abrahan IV and Dr. Geraldine “Ging” Tong Zamora

Words Dr. Sonny Abrahan | Photography Niceprint Photography

I am a creature of habit. As an interventional cardiologist who knows stringent preparations can help avoid disastrous consequences in our patients, I tend to stick with the familiar, with the premeditated and calculated. I thought I had everything planned. I was to leave in a few months for subspecialty training in Singapore, I would propose when Ging would visit during the holidays, and then we’d get married after I got back.

Those plans were shattered, as the world we knew soon came to a grinding halt with the pandemic lockdown. Ging and I found ourselves suddenly thrust into the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19. It was a time of much tension and uncertainty. For the first time in our lives, amidst patients and medical colleagues falling left and right, we truly felt that each day could be our last. A few months into the pandemic, burnt out and exhausted, I realized that life was too short, and I didn’t want to waste any more time sticking to a schedule just to be with Ging. So I asked permission from her daughter Nala, and she helped me surprise her mom with a proposal. After happy tears and a few blurred selfies sent to our families to announce the good news, we resumed watching Netflix, and basked in the comfort of being together, not knowing when we’d see each other next.

We eventually decided on a civil ceremony and a simple out-of-town reception to treat our immediate family and closest friends to a pandemic respite at our friend’s resort. Ging contacted her friends in the wedding industry, emphasized what’s important to us (“pandemic-sensitive,” as coined by our wedding coordinator), and surrendered to their judgment and experience with a “bahala na kayo, we trust you” attitude.

I’m not religious by nature, but I couldn’t help but feel that God was behind a series of serendipitous events that soon followed – Ging unexpectedly being granted her church annulment, and the bishop revealing that there’s a free wedding slot even on such short notice. I got goosebumps when I realized that the San Pedro Calungsod Church was also a sanctuary for Padre Pio, the saint we asked for intercession and healing during my late father’s bout with cancer. I saw this as my Papa’s subtle nod of approval of the woman I will spend my lifetime with.

In awe of all these, we decided to use matching white scrub suits as we received the sacrament of marriage. We were told to look our best before Him, and we felt we were at our best as His instruments of healing. The day of our church wedding was perfect, cool, relaxed. My Bride-chilla had her make-up done at home, asked me to choose which of her sandals looked good with the scrubs, and off we went to the church. No long wedding gown train, no flowers lining the aisle, no wedding choir (just Nala singing a beautiful rendition of A Thousand Years for her mom’s wedding march). In his homily, Fr. Sandy echoed our sentiments: “Paglilingkod hindi lamang sa isa’t isa na ibinigay sa inyo ng Diyos, kundi sa bayan na inyong pinaglilingkuran sa inyong propesyon.

The good thing about doing the reception on a different day was it gave us a chance to have another set of guests, so as to keep each party small. In the garden ceremony at Palazzo Antonio in Lipa, we joked that this was probably the shortest interval for a renewal of vows, but this time in our more traditional wedding attire. The most memorable part of the celebration for us was how our love story was told in the form of a four-part documentary through Direk Emir’s candid interviews with us and our loved ones, interspersed with recorded/live singing from friends. We really appreciated the lengths that our suppliers and guests took to help us achieve the safest possible way we could celebrate, because the last thing we wanted was for something other than love to spread.

As of this writing, it’s been almost a year since we got married. In that span of time, several COVID-19 vaccines have been developed, even as the virus continues evolving into variants that are giving us a crash course on the letters of the Greek alphabet. I’m still a creature of habit. But if there’s one thing that COVID has taught me, it’s that adapting to be the best version of ourselves can help you survive anything, especially if you have a life partner who will be by your side on the journey.

Sonny and Ging’s Dream Team: Church: San Pedro Calungsod Church in Antipolo | Reception: Palazzo Antonio in Lipa, Batangas | Caterer: Private Dining by Happy Ongpauco | Coordinator: Ernest Pascual of Bespoke Manila | Florist/Event Stylist: Teddy Manuel | Photographer/Videographer: Niceprint Photography | 4-Part Documentary: Direk Emir Bautista of Studio House Cinema | Gown designer: Pablo Cabahug | Scrubs/PPE designer: Adrian Pe | Suit designer: Suit It Up | Wedding rings: New Life Jewelry | HMU: Jo Pastrana | Cake: Love Desserts Ph | Invites: Print Divas

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