I hope you have been enjoying my “Life of Love” Series of articles.
Last time, I told you of our arrival in General Santos City (GenSan), it was a real interesting arrival, and as I think back on it, it really changed my life.
At the end of my last article, I said that the second day in GenSan was a more difficult day. Why was it more difficult?
Well, back in those days a bit more than now, if you wanted to marry a girl from the Philippines you had kind of an obligation to go to her father and request his permission to do so. It was part of the culture. It still is today, but not as strong as it used to be.
So, when I woke up at the hotel, I knew that I needed to go talk to Feyma’s father. It was making me nervous, because I had never done anything like this before. I did not know what to expect. I had only met Papa the day before, for the first time. He seemed like a nice man. He was an aged man already. Even though Feyma was only 21 years old, he was 72. Feyma is the youngest of a large family, so her parents were already getting up in years. I was not looking forward to “the talk.”
So, early in the day, I went back to the family home, and Papa was there. I am sure that he was waiting and knew what I wanted to talk to him about. At that time, I did not speak Bisaya at all, and Papa did not speak English either. So, one of Feyma’s sisters told me that when I was ready for the talk, she would be with me to interpret between Papa and I. That sounded a bit reassuring to me.
So, after psyching myself up, I went to Papa and brought the sister along, and told him I wished to speak with him. He was friendly and approachable, and that was comforting.
I explained to him that I had been corresponding with his daughter, Feyma, for about 6 months, and I had come to care for her deeply, in fact, I loved her. She smiled. I told him that it was my hope that he would allow me to propose marriage to his daughter. He sat there in silence for a time, and I, of course, was sitting at the edge of a cliff in anticipation of his answer.
Then he spoke:
I am sorry, I like you, but I must say no.
Oh my God! I was devastated, I asked him why. He told me that he was already old, and he was sick (he had cancer) and he did not think he would have much longer to live. He did not want that his daughter would be living so far away from him, so he could not approve of our marriage.
Although this was very bad news to me, I could not argue with his feelings or his logic. In my mind, though, this meant that I had traveled about 8,000 miles, and it was seemingly all for nothing, because I badly wanted to marry Feyma. She wanted the same as well.
Later in the day, one of Feyma’s aunts came to me and she told me that I should not worry. She planned to have a talk with Papa and see if he can reconsider.
The next day, Papa called me to come and sit with him, and of course, I brought along Feyma’s sister for interpreting. When I sat down, Papa told me that he liked me, and thought I would be a good husband for his daughter. He also told me that he hoped I understood about his medical condition and why he did not want his daughter to be living so far away. I told him that I did understand that. Then he blew me away when he told me he would give his permission for the marriage if I would agree to bring Feyma back to visit in the Philippines within 1 year of our marriage. I agreed to that, and the wedding was on!
Skipping ahead a bit, as it turned out, we were unable to return within the year as I promised. Unexpectedly, Feyma got pregnant and had a baby shortly before that one year mark. But, we did make it back about a year and a half after we married, and Papa was still alive. He was so glad to see his grandson, and we were happy to see him. So, it all worked out. Papa got what he wanted, and Feyma and I were happy to be married and have a family! So, it was a scare, but turns out to be a happy story.
Next week, I will be back again with an article about preparing for a wedding in the Philippines! See you then!