My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding Evan Iliadis Blog

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

Los Angeles California Year 1992. I met a girl, We liked each other and fall in love.
A few months later I said: Do you want to marry me? She said: Humm!!!! Maybe a bit early for me, I have many obligations back home and can’t think of my own future right now. I said: a bit early? You’re 30! Besides, I can also help with the obligations you have back home. She said: Let’s think later about this, we’ll talk again. I said:  I’m 45 and long time single. Maybe I should look somewhere else. A few days later she said: OK. Let’s start thinking about it. When and where we are going to get married? My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

Our first outing to my  favorite spot. Marina Del Rey THE WAREHOUSE bar and restaurant. One of the places I missed most in CA. My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

I said: Look. You don’t have any family here, neither do I. In France will be very expensive, why we don’t go in the Philippines so I can meet your family and have our honeymoon in a white sand beach resort? It’s more fun in the Philippines!!…

She said: It sounds like a plan to me. Let’s start shopping, we have to bring everything from here. Let’s go first to the jewelry store for the rings. Done: Beautiful pieces of art the rings.
I said: I want a first world class wedding, we have to bring a lot of Champagne, the real stuff, not American Sparkling Wine they call it champagne. I want French Wines and Whatever food can go in  Balikbayan boxes.
She said ok. Let’s go to the CostCo in Inglewood. We went, 3 hours later, came out with 3 huge shopping carts full of goods,  when looking for my car-nowhere to be found. Oh! Maybe we forgot where we parked it? No! We didn’t forget. My beautiful Mustang 5.0L  V8 Convertible was gone! It was my third one, just bought 8 months ago. The mother of all sports cars ever built in the US!  Those who owned one know what I’m talking. Those who had one with manual transmission know even better the kind of toy!

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

The mustang No digital cameras then. That’s what explains the poor quality of the picture. My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

The customer service at Costco called a taxi. When the driver saw the load, he said that we need a truck, not a taxi! Not happy, but his car was big enough and with a bit of effort we have been able to load the whole thing. The car was recovered by the LA Police department 45 days later when they arrested the driver. He said he stole it to impress a girl he was dating. The insurance had already paid, they offered me to “take a look at the car, maybe we can negotiate.”  When I saw the wreck he made of a well-maintained car, I said “thanks…but No, thanks….

May 1993. My D-Day in the Philippines. My Big Fat Philippi

15 hours later I landed in a continent I have never visited before. New faces, new accent, observing the vendors inside the airport and people passing by all you notice first is smiling and good mood. In a little kiosk where we stoped for some drinks, the young guy asked me. Sir!  Are you  Joe Pesci. I said, No, why? “You look like him and you talk with the same accent in English he said”. I heard that before, many times, remember, is the Good Fellas era, Pesci’s best movie ever! I’ll embed an excerpt for you, but beware: Yes, true, close look, same height, and face and I speak with the same accent, minus the slang.

Then, to the domestic airport in Manila, long, long wait in the airport, only one flight every other day at that time to Bohol, in old planes, scary, I thought they were taken out of service anywhere else in the world and dumped to the Philippines. Let’s pray and  say goodbye to our loved ones, just in case… (Things have changed since. Now 4 flights a day, mostly nice new Airbus, new airport)

Welcome to Tagbilaran, Bohol, Philippines. My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

I said: I want a first world class wedding, we have to bring a lot of champagne, the real stuff, not American Sparkling Wine they call it champagne. My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

One hour 30 minutes drive on a bus (Jeepney) that Stella had made “special reservation” for us and the family came to the airport brought us to Batuan, a remote area in the center of the island, far from the sea, close to be called a jungle.

I thought I’ll never make it alive to the destination, the jeepney driver was driving so fast a mass of a junk fuming black smoke, I couldn’t breathe! How they could allow cars good for the junk yard, on a road good for horses and carabaos as it was then? Things have also changed in this department.  There are now buses in good condition with aircon, the road is nice, the travel time shorter.

Friend, this is a blog, not a book. Writing all my first impression and adventures it will take not one, but several books. Bohol at this time was one of the poorest provinces in the country but known also for its hospitality and traditional values, virgin and clean beaches, not a tourist spot.

Let’s continue with our story, the wedding, which was the reason we were here.

We thought, getting married in the Philippines would be as easy as at a Las Vegas drive in, just show your IDs and you’re all set! No folks! Things are more complicated than that. Once in the City Hall for the marriage license, the Mayor asks if I had a marriage capacity license with me.

I said: Excuse me? What is it?

He said: In the Philippines, every foreigner is obliged to show a certificate of marital capacity. Do you have one?

I said: Of course I have one! But I can’t show it to you just like that! This is a private thing and none of your business..

He said: Are you taking me for a stupid? Let me explain you. As a foreigner, in order to get married in the Philippines, it’s a must that we know you aren’t married already, or any other reason preventing you from getting married. So, put up or shut up.

I said. Oh! I have with me a judgment of divorce of a previous marriage.

He said. That’s fine! Go to the French consulate in Manila and tell them to give you the certificate, they know what to do, they are familiar with our laws.

The next day, I called the French consulate in Manila and asked the consul to help me with that. He said: “Monsieur, don’t even think about” don’t waste your money and time to come over. You should have first informed the French Consulate in LA where you reside, in turn, the consulate will send the information to the City Hall of the town in France where your first marriage took place. The mayor will publish your petition  for a license for 30 days outside the building, if no opposition, the Consulate in LA will issue the document to you. Not us.. Bad news! 8 days left and no hope to obtain the document. 

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding Evan and Stella Iliadis

But the Mayor could no longer resist the pressure he was receiving from constituents and family, to ignore the fact that a foreigner is honoring us with his presence and he’s giving him red tape treatment. Besides, prominent people, including the Governor of the island and the entire Dagohoy Masonic Lodge from Tagbilaran were planning to attend the wedding.

Finally, we found a way to bypass the requirement, with the promise on my part to provide it as soon our return to the US. Done? Not exactly.

In the Philippines, a marriage not blessed in a church is not a real. In this remote area of Bohol in 1993, a civil marriage only was just unthinkable. Because I was divorced, and also made the mistake to say my first marriage took place in a Catholic church in France, (My ex was Catholic I’m Greek Orthodox).

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

The chances of getting re-married in the same church are zero. We went to see the Eveque in Tagbilaran for a dispensation, when finally found him, not only he refused, but gave us a nasty letter to give it to the priest, basically ordering him to respect the rules and slam the door on us.

We are Friday, the wedding is scheduled for Sunday, still, we don’t know where we’ll get married. Sadness and disappointment are all over the family in the house. But, hey! We are in the Philippines Folks! There is always a solution to the problem, Karma has been kind to us, always sided with us.

Late Friday evening, a relative came to the house to tell us that a priest of another church, not Catholic, will be willing to marry us, but he doesn’t have a temple, but he will come and celebrate our wedding at any place of our choice. Welcome to the

Philippine Independent Church  My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

 Also known as Aglipayan Church.  Good. We have now to decide fast, find a suitable place to build something like a chapel, something we can accommodate the guests estimated at more than 200. We went and asked the manager of the Restaurant in Chocolate Hills if she can rent us the place, or at least part of it, for the celebration. Very skeptical about the request, never happened before in the history of the place, but she accepted.

We are Saturday morning, May 22 1993. One day before the event. Since last night the pigs were screaming under the sharp knife of “the executioner”, cooking and cleaning all over, the whole family, neighbors, and volunteers are working overnight, a team of brothers, cousins, and nieces are busy decorating the chapel up in the Chocolate Hills.

Let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

Today, 20 years later, I got a glimpse on the net and saw who you really are, what you exactly representing. I wish I knew it then. My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

Venerable Priest, I don’t even remember your name. It all happened so fast, what was counted then, is getting a religious marriage as a Stela’s family wanted.   I’m not a religious person, I don’t state publicly my convictions on the subject. But somehow, the symbolism behind your Ritual came to harmony with my spiritual beliefs acquired elsewhere, and my Philosophy as to what a religion and a church should be.

Today, 20 years later, I got a glimpse on the net and saw who you really are, what you exactly representing. I wish I knew it then. Today, all I can say is, Thank you for coming to us, thank you for the message you sent us during the ceremony, it was received,  be proud of your church and its history. Keep your symbolic and meaningful  rites, especially the wedding ceremonial Ritual.

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

Tatay Fortunato Jumawid Nanay Nazareta Jumawid ready to accompany Stela to the Altar. Evan Iliadis My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

To Tatay and Nanay who raised my wife, be assured, America and later France, countries she lived most of her life have not altered the principles you taught her as a child. Still the same, respectful and compassionate with her family, friends, and neighbors. Thank you for your efforts, for what you have done so I can find that unique Filipina in a place I never thought will be possible. In America. Rest in peace Tatay, you know your daughter is in good hands. 

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

To all beauties of the Jumawid Clan who worked hard, countless hours on the preparation, this picture may remind you a different era, the time of innocence and laughter. 20 years have passed, you now all have family and children on your own. The laughter is still here, I saw it, not long ago..

More pictures in a few days. Meanwhile, if you want to get married, do it in the Philippines. It’s really more fun!…

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

It’s more fun in the Philippines! I guarantee it. My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

  1. what a wonderful story! 🙂

  2. roel d. orillo says:

    Good day… the priest is Msgr. Robespierre Tan Moreno of the Philippine Independent Church, a Filipino Church of the Catholic rites and traditions, an offshoot of the roman catholic Church at the turn of the 20th century.. Msgr. Moreno is now based in Tagbilaran City…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s