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Looking Back: My Bittersweet Wedding

February 7, 2011

As a wedding photographer,  planning my wedding has been the most exciting time of my life.  I always thought, arghhh mine would be perfect… oh I’d choose a perfect bridal march song…  I won’t go wrong with the food…  how do i get a good photographer, and all the simplest issues a bride has the passion to worry on.  Looking back at it all, compared to the tragedy that has befallen us after, I  realized how trivial I really was and failed to see that it was one of the last happy days to a dearest loved one.

My fiance and I waited for nine years for the big event.  It was my pa who gave me the ultimatum to get married last year, OR ELSE.  He even referred me to his newlyfound highschool batchmates as ninongs for my wedding. Even if he can’t move much, he made sure that every decision I made re my wedding was feasible enough.  Because of him, my wedding was shot by his close cousin, my uncle Chito Vecina, and the pictures were heavenly.  If I postponed my wedding a few months longer, he wouldn’t have had the chance to escort me to the altar…

papa, ate and me - bridal march

My kenkoy papa & ate taking me to the altar  (photo by Chito Vecina –

My pa, Alejandro Vecina Santos,  has led a challenging life.  He was born with polio and being born in a family of photographers & artists, he wasn’t given the encouragement he needed.  He told me how heartbroken he was that his father and some uncles made him feel that he can’t learn to shoot or draw.  Still he did just the opposite and taught himself  thru observation, patience, and lots of practice.  He would watch an uncle draw charcoal portraits or watch his dad (who was a society photographer for the now defunct broadsheet Philippine Herald).  Some uncles offered words of encouragement and some art tips that was a very big thing for him to go on.  “Ayokong makilala ako na, ah si Alex, yung me polio? Gusto ko, sabihin nilang, ah si Alex, yung nagdodrowing.”  I think papa lived his whole life with that mantra on his head 🙂

Their luck turned for the worse when his father died.  He was forced to quit school and after a few years worked so diligently, not only to make ends meet, but to prove to his bosses that he’s comparable if not more hardworking than his colleagues.  He’s been thru a lot of hell and some scars on his body were proof of that.  His disability didn’t stop him, mama, and ate from working hard to give us a good life and a good education.   Still, he remained the Alex that everyone in the family knew him as, a FUNNYMAN.   He would make any mundane talk into guffaws of laughter when he’s dropped his bomb.  He was the life of the party, he always was in my eyes.

My childhood was like any others,’ except I guess that it has an exorbitant share of clowning around. My dad was never a serious dude. He even has a separate collection of toys (scale models) and would occasionally suggest us to skip school to go to the mall with him instead. My mother was a diligent worker, but she cared so much  about us with not much thought about herself (she deserves a separate article).

Mama died early when I was 9 (the biggest blow to him). Her battle with cancer was long and painful, and our lives were forever marred with memories of her struggles, but he filled the void and made sure that we always had fun in everything we do.  “Punta tayo rustans, ” “Bili tayo tangke” “Kain tayo Jollibee.” He’s the type of dad who has his own share of toys at home and would only let us watch cartoons, action and comedy. He would ask me, “carla kunin mo si thea sa baba para may kalaro ako, …. sige naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…”

His influence affected my beliefs, my character, preferences,  hobbies, and early career. I’ve known my father long enough to know that he’s far from perfect with so many flaws and has made some mistakes, but he is the best father for me, and no man of decent stature or normal set of limbs would serve as a better father for me.

Papa, Tito Chito Vecina, my husband Noril & I

Ok readers, so I’m supposed to write about my wedding (and this IS a wedding blog), and not about my dad. Well to sum it up in a few words, my wedding has been, like my dad, far from perfect, but is the happiest milestone that has happened in my life.   The suppliers were great and awesome (watch out for my supplier reviews & detailed wedding summary), everyone I think was happy in my wedding, and I married the man of my dreams, at last.  In the midst of it all, papa was laughing his heart out with his family, his relatives and friends. I know that somehow, seeing me married made him very happy.  This was in August 7th, 2010.

Barely a few months after, on December 17, while we were out shooting a wedding, my father, alone in the house, collapsed due to a stroke.   My bro and hubby took him to a nearby hospital; he died 2 days after, surrounded by his family and friends, while wearing headphones listening to his favorite apo singing.  He wore a smile even during his wake.  My heart still cries for him.

papa & me

Papa & Me (pix by

The last months of his life were God’s gift for him.  He discovered his long-lost highschool batchmates and I would take him to meetings/parties on a regular basis.  He would talk, laugh and sing with his buddies nonstop.  Newfound old friends.  After years of isolation, a well-awaited family reconciliation which I know was emotionally rewarding for him took place, and he was present in every family reunion thereafter. My lola, titos ,titas, and the younger ones love him for all that he is.  His family, Ate, Ate Emely, Kuya Marlo, Dar, Jen, Noril and I, love and miss him sorely and painfully wished he never left.  That plus the magic of facebook, skype, photoshop and torrent downloads made him complete 😀 .  He couldn’t have been happier…. I was always with him thru the last 2 years of his life, taking him to parties, concerts, shows, malls.  I was his walking cane, his butler, his assistant. My only confort is that Mama is up there with him.

To wedding prep couples, pls bear in mind that in the middle of all the minute details and hullabaloos, don’t forget to look at the bigger picture.  Say thank you to your mom and dad (and mean it :), on or off screen) They deserve it.

Papa, I hope this reaches you somehow.  Miss na miss pa rin kita no matter how hard I try to act tough, MAHAL NA MAHAL KA NAMIN and we will always wish that you were here with us, your family, siblings, pamangkins, apo/future apos, cousins, friends, will miss your jokes and patutsadas.  I will always look up to the terrace to try to see you, will wait to hear you call my name in the morning, or wait for a phonecall telling me to bring home merienda. Sobrang malungkot pag wala ka.. THANK YOU for everything papa.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. rose permalink
    April 8, 2011 12:35 am

    Hi… sorry to hear about your papa… I just stumble on your website upon searching for a place to go swimming this summer and your story was quite… i can’t explain it… I feel your pain… I guess it was what I need at this time. I’m at a point where I have to decide whether to go migrate and work abroad with my own family and leave my parents behind. My mom, she doesn’t want us to… well, she wants to grow old with her apo and only daughter. Your story inspire me somehow…Thank you. I know that your papa is happy wherever he is right now.

    • carladi permalink*
      April 13, 2011 9:10 am

      thank you for the kind words rose. still miss him haiiii….
      that’s a very difficult thing to decide on, if i were in your mother’s shoes i wouldn’t let u go too 🙂 but it’s up to you to decide, financial security na rin kasi yan. no matter what happens, just always try to keep in touch para di sya malungkot msyado.
      thanks for sharing and god bless! 🙂

  2. pia permalink
    July 25, 2011 12:24 pm

    hi carla..i just read..i’m sorry to hear that your papa passed away..but i’m glad that he walked with you to the, i can’t experience it papa died last nov. 2008 it was a sad experience..actually, i don’t want to remember how he died, i just want to remember all the happy times..meron pala tayo something in common..i’m sure that we’re gonna be good friends..see you soon! 🙂

    • carladi permalink*
      September 5, 2011 2:17 am

      thank you pia. yeah at least he was there to lead me to the altar, it’s almost symbolic. haiizz… but i know ur dad wouldn’t miss yours in the world. he’ll be there when you walk that aisle 🙂

  3. lhen permalink
    January 11, 2012 4:42 am

    I really cried hard when I read this blog. Kasi my dad also passed away last Dec 19, 2011 and I know the pain.. At least asa wedding mo sya. Sabi nga nila yun lang ang wish ng isang tatay ang ihatid ang anak nya sa altar.. And hindi na naabutan ng tatay ko yun.. Nakakaiyak.. Pero alam naman natin na kung asan man sila masaya na sila.. Thank you for sharing your story..

    • carladi permalink*
      January 16, 2012 9:43 am

      i couldn’t say how much i empathize with you. and it’s the same date din, coincidence tlaga no? but it’s gonna be a hard road for you and your family, especially this 2012. u’ll find urself depressed at times, and you might hate xmas as much as i did. i’m still nursing the hurt pero i’m surprised that only a year has passed pero khit papano medyo ntatanggap n namin.
      it’s sad to hear about your dad passing away so soon. pero they’re still pretty much around to guide us. mkramdam k lng, he’s still around 🙂 and i’m sure he wont miss your wedding either. the same way my papa would on my baby’s binyag (haha sa ngaun wishful thinking muna :)) condolences to you and your family lhen

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