Thursday, July 23, 2015

When She Said Yes [Before and After the Proposal]

It is happening.

We agree on things easily, but it doesn't mean we are so alike. 
She likes her eggs scrambled, I like mine sunny-side up. 
The solution? We cook two eggs differently.
How I pulled off this proposal though is not as easy as cooking eggs.

Last 19th of July, together with our friend (and future maid of honor) Aiza and her sister Jilliane, the unexpected happened: a proposal that no one saw coming, even by my now fiancée Tina.

The entire production team.
(Not counting the people in the background.)

 First, we were already planning our wedding back in Manila, Philippines this December 2015. Our families gave us their blessings almost a year ago, then we proceeded to planning. Church, venue, favours, invitations, entourage, bridal car, videographer, photographer, menu, the works. It does sound a lot, but we really tried to keep it as simple and budget-friendly for both of us. 

When a supplier was asking us what was our wish for theme or motif, we were stuck. We tried to look for the closest to the one we prefer, which is simple and laid-back: rustic. We both love the feel of something homely, unsophisticated, rural or something that reminds of countryside.

'Where's the taxi?'

Now that sets me to think of a place as close to somewhere simple where the skies meet the field and the sea. After a recent visit there, I wanted it to be in White Cliffs of Dover. I did not want to propose in a crowded place like in restaurants or parks, or something as crazy like in viral videos of flash mobs and elaborate cinematics. I wanted it relaxed yet very special.

'Why?' was one of her many questions after saying 'Yes' to my 4-worded question on a bended knee. For me, it was not just the ring, it was more of the promise and declaration. Even though we were more than half-way through of our wedding plans, I did not want to take things for granted. I wanted her to know that this is not just an event for 'brides-to-be' and her friends. I wanted her to know how special it is for me, and how excited I feel about our future plans of being together.

The Plan:

I told her we needed to do a shoot for photos and videos for purposes of wedding invitations and e-cards for friends and families. The first problem was 'Who's the photographer?' My answer was not 100% confident but I said: Me, you, our friends, timer and tripods. 

'So who's the photographer?'

She didn't seem to be impressed but agreed to it anyway. The set-up is working. All she thought was we were going there on a sunny Sunday with friends for a photoshoot and just to be silly in front of the camera. We brought some fancy clothes, and got some flowers for 'props.' And that was it as we headed for the trains.

'Where's the camera?'

 White Cliffs of Dover is fantastic for a pleasant day of walking with gorgeous views of lush greenery and the blue sky meeting up with the English Channel and towards the French Coast.

But the logistics for a photoshoot there is just insane. The winds were relentless and were at top speed. Being atop hundreds of metres from the sea level on the cliffs plus the strong wind currents from the English Channel, it was not a perfect scenario for a portrait photoshoot. We still tried and carried on. Despite our clothes getting battered and our hair were all treated to a gigantic hair-blower 24/7.

On my head, even if I don't get enough decent shots, I'll make sure this faux-photoshoot setup for the big moment must be all worth it.

At the end of the shoot by afternoon, we were packing up. I held on for a second and said I needed more material for videos as we only got mainly photos. I asked our friend Aiza and her sister Jilliane to just keep shooting no matter what. I did not know what to say. I did not plan this clearly to the letter but I'm going for it.

I asked her to stand by the edge behind the sea view, and 'pretend we're in a music video!' was my intro. I came up to her and gave her a kiss on her forehead and gave her the 'flower props.' I just started monologuing random lines and words, describing the obvious such as 'look at the sun, the sea, the fields' as my heart pounded hard and fast. I held her hand, looked her in her eyes. I knelt on my left knee. She was still smiling trying to look camera-friendly. 

'Pretend we're in a music video!' I told her.

I began with 'I knew you never thought I'd ask you this. But here I am...' and asked her hand to marry myself. Her mouth was wide-open with shock and amusement and told me 'Yes of course!

I never told her how I got the ring and other details. I said it's all part of the package and surprise: mystery. Probably in the future. 

The 'engagement session' has indeed become one, literally. It was a memory that we will be very happy for a long, long time.

In the end, it's not about the wedding details, the quality of clothes, the beauty and glamour of photos or the number of views and likes in social media. It's not about the 'perfect time' or to please anybody else. It's not the glamour, it's about the realness and simplicity of being a wedded couple. For us, it was all about us together taking the next big leap under God's blessing. Whether for good times, or whenever the crazy wind blows non-stop.

We agreed to carry our loads together.

She likes her eggs scrambled, I like mine sunny-side up. 
The solution? We cook two eggs differently.
The question is, who's going to cook them? :)

The lucky bride-to-be :)

 p.s. Posting more photos and videos soon!

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Monday, July 13, 2015

She asked me: 'Can I Play Tchaikovsky?'

This young lady is in pain.
She walks with a walking aid, she's been suffering with her mobility for quite some time now.
She gobbles up pain medications as if they're a box of Nerds.
She grimaces, she winces. Yet she smiles.

Entering the room, after telling her I need to take her bloods, she asked me this question:
'Can I play Tchaikovsky?' while holding on her phone currently on a youtube playlist.

My automatic response was 'Yes, of course.' But inside my head, I feel so ashamed of myself to be not too familiar to such beautiful classical music filling up the room. I didn't even know how to spell the name Tchaikovsky, I had to google it days later on.

'Are you a big fan of the orchestra, the classical music? Like Bachs, Mozarts?' was my dumb, cliche-ish follow-up line of question.

'Not realy, I also listen to other genres of music. But growing up, and when I found out about Tchaikovsky, I found it really calming. It helps me not to think and feel the pain.'

This young lady is in pain.
She walks with a walking aid.
She grimaces, she winces. Yet she smiles.
Tchaikovsky to her is pain relief.
Pain that could be caused by physical or mental factors.

'I just need to think that I could not moan and just lie on my bed. We need to carry on. With pain or not.'

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to her is not just one of the best Russian composers, but could be one of her best analgesics.

The operation still went on. It was a success.
She's walking back up. Without the walking aid.
She grimaces, but only a little bit this time now.

She smiles.

She's holding on her phone, her earphones placed firmly on her ears.
I could see 'The Best of Tchaikovsky' on the phone screen.

In her, I could see her best in the making.

Another wonderful Tchaikovsky masterpiece.

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A Photo Diary: Tube Strike

A photo posted by Reagan Alexander (@manikreigun) on

Last week, the tube strike by the London Underground unions caused disruption for thousands of travellers across the city. It was effective for 24 hours, and it brought attention to their cause and grievances, but delivered massive woes and headaches to the regular tube-commuters. The services for the other modes of transport such as the overground train, buses, trams, DLR were still in operation but it was just too much for the usual operational services.

I have friends who had to travel two to three hours more than their regular commuting time. Some walked almost all through out, the others rode their bikes. I managed to walk probably an extra 20-30 minutes than my regular transport time. 

To ease out my walk en route to home, I managed some snapshots of the city. I guess I'll just have to file it under 'Perks of a Citywalker.'

This bird pretty sure has a better vision than the CCTV under it.

A peek of the world-famous Bridge.

Some spent their time lounging after working hours and enjoying the cityscape at sunset.
The tube strike is nothing to the strikes the Tower of London took over the course of hundreds of years.
The next best transport service in London might be riding a bird.

 Main take-aways:

1. I'd probably do more walking the next time around.
2. If the unions of tube workers strike because of working hours and pay and other conditions, what if the services of the Firefighters, Army, Navy, Doctors, Nurses all do the same?
3. There are tons of birds out there in the city. (pun intended)
4. Be a tourist in your own town, city, country, place. Don't just 'live in' it. LIVE IT.
5. For any disruption, problem, blockade or problem, there'll always be a way. Whether it takes you 3 hours, 5 years or 100; just find the best route.

*** Shot via Samsung S6. Edited with vscocam app.

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