By AA Patawaran
Images courtesy of Metrophoto
For a long time, I thought Manila Bulletin Lifestyle food columnist Jin Perez was married to food.
And then she met shipping executive Jerome Go, a foodie. He had been following Jin on social media and her blog jinlovestoeat.com for a few years, but the universe had a better plan. Twice in a row, he saw her at the mall and then, at a wedding, all in the span of three weeks, he saw her for the third time. Not one to let a nudge from the universe pass, he asked a common friend to set him up on a date with her.
“We went out on our first date in February and he proposed to me over candlelight dinner at Eskaya (on Panglao Island in Bohol) on July 22.” They were married last Sunday, July 22, at Santuario de San Antonio at Forbes Park in Makati, exactly one year later.
You could say it was a whirlwind romance, but when two people have so much to share—let’s count how many dinners, how many lunches, how many brunches, how many grams of steak—one year is a long, long time.
“Everything was fast, smooth, and easy with our relationship,” intimates last Sunday’s bride. “Everyone around us was happy for us. It was like the whole world was conspiring to bring us together. It was meant to be. When I said, ‘Bakit ang tagal tagal mo dumating (what took you so long)?’—[she shared this during a brief spiel at the wedding]—I meant why only now? It was a long wait, but one that is worth it.”
All weddings are beautiful, but Jin’s and Jerome’s had a cherry on top, and lots of the proverbial icing. Not only did they look so in love, so naturally in sync with each other, more sugar-encrusted as their towering cream cheese wedding cake by Mannix Peña, their wedding was heartier than any wedding I’d ever been such that, following the afternoon wedding ceremony, at the dinner reception at the grand ballroom of the Marriott Manila, the bride (in the same gorgeous Rosa Clara gown she wore at the wedding mass but styled differently with a bolero for the dinner celebration) ate heartily, despite all the cameras on her, despite all eyes on her, despite having to swallow her food hurriedly but still gracefully every time glasses were clinked, and she and her groom had to kiss.
The icing on the cake really was the food, glorious food, as well as the videos that played throughout the night to highlight it. More than videos, they were short films in which, on large LED screens hung strategically all over the ballroom, she was indeed larger than life, along with all the food and the drinks over which she and Jerome formed a lasting, loving, satiating bond.
“Our engagement video was my favorite part of the wedding preps!” beams Jin. “I was very specific about what I wanted: I picked the song, the venues, the mood… I wanted it to show us doing what we love doing the most—wining and dining—at places that are very special to us, Elbert’s Steak Room where Jerome brought me on our first date, M Bar where we officially became a couple, and Yue Lai Hotpot where we often go for late-night snacking.”
The video was no different than a romance film, except it was way better, albeit only a few minutes long, because it was a real story happening before our eyes, we knew the people who literally starred in it, there were all the hallmarks of the good life in it, especially great food and pouring drinks, and well it wasn’t so much about endings, happy or not, but about happy beginnings. “I wanted it to be a food video that would make people salivate while enjoying the food we served at the wedding reception,” says Jin. “We were eating and filming from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. and we enjoyed every minute of it.” She gives credit to King Caldera of Mayad Studios. “He’s a genius!” she adds.
The theme wasn’t Jin’s original dream wedding. What she would have wanted was a Grecian wedding, “with truckloads of fruits as table centerpiece and naked waiters painted in gold serving food in choreographed movements. I wanted my guests to feel like Greek gods and goddesses at a Mediterranean feast,” she confesses. “But Jerome’s family is very traditional Chinese and when I said yes to marrying him, I knew we would be serving Chinese so I decided to choose a theme that matched the food.”
I felt like Maggie Cheung in In the Mood for Love.
The results were no less than magical, with stylist Teddy Manuel at the helm of executing Jin’s ideas to a finer point. Like the sea of abalone braised and sliced with mushroom in oyster sauce and the sky of pigeon marinated in sweet soya sauce on the dinner menu, the wedding reception was an adventure for the senses. Elegant, dramatic, and straight out of the Hong Kong classic In the Mood for Love, replete with mist to heighten the cinematic Wong Kar-Wai vibe, the ballroom was transformed into what Jin describes as “old Shanghai meets Moulin Rouge.” It was food-centric, from start to finish, with the cocktail area turned into a food market with Tim Ho Wan pork buns and dimsum stalls, as well as nostalgic snacks like broad beans, haw flakes, and crispy fish skin. Even the compromises yielded a different, more personal spin. “I’m not a fan of red so we went for maroon and burgundy, colors I love,” muses Jin. “We put huge hot air balloon-shaped lanterns and crisscrossed drapes all over the ballroom. If I learned something in my 39 years, it is to adjust and make the most out of any situation, so I decided to do my own version of Oriental.”
I would say the wedding was dreamy, just like the bride with her dreamy eyes and her bright-eyed groom and her bridesmaids in Patty Ang gowns. The speeches of their parents—Eusebio and Julieta Go and Jerry and Rolly Perez—were candid, personal, and touching. The repertoire, a mix of pop hits and classics, performed by the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) were handpicked to reflect the joy between the newlyweds, especially when, in a touching tribute to his bride at the beginning of the reception, Jerome sang Kenny Rogers’ “Lady,” later accompanied by the MPO, as he walked to Jin and took her by the hand to their very first dance as husband and wife.
This, without any doubt, is how forever starts—with a crunch, a bite, and all things sweet and spicy and nice.