There are grand weddings like that of celebrity couple Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera (the “DongYan” couple), and there are grand classy weddings like that celebrated by Irene Marcos, daughter of the late former President Ferdinand E Marcos) when she tied the knot with industrial scion Gregorio Benitez Araneta in 1983 in the rustic town of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte.
Society writer Augusto “Toto” M.R. Gonzalez III wrote a personal account of how he remembers the 1983 wedding of Irene Marcos in his famous blog Rememberance of things awry. He recounts how something that could have turned out to be simply elegant turned into the humungous eyebrow-raising circus of the time…
In justice to the bride Irene Romualdez Marcos, what she really wanted was a small, private wedding with only the Araneta and the Marcos families and their close friends in attendance. It was her mother, the First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, who wanted a superproduction on the scale of the British royal weddings. It was also thought that President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos gave his reluctant assent to the superproduction because it pleased him immensely that the wedding would be held in his mother’s [ Josefa Edralin-Marcos ], “Nana Sepa’s,” quiet hometown of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte.
The extent to which the Marcoses and Aranetas attempted to geo-engineer the whole town of Sarrat was astounding…
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The entire stock of colonial Filipino costumes at the CCP was brought to Sarrat to dress its excited townsfolk. There was a directive that the people would have to be dressed in “turn of the century Filipino costume” if they would walk the town streets on the day of the wedding, so as not to ruin the colonial ambience so carefully executed.
The First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos ordered Sarrat town’s main road to “bloom” with white, pink, and red bougainvilleas. In the weeks prior to the wedding, the willing and excited schoolteachers of Sarrat were kept busy crafting old-style crepe paper bougainvillea flowers which were later attached to the actual bougainvillea plants lining the road. The effect was pretty and charming and impressed the wedding guests from Manila and abroad who thought they were all real flowers.
Notable amongst the guess was then girlfriend of Marcos’s only son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Jr…
Very beautiful was the current girlfriend of Ferdinand “Bonget” Romualdez Marcos Jr. at that time, the high society model Claudia Lopez Bermudez, daughter of the legendary society beauty Diana Jean Barnes Lopez [ certainly the most beautiful of the beautiful daughters of the hacendero Enrique Solis Lopez of Balayan, Batangas and his lovely wife of English-French descent, Wendy Payne Barnes of England ], Manila’s version of Scarlett O’Hara. The young Claudia was unforgettable in a white strapless dress with a single orchid on her ear. She looked like the proverbial White Rose. She was so beautiful that she could have been arrested for being more attractive than the Marcos ladies that very important day, had she not been the current girlfriend of the only Marcos son.
…and for all the extravagance that, to be fair, created all that expensive beauty and grace on display at the time…
[…] it was not the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London two years before, which ostensibly inspired it. But it was a singularly beautiful and elegant Filipino occasion on its own, the very definition of what is now termed and reminisced with awe as “Marcosian splendor.” For all their Bourbon excesses, President Ferdinand Marcos and Madame Imelda Romualdez Marcos certainly gave the Filipinos some very memorable moments in their history.
Interestingly enough, beyond Mr Gonzalez’s article, not much material is on the Net that documents this grand occasion. Even more revealing, a Google image search for the Irene Araneta to Gregorio Araneta wedding yields next to nothing (although I quit searching at the third search results page Google served). It is as if the whole event was purged from the Net or never found its way onto the Net to begin with.
The key point that readers are likely to highlight here is that the #DongYan couple paid for their wedding with their (or the GMA Network’s) “hard earned” money while the Marcoses possibly paid theirs with illicitly-obtained public funds. Fair enough. Whatever way money splurged on ostentation is made is beside the point. The point we really need to highlight here is that grand “royal” weddings (including those organised by moneyed commoners) enjoy a long colourful history because they have a proven effectiveness for distracting the masses from their wretchedness while, at the same time, sending an important reminder that everyone in any human society has their proper place. It always works.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.