Now, here’s the speech. It’s an epic so get ready. LOL. Thoughts and responses later in another post. But from “Good Afternoon” to the toast four pages later, we were all crying like babies. My lash extensions stayed put though. LOL.
It was an amazingly perfect day. I wanted to make sure I document it here today.
My Maid-of Honor Speech for Maqui’s wedding
April 30, 2010
Hudson Hotel, NYC
Good afternoon everybody. I am Paula, Maqui’s favorite sibling, and it is my privilege as the maid-of-honor, to say a few words today to toast my little sister, her husband and best friend, Mark and their commitment to one another.
II Welcome and thanks to everyone for coming and sharing the day with the family
(to start, insert thank you to Bertina and MSNY for Maqui’s and Mark’s shower here)
I want to take a moment to express my gratitude to everyone for coming all the way from different parts of the states and well, the world to be with us today. My heart is bursting at the seams right now and on behalf of my dad, my mom, kuya and maqui, thank you so so much for sharing this day with us. I am most grateful not just because we were plucked from Manila’s Hades’ heat, removed from the political campaign circus going on back home, escaped the year-end chaos at my school and yes, managed to avoid the rotating brownouts for a week but / I am most grateful because our family is healthy and well, and, together once again, /complete for the first time in a really long time.
I know that it was just a year ago when Maqui and I, after not seeing each other for two years, dropped everything we had to the wayside to embrace and weep for ten straight minutes in the Newark Airport / not caring who watched us have our own Pinoy teleserye moment in the middle of the baggage claim area. / It was just so great to see her. I hadn’t realized how much I missed my baby sister. Yup, it was just a year ago when the two of us with my mom and three of her sisters, boarded a ship to go on an Alaskan adventure where we wrote dad and Kuya updates, took pictures of glaciers, of the Skagway terrain, contemplated buying expensive Ketchikan opal and documented the “notorious” activity of “dangerous” bears in the middle of the road. We had a great time girl-bonding but still; it felt incomplete because my dad and my brother, Mon, weren’t there.
today totally trumps that. Because this is a dream come true for my dad.
there is no place we all would rather be right now except to celebrate this very moment.
because today does not only mark a journey of distance. We have come a long way, that’s true/ but by journey I do not only mean increasing airplane mileage, crossing zip codes, or traversing time zones to attend a wedding. I am talking about someone’s specific and special journey that has brought us all here together. Maqui’s journey.
III The Hero’s Journey
According to Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, that the hero has a thousand faces; that most epic and timeless narratives tell the same story of the hero going on and returning from some quest. Campbell outlines 17 specific stages but /because this is a wedding and not a literature class, I will break down the hero’s journey, or what he calls, the monomyth, a term he borrowed from James Joyce, in three general sections:
And I quote,
Departure (sometimes called Separation), Initiation, and Return. “Departure” deals with the hero’s adventure prior to the quest; “Initiation” deals with the hero’s many adventures along the way; and “Return” deals with the hero’s return home with knowledge and powers acquired on the journey.
End of quote
Whether you look at the wise king Odysseus or the mighty Achilles from the Homeric epics, Sir Lancelot from the Arthurian Legends, Frodo from Lord of the Rings, Luke Skywalker from the Star Wars trilogy, Neil Gaiman’s Morpheus from his Sandman graphic novel series, Neo from the Matrix, to Jake Sulley from Avatar, according to this guy Campbell, the narrative and the journey of the hero is pretty much the same. The hero usually leaves his comfort zone, answers some call, which he initially refuses only to accept the challenge or the circumstance in the end, then he has to endure certain trials and cross the threshold to breakthrough to the unknown. At some point he gets help from the gods or the supernatural entities he believes in and then returns, enlightened, brand new, ready to take on the world he once knew from a different perspective.
This monomyth, or hero’s journey, reminds me a lot of what Maqui has gone through. Just like Odysseus, where it took ten extra years for him to get home from the Trojan war, surviving the wrath of Poseidon, the tricky ways of the lotus eaters, the strength of Polyphemus and the seduction of the goddess Calypso, Maqui has had to endure, struggle, surpass and survive many things in her young life. / Finding peace for her felt like the Holy Grail for awhile, distant and unattainable; her life, most of the time then, felt like it was possessed by the evil ring from JRR Tolkien’s world.
But /this afternoon is neither about her struggle, her departure nor her initiations. No matter how important it is to acknowledge the arduous part of life that builds our character, today, Maqui’s big day, is about her triumph. After she departed from Manila three years ago to find herself, a version of her that was happier and more hopeful perhaps, she instead, found God. And it’s through finding Him that she ultimately found who she really was, is and will be. It’s also during this quest that she landed in New York City, where she formed friendships for life, discovered a church that loved her before they even met her, and answered a calling that demanded that she put God before all else. She welcomed all of this with open arms and it was upon embracing her King, her worth, her refuge, her mission, and her new home,/ that she also found Mark. Or was it Mark who found her, I’m not sure but it doesn’t matter. I see Mark as part of God’s promise, the personification of the perfect partner to complete the work he has begun within her through Jesus Christ. From glory to glory, Maqui’s journey continues, but this time, she has her Watson, her Han Solo, her Hobbes, her Robin, her Cato, her Jughead, her…you get what I mean. She gets to walk, run, cartwheel, tumble, and traverse the rest of the way on this Earth, no longer on her own with God but also with the man of her dreams. Congratulations, little sis, I am so so happy for you. You deserve all of this, because of who God is and because you are worth it.
Now my sister is like a hero to me not just because of what she’s been through but what she has become. I look at her and strongly affirm that I see a new creation. I see a strong, confident yet vulnerable, loving, God-fearing, beautiful woman who has a humbled heart after Jesus. I see someone who lives her life totally committed to glorifying God and who boldly shares the gospel and this love with everyone she can share it with. And because I see Christ radiating from her, I see the Hero in her. I mean, Jesus Christ is the ultimate hero with a capital H, the most epic of all epic monomyths, and the work he has done in Maqui’s life has been truly amazing.
So Mark, you are pretty darned lucky to be sharing a life with my little sister. It’s quite obvious you make her very happy and are doing a fine job of taking good care of her but here’s some advice from her very first room mate: don’t mess with her quiet time in the morning, know how she makes her coffee, leave her alone when she is grumpy but sit with her when she is crying, feed her lots of cheese and fancy crackers, compliment her outfit when you go out but be bold and tell her honestly when you think she should wear another top with her jeans, hug and kiss her a lot but always, always hold her hand, give her hotoil treatments and foot massages especially after a hard day, take long walks and long naps with her, when you are angry for whatever reason, be gentle but firm and give her time to think things through, Oh, don’t ever ever say anything bad about me (or anyone in her family) unless you want to see a rabid, crazy animal; be her number one fan and even if you don’t always take her side, always be by her side, / Lastly, trust her with all your heart and love on her like she is the most precious thing there is. Because, she is the most precious thing there is.
IV What God revealed to me to tell Maqui
As for you Qui, this is what God revealed to me to tell you while I prayed for this speech last Sunday during service after Pastor Steve’s preaching; which incidentally talked about how God is the main hero of all the kingdom stories, cool right, since I had been toying with the Campbell idea for some time now; I took as a sign that I was on the right track. Anyway, He told me to tell you two things:
- First, that you should put God at the heart of your marriage. That you both must keep your gaze towards him as you vow to love and honor each other for the rest of your lives. He says that it would be a great idea to do that.
- And second, that you should teach or impart to your future kids the best things about this family.
- There’s mom’s resilience and unconditional love for us, her kids. We get to witness this blind, accepting, pure, enabling love everyday as she shows and extends this forgiveness to us over and over again, no matter how many times we break her heart.
- Then there’s Dad’s generosity, kindness, compassion and sense of humor. And his undying devotion to make his family happy; these days poured onto his gorgeous grandkids.
- Also, there’s Kuya’s trust in God, people and the world and his happy-go-lucky demeanor that has made him one of the best young fathers I know. He is really great with Sabine, Mateo and Basti – allowing them to be the people they are meant to be, getting to know them and finding pure joy in the process. Kuya is one of my favorite people and if you have sons and they resemble even half of who he is, that’d be really cool.
- Then finally, there’s me –my brilliance, good looks, and yes, my humility. LOLz. Joke.
V. ee cummings poem
Anyway, before we raise our glasses to the happy couple, I’d like to read a poem to my little sister. I borrow words from one of my favorite poets, ee cummings. He has been able to best capture in verse what I wanted to tell you today, Qui.
I love you much (most beautiful darling)
By ee cummings
I love you much (most beautiful darling)
More than anyone on earth and I
Like you better than everything in the sky
-sunlight and singing welcome your coming
Although winter may be everywhere
With such a silence and such a darkness
Nonone can quite begin to guess
(except my life) the true time of year.
And if what calls itself a world should have
The luck to hear such singing (or glimpse such
Sunlight as will leap higher than high
Through gayer than gayest someone’s heart at your each
Nearness) everyone certainly would (my
Most beautiful darling) believe in nothing but love
VI. end with a toast
And with that, let’s all raise our glasses to Mark and Maqui. Welcome to the family, brother. And Qui, I love you much (most beautiful darling), here’s to your heroic journey together. May it be laden with laughter, longevity and love; also, discipline, trust, and discipleship with God as the thread and seam of the fabric that binds you two together. Congratulations to both of you!