By: Veronica Leighton
St. Valentine’s Day, celebrated every 14th day of February and which has been associated with love and/or lovers, has its surprising origin. This special day actually started being celebrated in honor of a saint, quite far from being a lover himself. That’s why it’s “Saint Valentine’s Day,” which in modern-day nomenclature, the word “Saint” or “St.” has been omitted.
Let me tell briefl y the “Valentine” namesake with a legend of St. Valentine’s martyrdom, a Roman bishop from Terni, Italy who was beheaded in the early third century. Legend says, and there’s a multiple legends, he was sentenced to death because he tried to convert Emperor Claudius to Christianity. Others say, it was because he was caught secretly performing weddings, defying a ban on marriage that had been imposed by the Emperor as a solution to a military recruitment crunch.
Whatever, these days, the romantic referral is still there or present for the “love celebration”, as I think the only commitment or fulfi llment of couple’s love for each other was only through marriage during that time. These days, although fl owers, chocolates, candies and dates to dine out, have evolved as Valentine’s symbols of love So, for this VT’s February issue in the celebration of “St. Valentine’s Day,” I have selected four popular community couples whose undying love for each other deserve to be told and honored on this page. Presenting in this issue Edith and Nestor Ardiente, Pastors Nancy and Dr. Jonathan Abiera, Each story is beautiful and so enamored, so sit tight and read on….
“LOVE BINDS US TOGETHER” Nestor Pacifi car Ardiente & Edith Mijares Ardiente
Nestor proposed on February 12, 1972 and Edith said yes! Six months later, on August 12, 1972, they promised to “love and cherish, in sickness and in health”, and they became MR. and MRS.
They say, “We were two, then came son, daughter, son-in- law, two granddaughters and one grandson. We both have large families and tons of wonderful friends. Birthdays, weddings, baptisms, fi rst communions, graduations and other holidays were reasons for celebrations. Yes, we love parties! And because he loves golf, she then became a hesitant golf lover.
LOVE OF SERVICE TO CHURCH AND COMMUNITY – We both treasure our volunteer service as Lectors and Eucharistic Ministers at our parish church. We enjoyed serving as Presidents of the Philippine Engineers and Scientists Organization (PESO), the Samahan Sa Baryo and the University of San Agustin Alumni Association. Of course, Via Times is our favorite vehicle for learning of and participating in Fil-Am community activities.
LOVE OF TRAVEL AND ADVENTURE – In almost 50 years of marriage, we criss-crossed the USA, the Philippines and several countries with our family. We met our goal of visiting 100 countries and, in the process, we travelled to the 7 Continents and sailed on the 5 Oceans of the world. We did have some scares — we were caught in the Arab Spring Revolution in Egypt in 2011, were diverted to Iceland after a plane’s engine trouble over the Atlantic Ocean and had a too-close-for-comfort encounter with a 6-ton elephant on our African safari. But overall, our many wonderful experiences intensifi ed our love of travel and adventure.
LOVE OF LOVE – At our wedding in 1972, our ceremony concluded with a Johnny Mathis’ song, “If we only have love,” a couple stanzas of which, we share with you below: It’s a lovely song that continues to bind us together, especially on this day of LOVE.”
“If we only have love
Then tomorrow will dawn
And the days of our years
Will arise on that morn.
If we only have love
We can reach those in pain
We can heal all our wounds
We can use our own names.”
“ALS – Abiera Love Story”
Nancy came to America so broken (almost destroyed), from her fi rst love after betrayal. Jonathan just got divorced and was drowning in depression, confusion, and worries. It was a “Perfect Storm.”
The SADD (Sorrow, Anger, Disappointment, Depression) drove both of them to rise up in the midst of CCRISIS (Creative Courage, Resilience, Intensity of Stress, with Illimitable Strength).
One of Jonathan’s ex (name changed to Maria G) who is also Nancy’s friend, came to the rescue. She arranged the marriage between Jonathan and Nancy. Jonathan was in opposition at fi rst because of mistrust. However, he prayed and was told by God, “Marry her. She will help you heal.” His parents even gave blessings and confi rmed God’s revelation even before meeting Nancy.
Jonathan and Nancy got married after 19 days. The rest is history becoming “His-(Jesus)-story”. In summary, “before Jonathan became a dentist, he was Nancy’s toothache. And before Nancy became a pastor, she was the abscess of that tooth. Jesus came as the Golden Crown of their lives/family/ marriage.” At present, Nancy and Jonathan have three children, nine grandchildren and one great granddaughter after 36 ½ years of loving and living together as happily married couple.
Our unique love story: Ed and Nelia Ladlad:
As related by Nelia, “It was one Sunday night in downtown Chicago in a very classy cotillion dance celebration of eight young women who were children of PESO members when we were introduced to each other by my friend, Cathy De Leon. We danced the night away , exchanged phone numbers, and saw each other two days after when he attended my fi nancial seminar. It was a big surprise since I knew that he had to see his patients that afternoon! It turned out, we were inseparable since then. We met every single night and enjoyed every single moment.
Ed and I have so much in common! We love to listen to each other’s jokes, love dancing every week with our friends, enjoy drinking red wine and tequila, dining in nice restaurants, playing golf, singing karaoke with friends, and we both have deep passion for traveling and helping others. In 2006, we got our dream of a very memorable golf course wedding attended by our families, employees and friends. We were blessed with a very successful company that we built together which brought us closer to each other.
We are so lucky to have wonderful children from previous marriages, who get along together. I believe that the success of our marriage is that we say “I love you” to each other before sleeping every night, and we do a lot of things that we both love as often as we can. We laugh and sing with friends every weekend. And, most importantly, we support each other’s dreams!
I believe that our union of eighteen years is truly a blessed togetherness that is made in heaven!” The promise…
Endearing wife, mother and entrepreneur Melody Dizon, has this amazing intro about her husband, Dino Dizon, “My one and only Valentine who makes my coffee in the morning, who drives me to places, drops me off to the closest door possible, who puts gas in my car, cleans and tunes up my vehicle, who cooks the best ever kapampangan cuisine, who gets me the best spot or makes a spot for me wherever we go, who still makes me laugh over silly things, and even if I have to scream for him to hear me, he picks up my clothes on the fl oor, and even if I were to pick on him, he picks on me much better and gets me my slice of chocolate cake at Portillo’s.”
She adds, “It isn’t about the surmounting laundry or the wrong turns or the solid bumper-tobumper traffi c or who gets to say it fi rst or say it last or who said it the loudest, sometimes it’s just about sitting together without a word after a loooong day and watching the sunset, listening to sounds he and I can relate to. It’s about giving out a sigh and saying let’s talk tomorrow. Though our tomorrow’s never promised, it’s about the decision we made the night before that we can get through anything. Even if our world will turn upside down and situations get overwhelming and when losses are hard to accept, I will remember the promise and the vows we made to each other, “I GOT YOU and YOU GOT ME.”
The Dizons have been married for 23 years and have three adult children, Joshua, 22; Jericho, 20; and Jassie, 16.
Via Times Valentine’s Couples, from top to bottom: Edith and Netor Ardiente; Pastor Nancy and Dr. Jonathan Abiera; Nelia and Dr. Ed Ladlad; and Melody and Dino Dizon. Melody is currently the CPRTV “Health Matters” host and VT regular columnist.