They wore Africa on a hot day
You’re in a good stage in your life.”
Dennis Valdes, the other half of the #dandtlove25—the hashtag of the 25th wedding anniversary celebration of Dennis and Tessa last June 24—said that line above the din of the celebration, after all the dance performances. If he wasn’t heard the first time, he must have been heard the second, or third, or fourth or fifth time.
That was how many times Dennis said it that night. He began his remarks to cap the evening—actually, day—of celebration by telling his wife of 25 years, Tessa Valdes, “You’re in a good stage in your life.
“None of these things that happened in 25 years could have been forecasted…”
He also addressed the same insight to eldest son Bryan, Tyrone, daughters Jordan, Athena and daughter-in-law Tinkay.
Indeed, he was giving a nugget of truth—you or anyone else is in a good stage of your life, depending on how you make it so. The present is the only thing that matters; the past is done, and the future is—just that, the future.
In the noise, the fun, the pageantry of the celebration—theme was Africa!—that thought wasn’t lost on the guests at Manila Polo Club.
That was a takeaway from #dandtlove25 you couldn’t ignore, not even after you were overwhelmed by the dance numbers of the couple, the “next generations” of Tessa’s clan, and Dennis’ colleague in an organization of executives and the couple’s good friend—Donnie Tantoco, the Rustan’s president himself.
Worthy of Cecil B. DeMille
Donnie, who’s about to be a grandfather himself, can execute the moves of his son’s generation—a feat we’d seen only on Instagram until that night.
The celebration was an afternoon-to-midnight production worthy of Cecil B. DeMille (Google him, if you haven’t heard of the guy), with hundreds of performers, apart from the couple’s relatives.
Given the commotion before the bridal march, with the guests busy Instagramming and spilling out of the pews onto the aisle, the church rites could have been chaotic pageantry, but no.
Amazingly, as the couple took their seats at the altar, after a parade of bamboo-pole-bearers—African masks topped the poles—the hustle and bustle dissipated and gave way to solemnity.
Helping create the solemn ambiance were the Mass hymns sung so beautifully by the Vocalismo Choral Group.
After the Mass, the guests gathered in the stands overlooking the Manila Polo field—yes, in the afternoon heat—to watch the performances by the children from the Sisters of Mary Boys and Girls Town. In the evening, in the Polo Reception Hall, the performers were Tessa Rufino Tordesillas and Danspace Ballet School, the Ellipsis, Amazing Pyra, Radha and Kate Torralba.
The event’s highlight, if you ask us, was how everyone—everyone, except the priests celebrating the Mass—came in African-inspired costumes or African-inspired accents (although Fr. Tito Caluag, who gave the homily, quipped that he could have come in an Avengers’ costume).
The guests took pains to dress up even on that hot day—a DIY mix of animal prints, vibrant patterns and colors, kaftans.
Even the father of the bride, Alex Prieto, toed the line in his low-key way: for the church, a slight peacock feather (faux, of course) served as his pocket square.
Nothing could have completed the #dandtlove25 more than that.
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