6/18/2018
No pressure

I got my first wedding invitation today.

Well, I have been to many weddings before, of course. I was, at one point, the ring bearer, for the wedding of my aunt to an American. It wasn't for a Catholic wedding, but that does not matter one bit.

Still, all those weddings, I was a hanger-on, for lack of a better term. It's a relative getting married - an aunt, and later, cousins - and it's impossible to beg off. There were also two instances when it's a work colleague getting married, but even then I wasn't invited because I was a respected colleague, but because I also happen to be the son of their boss. I'm not sure if that does not matter one bit.

This time, though, it is a wedding invitation for me. It has my name, and only my name, written on it. (It won't make me like that style of lettering one bit.) I felt like a kid, opening the envelope and seeing the cards inside: all those strange names that are part of the entourage, and then, some you actually know. Or vaguely, because the last names are familiar: the children of the people you know, or somehow knew, as it stands.

I saw this coming, though - the invitation, I mean. Like with most other things these days, you don't get the wedding invitation first: you get a Facebook invitation. Jason is returning to the Philippines to tie the knot with his girlfriend, a fellow Filipino who he met in Los Angeles, where he's lived for most of the past decade or so. The sense of wonder you'd get from a thicker than usual envelope, the sense of wonder that permeated everything when you were a child, is gone now, to be replaced by a degree, or three, of anxiety. Who else is invited? How will I be talking to them? What will we talk about? Oh, shit, I will leave this event feeling much worse. But then you bite the bullet, because weddings can be... fun, I guess? Awkward, because I will be hyperactive and nobody will be interested in me. But it's not my wedding. I could be the groom, being paraded around like prize cattle.

Also, Jason is one of the guys I was relatively closer to back in college. I ought to give him credit for letting me into his thesis group. I was the odd one out then, as I always have been, a fact I constantly relive whenever I find myself meeting old friends.

It also helps that the wedding itself is not far from me. All right, Silang is far from me, but I am coming from Bacoor, and most of everybody else likely will come from further up. Still, it's a provincial venue, and as a kid I would expect to see a map of where the wedding ceremony will be, and where the reception will be. None of that this time around. We live in different times. You are expected to punch all this in to your smartphone, and hope against hope that it does not get you lost.

Oh, this is not in my usual route.

Jason dropped this wedding invitation himself, so the story goes. I say this because I wasn't at the office at the time he was to drop it off, and besides, it was a really rainy day, so I don't blame him if he didn't end up doing the rounds. And I wouldn't ask him to go to Cavite. And I was expecting the invitation to come via courier, to be honest. It's speedy and more reliable. If you want this fancy letter with fancy lettering to get to its recipient on time, you ought to not rely on the postal system. When it comes to you, the wedding, and perhaps the honeymoon, has already finished.

There was one other thing that came in today - and that one came from the post. It was a postcard from Kat, from when she was in Seoul with her boyfriend. She does that to herself regularly, whenever she travels, and this time she sent two more postcards - one to my office, and another to Iris in Sibiu, in Romania. That postcard arrived there first, three weeks after it was sent. Yes, it's much faster to send a postcard from Seoul to Sibiu - a distance so far my smartphone cannot approximate how many kilometers it is, surprisingly - than it is to send a postcard from Seoul to Manila.

Kat's arrived a week later. I had to wait almost four weeks more to get mine. The stamps did say it got to the post office some time in the middle of May, which means there's a whole month to account for. And you wonder why people do not trust the Philippine postal system.

"This is a photo of Nami Island," she wrote, and it's a different image to the Nami Island I remember. This one's shot... in the spring, I think? The trees, those trees immortalized in Winter Sonata, are green with leaves. When I went there two and a half years ago it was almost the middle of winter. The locals said it's a warm winter - minus two degrees is a warm winter? - but the leaves are all but gone, and the tourism authority's tie-in to the Korean drama is in full swing. This scene was shot here, that scene was shot there. Screen grabs on wooden boards, all not at all familiar to me. So many couples taking their photos at that row of trees where some iconic scene was shot. Shalla and I did too, of course. Of course.

"Everything is well-preserved and beautifully landscaped," Kat continued. "Puwedeng-puwede sa proposal mo! Walang naganap na proposal" - between her and her boyfriend, I must clarify - "kasi hinihintay muna namin kayo. No pressure."

And your responses...

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