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NEWLYWEDS Ani (ne Almario) and CP David in Macchu Picchu



A wedding in Cuzco, Peru

By Karina Africa Bolasco
First Posted 03:33:00 12/02/2007

Filed Under: relationships and dating, Family, Wedding

MANILA, Philippines - It could have been a wild idea to get married in Peru. But the young couple, Ani Rosa Almario and Carlos Primo ?CP? David, usually think out of the box and brim with hope that anything is possible.

It comes from the confidence of having accomplished more than usual so early in life. They had seen it, raised by parents who measure the meaning of their lives by their contributions to the wellbeing of the nation.

CP is a geologist, with masters and doctorate in Geology from Stanford. He knew how rich science could be but instead of doing research for some multinational to develop a golden product, he stayed on the side of education. How those massive rock formations in Peru must have stirred CP?s mind and heart!

Ani took over Aklat Adarna, the largest children?s book publishing house in the country and professionalized it. She has also developed precious references for children, parents and educators.

In the beginning, perhaps not by choice but more out of filial duty, she took over her father?s (National Artist Virgilio Almario) post as secretary general of the Philippine Board on Books for Young People, and for four years has competently and almost single-handedly steered it forward. Ani is also a Fulbright alumna of Stanford specializing in Education Technology.

Ani and CP, with other friends, formed in 2005 a preschool called Raya, distinct for not merely paying lip service to that noble goal of all schools: instilling in children pride in being Filipino. The first thing children learn in Raya is to connect the dots which form the Philippine flag and to color it. Science and Reading are equal in importance.

I always thought that being Almarios and Davids, they must have met in the University of the Philippines Integrated School despite the seven-year age difference. Their fathers, Rio and Randy, are UP professors. But they only met in Stanford?CP had been there for five years when Ani came for her Fulbright.

Randy said at their civil-wedding reception in Quezon City (a concession the couple agreed to grant their parents) that in the parking lot of the Faculty Center, Rio asked him if his son was still in Stanford. Randy gave Rio CP?s e-mail in case Ani found herself in some kind of emergency.

Ani had left a boyfriend in Manila and CP had similarly broken off with a girl. Not long after, they were always together, at work and at socials.

I instinctively knew right away they were soulmates. They are not given to public displays of affection but some plane of strong energy bound them together. It was palpable.

Ancient Inca capital

They could not have chosen a more enchanting city to be married in. Cuzco is an interesting combination of robust geography: fertile Andean valleys and imposing mountains descending to the edge of the jungle where the temperature rises and the vegetation is rich.

This ancient capital of the Inca empire, declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1983, was an important ceremonial location where the Incas celebrated annually the festival of the sun.

Cuzco is a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets and perfectly aligned stone walls with houses and inns and ?ostales? of colonial architecture.

The view from the Plaza de Armas, the main square, is breathtaking. I understood why Cuzco is considered the navel of the world?it is like entering the world for the very first time.

Two grand churches sit like queens on this plaza?the main cathedral whose faade and interior are in the renaissance style with a wealth of carvings in cedar and alder. The cathedral holds an important collection of paintings from the Cuzco School and repousse silverwork.

The other church is the La Compania de Jesus, (Jesuit), built in 1571, destroyed by the 1650 earthquake and rebuilt after. Its original outline and faade are examples of Andean baroque style.

It has a three-part main altar blinding in its grandeur, impressive twisted columns and pulpit of wood ornately carved and numerous baroque; plateresque (of Spanish architecture, lavish ornamentation); and churrigueresque retables (after Jose Churriguerra, Spanish architect of the 1600s, who used the classics in an unconventional way by distorting them, such as twisting columns).

Coming together

It is said that it was in this very church that the triumphant brilliant Spanish soldier Martin Garcia de Loyola married the niece of Tupac Amaru, the last Inca ruler defeated by the Spaniards in 1572.

We certainly don?t know the circumstances of this union but our own Spanish colonial experience could instruct us that the woman was clearly a conquest, the reward for De Loyola?s victory.

She was baptized and renamed Beatriz Clara Coya. It could also be symbolic: a marriage of two cultures just as CP and Ani?s marriage is a coming together of two intellectual elites and traditions?literary and scholarly.

This is where Ani and CP took their wedding vows before two Filipino priests, Fathers Allen Aganon and Roel Arcega, both assigned to different villages in a province by one of the mountains, eight hours away from Cuzco by bus.

The story is when the couple said they wanted to marry somewhere in Machu Picchu, the late Minister of Energy, Geronimo Velasco, a family friend of the Davids, declared he knew a priest, whose studies he supported, based there and could make arrangements. Father Allen came home to visit last year and so the plan was firmed up.

On the morning of the wedding day, Oct. 19, the five of us went to the church to meet the priest.

What we expected to be a simple ceremony turned out to be most touching and romantic. A choir of young Peruvian singers sang a wedding march.

CP and Karina were first to walk down the aisle, and when near the altar, CP paused and stood there in his barong, waiting for his bride. Ani, in a simple pia dress, marched, escorted by Rio. The Mass was in Spanish but the ceremony was in Filipino.


When the couple stepped out of the church, the choir was standing at the bottom of the steps singing Italian and Spanish love songs. Ani cried, overjoyed by the warmth of strangers.

A crowd began to gather behind the choir and cheered for the couple on the steps, just like in the movies. I heard the crowd whisper, asking if the couple was Chinese. They were surprised to know we were from Filipinas, a country they most likely had not heard of. Or it didn?t really matter as Cuzco was used to having guests from all over the world.

In Cuzco?s main plaza, where foreign and domestic tourists congregate till the early hours of the morning, I had a deep sense of not just people gathering here but also that many small lights and joys inside people?s hearts connected, too.

They create so bright a light that illumines and makes others feel warm and light just being in this cold mountain city. In this breathtaking square, a couple breathlessly in love takes and seals their commitment to a marriage that is sure to make them breathless many times over.

And when the times get tough or rough, the only thing to hold on to, always, if I as godmother can gift them with some piece of advice, is that which brought them together in the first place: love and everything it stands for and will stand for all through the years.

Even if National Artist Almario wrote them a poem that starts with ?Por Dios por Santo,? expressed in thick exasperation when he read it at the reception, alluding to this risky venture called marriage.

For love fundamentally involves an often incomprehensible combination of understanding and misunderstanding. For there are as many ways of loving as there are people in the world and as there are days in the lives of these people.

The author runs Anvil Publishing and is the Peru godmother of the couple.

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