Love letters and memories: Marriage so good it’s absolutely made in heaven

Finding your perfect match and sharing a journey to ‘forever’ still exists. “Getting married is fate. It just brought us together.”

She was a lovely village lass teaching in a public school in Tantangan, a small town in Mindanao, while he was a rising hotshot lawyer from Manila. The backdrop was the in 60s and the only way to travel was by ship that took weeks. It was amazing how their worlds were brought together with such distance and barrrier between them.

But fate intervened, their two paths crossed and they found each other. We all love stories like these, but double that giddy feeling when you know them well.

Paulo Coelho wrote, “So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.” This is what exactly happened to Pio and Minda.

Pio Marinas, a lawyer by profession, hails from Natividad, Pangasinan. After finishing his law degree from Manuel L. Quezon University and passing the bar exams, he worked in an insurance company in Manila. His nephew, then the mayor of Tantangan, encouraged him to move to Mindanao. He thought it was a good idea.

When a position in the Commission on Elections (Comelec) opened up, he took the opportunity and got assigned in its satellite office covering Tantangan town and Koronadal City. Imagine the ship sailing and you are on to your journey courtesy of (to borrow from a popular local movie) this thing called tadhana (fate)?

Luzminda Cueva’s family moved to Tantangan in the late 50s where she finished a 2-year Elementary Teaching Course and was offered a job in a private Catholic school in Koronadal. She took the job to complete a bachelor’s degree in Education from the Notre Dame of Marbel College (now a university).

She was 25 and he was 27. She is third in the family of five and he is the youngest in the family of nine.  

“I like her eyes. They’re beautiful”, Pio said of their first meeting. He added with a laugh, “Look at her. Even when we are old, it is still the same.” It was love at first sight for him. But she was not easily taken. Minda thought he was a palikero (ladies’ man) coming from Manila.

She even knew that he has eyes for other women in town. “I was skeptical”, she added with a laugh. Her parents also warned her to be wary of him. The lovers’ date weekends were often at Capitol Restaurant, then the most popular place in Koronadal, eating pancit canton.

Mayor Torres eventually stepped in and urged Pio to pursue Minda seriously. Upping the ante of his efforts, everyone got won over, including Minda’s parents. The courtship took eight months. Only then did she realise he was so different.

She recalled with a smile, “He sent me love letters everyday for the entire period he was wooing me.” No day was missed.

The carefully preserved love letters survived 50 years. Very much like their relationship that turned gold.

Handwritten, the letters expressed Pio’s passion and love for her. They were delivered to their house by a boy every 3:00 pm, rain or shine. The letters we lovingly kept for 50 years and still in good condition! Just like the love they have for each other. Pio also visited daily in the afternoons after work, prompting her parents to be slightly annoyed.

But Minda got impressed. Who can do such things with commitment and persistence? “He was there when we needed something done. He even helped us pump our Petromax at night”, she said. Without electricity, most of the houses in the 60s were lighted up with gas-fueled Petromax lamp.

Small efforts win big, remember that. In life and in winning the heart of your somebody special, it still works. Take it from Pio.

On 16 September 1967, the two got married in a simple ceremony attended by families and close friends. After the marriage, Pio became a revelation to Minda. “For one who grew up in the big city, he was unexpectedly hardworking and dedicated. He would clean the house when he got home early and would even prepare his own clothes, to lessen my burden”, she shared.

The courtship lasted for eight months. Quite a record in the conservative 60s. Their uncle, Mayor Torres, said why would they wait if they love each other.

He even took care of her family, especially her mother. “One time my father kept forgetting using his medicine for his allergy. Pio promptly took over and made sure he did not miss it three times a day. He also supported me in helping my siblings”, Minda shared. Those small acts built their relationship’s strong foundation.

Used to a frugal life, Minda budgeted their income carefully. “I grew up from a poor but hardworking family so every centavo counts. I took care of our income well. With our savings, I started investing in mortgaged lands and together, we started to learn about farming. Pio would be sunburned biking to our farms everyday and he never minded”, she continued.

At one point, they were able to acquire 20 hectares of rice farms mortgaged to them. “I realised I never had any issue with him. It was a very easy relationship. We understood each other and thrived on the journey as husband and wife. There was balance and we supported each other’s plans.” 

She added, “I cannot remember us fighting that much. Pio would always be the patient one to wait until I calm down. We always settled our differences right away.” Some girls have all the luck.

Pio said in reflection, “This once more proves that a woman can make or unmake a man. We were having good income but she knows how to take care and make it grow. She is very responsible. We did really well financially because she knows how to manage what we have.”

They bought their very first car, a Volkswagen Brazilia, with their hard-earned income. Minda found it funny now that she was too shy to ride the car. It was among the few ones in town. After three years, they started seeking medical advise to start having children. Lillian came first on 1970 followed by Marlowe on 1972.

From left: Marlowe, Minda and Pio, Lillian and Charlene. “We are blessed. We cannot ask for more. God is so good.”

Five years later Charlene was born. With all of the children leading successful family lives and career, both Pio and Minda claim this as the highest point in their marriage. Lillian, married to Rhodel who is an Anesthesiologist, is a successful businesswoman taking the reigns of the investments they acquired through the years. Marlowe, married to Kaye, is a Primary Care and Geriatrics Practitioner in the US and Charlene is a bank executive based in the United Kingdom.

Sharing a laugh with grandson Boris.

“We were often overwhelmed how God just made things fall into place in our life – from the very start how we met to how we started our life together in Tantangan until we moved in Koronadal City when he became the general manager of South Cotabato 1 Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Socoteco-1). God has impeccable timing in our lives”, Pio added.

So, a perfect marriage is possible. They both quipped they had their challenges, too, but they were both mature to face them, “There were a lot of ups and downs just like any other couple. But we have more petty arguments now that we are older than when we were younger. Maybe because we have time for each other’s differences. But nothing really serious. We always laugh at the incidents. They were actually silly lovers’ quarrels.”

Their most heart-wrenching challenge was when Pio underwent a heart by-pass surgery in 2010. People who loved, from different parts of the world, them joined them in prayers for his speedy recovery. He did. “I appreciated more that Lillian and her family never left the country and lived close by. God really plans well and took care of us”, he said.

On 2017, the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Koronadal City attended by family and friends. “I never even imagined we would come this far. We even celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary when my mother was still alive. That alone was an unforgettable blessing”, she added.

Do they still have a dream for themselves? “We’re more than fulfilled, we cannot ask for more. God gave us beyond what we prayed for.”

Yes, marriage made in heaven still exists. It may not be for everyone, but ‘forever’ and everlasting love do exist.

The brood has grown through the years with four grandchildren.

The nuggets of wisdom they learned from their journey together:

  1. Marrying the right person is fate. You just find each other. When you find that person, treasure him or her as a blessing in your life.
  2. Marry only for love. Never get married if you do not love the person. If you love him or her, the rest of the journey will be easy. The challenges will be bearable because you share it together.
  3. Never hurt a woman. If you hurt the woman you love, you also suffer. Men might not accept it but if they look into themselves inwardly, the pain is deeper.
  4. Expect marriage as hard work shared together. Even small chores at home that are shared becomes precious memories. They strengthen the bond.
  5. Be thankful. Having a beautiful marriage and a wonderful family are a privilege given by God. Material things are just secondary.

This part of their their vow to each other during their 25th wedding anniversary still rings true until their golden years, “May you remember today the promise we made, to be faithful to each other regardless of our age.”

The Marinas family during their 50th wedding anniversary. They have four grandchildren, two boys from Lillian and two boys from Marlowe.

As the former general manager of Socoteco-1, all its staff became part of the family.

More of the author’s stories here: Cecil Laguardia @ Medium

Dhaka: Just keep walking

“If you’re doing something you love, it doesn’t matter that it’s challenging. You can keep going for a long time as long as you’re motivated – just make sure you make the right starting point.” – Chris Guillebeau, The Happiness of Pursuit

The people of Bangladesh are among the friendliest I have met. Just don't do a thumbs-up sign. It means good-for-nothing in this part of the world.

The people of Bangladesh are among the friendliest I have met. Just don’t do a thumbs-up sign. It means good-for-nothing in this part of the world.

Traveling to Dhaka felt like a break. Ten months after non-stop typhoon Haiyan (the world’s strongest storm, so far) work, energy is fast ebbing. I am not about to stop – but I know I need a slowdown.

My flight from Cebu City to Singapore got delayed for over an hour. But I was confident that since I am flying Silk Air and via Singapore Airlines to Dhaka, everything will be fine. The plus of same airline connection!

Off the thought of missing my flight! Then, I realized I forgot to change money (my Philippine Peso tucked comfortably in my purse!). My mind fast-forwarded to having time to change to US dollars on my way to the boarding gate. I did.

My luggage got priority-tagged so it got out ahead when I landed in Dhaka. But then, the hotel car was also picking up two Japanese passengers, one got his bags out last. The driver was profuse in his apologies as I smiled my waiting-time away.

Three past trips and one two years back, Dhaka has progressed considerably (at least judging by the no-jam ride to our hotel in Banani. The Japan prime minister was visiting. The streets were cleaner and the debris from road and skyway constructions gone.

Many things unfolded back in the Philippines while I was in Dhaka. From them I found my strength and resolve. I guess you get them as you mature and mellow in age. If they happened 20 years ago, I could have broken down or even panicked. Not quite but likely.

I just accepted them as things to go-by and move on. One reminder from a billboard: Keep walking.

  • Love life and its eccentricities with a positive attitude. Enjoy the challenge.
  • In the end, it is your call for a situation to make you or break you. Really up to you.
  • Dodge tricky tests like a rickshaw in Dhaka. Move and speed-up and never stop.
  • Smile your trials away. I assure you, smiling will take you a long way away from it.
  • If it happens, it happens. You probably cannot stop it. Accept and move on.

The week ended well despite the fireworks of changes and events while I was in Dhaka. Could I have stopped them? Maybe not. As I said – I will just keep walking.

The lovely friends we found in Bangladesh.

The lovely friends we found in Bangladesh.


Malaysian doc keeps coming back

Posted:1:22 AM (Manila Time) | Mar. 31, 2002
By Maria Cecil B. Laguardia
Inquirer News Service

Dr. Anga’s (6th from left) one of many visits in the Philippines. Here he was met at the Davao City Airport by Rotarians of the Rotary Club of Marbel.

HE is often asked: “Aren’t you afraid of getting kidnapped in Mindanao?” He just answers with a smile and an unaffected shrug as if to say it’s not fated, it won’t happen.

Tugging a baggage of medical instruments, he walked confidently at the Davao International Airport, unmindful of the raging newspaper headlines about Mindanao around him. He looked at home.

At this time when foreigners avoid Mindanao like a plague, Dr. Angamuthu “Anga” Rajoo of Johor Bahru, Malaysia, flew back to Koronadal City in South Cotabato via Davao City to fulfill a promise.

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A Door Closes Quite Nicely

She was one tough cookie. We were raised never to buckle to a challenge.

“Your arms were always open when I needed a hug. Your heart understood when I needed a friend. Your gentle eyes were stern when I needed a lesson. Your strength and love has guided me and gave me wings to fly.” – Sarah Malin


It cannot really get any easier. It’s like a door creaking and closing – with finality.

You know its coming but then you can’t possibly get yourself prepared for the pain and sadness so deep.

I just arrived from Dhaka when my sister Nanette told me my mom was not good. She had a bad fall from her bed and was in pain. Though, she was not complaining, we know she was. We know her, she won’t complain.

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12km walk with my father

Everything I learned about the value of hard work, I learned from my father.

“It’s only when you grow up, and step back from him, or leave him for your own career and your own home — it’s only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it. Pride reinforces love.” – Margaret Truman

Until the late 80s, transport in our village from town was limited. Jeepneys then ply only twice a day. If you miss them, you wait until the following day. That’s it.

One day, together with a neighbor, my father and I arrived past 5:00 pm at the transport terminal and found out we missed the last trip. I dreaded the next decision but I know there was no other choice.

A very decisive man, my father immediately bought kerosene, used bottle and cloth from the store and made a makeshift sulo (torch). It was getting dark. With an impish grin – perhaps amused of what lies ahead – and torch in hand, we started our walk home. That was my first walkathon!

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Shane’s Inner Joy

A partnership out to conquer cerebral palsy started with Ardee's inspiration - Shane and hubby.

“It is not the answer you look for that makes you strong. It is the ways that you take that define who you are and what you can do.”Maya Angelou

 Shane’s Inner Kind of Joy

 Her words on why she started the campaign for children with cerebral palsy were like colorful rainbow lighting up a dark sky: There’s always an inner Joy …a feeling that i can’t explain…creating a smile from an innocent spirit, and letting them feel that they are important is really fulfilling…it makes my day complete. Thus, Ardee Smile Kidz (ASK) was born in Koronadal City, Philippines.

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