Toast delivered by retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN during the 60th Wedding Anniversary of retired air force Major Leonardo and Dr. Venus Santos held on May 7, 2017 at the Palms Country Club, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Sisters and brothers, most parents grieve when their son or daughter marries, lamenting – in between sobs – that they are losing a son or a daughter. I always reply that they should instead rejoice because they are really gaining a son-in-law or a daughter-in-law.
According to Monsignor Gerry Santos, his parents – our celebrants, Major Leonardo and Dr. Venus Santos – were no different because when he told them he wanted to be a priest, his mother “was the first to say No.” I would have given them the same advice. They should have rejoiced because, instead of losing him by his marriage to the Church, they really gained the Lord and the Christian community their illustrious son served – you and me and all of us here in this ballroom numbering over 300 plus the countless parishioners, seminarians, students and other people he touched – into their family. That rejoicing must be the reason why after 60 years of marriage, they are still amazingly young, happy and good-looking. Monsignor Gerry said earlier during his homily that he admired how his father adored his mother comparing her beauty to Joan Crawford and Paraluman. I do not know these movie stars, but I do know Marian Rivera, Kathleen Bernardo and Liza Soberano and the other current movie stars who are in the beauty league of Tita de Villa (who is with us today). In turn, all of them are as beautiful as Doctora Venus!
I will no longer speak of the spiritual reasons for this phenomenon of youth and beauty that is before us; suffice it to say that Monsignor Gerry can explain those reasons better than I can ever do. After all, whatever basic catechetical and theological knowledge I have, I owe to him who patiently taught this Catholic ignoramus, when he was fortunate to encounter him 30 years ago. Indeed, since then he has been to me the Peter, spoken of in the First Reading during the Mass earlier today and the Shepheard extolled in the Gospel, throughout my legal, business and judicial career. He has been my teacher of faith and morals in my stint as a justice and chief justice.
However, to capture the essence of my thoughts about how still youthful our celebrants are even when their calendar ages must be around 90 years, let me just quote few lines from Samuel Ullman’s poem, “Youth,” about still being young in our old age:
“Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. The years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair – these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fears, as young as your hope, as old as your despair. In the central place of your heart, there is a recording chamber; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, so long are you young. When the wires are all down and your heart is covered with the snow of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then – and then only – are you grown old.”
Let me now offer a toast to our celebrants for being the best examples of how to stay young, happy and good looking. May we, who are aspiring to celebrate our 60 years of marriage, emulate them. And may the good Lord grant them another 60 years of marital bliss. And may they invite all of us again on that day 60 years from now. Cheers! Mabuhay!