The couple went to Amanpulo with their kids to mark their 25th wedding anniversary, which Charmaine says was made more special by its many musical touches.
Charmaine Lagman met her husband Mike 26 years ago while in a shoot for a film, and they immediately clicked. The courtship, which lasted a month, was “very old school”—roses, presents, Tagaytay dates, and other out-of-town trips. “A month of courting before officially dating may seem a little fast,” she says, “but that kind of momentum was the initial driving force fueling our relationship and preparing it for the 25 years of loving, laughing and learning together that we’d embark on when we got married.”
This silver milestone was what the couple and their three kids Anya, Mica, and Elijah celebrated recently on a trip to Amanpulo. The current global health crisis limited attendees to just the family, the priest who presided over the celebratory mass, and friends who helped document the occasion.
In a quick correspondence with Lifestyle Asia, Charmaine shares the joy of reaching silver with her husband and having her children around, and the challenges to putting together this intimate event.
LA: For your 25th anniversary celebration, what were the challenges in its planning? How early did you start?
CL: For obvious reasons, the pandemic was a huge challenge to planning our 25th anniversary. Last year, we imagined postponing it to concelebrate with the graduation of our son and daughter in May since my children would still be in the United States studying at that time.
But the pandemic gathered us all together last December. That was when we really started planning it, just four months before the pandemic. Aside from the short time frame, major challenges integrated with the pandemic involved prudential decisions not normally made online. But virtual indeed were sourcing the clothes—without seeing the fabric and design in person!)—meeting with Amanpulo’s event coordinator Vincent Del Rosario, and gathering our videographers, makeup artists, musicians, and photographers.
What were the restrictions to the event due to COVID, and how did you overcome them?
The restrictions we faced due to COVID was the limited number of guests and crew we could allow. This was a really hard decision to make because we have so many of our friends and family members that we are grateful to for supporting our marriage over these 25 years. Ultimately, we decided to restrict the event to just me and my husband as well as our children, especially since the high risk it would be four our family that would have to make an international trip to be here.
Who were the suppliers that were tapped?
This is very simple, we tapped Amanpulo for everything; their events coordinator Vincent Del Rosario handled everything very beautifully! I know of Amanpulo’s very high standards from past visits and put a lot of faith in their help in making our little event come into fruition.
In terms of the food and drink, what were the inspirations?
The food and drink were handpicked favorites of ours in Aman: the best cochinillo, paella and seafood selections. In addition, my husband paired these all tastefully with his wine pairing for each course: a Petrus 2013, chateau margaux 2013, and opus one 2012.
Were there any special moments during the event?
What made our celebration extra special was definitely the music provided, penned and procured by my talented children! For the opening hymn of the mass that started our celebration, where each of us walked individually down the aisle, our musicians played a song that my son Elijah composed called “Until They Rest in You.” It is based on the opening prayer to St. Augustine’s Confessions.
To end the occasion, my children played a song they composed eponymously titled and based on our company slogan “Together We Build.” Elijah mainly wrote the lyrics, Anya mainly composed the music, and Mica contributed the instrumental hooks and solo. It was a wonderful, collaborative effort from beginning to end!
In between, we have more funny and special moments to share. For one, the priest of our mass who was tapped to celebrate mass for us was Fr. Boyd. He turned out to be the executor of the will for Fr. Sonny Ramirez, who counseled us leading to our original wedding 25 years ago! It was a pleasant surprise that made the connection between us and the Lord a sign of His blessing on us.
The timing of this mass turned out to be in His design as well. Vincent didn’t know when we would start exactly because of many pre-mass arrangements that could go longer than planned.
But when we got to praying the Our Father together at mass, it all made sense as the soft rays of the sunset were upon us. It was as if the wonderful vows we had exchanged before were greeting us with a reminder of the fiery hope we’ve kept in our hearts through thick and thin. And these were tied together when suddenly my children came to the altar and put their wedding anniversary gift on us: a silver wedding rosary blessed shortly after by Fr. Boyd.
Most of these moments were very special in the moment and ended up being quite funny moments as well after hearing the larger context of it all over dinner. For one, I was aware that my children worked together with Vincent on the flow of the reception dinner, and they told me they had back up plans for their back up plans. When it was time to do some cake cutting before the fireworks, there was apparently a small block of time to fill. My children decided to perform a song when our pianist and singer Alvin Santoyo came up to them and said that they should go back to their seats. To all our surprises, my husband prepared a song to sing to me!
After the program had formally ended, my husband had even more songs! I was laughing and touched. On top of that, every person from the crew came up to dance and sing songs with us, from Jason Magbanua and Sherard Yu, our videographers, to Francis Perez, our photographer.
What’s the secret or what are your guiding principles to maintaining a happy marriage this long?
I think there isn’t a secret, really. It’s all about keeping lines of communication open and reaffirming your vows made before God with each other every day. It’s all about commitment, respecting love and above all, honoring God as the center of our marriage and family life.
What’s the best thing about reaching silver with your husband?
It’s got to be taking a step back to reflect on how far we’ve gone in such a short period of time. It really didn’t feel like 25 years, which helps us look eagerly toward the future on what we can build together on our way to reaching gold!
In looking at our lives at this time, it is humbling to lift it all up to God, who has guided us through and through. In good times and bad, we didn’t know that we’d get this far, but trusted in His providence. Look at the fruits of our united faith in Him!
Photos by Francis Perez courtesy of Charmaine Lagman
Video by Jason Magbanua