September 25, 2023

A decade and three years ago, Anton, a classical guitarist from Saint Louis Boys High and Musar Music, represented the Cordillera in the National Music Competitions for Young Artists Foundation at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
In the interregnum, he met Stefanie Quintin, an upcoming soprano from La Trinidad, Benguet who was competing for her Baguio City High School-SPA class. Their meeting blossomed to be an affair to remember, culminating in “I do’s”on Jan. 7.
Born prematurely in Nov. 3, 1990, Ton was so-called an “earthquake” baby, with birth complications marring his entry to the world. Thankfully, science, medicine, and a lot of prayers saved him from choking on his own umbilical cord and off he went to the universe which welcomed him with open arms. He was a cute little baby boy as one should be, inheriting the chinky dancing eyes of his grandfather Arturo.
The name Anton is Latin loosely translated “worthy of praise; of value,” derived from St. Anthony, the patron saint of the poor. Luis is Spanish translated to “famous warrior” or in German, “famous fighter.”
A crude interpretation of Anton Luis would be “a fighter for the poor.” Of course, the real version of how he got his name was because of Ate Vi.
Vilma Santos was one of the two big stars of the ‘70s, the other being Nora Aunor. Starting as a child star in “Trudis Liit,” she became a teen star when paired off with Edgar Mortis in a variety show called “The Sensation” where the theme song blurted out that it was where the action was. She then went on to have a show which she always ended with “I love you, Lucky,” the nickname of her son Luis with Edu Manzano. Somewhere along the way, Luis became the chosen name for our second son. Anton was a prefix as her mom wanted a strong first name. Anyway, when I worked with then congressman now Sen. Ralph Recto who married Ate Vi, we use to rib him that the real spelling of Lucky is “Laki.”
Ton was a good but makulit boy all the way, growing up to be an altar boy-sacristan-acolyte at the St. Vincent Church at Campo Filipino. We thought then that he would become a priest and fulfill my ambition to be one, but alas, like me, “he was called, but he was not chosen.” He devoted his free time at the St. Vincent Church with manong Mar, an ex-con who chose to serve the Lord after his stint at the Munti. During the Holy Week, he stayed in the vigils at the church. I remember the one and only time that he got whacked in his butt by his mom was when he was not allowed to join the Christ the King procession when he was four years old and was crying, pouting, and stomping his feet all the way to the heavens.
He was a kid who could not keep still in one place but was a giver, generously giving around his toys and goodies to the neighborhood kids. At home, when a glass breaks, someone is injured, bumped or free-falls down the stairs while balancing a tray of food and water, the felon would be Anton not because he is accident-prone, but because “wala lang, hobby lang niya talaga ang magbasag ng plato, gitara o lamesa.” When driven to school with Maine, Ton would be tumbling up and down sideways in the car or raise his legs above the glove compartment to make life difficult for the driver who should be given an award for tolerance.
From Boys High, he went on to Ateneo de Manila University for his BS Math major in Applied Mathematics in Finance. Obviously, he inherited his Math prowess from me (joke). His love for music did not stop there as he sang with the Ateneo Glee Club and travelled to Europe with Stef, who was from University of the Philippines as guest. His focus on music made him nearly miss out units for graduation. He survived though and made it up by becoming a recipient of the Loyola Schools Award for the Arts conferred by the ADMU School of Humanities.
He went on to work with Thomson Reuters in Makati but maybe bored or tired, went back to his first love, music, and went back to school, this time at the UP College of Music, but which probably was a welcome excuse because Stef was also enrolled there. There he studied guitar under the world-famous Prof. Lester Demetillo. When we went to the U.S. in 2017, he took up lessons in New York, courtesy of his uncle, Doc Ronald, with another master whose name I cannot pronounce or remember. He was a multi-tasker when he moved backed to Baguio, where he worked at Musar as IT/accounting head, taught Math at Saint Louis University, with classical music at the sidelines accompanying Stef in concerts and gigs, as they cannot be whole without the other.
In 2015, he decided to take up Law after he was bribed with a hefty allowance by his lolo Filoteo and lola Norma, (again, a joke). After 10 years or so of blissful togetherness, Ton proposed marriage during one of their stints in Marco Polo Davao three years ago. While the wedding was planned thereafter, actual preparations started only after Christmas as Ton was focused on his Bar exams while Stef had performances in Hong Kong, Korea, the Diplomat in Baguio, New York, and San Francisco from November to December. They handled everything including the invites. Thus, a wedding miracle made in heaven became real, give or take a few kinks, which is Murphy’s Law, facetious proposition that if something can go wrong, it will.
Mass at the St. Joseph Pacdal officiated by Fr. Jerry Orbos and thanksgiving dinner at Baguio Country Club was a little grand, elaborate yet meaningful.
We stood in church, shedding unashamedly tears of joy, as Anton has matured into a fine young man like a fragrant flower in bloom as the years whizzed by. Deep down in our hearts, we knew we have done our best to raise him. He will make a good husband as he has been a good son, brother to his siblings; and a kind, generous, and compassionate person most of all. We cannot make decisions for our kids to choose a lifetime partner, but we pray and hope that they would act like a sage every step of the way in doing so.
When Ton manifested the depth of his love for Stef, we had this comforting assurance and excitement that he had met the love of his life. Who would not be? Stef was such a pretty, talented, and dignified woman. If there was ever one person in this entire world, we could pick for him, it would be her and only her. Nobody in this world can love him quite like her. She brought out the best in Anton, made him happy and for that, we are eternally grateful to her. Ton is indeed blessed and lucky as she is going to be an amazing wife seeing that aside from her passion and bond for music, she is a thoughtful, sensitive, and a loving person as well. She is most welcome to the family with open arms.
We know that the new bonds of love forged will wax stronger in the years ahead. What makes their marriage even more exciting is the fact that they both love music and Ton has a keen sense of “waley” humor that will help both a great deal. They will withstand the test of time and distance, as they really complement each other. Like all marriages, they will certainly have their share of conflict, frustration, boredom, and arguments, but as one author said, “We don’t marry the person we can live with. Rather, we marry the person we can’t live without.”
Thank you to the parents of Stefanie, Atty. Bobby and Luisita for having an angel as a gift for our son and for raising such a wonderful young woman who love our son so dearly; to the officiating priest, Fr. Orbos, SVD, an old friend who has patiently provided the spiritual inspiration not only for the newlyweds but for all of us; to the ninongs and ninangs, our friends and relatives from here and abroad, who took off from their busy schedules just to be with the couple on their momentous occasion; the Madrigal Singers, the Ateneo Glee Club, the members of the Philharmonic Orchestra, the Manila Symphony Orchestra, the Smooth Band, the Padayon Rondalla who played beautiful music in the church and in the reception; DJ Dexter Dox, emcee Don Casibang;
Thank you to Anthony de Leon of Baguio Country Club and his staff, the Audio Enhance, Mike Quirino for the pro audio, video wall and lights setup, the photo and video team, the flower suppliers Efren Bacawat who made the reception hall truly beautiful and grand; the A-1 wedding coordinators led by Ton’s tita Atang; Musar staff and teachers Anna, Mabel, Marissa, Joy, and Monette; and to one and all who made it possible.
Ton and Stef, we wish you a lifetime of happiness and love and an abundance of blessings for you. Let your music bind you forever and make it an instrument to serve God and our people in your lifetime.