Following our wedding, my aunt Carleen decided that she wanted to throw a reception for Emelda once she finally arrived in America. Since most of my relatives were unable to attend our wedding (and the ensuing receptions) in the Philippines, this would be a way to include them in the celebration of our union. As soon as Emelda arrived, my aunt Carleen began planning the party with my mom (Emelda calls her ‘Mommy Linda’). The date was set for March 29th, 1998. This reception would end up happening only a week before our first anniversary.

Carleen asked me for a guest list and we invited both friends and family. Emelda kept insisting that she didn’t have a proper dress for the party. I assured her that any one of her beautiful dresses would suffice, but she was adamant that she needed a new outfit, so we decided that we would go shopping over the next weekend. We went to one of the biggest malls in L.A. and visited every store inside. Time after time, we failed to find anything that Emelda liked. Being a man, I am not fond of walking around for hours on end looking for ‘that pefect dress.’ It was a frustrating day. After a few more malls, we called it quits without finding her a thing. I knew that this was not a job for a man, so I enlisted the help of my mother. A few weeks later, mom drove down to L.A. and took Emelda shopping. They found the perfect dress in the very first store they went into. It was amazing. Thank God for moms!

When the day of the reception came, I was pleased to see people I had previously worked with at The UCLA Film and Television Archive and Pro-Tek Film Preservation Vault as well as a co-worker from my current job (at the time) at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. All of my extended family of relatives showed up from both my parents' sides of the family. My best friend Eric and his fiance rounded out the guestbook. The party was held at my aunt and uncle’s house. It was a full house on that day.

My aunt purchased an incredible wedding cake for us. It was gorgeous. Emelda was beside herself with joy when she saw it. She couldn’t take her eyes off of it for a long time. Before I knew it, we were posing next to the cake for photos. We almost hated to eat it, but after a lovely dinner, we did just that. It was mega-sarap (very delicious).

Emelda had already met most of my relatives before the party, so she wasn’t that nervous. She had a great time talking about her past in the Philippines and her present in America. I caught up on the office gossip with my former co-workers. Later on, Emelda and I opened a stack of presents. Most of the gifts were household items that would come in very handy. We pulled in a good haul!

The afternoon flew by and before we knew it, the party was over. Emelda slept in the car on the way home and I basked in the glow of a glorious time of rejoicing with special people. Emelda’s early fears about not being accepted by my family and friends were a distant memory. She was part of the family and I felt like the luckiest man alive.