Nina:
It's strange how things happen... you are trudging through the mundane weary lanes of life when suddenly, out of nowhere, love walks in and touches your life in a way that you know that nothing could ever be the same again...
>> Continued
 

 

 
     
 

 
 

She's From:   The Philippines
He's From:     Scotland

The second part of this story is one of sadness and joy...pain and happiness... loneliness, despair, hope and ultimately... triumph.

  Harry and Maria at their wedding
in The Philippines
  I left part one with meeting Maria's family after flying out to meet her and spending my first two glorious weeks with her...well...all that had to come to an end as I had to come back home...

We didn't marry on my first visit for several personal reasons but I vowed to return to take her for my wife. During my stay with her I experienced the happiest moments of my life and I proposed to her in our room and gave her a diamond ring to remember me by.

Waiting at the airport for my flight to be called and spending the last moments with my beautiful fiancée before I was to fly back to the UK...was utterly unbearable...I almost stayed with her...turned my back on the rest of my life and remained with Maria but something pulled me onto that plane.

 

 



   

 

 
       
 

I went and she stayed. On the flight home I felt depressed and lonely... it was the lowest point of my life...I knew I would return some day soon but until then I had to face 10 months of waiting and saving and waiting and loneliness and yearning and waiting... back in Scotland I continued to stay online with Maria while she waited for the interview with the British embassy...

Being away from her was hell. I would pine for her every night and talk to her almost everyday on the phone or the net. I felt so sad and I knew she felt the same. I could hear it in her voice and she spoke of her sorrow in her letters. I felt responsible for her pain... this was the hardest time. It was the time where I started to question myself. I knew that at anytime I could back out and she would understand. Her family would understand. I questioned a lot of things in my time away from Maria. I had met her...fell in love with her and now torn from her arms. I had time to think and to plan what I was to do next...should I give up?...turn my back?...was it really worth all the sleepless nights and long grey days? It's not right to have to be separated like this but we had to prove ourselves to the embassy that we were committed to each other, so what should I have done? 

I had never met anyone like Maria. She was my whole life...my guiding light. I couldn't give up on her or our love for each other. I needed to stay strong and eventually when she had her interview at the embassy the consul still kept us waiting. No visa for my love. I felt devastated and so did Maria. What now? They hadn't refused us but they wanted more proof. I didn't know what to do so I wrote to them and re-sent all the documentation they needed and still they questioned us. This was turning into my worst nightmare. I thought we were never going to be together. I thought...if the visa gets rejected then I will move to Manila to be with her. I could do that...I could stay with Maria till I find work and work on my visa. I tried to convince myself that everything would work out fine but inside I was scared of the thought of moving to Manila...the language and the heat... I was not used to this. I was a Scotsman...wind and rain and snow was what I was used to. This was going to be difficult, and all the time we talked and planned and talked and planned... 

Our dream would be for Maria to get the visa, for me to go to the Philippines and take her home with me to Scotland and for us to get married in a traditional Scottish wedding ceremony with the white silken gown and me in a kilt and plaid...and that's what we planned to do...it was a dream to us and that was what made us hold onto each other and gave us faith... 

Well the visa situation seemed to be static...I phoned the embassy and got the same answer from them - that they needed more information from me to convince them that I was able to support my wife. I was lost. I contacted my local member of Parliament and he helped me tremendously...it was a long slow process and finally I decided to go to the Philippines and just marry Maria regardless of any visa. I felt reckless and thought what the hell...I would marry her and see what happens...if the embassy didn't give the visa after that then I would stay in Manila and find work. I was past caring... I just wanted Maria. I planned my trip to the Philippines and decided that I should go over the Christmas and new year period and spend 5 weeks there. Then I realised that the airline companies were all booked up for the Millenium and the ones that had free spaces wanted 3 times the usual amount but I had no choice...I bought the ticket on a special charter and packed up and flew out.... Maria had no idea what was going to happen. She just knew that I was coming home to her and that we were going to get married... the rest was in the hands of the gods... 

Before I left I wrote a letter to the entry clearance officer telling him of my intentions with maria and that our relationship was serious...I didn't know what effect it would have but I figured it couldn't do any harm....he was only doing his job..at least if he said no..then I would know my fate either way..... 

I flew out in late December just in time for Christmas. It was a long and anxious flight. I left a sub-zero Scotland and headed for a tropical Philippines and I developed a heavy cold on the plane as we landed in the Middle East and waited for a few hours...the heat really affected me...back on the plane I was swamped with balikbayans coming home for Christmas. Everyone on that flight was Filipino except me and they were noisy and excited...singing and playing guitars and I was happy too...going home to be with my Maria for the rest of my life... 

Landing for the second time in Ninoy Aquino this year...it was light...late morning and the flight was late...the place was packed with Filipinos waiting for their loved ones and I pushed through the throng....waiting for a glimpse of my lady....people were everywhere...and suddenly...as I looked round...I saw her there...she stunned me once more...just as she did when we first met 11 months ago. The heat of the airport and the long 24 hour flight and the vision that waited me left me feeling speechless and dazed. Maria had done this to me once before and now...as I felt prepared...she had done it again... she opened her arms and hugged me tightly...sinking her soft kisses onto my lips. She looked beautiful...I held her tightly for a while and stared at her.....we walked off hand in hand we strode through the customs section and out in to the baggage area...we felt enamoured of each other...unable to tear our glance away to even look out for my luggage as people stared at us in the airport...our open and tender affection seemed misplaced amongst the confusion and excitement and noise of the returning Filipinos from the Middle East.

Maria smiled and both us us grabbed my stuff and hurried to the exit and her awaiting father...we drove once again through the streets of Manila...and once again the heat was tremendous but I knew what to expect this time. We rushed to collect some provisions and then off to Maria's home. I was greeted by her family warmly...like a prodigal son returned... there was lots of food and hugs from everyone and I was given a beer and told to rest up after my journey. Her family are very loving and generous and selfless... her brother and sisters accepted me almost at once and her mother and father were pleased that I chose to stay with them rather than a hotel nearby. My lady and I retired to our room for some rest.... 

A few days after...just before Christmas, Maria received a phone call as we visited a family member...it was a fax from the embassy that had been sent to her work. It was a simple fax that plainly said that we were to report to the British embassy as soon as possible in order to pick up Maria's visa for the UK. It took a while for the message to sink in...we were both stunned...we looked at each other and then the realisation that we would be together forever suddenly struck home... The next morning we hurried to the embassy early and waited to be called...and sure enough...4 hours later Maria had her visa in her hand...we were so happy and now we could plan our wedding in the Philippines with the knowledge that we would travel back to Scotland 2 weeks afterwards together.

We planned the wedding in a local church quite a simple affair with Maria in her white designer wedding down and a group of family and friends and of course ninongs/ninangs...(we don't have that in Scotland). We booked ourselves into the Heritage hotel and the next day we got married. None of my family were there to witness it and they were sad about that but I promised to get married again in Scotland once we came home and have our own traditional greeting.

Maria looked enchanting in her gown...so sweet and delicate and lovely...and I saw her smile at me as she approached the altar to stand at my left side with her veil down. It was a wedding in the Philippine tradition with coins and chains and candles unlike a Scottish wedding so it was all new to me. The wedding itself was beautiful and soon after the ceremony we went to the reception and received our various gifts... 

During my time in the Philippines with Maria...we went many places...and travelled a lot...but my special place was with her...no matter where that may be...as long as she was there it was special to me. Eventually Maria had to prepare to come home with me...she was still employed and had to tie things up there as well as saying goodbye to all her friends and family with promises of frequent visits...and emails and letters.

It was incredibly hard for her and I did all I could do to help but sooner or later that pain of leaving would overwhelm her and I was there to comfort her...as we said our goodbyes at her house...it was the last time Maria saw her father alive...a tragedy was to occur a few months later that devastated Maria even more... it added to her pain and she cried and cried.

Saying goodbye to her brother at the airport she was unaware of what was to unfold over the coming months... we met our friend inside the terminal building and were treated to first class hospitality and flight tickets for the journey home...we stepped on the plane and we were off...to our new life and into the unknown...safe in the knowledge that we will have each other for all time to love and to cherish.. 

The plane flew over the south of England on its approach to London's Heathrow...the biggest airport in Europe...it was about 6 am in February..it was dark and as the plane bumped down on the tarmac we both felt a rush of excitement. I was bringing Maria home and we hurried off the plane and immediately were held up at immigration. The officer there questioned us for about 10 minutes and sent us off to get a medical certificate. The entry clearance officer then looked at the visa, studying it closely and then looked at me, looked at Maria...and said 'welcome to the UK madam', smiled and waved us through.

We wandered through miles of the airport to the exit gate and suddenly after 5 weeks in the Philippines we were reintroduced to the British winter...a biting chill below zero greeted us which was to drop even further as we were headed for Glasgow.. the third largest city in the UK and 600 miles North of where we were right now. We decided to take the bus as I wanted to show Maria the British country side but this proved a mistake. Eight hours of bleak winter countryside and eventually we arrived in Glasgow and were picked up by my parents and taken home.... 

This time it was Maria's turn to be driven through a foreign land at night...thousands of miles from home with only me to protect her and reassure her that everything will be just fine. My family greeted her and instantly took a deep affection for her and she was warmly accepted by everyone... 

Maria settled in well here...she is a fine English speaker which was good because absolutely no one in Scotland speaks Tagalog...and has to rely on her English 100% in every situation that she faces here. Filipinos are a rare breed amongst the Scots...unlike America, there are no Filipino stores here or communities in the area so it was a hard adjustment to make for her...even the unforgiving winter receded into a pleasant 25C summer and she saw sights that she had never before seen...just as I did on my trip to the Philippines. 

Maria gets great pleasure from feeding the graceful swans that swim near our newly bought house. She has a new job here and has fitted in very well...everyone loves her and asks where she is from. When on the phone, most people comment on her soft accent since Scots people are not used to hearing the delicate tones of a Filipina and even after the tragedy of her father, she is finding moments of happiness here in her husbands arms...she finds time to develop her new interest in cooking Chinese and Filipino foods and cross stitching intricate designs as we spend the evenings together in our home...we have long evening strolls and weekends away together and enjoy shopping for all the new appliances and furnishings and decor for our new home... 

So we face the rest of our lives... here in our home by the sea...together in harmony and awaiting our return to the Philippines and embarking on part 3 of our lives...a new baby...who knows. For anyone interested, our website is here.

"Harry"

Looking for Part One? It's here.