This is not a wedding video

It was not an ordinary wedding, and hell on a girl shooting with a video camera dressed in a gown 4 inches too long

MANILA, Philippines – The bride wore white. That the bride almost always wears white is of course beside the point. Every wedding is The Wedding, especially in this match of political and entertainment covered by every major broadcast and print house. The bride wore white and lace and tulle and a veil dotted with rhinestone drops, the skirt was an upside-down cupcake of frosted white froth, and there were diamonds and glitter and a train that the groom stepped over and around until he picked up a careful handful that he shoved to the side.

It was not an ordinary wedding, and hell on a girl shooting with a video camera dressed in a gown 4 inches too long and heels four inches too high. I confess I have very little right to comment, as it is the first wedding I’m covering as a reporter. I go to wakes, not weddings, and the funerals are the sort where the coffins are closed to protect the grieving from the view.

This is not a report about the Shalani Soledad-Roman Romulo wedding, as I was too confused to notice more than what was happening in front of my lens. I’m not sure what the story is, only that I’m supposed to get it.

It was Erwin Romulo who sent me the invitation. Erwin, brother to the groom, my editor-in-chief for Esquire Philippines who arranged my first  interview with Maj Gen Jovito Palparan 3 years ago when the former 56th Battalion Commander was still a partylist representative. Erwin is the sort who gives me knives for Christmas and war books for my birthday, who published Maguindanao’s 58 dead twice in two years with my byline, and who, without blinking, will lend me his personal car and driver when I go haring off to shoot a torture victim in the middle of a field in Bulacan.

So understand why, in the middle of his brother’s wedding, it was normal for Erwin to stand up, cross an aisle and tap me on the shoulder while I was happily rolling footage of Manny Pangilinan and the rest of the heavyweights.

“Pat, shoot the bride.”

Right, the bride.

The sweet one

When you shoot alone, you don’t have the benefit of a pair of hands on your waist while you shoot, guiding you down the stairs or away from the alleged suitcase bomb. Neither do you have the right to carry a tripod, or take a leak, or even have a proper argument with the woman claiming only TV5 has exclusive coverage, because the audio will be picked up. The worst is having nobody to talk to or pretend you’re talking to, someone who will ensure you don’t  look like a moron while crouched in the dirt in a purple gown trying to decide if you made the right call to shoot tree branches while the wedding procession gathers. Two morons constitute a consensus, and can legitimately claim artistic license. One person on the ground is just a nut with a camera. 

His friends say Roman Romulo was waiting for perfection, and many of them raised hands when asked who had attempted to set him up in the last 25 years. They say they are glad he made his move, although Erwin snickered his brother never had any moves. Everyone is happy for Roman, even Shalani’s mother, who said she wept when she found out she was losing her daughter.

The mother said Shalani was hurt once, and that was why the family let her host a TV show even if they knew she wasn’t very good. She said Shalani had never really dated — it is assumed the President of the Republic does not count — and it was only Roman who was brave enough to ask for her daughter’s hand. 

Shalani, said her mother, was good and kind and sweet and liked to dance in secret, she said Roman was a good young man, only not very young, she said she hoped for happiness.

There were wineglasses, and pearls, and enough political power represented in one room to justify a State of the Nation Address, but in the end it was mostly about her: The girl, who met a boy, who believes she found happily ever after.

Shalani did not say very much. She was beautiful, she was sweet, she wore white and lace and a long train that perplexed the groom when he was trying to find her garter. Mostly she was happy. 

That might have been the story. –

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