You know that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner when stores start using variations of red, pink and white on their window displays, when radio stations seem to be playing more ballads than rock n’ roll, and when restaurants start spicing up their menus with what my friends call “sexy specials”—succulent oysters, spine-tingling chocolate, intoxicating vanilla, sparkling wine, etc.

To undermine Valentine’s Day as a day that’s rife with romance would be irrational. If Christmas is the time for celebrating the birth of Christ and Thanksgiving is the time to share our gratitude, Valentine’s Day is the day where couples get to up the ante in the romance department without getting cheek from any of their peers. It is, after all, the day when love takes center stage.

And for the very reason that it celebrates the L word, it’s easy to see why this day is a popular choice for a marriage proposal. With romance on everyone’s minds, Valentine’s Day could very well be the perfect day.

Regardless of you choosing to propose on the 14th or not, Valentine’s Day definitely brings to light questions about whether or not one is ready to take a relationship forward. If you are, remember that most people only experience a marriage proposal once in their lifetime. You’ll want it to be memorable and perfect. After you’ve gotten up the nerve to ask, you might have trouble finding a creative way to pop the question. To help you out, we’ve gathered some of the more exceptional engagement stories from real life couples.

TAKE THE LEAP

There are few phrases in the English language that are more sweated over or rehearsed than “Will you marry me?”. Men about to pop the proverbial question are often a nervous bunch in need of handholding and calming measures.

Such was the case of Derek Ileto, who happened to be in Macau with his girlfriend Pinky Jacob, when he decided that it was time. The two usually celebrate their anniversaries with trips abroad, and on their 6th year together, they decided to go with some friends to watch The Police concert at the newly opened Venetian Casino and Hotel in Macau.

“It was an opportunity for me to undergo my greatest feat—to jump down from one of the world’s tallest towers, the Macau Tower,” recounts Pinky. “Bungee jumping was something I’ve always wanted to do, but I never told Derek that it was also something symbolic—the year before, he told me he wanted to get married a year later. Settling down with the love of my life was something I’ve always longed for, but to finally hear it from him was unsettling as well. I was afraid, and I felt that bungee jumping was a way to let go of that fear and embrace a new life with him if and when it happens.”

Pinky, of course, wasn’t the only one with secrets. While Pinky was camwhoring around Macau with its rustic but well-preserved Baroque churches, stone brick alleys and old Portugese buildings, Derek had already confided his plans to their friend Rita and was asking for support. He didn’t know how and when to do the big deed. “Everyone apparently knew what was going on, except me,” shares Pinky.

When the time came for her to get to Macau Tower to bungee jump, Derek offered to accompany her in the tower for moral support. They went all the way up the 61st floor only to find that bungee jumping was not allowed because of the strong winds that day. “I opted to do the sky jump instead—Derek held me back from registering, we walked around the deck for a small chat, and he asked me why I felt the need to jump,” shares Pinky. “I tried to give reasons that sounded valid—I told him I have this fear of not being good enough, and this jump symbolized something I’ve always wanted to do all my life but I wouldn’t because something held me back. I told him that’s why I was taking this leap.”

Derek was convinced and said, “Okay…then I am taking this leap with you, too.” Thinking he meant he would be sky-jumping with her, Pinky got really excited and asked if he finally decided to jump. Derek promptly shook his head, held her hands tightly, and said, “Pinky, I love you so much. I want to spent the rest of my life with you.” He knelt down on one knee, and popped the question, “Will you marry me?”

When Pinky finally landed after sky-jumping from one of the world’s tallest towers, she approached her friends, took out her glove, and showed her the engagement ring. “Everyone screamed and hugged me. It was the most wonderful feeling,” beams Pinky.

ONE AMAZING PROPOSAL

Hearing about a good marriage proposal story is better than watching a blockbuster romantic movie or reading a romance novel. The fact that it’s real, that it is about two people madly in love, increases its impact tenfold.

When friends heard about Ana Villanueva’s “Amazing Race” engagement to her boyfriend Tim Lykes, it was like hearing an offbeat version of a fairy tale. Ana and Tim had been together for a year, and if you strip everything down to the basics, you would see that the one thing they have in common is their itchy feet. “Both of us share an insatiable appetite for travel, and in particular, a love for the Philippines,” writes Tim in his travel blog.

On July 2, 2007, he made an announcement: “I have thrown down the gauntlet for Ana. Starting the 21st of July, she will have to face the challenge of our very own Amazing Race Philippines. She will have twelve days to travel six provinces, and along the way, she must complete predetermined tasks native to the provinces. Just like the reality show, Ana will encounter road blocks, detours and tasks…Failure to complete all tasks within the twelve-day period may result in her elimination from the race. However, if she is up to the challenge, upon her arrival at the final pit stop, she will be eligible for a handsome reward.”

“I really had no idea where we were going,” recounts Ana. “My bags were already packed, and it wasn’t until we were at the PAL airport that he gave me my first clue: ‘Welcome to the initial stage of the Amazing Race Philippines. Within this envelope you will find two one way tickets to the city of Dumaguete. You will have to make your way to the pier and board a ferry bound for the island of Siquijor. Once you arrive, travel to the Kiwi Dive Resort. Once you reach this destination, you will be given your next clue.’”

And so began Ana’s adventure to claim what Tim claims is her “Handsome Reward.” It was a journey that saw her traveling to the fishing hamlet of Lazi where she found the oldest convent in the Philippines and to Cambughay Falls where she spelunked her way through a hidden cave. She found herself doing impossible tasks that involve going deep into the heart of Bohol to hold a tarsier in her hand and diving into the waters of Sogod Bay in Southern Leyte to swim among whale sharks.

Tim’s artfully orchestrated “Amazing Race Philippines” eventually ended in the city of Tacloban, where he instructed Ana to make her way to Calvary Hill and search for the Sacred Heart. Tim writes, “Ana had just one last hill to climb in search of the Sacred Heart. She managed to find it and much more, as this pit stop is not the end, but just another beginning. Ana’s reward for traveling over 1,000 kilometers, braving bats, mountains and jelly fish was my heart, and it was here upon Calvary Hill that I asked for her hand in marriage.”

Clearly, Tim is not the type who’d propose over a nice champagne dinner. “I wanted to extend it for as long as I could, and make it not one but many memories to last.”

SO YOU’RE READY TO PROPOSE

Finally gathering enough courage to pop the big question is the easy part. The challenge is in doing it the right way for both of you as a couple. Before you get down on one knee, read through some of these dos and don’ts to guide you through your decision.

Do test the waters. Before you propose, the two of you should have already talked about the possibility of getting married. Make sure it’s something you both want. It’s nice to surprise your girlfriend, but something else entirely for her to be taken completely off guard.

Don’t make it public. Splashy public proposals only work in the movies. Make it intimate—most brides prefer to have that magical moment between just the two of you.

Do find the right engagement ring. It doesn’t have to be as impressive as a Harry Winston, but remember that it fits your girlfriend’s style. An engagement ring is a lifestyle commitment—ask one of her friends or her sister to help you pick out ‘the one.’

Don’t hide the engagement ring in food. It’s a tired idea. It won’t win you points for creativity. Worse, you may end up with a trip to an emergency room, instead of a “yes.”

Do be creative. If you’ve read the two stories, you would see that a creative proposal is more memorable than a cookie cutter one.

Don’t make it too complicated. While it’s good to be creative, do remember to focus on what’s important: the proposal itself.

Do tell her parents. While we’ve gone a long way from when women needed their parents’ permission to marry, it’s still nice and respectful to let her parents in on your plans.

Don’t do it in front of her family. Proposals in front of family members will lend an added level of stress that you want to avoid. Instead, call them after to share the happy news.

Do tell her why you want to marry her. Don’t just utter that oft mentioned question, tell her the reasons why you think she’s the one for you, and your hopes for your future together.

Published in the February 9, 2011 issue of the Celebrations section of Manila Bulletin

 

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