Driving Miss Barbs

by Dinzo Tabamo | Feb 3, 2012
We in Top Gear seem to have a tradition of managing editors getting married. Two out of the four lovely women who have held the position for the magazine now have new surnames. Clarissa ‘Conch’ Concio and Carmela Ortiz are now Clarissa Concio-Tiglao and Carmela Ortiz-Kaewdaeng respectively. And now it’s online managing editor Barbara Lorenzo’s turn. Last week she and our former officemate Mark Caluag tied the knot in a beautiful wedding. As you might surmise, Barb’s love story actually began here in the office. Mark was with Summit Media’s digital group, same as Barbs. From casual meriendas, their relationship blossomed into a Facebook-certified partnership, and it just kept growing stronger—even when Mark transferred to Singapore for greener pastures. Then Mark surprised Barbs by coming home and not telling her. She was in their alma mater, UST, with some friends when he suddenly appeared and got down on one knee. In her elated surprise all she could say was, “Tayo, tayo!” (“Stand up!”) All Mark could say was, “pero hindi mo pa ako sinasagot.” Obviously she said yes, because last January 24, 2012, we all took out our coats and neckties from storage and made ourselves very presentable for a change. (You have to understand that what passes for our uniform here in Top Gear is the kind of clothes we wore in college: jeans, plain t-shirts and sneakers). Even associate features editor Sharleen Banzon—whose idea of dressing up for an event is to simply choose more neutral-colored clothes—wore a sheer blue Zara ensemble. Other than donning a suit and a tie, I had a special role to play in the union of Mark and Barbs. Every wedding needs a wedding car, and after an intense bidding war between Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and BMW (I kid you not), Barbs simply chose the brand that offered first—Mercedes-Benz. And she sweetly asked me if I would be so kind enough to drive it. How could I say no? So there I was at the lobby of the Dusit Thani hotel in Makati right after lunch. CATS Motors PR manager Grace Enriquez personally lent us a white Mercedes-Benz S300, the flagship model of their range. It even had special plates. Someone came down with the ultimate traffic enforcer deterrent: the flowers for the bridal car. I didn’t realize how hard it is to attach those things. Finally it was ready. So I waited for the bride to come down. Before long Barbs came out resplendent in her wedding gown. The S300 has amazing rear legroom, but fitting a bridal gown and its train put its space to the test. But soon Barbs was more than comfortable and ready to be whisked to church. No wonder the Mercedes S-Class is a popular bridal car. At the church we waited by the large main doors while everything was being prepared inside. No wonder women always dream of a grand wedding, so much of the ceremony and celebration is centered on the bride. The wedding simply won’t start until she enters the church. But first, duty calls. Barbs does some last minute updating of the Top Gear website. Just kidding. She just wrote some lines she wanted to include in her wedding vows. Finally she’s ready and is positioned for her entrance. I estimated the gown to be three times as large as Barbs in terms of volume. The S300 legroom is amazing. Barbs smiled in her last few minutes of being single, excited for the journey that awaited. Here we go. Cue music and… I’ll pretend this is a fashion blog and check out what the other people are wearing. Here’s Sharleen: Managing editor Stephanie Asi and Mercedes-Benz PR manager Grace Enriquez. Art director Jaykee Evangelista hams it up with Barbs’ online staff writer, Patrick Tadeo. And the wedding is over. The new Mr. and Mrs. Caluag are feted with bubbles in lieu of confetti. I also learned that most, if not all, churches don’t allow throwing of rice anymore. The crowd asks for a kiss. Meet the Caluags. The bosses: Neil Palabrica, former digital publisher for Summit Media’s men’s titles websites, and Top Gear editor in chief Vernon Sarne. At the reception in Blue Leaf, Grace and Steph were joined by BMW distributor Asian Carmakers Corporation’s Pauline Gonzales. After dinner, Mark came up on stage and said the wedding wasn’t complete if he didn’t sing to his new wife. Mark used to be part of the Manila Chamber Singers, a choir that sang and competed abroad. Steph is touched and moved to tears. Being a hard-core romantic, she actually looked more emotional than Barbs. Then came the part that blew us away. The late Steve Jobs was famous for his “And there’s one more thing…” line. That’s the part in his iconic presentations where the audience thought the best introductions were over, but he pulls one more rabbit out of the bag. Mark said he had one more surprise. He knew Barbs’ favorite band is the Itchyworms, and he got them to perform just for their wedding. Lead vocalist Jugs Jugueta greets the couple. And they begin with ‘Gusto Ko Lamang sa Buhay’, which is, if you think about it, an awesome motto for a marriage. It’s certainly something I’ll follow. If this wasn’t ‘their song’ before, it certainly is now. The party continues. One last photo before the evening ends. The guests leave and I stayed behind. I have one more special duty to perform: drive the couple back to their hotel. Post-wedding matters are settled with the coordinator. I confess it was bittersweet to see Barbs get hitched. Through the years we’ve worked with her, we’ve shared many road trips, planning sessions and countless meals and meriendas in our office pantry. In our team, she was our little sister, our muse, our confidant—she was our Barbs. But we’re all happy for her, because if I know Barbs, she would never have gotten married unless it was with absolutely the right guy. Barbs never seemed like the type of girl who spent her 20s planning the picture-perfect wedding. And she didn’t have to be, because she showed us that the perfect wedding will happen once you find the right person. Everything else, even a surprise live performance by one of the best bands rocking the country right now, was just icing on the wedding cake. Before we drove to the hotel, the Caluags pose beside the license plate specially made by Mercedes-Benz distributor CATS Motors. Then I drove them to the hotel, for the first night of the rest of their lives.
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