By Michelle Dayrit Soliven
Their story began as an intense love at first sight encounter which blossomed into a passionate forever.
Mom was born and raised in sunny Roxas City, the seafood capital of the Philippines in the province of Capiz located in the Visayas region. She went to school in St. Mary’s and was raised a very proper Catholic lady by her parents, Jose Alba and Nena Quisumbing Salgado.
When she decided to pursue a course in Bachelor of Music Major in Piano, her parents enrolled her in the College of the Holy Ghost in Manila. She was to stay in the dorm under the strict supervision of the German nuns. But on weekends she goes home to her foster parents, the Quirinos in the stately ancestral home in San Juan. Holy week was a time for rest and relaxation then. The Quirinos had a summer home in Baguio and they took mom with them every time. There were also young people, mostly family friends who came along forming a group to paint the town red with.
A popular hangout in Baguio then was the Baguio Country Club, where mom enjoyed playing the piano on the veranda — serendipitously dad happened to be there. As he walked into the club looking tall dark and handsome dressed in all white, he heard the piano playing and followed the beautiful melody onto the veranda. The moment he laid eyes on the very pretty lady gracefully pounding her hands on the piano keys wearing a flowy summer dress, he was so smitten. He had to know her. He had to be with her. He managed to orchestrate a double date and the funny thing is, he manipulated the dates so that mom’s supposed-to-be-date ended up with another lady and mom ended up with dad. After this encounter, he could not get her out of his mind for she immediately invaded his heart. Mom too was swept off her feet by Dad.
He was already enrolled in New York University (NYU) for his master’s degree. So very reluctantly, he went but wrote to her every single day. She too replied with handwritten letters. There were no cellphones or laptops in that era, so it was all snail mail. But never did a day go by that they did not write to each other. So, their theme song was none other than "Love Letters", which mom played so well on the piano. Immediately after he completed his master's degree he did not waste any time. He married her immediately, sealing their love at the altar dressed in a white suit and mom married her first and only love dressed in a Mestiza gown in the cathedral in Roxas City. The lively reception was held in her parent's ancestral home.
Their marriage was blessed with five children and an amazing life. Through God’s grace, their joint passion and sheer hard work, they fulfilled all their dreams. Though their life on earth was short it was the sweetest that could ever be. At their death bed, dad again proposed passionately to mom, "I will marry you again in heaven". She passed on peacefully 20 days after him, of the same sickness. They were inseparable in life and in death.