Manila, May 17, 2003 By Paula Nocon (Star) - Presidential son Diosdado "Dato" Arroyo and banker Ma. Victoria "Kakai" Manotok were wed yesterday afternoon in a private ceremony at Santuario de San Antonio at Forbes Park in Makati City.

The wedding of President Arroyo’s younger son was marked with elegance, austerity and privacy. Save for the security detail, the event lacked the political color expected of a presidential wedding, and was reflective of the private nature of the newly wed couple.

The radiant bride dabbed at her eyes as she walked down the aisle, escorted by her father Rufino Luis Manotok, who heads the strategic planning department of Ayala Corp.

Dato, clad in a barong tagalog designed by Pitoy Moreno, beamed as he waited for her to approach the altar.

Presidential daughter Lourdes Evangeline "Luli" Arroyo was maid of honor, while Dato’s elder brother Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo was groomsman.

Many elements symbolic of the couple’s seven-year courtship were noticeable at the ceremony. The wedding march was The Promise; one of the principal sponsors was actress-singer Sharon Cuneta, a favorite of the couple; and the choir was composed of chamber singers from the Ateneo de Manila University, the couple’s alma mater.

Among other well-known sponsors were Gina de Venecia and businessman Jaime Zobel de Ayala.

Even the homily was not one usually heard at weddings.

"Kakai, you are not only marrying Dato, you are marrying a part of Philippine history. And you, Dato, must protect this legacy," said Manila Auxiliary Bishop Socrates Villegas, who officiated the wedding. Jaime Cardinal Sin also officiated, but did not give the homily.

Villegas, in his homily, said that "this is a marriage made in heaven… not in an instant, but in years, months and days." He expects Dato and Kakai’s marriage to "last longer than a presidential term."

Unlike Mikey’s wedding to Angela Montenegro last year, the wedding guests were mostly close friends and relatives, with only a handful of Cabinet members in attendance.

Other prominent guests were former Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos.

"Kakai’s personality is very much like the President’s — strong, intelligent, upfront," said a friend of the bride.

Top couturier Joe Salazar designed Kakai’s bridal gown — a modern sleeveless Maria Clara-style creation of white satin silk organza with a stylized pañuelo. Swarovski crystals adorned the bride’s hair and the gown’s bodice and train.

"I made the gown according to the wishes of Kakai — something more modern than traditional, but at the same time Filipino enough, befitting a presidential wedding," Salazar said.

Salazar also designed the bridal gowns of Jackie Ejercito Lopez and Angela Montenegro Arroyo.

The wedding, which lasted for only an hour, was followed by a cocktail reception at the ceremonial hall at Malacañang. The newlywed couple will spend their honeymoon in the United States and Europe.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved