[PHOTO - Quezon City Councilor Alfred Vargas and wife Yasmine Espiritu, and their seven-month-old baby Alexandra Milan]

MANILA, JUNE 6, 2011 (STAR) FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo - It was love at first sight for Quezon City Councilor and Yasmine Espiritu. Cliché? Yes, but it’s true. In fact, even before they met, they were already in a way “connected” to each other.

“I was a fan of Alfred’s,” Yasmine told Funfare in an exclusive joint interview with Startalk (aired last Saturday) at Café Mondial in Tiendesitas, Pasig City, which is owned by the couple. Yasmine is half-Filipina and half-Italian who spent most of her growing-up years in Milan. “At home, I have Alfred’s poster on the wall of my room. I’ve seen all of his movies.”

When they finally met on March 16, 2008, in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, where Alfred was having a show, they instantly matched.

“When we started getting to know each other,” confessed Alfred, “I visited her at home and she gave me a tour of their house. I was surprised when I saw my poster in her room.”

Yasmine was here at that time on one of her regular vacations. She usually stayed at the family’s ancestral home.

“I fell in love with Yasmine at first sight,” recalled Alfred. “She stood out in the audience. I told myself at that moment, ‘This is the girl I want to spend the rest of my life with.’ I was hooked. It was fiesta time and a lot of people were watching the show. After the show, I made it a point to get her celfone number. I told her, ‘Nagpo-photography ako. Baka naman puwede ko makuha ang celfone number mo at baka puwede kitang gawing model?’ Bulok na style but it worked. Hindi ako tumigil hangga’t hindi ko nakukuha. Honestly, I told myself at that very momenty, ‘Sigurado akong siya na ang babaing pakakasalan ko, hindi nga lang ako sigurado kung pakakasalanan niya ako’. Hahahaha!”

That was what Yasmine also had in mind when she first saw Alfred in a TV show.

“He’s the guy that I will marry,” she told her lola in jest.

Since that fateful first meeting, Alfred didn’t stop until Yasmine became his and his alone.

“He’s my first boyfriend and my first love,” added Yasmine who is so shy that when she talked, she was almost whispering. She’s showbiz potential but no, she said, “I’m not comfortable in the limelight.” She’s a Fine Arts undergraduate.

Alfred and Yasmine seal the interview with a kiss. Below: Alfred gave Yasmine a ring when he propose to her. They are expecting their second baby in October.

They got secretly married at the Supreme Court on Aug. 16 last year. A month later, Alfred and his mother and some relatives flew to Milan to formally ask Yasmine’s hand in marriage. They have a six-month-old daughter, Alexandra Milan (born in Milan on Oct. 23 last year), who will be baptized on Saturday, June 11, at the Christ The King Parish Baptistry in Greenmeadows, Quezon City, with Alfred’s manager Lolit Solis and this columnist among the godparents.

During last year’s campaign in which Alfred ran for Q.C. councilor (his first time to do so), Yasmine was never seen.

“Kasi I was pregnant at that time,” said Yasmine in fluent Filipino.

She’s again two months pregnant with their second child.

Yasmine comes from a conservative family, so tightly-knit that, according to Alfred, he had to court first Yasmine’s aunt who was her guardian while she was vacationing in the Philippines.

“Ito na siguro ang pinaka-mahirap na panliligaw ko,” admitted Alfred who has had a few girlfriends before Yasmine. “Her aunt told me, ‘Kung talagang seryoso ka sa pamangkin ko, kailangan tatlong bundok ang tawirin mo para puntahan mo siya.’ Natakot ako! But I never thought of backing down.”

How did Alfred propose to her?

“Simple lang,” smiled Yasmine. “Inilabas niya ‘yung singsing at ibinigay niya sa akin.”

Asked if she said “yes” right away, Yasmine said, “Opo. Hahahaha!”

Their courtship and eventual marriage have never been reported by the media, although Alfred insisted that they never tried to hide anything.

“We ate out and our friends would see us,” said Alfred. “I would introduce Yasmine first as my girlfriend and, after we got married, as my wife. We were open with our relationship, although being private people, Yasmine’s family requested us na gawing private muna ang lahat so that we can enjoy our marriage away from the spotlight.”

Since they were married at the Supreme Court, Alfred said jokingly, “The decision is final. Hindi na pupuwede i-appeal.”

Now occupied with being a father and husband, a public and an actor (he took a respite from showbiz and came back as cast member of the just-concluded ABS-CBN soap Mutya), Alfred said he’s thankful for having a “queen at home” who is supportive.

“I’m very lucky. Yasmine is not only a good wife and mother, she’s also a good housekeeper. No matter how busy I am, I set aside Tuesday as our family day. I see to it that I don’t have any commitment scheduled on that day. On Sundays, the three of us, with Alexandra in a stroller, walk around UP. Sometimes, nagdya-jogging kami ni Yasmine. ”

Does Alfred help in changing the baby’s diapers and heating the feeding bottle?

“Magaling siya magpatulog ng baby,” laughed Yasmine.

When Yasmine gave birth the natural way, Alfred was beside her, armed with a videocam.

“I was the one who cut our baby’s umbilical cord,” Alfred volunteered. “My outlook in life has radically changed since I got married and had a baby. Nagiiba pala talaga ang pananaw mo sa buhay.”

Yasmine sometimes accompanies Alfred to the set. Doesn’t she get jealous when Alfred does a love scene with his leading lady?

“Hindi po. It’s part of his job, eh.”

Yasmine is scheduled to give birth in October.

“Sana Oct. 25,” Alfred wished. “Alexandra was born on Oct. 23 and my birthday is Oct. 24. We can celebrate our birthdays together.” (Yasmine’s birthday is Dec. 20.)

They planned to get married in church last March but Alfred’s father died so they postponed it to maybe next year.

Funfare asked Alfred and Yasmine to seal the interview with a kiss. Alfred closed his eyes as soon as their lips met, savoring the magic of the moment as they held each other’s hands tightly.

It’s true: first love never ever dies.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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