FUNFARE UPDATE By Ricardo F. Lo (Jolina Magdangal and Mark Escueta at the park in Tahanan Village, Parañaque City on the night of May 20 when he proposed to her. — Photos by MARK ESCUETA)

The proposal, done under cover of darkness at a park, happened last May 20, eve of what was supposed to be the end of the world as (wrongly, thank God!) predicted by a cult leader.

But that’s not the reason why Mark Escueta, drummer of Rivermaya, finally breathed “the word” to Jolina Magdangal, his girlfriend of more than two years.

It’s about time they settled down as husband and wife, after all they know each other very well (and their respective families as well) and they are of age. Jolina is 32, Mark is 35.

For the big event that unfolded near midnight at a park in Tahanan Village, Parañaque City, where Mark lives with his parents (NAPOLCOM vice chairman and commissioner Eduardo U. Escueta and Rockey Penabella), the sweethearts looked for a bench in a quiet corner and started the “ceremony” by eating their favorite Classic Burger sandwiches that they bought as baon from the nearby Tropical Hut.

“Mahilig talaga kami mag-picnic at mag-picture sa park,” Mark told Funfare Update in an exclusive interview. “I brought my tripod and DSLR camera along,” added Mark who is a photography buff, “and Jolina wasn’t surprised kasi hilig naming pareho ang photography. What she didn’t know was that I was already fixing my camera angling to record our special night for posterity.”

The couple spread out a roll-up cushion on the bench as they ate their baon while listening to romantic songs from the iPod equipped with small speakers.

And then, Mark told Jolina that he had a surprise for her, went to the car to get the scrapbook that he gave Jolina during their early days together, with the last three pages left blank.

“We reviewed the scrapbook again and Jolina was surprised when she got to the last three pages. On the first two pages, I wrote my messages to her and on the third page may picture ng kamay ko na hawak ko ‘yung ring. Then, I closed the scrapbook and underneath it, I had on my hand the ring. By this time, we were already crying. I knelt down and said, ‘Mahal, will you marry me?’”

Jolina laughed. “Even before Mark could finish his question, I said ‘yes’ na right away. We finished crying and started hugging.”

Continued Mark, “I went back to the car to get the bottle of wine that I brought with me, pero sa nerbiyos ko I forgot to bring wine glasses. So we ended up drinking straight from the bottle.”

Jolina added, “Mas masaya, mas romantic!”

They spread roll-up cushion on a bench in a quiet corner of the park and eat their favorite Classic Burger sandwiches from the nearby Tropical Hut. Then Mark showed Jolina the scrapbook showing a photograph of the ring which was on the palm of his hand underneath the scrapbook. Jolina wore the ring with tears in her eyes and placed her hand on the cover of the scrapbook.

The story about the ring actually started a week earlier, on May 12, when Mark formally asked Jolina’s hand in marriage from her parents, Generoso Magdangal Jr. and Paulita Perez.

“I went to their room without Jolina (who didn’t know yet that there was a ring) and told them my intention. Happy naman sila, thankful sila sa akin. Jolina’s mom said, ‘Naku, I guarantee you that Jolina will cry’. Sa side ng family ko, dad ko ang unang nakaalam. He was happy kasi matagal na niya akong kinukulit kung ano ang plano namin ni Jolina. My mom was happy, too. Siya at ang sister ko ang sumama sa akin when I bought the ring. Pinag-ipunan ko talaga ang ring na ‘yan.”

How did Mark know the size of Jolina’s finger?

“’Yung isang ring na palagi niyang sinusuot, isinukat ko sa finger ko. Fit siya sa little finger ko.”

Jolina, who first saw the ring only a week later, said that her family has a soft spot for Mark from the very start of their romance — and vice-versa.

With the engagement done with, Jolina and Mark are now thinking of a perfect date for their wedding. Why not 11-11-11? Good idea, said Jolina, adding jokingly, “puwede ring 12-12-12.”

“Year 2011 is special to us,” said Mark. “As soon as we set the date, we will inform both our families.”

But it won’t be on the beach for sure.

“Ayoko sa tubig,” Jolina begged off, “kasi parang inaalon-alon kayo. Hindi maganda!”

Told that, at 32, Jolina has only eight good years to have a baby (or lots of them!), Mark spoke for her.

“We plan to have eight children, kaya every year dapat mayroong isa.” He didn’t sound like he was kidding.

On their way to living happily ever after, the sweethearts have many things in common. They both come from closely-knit families, and love to eat and watch movies on DVD while eating. They complement each other, too. Jolina is a worrier and Mark is a positive thinker. She has two siblings and he, three.

They are guided by this principle: Live simply, live happily.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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