Latest Stories

Gut Feel

The pretty face on the TV screen

And how she became my wife, thanks to a fast-track courtship


ENCAR Benedicto, in a 1984 picture

I caught a pretty face in a flash on the TV screen, quick and easy, like a mirage in a desert of vast emptiness. Perhaps the pretty face was an oasis for my parched and lonely soul. That was in May 1984, right after I lost my wife, Tinette Rivera, who died of cerebral hemorrhage. I suddenly found myself a widower, shocked, confused, desolate and mourning.

The moment I saw the pretty face on the TV screen, I felt a strange heartbeat inside of me. Maybe the pretty face would be my next wife, an incredible auto suggestion in my subconscious. Ah, banish the thought! I didn’t know her from Adam. That pretty face was a mirage, alright.

The passing of my wife made me realize that my two daughters, Karen (14) and Claudine (9), had lost a mother. I pitied them. How could I take the place of a mother? My intuitive resolve was to be close to my daughters in time, place and personal caring. We left our house in Parañaque and moved to Greenbelt, Makati, in a rented flat above our offices, so I could be available to my daughters at all times.

To be close to each other, we heard Mass offered for my late wife every Sunday at the Santuario de San Antonio. During the mass, it felt like we were a complete family again, a kind of psychic togetherness. I also took my daughters, all beautifully dressed up for dinner in five-star restaurants.

The best advice I got on how to raise daughters came from my father confessor: “Easy, just love them,” he said.

Guys at the office worried about me. They didn’t want me alone and lonely. They tried to fix dinner dates with their unmarried (or separated) women friends. I tried going out with them a couple of times, but none excited me. I was not in a hurry to fall in love again.

Second wind

There was one thing I was sure about. If ever I got married I wanted to have a child, a boy at that. I was in my early 50s, president of the hottest ad agency in town, but fearful of being afflicted with the Peter Principle. I needed a second wind to feel lean and hungry again.

When I started a family in 1968, I became a driven man. I worked late nights to come up with superior advertising for my clients. I had a wife and children, and the upliftment of my family was all that mattered. I didn’t mind working my butt off. I enjoyed growing our agency’s revenues by dint of hard work.

Serendipity! In 1990, on my sixth year as a widower, the incredible thing happened. I saw the pretty face in person, exactly the way she looked when I saw her on the TV screen six years ago. She was a guest performer in a product launch for Firestone tires produced by one of our account groups. I felt exactly the same, strange heartbeat of life I felt six years ago.

I didn’t waste time. I asked the head of our media department to fix a foursome lunch date at the Bahia, Intercon. Finally, I met her in a pleasant atmosphere. She’s Encar Benedicto, then host of a TV children’s show, “’Yan Ang Bata,” and co-host at “Kwarta o Kahon” variety quiz show.

I left for Hamburg, Germany, to participate in the World Advertising Congress. My trip included visits to Zurich, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, Prague, Istanbul and Kathmandu on the way home. Traveling by my lonesome self brought mostly solitude. It was not fun being alone in a crowd. One night in my hotel room I woke up teary eyed in the middle of the night. God! I gotta get married. The pretty face flashed quickly in my mind.

As soon as I returned, I launched a fast-track courtship. I called Encar every day and visited her on her location shoot and her TV program. I got to know her better between breaks.

When I came along during the shoots, I made her a bowl of salad with prawns, peaches and potato to her delight.

Encar was a single parent raising an 8-year-old son named Mark. I asked her to bring her son (for pogi points) on our first dinner date at Truffles, Billy King’s restaurant in Greenbelt, Makati. Mark was a pleasant and well-behaved kid, a champion swimmer at the Quezon City Sports Club. I also met Encar’s father, Dr. Cito Benedicto, a dentist and a gentleman of the old school. (Pinasalubungan ko siya ng sinaing na tulingan galing sa Lipa, for more pogi points!)

I enjoyed Encar up close, at all angles. She had excellent dress sense and a neat appearance that enhanced her creamy smooth skin, her happy face, her small frame, and of course, beautiful legs.


Her smiles are easy and her eyes bright, disarming people instantly. I began to see the pretty face in all its beautiful details. I became a captive of her femininity and vivaciousness. I was on the brink of closeness, and everything about her was becoming a part of me. Nakaka-in-love.

The day she caught a bad cold that kept her in bed with a high fever, I felt softhearted and extremely caring. I had my favorite Thai restaurant cook for her Tom Yum Khung, the chili hot and pungent sour soup heavy with the aroma of galangal and lemongrass, guaranteed to pipe down a bad cold. Nothing like a hot, sour soup to warm the heart of a woman on the throes of falling in love (with me).

When she got well, I tagged along to hear Sunday mass at the gothic San Sebastian Church. Right after communion, while kneeling beside her, I whispered those earth-shaking words, “Will you marry me?” The silence was deafening. My heart froze, unable to distinguish whether I was scared or daring, humbled or proud.

I pressed for an answer the next day, and Encar said yes. I pressed further, I wanted to get married in January, a mere three months away. “Can we hold it next year?” she asked. I answered, “I haven’t got much time.” (I was 54 going on 55).

We got married in January 1991. A year after, she gave birth to a baby boy, and we named him Nicollo. With Nicollo and Mark, I became a proud father with two boys instantly. Oh boy, when it rains it pours!

Last January 2011, we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary with a few close friends. Pretty face is as pretty as the face I first saw on the TV screen in 1984.

She’s God-sent. Someone to watch over me. Nakaka-in-love.

E-mail the author at hgordonez@gmail.com.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Advertising , Encar Benedicto , Love , Marriage , Widower

  • http://yobabsy.blogspot.in/ anne lei

    wow, what a love story.i did not know that you are his husband until i read this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/susan.sarmiento Susan Nicdao Sarmiento

    Ms. Encar is really lovely even during our high school, she was even chosen Ms Ramon Magsaysay High School during our batch…nice to know you found your true love in her…..

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  2. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  3. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  6. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  9. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  10. The truffled mac ‘n’ cheese, eggs benedict, chicken leg confit are excellent
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  6. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  7. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  8. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • 4.9 quake jolts Batanes on Maundy Thursday
  • Presidents, celebrities mourn writer Garcia Marquez
  • MH370 search to be most costly ever at $100 million — analysts
  • Iraqi guilty of beating wife to death in US
  • Avalanche sweeps Everest; 6 killed, 9 missing
  • Sports

  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Can Spurs get back at Heat? Can they survive West?
  • Hopkins, 49, seeks win for the ageless
  • LeBron still No. 1 with NBA’s most popular jersey
  • Pacquiao back in PH, heads home to wife, kids
  • Lifestyle

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Entertainment

  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Whoopi Goldberg debuts as marijuana columnist
  • ‘X-men’ director accused of sex assault on teen boy
  • Cannes film festival launches race for 2014 Palme d’Or
  • Business

  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Oil prices mixed ahead of long Easter weekend
  • Technology

  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Last call for nominations to ’14 Presidential Awards
  • San Francisco business coalition slams proposed tax on sugary drinks
  • A ‘time-travel’ production of ‘Les Miserable’ at Stanford
  • Filipina Maryknoll sister honored for years of service
  • Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus