Although there are excusable exceptions—say, when a wedding is trying to beat the stork—invitations, as a general rule, should be sent at least two months earlier, the date having presumably been picked as early as a year before.
There are, after all, only 52 weekends in a year and even fewer “lucky” churches, reckoned by their reputations as to the number of unions sanctified under their roofs that have endured.
At any rate, apart from the consideration of social graces, an early invitation constitutes only fair warning to everyone enlisted in the entourage, in particular godmothers who in their senior years have to face the challenge of marching in punishing high heels and in full public view.
I didn’t use to be so particular. In fact, I don’t remember raising any fuss when I became ninang for the first time, in my 40s, rather too soon, to a younger cousin and his bride, or on the four other occasions after that. I stopped being a lucky choice after my first marriage had failed.
Rehabilitated 30 years later and after a long and apparently credible second relationship, I stood as ninang again on Nov. 5, partnered in fact with my husband, himself coming into the role for the first time.
As a very senior ninang, I was overwhelmed by the preparations the role entailed, no matter if I had been warned a whole half-year before. I hopped to it. First I called my constantly busy friend-couturier for special occasions, Rosalyn, for a long skirt to go with my piña kimona, itself not so new but, by her expert appraisal, requiring some delicate beading for the evening affair.
Then I called Malu, another friend, for the re-stringing and polishing of the long-unworn tamburin I inherited from my mom.
Between hair-loss treatments, I tried a few hairdos with my hairdresser, who suggested a perm, one done early enough to allow for repair in case of any chemical accidents, not altogether unlikely, given all the chemicals my hair had taken through the ages (how can I forget my hair turning cotton-candy pink in one bold experiment!).
At the final appointment, my hair still un-permed, I decided to wear it down with an antique peineta, another piece of heirloom, holding one side up.
A beauty sleep the night before remained the last critical prerequisite. Alas, we learned late in the day that Chris Botti, the trumpet great himself, was playing that very evening, the eve of the wedding, for free at Greenbelt, our virtual front yard.
Doing my nails and dyeing my hair had to be put off, and, with hair merely shampooed, wet yet and untamed, I rushed out to join my husband, who had claimed a spot as close as possible to the stage two hours before show time. We didn’t get home until 11:30.
Professional makeup took care of concealing any trace of lack of sleep. I felt a little envious that all my husband needed was to get a haircut and get a new barong. No wonder, while I went through all that frenzied preparation, he was so relaxed.
Somehow I found the time to reflect on the deeper meaning of godparenting, and, for that, I only had to remember Nening, a friend of 50 years and a favorite choice for godmother in her circle of friends and acquaintances.
Aside from being steeped in tradition, thus always proper, she assumes the role of second mom when the occasion arises. Indeed, she performs beyond godmotherhood.
Nening never fails to call her godchildren on their birthdays and wedding anniversaries to assure them she prays for them. Around Christmas she has them over at her home for a reunion and hands them their presents.
No doubt, few, if at all, could come up to her measure. Certainly my husband and I would not even try.
Asked to give advice to the newlyweds on behalf of the godfathers, my husband said, “Give advice? I’d feel terribly pretentious doing that sort of thing. After all, I’m only 65 years old and have been married only twice.”
He only allowed to speak of our own marriage in hopes, he said, “that clues, not advice, be derived from it.” For us, three things seem to have worked, he said: “. . . unconditional love, absolute openness to each other and a sense of humor, the last proving most handy in our senior years.”