LEGAZPI CITY- In sickness or in health, for richer or poorer, come hell or floodwater...
Glenda Lorenzo of Guinobatan, Albay, the youngest of seven children, pursued her big dream to be a registered nurse before deciding to marry.
Her fiancé, Ryan Cuebillas of Daraga town in the same province, is also a registered nurse.
Both 30, they both passed the nursing board exams and subsequently landed decent jobs.
In 2010, the 10th year of their relationship, they decided they were ready to take the plunge. They scheduled the wedding on Dec. 30 at Albay Cathedral in Legazpi City.
Thus began the couple's lengthy preparations.
They agreed that one of them should take charge of the details because they wanted to make their wedding truly memorable not only for themselves but also for their loved ones, some of whom would come all the way from abroad.
With Glenda's meticulous ways, they were quite sure that it would be "all systems go" on their wedding day.
The unexpected torrential rains began to pour at least a week before Dec. 30, flooding certain parts of Albay including Legazpi.
The bad weather showed no sign of abating and the couple sought God's intervention, wishing for the rains to stop at least on Dec. 30.
Recalling the events, Glenda said that a day before the wedding, she learned that Army troops had begun transporting residents of low-lying areas as part of the local government's "preemptive evacuation" policy.
When the bride awoke in her hotel room early on Dec. 30, the lazy patter of raindrops on the roof greeted her.
But she had high hopes. "Rain can be a blessing too," she told her groom, who did not share her optimism as the steady patter droned on, inundating nearby roads.
At around 2 p.m., the bride's makeup artists were done with their final touches.
Glenda went down shortly to the hotel lobby to get a glimpse of the situation outside-and was shocked by the sight of people wading in knee-deep waters!
Her dismay was aggravated by the somber declaration of her wedding coordinator: "The bridal car cannot make it to the cathedral because of the flood."
Trying to smile while her dream wedding fell apart, Glenda desperately thought of ways to save the day.
She phoned Ryan who was by then already waiting for her at the cathedral. But he suggested suspending the wedding for the next day and requesting that all the food for the reception be refrigerated.
Glenda disagreed, not believing that wedding vows should be postponed.
So Ryan began calling friends and relatives who might know of someone who owned four-by-four trucks that could still navigate Legazpi's flooded streets.
All of a sudden, the vivid image of the Army's rescue teams flashed in Glenda's mind. But the problem was that she did not know anyone from the Army troops based in the town of Daraga.
With her hopes sinking, she phoned Cris Dalaguit of radio dzGB, whose public affairs program was airing at that time.
Dalaguit promptly rang up Col. Arthur Ang, commander of the Army's 901st Brigade. By that time, however, the soldiers and all transport trucks had already been deployed to Legazpi and neighboring towns.
Glenda recalled being told that Ang had instructed Col. Romeo Ayson, the head of the rescue task group, to assist the wedding party.
"But they were still in a distant location. I knew that the soldiers were coming, but I could not wait any longer," she said.
Explaining to her friends and kin the prevailing situation, Glenda requested them to flag down any truck approaching the hotel.
"I told them that I didn't care what kind of truck my 'bridal car' would be. I just wanted to be brought to the church for my wedding," she said.
Minutes later, a large cargo truck that can be mistaken for a copra hauler stopped in front of the hotel lobby.
Glenda walked to the truck; some friends and hotel staff helped her up and steadied her atop a table so she would not be soaked.
The truck slowly negotiated the heavily flooded streets, some of which were blocked by stalled vehicles.
Glenda said she felt relieved in thinking that her only problem now was how to transport her entourage.
Then she saw the soldiers aboard camouflage military transport trucks coming from the opposite direction.
They did not fail her, after all. Some of them were cold and drenched from the rains, but they were smiling as they came to the rescue.
At the cathedral, Ryan embraced his slightly disheveled bride, who was shedding tears of joy and relief.
Not long afterward, the soldiers were able to collect and deposit the rest of the guests.
The ceremony finally got started at around 5 p.m. despite the heavy rains that drenched almost the entire wedding party.
After the wedding, the soldiers again transported all the members of the entourage and some of the guests back to the hotel for the reception.
"I could not put into exact words how thankful I was to all of them, especially Colonel Ayson," Glenda said later as she proudly showed the photographs of her wedding day.
The media got wind of the couple's unusual experience and made them instant celebrities. Through interviews and guest appearances on TV, they became models of optimism and perseverance.
Because of the rains that did not go away, Ryan and Glenda unintentionally served as the best examples of how a couple should face life's trials and difficulties.
(This article was published by PDI on January 13, 2011)
** All photos are contributed by Glenda Lorenzo