One Indonesian woman found love with a former classmate
It’s a sad fact of life that my ten year high school reunion has come and gone. If you’re waiting to hear stories about how the prom queen got fat and the captain of the football team got arrested for robbing a Chuck-E Cheese, sorry, but I can’t oblige. My graduating class hasn’t gotten their shit together to have a reunion yet — and even if they had, I still couldn’t even tell you who our valedictorian was, never mind who accessorized their satin Jessica McClintock number with a crown. Had there actually been a reunion, I still can’t imagine finding love with any of my former classmates (not because they weren’t cool, but because I still see them as their 17-year-old selves). Thank God one Indonesian couple didn’t share my mindset, given that they did find love at their high school reunion.
51 years after graduating from Jakarta’s Rizal High School, Corazon de la Paz-Bernardo married her high school classmate Enrique V. Bernardo, though the two barely exchanged words during their teens.
The former Social Security System president was taken by surprise that she fell for ‘Ike’, especially as they weren’t friends and barely even knew one another despite being in the same class for four years. It was even stranger that the two didn’t mingle, given that they were both in the same honors programs: she graduated as salutatorian while Bernardo, the President and Commissioner of Jakarta’s ANZ Bank in Jakarta, received an honorable mention.
Despite their obvious intelligence, the two seemed to be worlds apart. “I was second to the youngest in our class,” De La Paz-Bernardo recalled. “I had just turned 15 when we graduated in 1956 – and was very thin, wore pigtails and had thick glasses. I was always running and playing with other tomboyish girls when not studying my lessons.”
While she may have been construed as the atypical high school geek, Bernardo — then called ‘I’king — was the hot boy every girl lusted after. “[He] was a very good-looking fellow and was the crush of many of my girlfriends. He was guwapo [handsome], very intelligent and very much a gentleman. I never dreamt I’d get married to [him]!” his bride said.
De la Paz-Bernardo says that she was not really looking for a new love, having been a widow since 1995 when her husband passed away four days after their 25th wedding anniversary.
“[But Iking] just came and things happened without any special effort or planning. I myself took everything as a matter of fact,” she said.
Things ‘happened’ at their class reunion in 2006. They struck up a mutual friendship revolving around golf (is this what happens when you get old?) until Ike’s wife passed away in November of that year. He began to heal from his pain by playing golf with Cora, which then morphed into concerts, quiet dinners and, eventually, romance.
Mere months later the two decided to get married. They wed in front of seven witnesses. Said De la Paz-Bernardo: “Ike’s second son was the best man, sponsor and reader. My youngest sister was matron of honor and sponsor, and her 23-year-old son was the ring bearer. Everything was hurriedly put together and friends only learned about our wedding weeks after it happened.”
She continued: “I really don’t know when we fell in love. We were comfortable with each other. We just decided to get married without fanfare. No parents had to be consulted or get permission from; they’ve all gone to a better world. We both had good first marriages so we didn’t have qualms about possible failures. Our children gave us their blessings and our siblings were happy for us to have found lifetime companions.”
The couple has been married for a little over four years and she says it has been “a great journey.”
She said: “We provide friendship and companionship to each other. Ike and I have cruised together in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, Norway and all the way up to the Arctic Circle. We’ve been to several countries in Africa and joined safaris in Tanzania and South Africa.”
And to think — she actually found love, adventure and a travel companion with someone from her past. It really does go to show that love can be found anywhere. Who says you can’t go home again?