Note: This is a continuation of The Art of Letting Go 32.
Determined to know her better, Don Roberto and Donya Esmeralda spent as much time with Maya whenever her schedule permitted. It already had been a regular routine that Maya spend most of her time at the mansion, especially during her rest days and would only go to their condo unit to sleep at night.
Whenever Don Roberto is out for a business related meeting or with Richard, Donya Esmeralda uses this time to be with Maya, either they spend their time in the mansion, go out in cafés or restaurants, or pamper themselves by going to spas.
Both Richard’s parents had come to know Maya in a deeper level. Like their son, they saw how truly beautiful she was, inside and out. They could never be more thankful for having her enter their son’s life.
One evening, after Richard came back home from bringing Maya back to the condo unit, he went to the veranda to unwind and relax a bit.
“Ricky?” called out Donya Esmeralda.
Richard looked up and smiled at her mother. Donya Esmeralda walked up to him and sat beside him, reaching out and held his hand.
“Kumusta ang work?”
“It’s ok Ma. Doing very well in fact. We were able to secure another deal recently,” said Richard proudly.
“That’s good to know hijo,” smiled Donya Esmeralda.
“Everything’s falling perfectly into place Ma. Me and Maya, you and papa, LAS, it’s like I can no longer ask for anything more. Minsan nga naiisip ko na parang panaginip lang lahat. At kung nananaginip man nga ako, ayaw ko ng magising pa.”
“Hijo, hindi panaginip ang lahat ng ito. Everything’s real. If anything, you deserve all these. You deserve to be happy hijo.”
Richard smiled warmly at her mother. He then placed his other hand on top of her mother’s. “Thank you ma.”
“For accepting Maya. For accepting our relationship. For being happy for me. You just don’t know how happy I am. And I appreciate all the efforts you make to know her better. Kayo ni papa. Thank you,” said Richard.
“Ricky hijo. You’re our son. Our only son. More than anything else, all we ever wanted was to see you happy. We’ll do everything we can to give you that. Besides, Maya is such a wonderful lady. She’s like the daughter that I and your papa had never had. You’re so lucky to have her hijo.”
“You’re right Ma. I am so lucky to have her,” smiled Ricky.
After a few moments of silence, “Ma?”
“Do you think.. Well I was thinking.. Umm..”
“What? C’mon spill it out,” demanded Esmeralda.
“You see, I love Maya very much and I can clearly see my future with her. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. Build a family with her. Do you think it’s too premature for me to think about these things? Do you think it is too early for me to propose marriage to her?”
“Oh hijo!” exclaimed Esmeralda. She stood up, went beside Ricky and gave him a hug. “Kung ako lang ang masusunod, I’ll have you both married tomorrow! Ricky, she’s a one of a kind woman. Maya’s for keeps. I know how much you love her and I can clearly see how much she loves you as well. Alam mo hijo, I know you don’t make decisions na hindi mo pinag-iisipang mabuti. I trust you’ve already thought about this time and again. Always remember, whatever your decision is, I and your papa are here to support you.”
Richard was just so happy and relieved with what he just heard. Holding the arms that are wrapped around his shoulders, “Thanks ma.”
“So when do you plan to propose? Do you already have the ring?” asked Esmeralda.
Richard chuckled. “I still don’t have a ring ma. Magpapagawa palang ako.”
Esmeralda straightened up and went back to her chair. “Aba hijo! Wag ka ng magpa-tumpik tumpik pa! You need to act fast! Bukas na bukas din asikasuhin mo na ang pagpapagawa ng singsing.”
“Ma, mas excited ka pa sa akin eh,” teased Richard.
“Ricky, I’m just helping you secure Maya. Mahirap na. Mamaya mauntog siyang bigla at magising,” teased Esmeralda back.
Shaking his head in amusement, “Mama talaga!”
“But seriously hijo. Ayusin mo na ang pagpapagawa ng singsing and I want you to propose to Maya before my birthday, ok?” requested Esmeralda.
Giving her mama a confused look, “Why do you want me to propose to her before your birthday?”
Smiling warmly at him, “That will be the best birthday gift you could ever give me.”
Smiling back, “Ok ma. I’ll make sure that I’ve already proposed to her before your birthday.”
“Basta hijo, if you need any help with your proposal, you know we’re just here, ok?”
“Ok ma. I’ll keep that in mind,” replied Richard.
As Richard got to his room, he decided to give his best friend Rafi a call. “Hello Rafi?”
“Chard! What a pleasant surprise? What’s up?”
“Nothing new. Mangangamusta lang,” replied Richard.
“Really now. Knowing you Chard, I doubt it. By the way, how’s Tito & Tita? They told me that they’ll be coming over to the Philippines and stay there for a while. I’m assuming they’ve already arrived more than a week ago?”
“Yes they did. Ok naman sila.”
“Good. And how are they with Maya? I’m pretty sure you’ve already introduced them to Maya right?”
Richard decided to tease Rafi a bit and feigned to be stammering. “Ah. Eh. Umm..”
“What??” impatience evident in her tone.
“Ah, ano kasi eh. Pano kasi. Ahm..” stuttered Richard once more.
“Chard!!! Mr. Richard Lim!!! How could you! Until now you haven’t introduced Maya to your parents yet?? It’s been what 1, 2 weeks already since your parents came and you still haven’t made a move to introduce Maya to them?? How could you Chard!! Akala ko ba mahal mo si Maya?? Akala ko ba you’re very much serious with her?? Bakit ganito ngayon ang nangyayari?? When do you plan to tell your parents about her?? Do you ever have a plan of doing so?? Richard Lim, this is totally unforgivable!! Kung kaharap lang kita ngayon baka nakalbo na kita ng di oras!! You’re really impossible Chard! You know that! Argh! You’re getting into my nerves!!!” growled Rafi on the other end of the line.
Richard was grinning the whole time. He thought of how feisty Rafi can get at times and recalled the numerous times he engaged in an argument with her but end up conceding with her. He already accepted the fact that he can never win over her. Crazy at it may seem, he misses this side of her a lot and enjoys every bit of it right now.
Richard didn’t respond to her right away. He’s determined to annoy her more and push her over the edge.
“Richard Lim!! Mananahimik ka na lang ba jan?? Aren’t you going to say anything?? Mr. Lim, kung hindi ka magsasalita jan or wala ka manlang gagawin, I swear Richard! I’ll book the earliest flight to Manila, go straight to you, emasculate you and take Maya away from you!!” shouted Rafi angrily.
“Hey! You’re so mean!” chuckled Richard.
“And you have the nerve to call me mean and the guts to laugh at me?? You’re so dead Chard!! So dead!!”
Richard could no longer hold his charade and eventually laughed out loud.
Hearing him laugh, Rafi thoroughly got furious about the whole thing and decided to abruptly end the call.
Realizing that Rafi had just ended the call and that he successfully pushed her over the edge, he decided to give her another call. Rafi didn’t pick up until a couple of rings.
As soon as she picked it up, “What??” growled Rafi.
“Hello once again Rafi!” greeted Richard.
“Nang-aasar ka bang talaga Richard Lim?? Gusto mo ba talagang sugurin kita jan ng di oras?” threatened Rafi and Richard easily sensed that she’s dead serious about it.
“Ok, I’m sorry alright. I was just teasing you. Nakakatuwa ka kasing magalit!” laughed Richard some more.
“Chard! How could you?? Tumawag ka lang ba para galitin at bwisitin ako?? You’re so mean Chard! I hate you!” said Rafi irritably.
Trying to control his laugh, “Sorry na Rafi. And I didn’t call you para asarin o galitin ka lang. Truth is, I have good news to you.”
Controlling her temper, “Well it better be good news matapos mo akong galitin.”
Thoroughly amused with his best friend, “Trust me. This is good news.”
“Well?? What is it then?” she asked impatiently.
“Papa & Mama had already met her. The following night after their arrival, we’ve arranged a dinner so they could meet her,” narrated Richard.
“And?? How did it go??”
“Papa & Mama accepted her right away. Anak na nga ang turing sa kanya. Would you believe that Mama is pushing me to marry Maya right away? If she’ll have it her way, she wanted me and Maya to get married tomorrow. She’s just so excited about the whole thing. I can’t –“
Richard was cut off by Rafi’s shrilling shriek that he was forced to put the phone away from his ear. “Rafi! Wala pa akong balak mabingi,” smirked Richard.
“Oh my god Chard! I’m just so happy! I’m just so thrilled!! Eiiiii!!” said Rafi as she shrieked some more.
“I’m so happy as well Rafi. I can’t be any happier.”
“OMG Chard! So what do you plan to do now?? When will you marry Maya na? Alam mo tama si Tita! Pakasal na kayo bukas Chard!” suggested Rafi excitedly.
“I haven’t proposed to her yet Rafi,” chuckled Richard.
“Then what are you waiting for?? Mag-propose ka na then magpakasal na kayo agad!” she demanded.
“Ok. Ok. I’m already planning the proposal. I want it to be sweet and memorable. Something that she’ll never forget and will always be proud of. I’m planning to do this before Mama’s birthday. Yun kasi ang gustong birthday gift ni Mama from me,” explained Richard.
“Awww. That’s just so sweet Chard. I can really feel Tita’s love for Maya. So you still have what? Roughly 4 weeks before Tita’s birthday? Chard, you better hurry with your plan so you’ll meet your deadline ok?”
“Of course! I wouldn’t be a successful businessman if I’m not able to lay out my strategies well and meet my goals on a specified time right?” he said proudly.
“Yeah yeah right! By the way Chard, do you already have a ring for Maya?”
“I’m planning to arrange that first thing tomorrow. I plan to meet with a couple of jewellers.”
“No need Chard. Let me do this for you. I know just the perfect person to give you the perfect ring for Maya. I’ll just arrange a meeting for you. So anytime tomorrow would be fine for you?”
“Yes, anytime tomorrow,” replied Richard.
“Very well then, just leave that to me. Oh Chard! I can’t wait for you two to finally get married!!” exclaimed Rafi.
“Me too Rafi. Me too.”
The next day, Richard received a text message from Rafi informing him that she was able to arrange him a meeting with the jeweller. He replied a thank you to her, got out of bed and prepped up to fetch Maya from the condo and bring her to the airport and proceed to the office shortly after.
As he went to the dining table to have breakfast, he saw his parents coming in as well. “Good morning Pa, Ma,” greeted Richard.
“Good morning hijo!” greeted his parents back.
As they took their seats, “Son, your Mama already told me about your plans of proposing to Maya. I’d just like you to know, you have our blessings and support,” said Don Roberto and threw a loving glance from Richard to Donya Esmerlada as he held the hand of the latter.
“Thank you Pa,” smiled Richard.
“So is everything arranged already? Do you already have a ring? If wala pa, then you should have it made right away? Yung proposal proper, napagplanuhan mo na bang mabuti kung paano ka magpo-propose? How about her parents, have you informed them of your plans already?”
Amused with his father’s reaction, barrage of questions and apparent excitement about the whole thing, Richard couldn’t help but laugh.
“O what seems to be funny? This is a serious matter son. We’re talking about your proposal to Maya. It has to be perfect,” said Don Roberto.
“I’m just happy Pa. Seeing your all out support for me and Maya. Mas excited pa nga yata kayo ni Mama sa akin eh,” chuckled Richard.
Bemused with her son’s answer, “Don’t tell me you’re not excited about this whole thing Ricky? I’m warning you,” said Esmeralda shooting him a sharp look.
“Of course I’m excited Ma! Very much excited. In fact, noon ko pa nga gustong ayain ng kasal si Maya. But of course, I want to do things properly. I want everything to be perfect for Maya,” explained Richard.
“Very well then. Just making sure that we’re all on the same page. So when do you plan to have the ring for her? Do you already know her ring size?” asked Esmeralda.
“I’m meeting with a jeweller later today that Rafi recommended. As for Maya’s ring size, I still have to get it though.”
“I see. Just make sure na hindi ka mahahalata ni Maya once you get her ring size ok? You don’t want to spoil the surprise and excitement that this event brings,” reminded Roberto.
“Yes Pa. I’ll be extra careful. I’ll do it discreetly,” replied Richard.
The three moved on with their breakfast while happily discussing Richard’s plans for his proposal to Maya. Both Roberto and Esmeralda had been giving Richard unsolicited advice on how he can make the proposal extra special for Maya. Richard just listened intently to their every word. This was something that he never experienced before but he was thoroughly glad about it. Nothing could have filled his heart with more gladness other than this, his parents showing their all-out support for him, for Maya, and for their relationship.
Richard wasted no time. Immediately after breakfast, he got out and went to Maya’s condo though he is an hour early. It’s now or never, he thought. Determined to get Maya’s ring size, he immediately went straight to the unit and knocked firmly on the door. A surprised Maya greeted him.
“Honey! Ang aga mo naman yata?” said Maya as she gave Richard a peck on his cheek.
“I just want to spend some more time with you. Lagi nalang kasing sila Mama ang kasama mo. Nawawalan ka na ng time sakin,” pouted Richard.
Maya found it cute and adorable that she found it hard not to giggle. “At nagselos pa ang honey ko!” She then reached his cheeks using both her hands and playfully pinched them.
“Halika na nga dito.” Maya reached out for his hand and dragged him towards the sofa. “Gusto mo ba ng kape?”
Richard simply nodded. Maya went her way to the kitchen and prepared two cups of coffee. As she went back to the living room, she placed the cups on top of the coffee table and sat down beside Richard.
Richard pulled her closer to him and had her head rest on his shoulder as he wrap his arms around her and started to play with her right hand. “I missed you,” muttered Richard softly.
Maya abruptly turned her head to look up to him. “Ang OA mo honey ha! Kagabi lang magkakasama pa tayo sa inyo. Parang ilang oras palang tayo nagkakahiwalay ah,” replied Maya though she’s all giddy inside.
“So? Kahit isang oras pa yun. I can’t help but miss you whenever you leave my presence,” he said as he gazed intently in Maya’s eyes. He then put her left hand on his lips making Maya blush. “And I especially miss those cheeks. I miss seeing them blush everytime.”
“Honey naman eh! Sobra ka na ha!” Playfully, she slapped Richard’s chest, making him laugh softly. Maya leaned back on his shoulder once more.
Richard resumed playing with Maya’s right hand and kept examining it. “You’ve got a cute hand and cute fingers.”
“Eh ikaw din naman eh. Cute din ng kamay mo pati mga daliri.”
“Why don’t we watch TV first. Maaga pa naman,” suggested Richard.
Maya agreed and turned the TV on. Richard continued to play with her hand as they watched TV. As he was sure that Maya had been totally engrossed on what they’re watching, he took the opportunity to wrap a thread on her ring finger, discreet enough for her not to notice.
“Angel, I think you should already change. Baka ma-late ka pa for work.”
With that, Maya stood up and went to her room to change.
The day had finally arrived. The day that Richard had prepared for. The day of the proposal.
It was 4 in the afternoon. The sun is still shining brightly in the sky but the clouds are providing good shade against its scorching heat. The cool afternoon breeze is felt everywhere. Seems like even nature is taking side with Richard’s plans. The thought brings a smile to his face.
Richard wore his pink long sleeved polo and a pair of jeans. Coincidentally, Maya also wore a blouse of the same shade and a pair of skinny jeans.
As they were travelling along C5, near Ortigas Avenue, Richard turned to a café. “Let’s grab some coffee first, ok?”
“Ok,” answered Maya.
Richard parked his car, got out, went to the passenger’s side and helped Maya out of the car. As they went inside the café, he ushered Maya to a table and excused himself. “I’ll just go to the men’s room,” he said. With that, Richard turned around and left.
Maya looked around and found no other customers inside. She just saw a couple of crews with a welcoming smile on their faces as they stood by the counter. The café gave her a homey feel. Its interior creates a resort-style living. Its neutral palette is easily punctuated by lively patches of green.
The café’s use of brick wall art, banquette, soft seating, and wooden soffits creates a warm experience, exuding comfort and peace. The ambiance reminds her much of home.
A couple of minutes later, music filled the air. “I Say A Little Prayer” played on the background. As the song started, she was surprised to see Eds, Ruby, and Emman went up in front and started dancing to the music. A couple of seconds later, they were replaced by Simon, James, and Jeff, doing the same thing, dancing.
Maya continued to watch them with open mouth. She was still surprised and cannot completely comprehend everything that’s happening.
“Bakit andito sila? Pati sila Simon at Jeff? At bakit sila sumasayaw? Ano bang nangyayari dito? At nasan si Richard? Bakit hindi pa siya bumabalik?” she thought.
Maya’s eyes widened in shock as soon as she saw the next group who went in front and started to dance. Covering her mouth, she could only gasp at everything she’s seeing.
Simon, James, and Jeff stepped aside and were replaced by Mamang, Nanay Teresita, Don Roberto, and Donya Esmeralda, dancing to the music as well. A couple of seconds later, to wrap up the presentation, everyone gathered in front, dancing to the music until the song came to an end.
Maya simply watched from the table, rendered speechless, and comprehension failing her. A lot of thoughts are reeling around her head. Disorganized, she doesn’t know how and which to process first. Still in a complete state of shock, Nanay Teresita went in front of her with a stem of white rose and a card at hand.
“Anak,” started Nanay Teresita, obviously teary-eyed then handed Maya the rose and the card with the word WILL written in front. As Maya opened the card, she found this written inside: Will – Diligent purposefulness and determination. A desire. Deliberate intention or wish.
After reading its contents, Maya looked back up at Nanay Teresita and gave her a confused look. Nanay Teresita simply answered her with a smile.
Nanay Teresita stepped aside making way for James as he made his way towards Maya. Same with Nanay Teresita, he also has a rose and a card at hand. “Princess,’ he said, then gave Maya the rose and the card. This time, the card has the word “VOUS” (French for “You”) in front. Realization slowly sinking in, with shaky hands, she flipped the card open. Inside, it read: Vous – se rapporte à la personne traitée; se rapporte à la personne qui détient cette carte (You – refers to the person addressed; refers to the person who holds this card.)
As James stepped aside, Don Roberto moved forward with the same items at hand. “Maya hija,” he said and handed the rose and card to Maya. This time, the word “hūn” (MARRY) is written outside the card. Immediately after seeing what’s written outside the card, Maya’s hand flew to her mouth in surprise, tears already flowing down her cheeks. As she opened the card, she began to read what it says: hūn – tūn tóng àiren bìng jié hé bìng shēnkè yǒngjiǔ (Marry – to take as a spouse, and unite closely and intimately forever.)
Overwhelming emotions flowed through her whole being. Maya sat there and let the tears continue to flow down her face. As she looked up once more, her eyes are wandering around, looking for the very person who would complete everything.
As she continued to wander her gaze, music once again filled the air. This time, strumming of the guitar is heard. Walking towards her, she saw Kute with a guitar at hand, playing a song specifically directed to her. A couple of seconds later, Richard emerged from behind Kute with a bouquet of sunflowers at hand, and started singing the song.
Forever can never be long enough for me
To feel like I’ve had long enough with you
Forget the world now, we won’t let them see
But there’s one thing left to do
Soft sobs escaped Maya’s lips but she managed to smile despite it all. As she looked at the man she so dearly loves, looking more dashing as ever, she can’t help but admire him more. Indeed, forever can never be enough for them to share.
Now that the weight has lifted
Love has surely shifted my way
Today and every day
If I ever get the nerve to say hello in this cafe
Say you will
Say you will
Maya continued to smile in between tears as she looked at Richard with all love and affection and listened to every word he had to sing, feeling the sincerity in each lyric, in each melody escaping his lips.
Together can never be close enough for me
To feel like I am close enough to you
You wear white and I’ll wear out the words I love you
And you’re beautiful
Now that the wait is over
And love and has finally showed her my way
Today and every day
If I ever get the nerve to say hello in this cafe
Say you will
Say you will
Richard walked towards Maya. Handed the bouquet of flowers and had her stood up. He then held her shoulders and gazed intently in her eyes as he continued to sing the next lines.
Promise me you’ll always be
Happy by my side
I promise to sing to you
When all the music dies
And marry me
Today and everyday
If I ever get the nerve to say hello in this cafe
Say you will
Say you will
As the song came to an end, both remained standing, facing each other, letting their eyes speak for what they really have and feel for each other. No words needed to express the love and affection that they have and will continue to have for each other.
Richard smiled warmly at her, never moving his gaze from her eyes. With all love, affection, and sincerity, he started pouring out his heart to her.
“Angel, you know what I was like before you met me. You saw me at my worse. You saw me at the most trying time of my life. But you saw me through it all. You took me out of my misery, out of my pain. You taught me how to live, how to appreciate life, and how to love again. Because of you, I learned how to be complete. And now, here I am, standing in front of you. Baring my heart and soul to you. Giving you all the love and affection you deserve. I love you my angel. I love you with all my heart and soul. Right now, the only thing that I could ever ask for is to spend my forever with you.”
Taking out the platinum band princess cut diamond ring, kneeling down on one knee and offering it to Maya, “Angel, please do me the honor of becoming Mrs. Richard Lim. Maya dela Rosa, will you marry me?” he finally asked.
Maya continued to stare at him with hands in her mouth. She was too shocked to speak and answer him back.
Richard continued to look up at her, waiting nervously and expectantly for her answer. As every second continued to tick, so was his anxiety starting to rise.
A couple of seconds more and still no answer from her. Richard’s getting more anxious and unsure to where he stands. Slowly, his smile fades away. “Maya?” he asked, uncertainty and anxiousness evident in his voice.
“Richard,” muttered Maya softly. Everyone held their breath, waiting for her to say some more.
Trying to maintain composure and optimism, “Angel, will you marry me?” he asked once more, smiling sweetly at her, covering with all his might the uncertainty that’s lingering inside him.
Maya shook his head.
Alarmed by her response, “Angel?” he asked.
“I’m sorry Richard,” she said as tears continued to flow.
Richard immediately stood up and held her shoulders. He couldn’t believe what he just heard. He had never expected this. All along he thought Maya wanted to spend her forever with him as well. Hearing her say sorry crushed his heart terribly, shattering it to a thousand pieces. Tears welling up in his eyes, “Angel why? Why are you saying sorry?”
No longer able to contain herself, she threw herself to Richard and immediately wrapped her arms around him. “I’m sorry honey. I’m sorry because I can never say no to your proposal.”
Eyes going wide, he held Maya’s shoulders and gently pushed her in front of him and looked in her eyes, “Does this mean you’re saying yes? You’re marrying me?” he asked excitedly.
Maya nodded her head. “Yes Richard! Yes! I’m marrying you!”
With that, Richard jumped and shouted with joy. He slipped the ring on Maya’s ring finger, cupped her face and gazed lovingly in her eyes. “I love you my angel,” he said.
“I love you too honey ko,” replied Maya.
After a second, their lips met and shared a long lingering kiss.