Author's Note: When I arrived in Manila, I received a text from a good friend whose wedding is the reason I had gone to the Philippines in the first place. She asked if I knew of any non-religious literature that could be read at her ceremony. I came up with a different suggestion: I asked her if I could instead write something for her wedding -- no pressure to have it read, but I wanted to give it a shot. She agreed.
I wrote the following while sitting on the bed in my hostel on the island of Palawan at 3 a.m. I thought a lot about love. I thought a lot about their relationship, my own relationship, the relationships in my family. I thought about all the people who are looking for love.
Then, I came up with this:
You first learn love from your family. They are the first ones to teach you unconditional love. They do this by showing you endurance, generosity and offering so much wisdom. They set the standard for the way you should be treated and the way you should be loved.
Then, you learn love from your friends. The people who have chosen to stay by your side. They show you how fun life can be and they demand that you be there to experience it with them. They teach you love by keeping you close — a gesture that says, I don’t need you, but I don’t want to do this without you either.
Then, you learn love from heartbreak. That teaches you how to be strong. It forces you to be vulnerable, even if you don’t want to be. It shows you that it’s okay to feel weak. But, if you listen closely enough, it teaches you that you’re capable of healing and that true love is not supposed to hurt.
And then, if you’re lucky, you meet someone who teaches you a love you’ve never seen before. This teaches you magic. They’ll do this by falling in love with you, and by letting you fall in love with them too. Like your family, they will nurture your growth. Like your friends, they’ll stay by your side. But like no one else, they become your partner and together you will face the world.
This will take commitment, this will take unbroken promises, this will take absolute faith. But if you take on those things together, you will have made a kind of love that can only be described as magic, and you will never have felt something more true.
-- Carla Herreria, written for Camille and Justin Sherman in El Nido, Palawan on Dec. 7, 2016. Read at the Gumayagay-Sherman wedding on the island of Boracay on Dec. 16, 2016.