- Abu Dhabi-based aircraft technian unable to fly home due to COVID-19
- Virus ruins plans to renew silver wedding vows with wife
- Catholic priest in Abu Dhabi solemnises virtual ceremony on Zoom
Dubai: It’s not everyday a husband and wife mark 25 years of wedded bliss. But COVID-19 came, throwing into disarray the silver wedding anniversary plans of Filipino expat Joevy Lanuza and his wife Raquel.
Unable to fly from Abu Dhabi in time to meet his wife, who was locked down in Cavite, south of Manila, recently, the couple had to make do being together in electric dreams.
Joevy and Raquel, both 48, got married in Naic, Cavite, Philippines on June 11, 1995. On Friday, they held each other’s hand, virtually, to mark 25 years.
Joevy was at home in Abu Dhabi's Khalifa City, his was wife in Cavite, Philippines, while the priest, Fr. Troy de Los Santos, at St Joseph's Cathedral, in Abu Dhabi.
Joevy moved to Abu Dhabi 13 years ago, and works there as an aircraft technician.
The couple, blessed with three children, had made elaborate arrangements to mark their family milestone together, with a planned renewal of vows at the Imus Cathedral in Cavite, an hour by car south of Manila. Then the world came to a standstill, but their love did not.
“Family is where you find home, love and care," Joevy told Gulf News. "This (silver anniversary) is the moment you renew your promises and love for each other. Golden anniversary is very rare nowadays,” said Lanuza.
When the virus threatened to crash their party, a solution came in handy: Zoom.
Fr Troy, seen presiding over ceremony from an empty church hall at St Joseph's Cathedral, agreed to solemnise the exchange of vows in Tagalog language.
Joevy is apologetic, but hopeful: “If I take a leave, all my 28 leave days may be spent under quarantine… When things get better, and this all over, we will do it again, perhaps in December,” said Lanuza.
“We just decided to stay where we are, be grateful, make the most of what we have,” he added.
“I’m not happy that my husband was unable to fly home,” Raquel told Gulf News in a messenger chat. “But we didn’t let the virus get in the way…I’m happy that we celebrated virtually. In a way, it’s unique.”
Expat Filipinos who fly home must undergo mandatory PCR tests and quarantine, the length of time depends on both the national and local governments.
From 2004-2012, the family lived together in Dubai, where Raquel had also worked for a private airline. But Raquel stayed back in the Philippines when their children started joining university.
“We might not be together now, but at least we managed to beat COVID-19,” said Joevy, who then thanked Fr Troy for the virtual blessing and good wishes.