NANAY SAYS: True Love 

By Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo |February 09,2019 - 06:43 AM

Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo

BASEY, Samar — I can feel the love even without checking the people behind me.

We were inside the white van that crossed the iconic San Juanico bridge from Leyte to Samar on a sunny Friday afternoon.

I was seated next to the driver, who asked questions about why I am familiar about this part of the Visayas.

I told him I spent a part of my childhood and adolescence in Merida and Ormoc, Leyte. Residing and studying in Leyte included some travels in Tacloban and Samar when I took the University of the Philippines College Admission Test (UPCAT) and then, towards the end of my senior year in high school, competed in my first and only Regional Schools Press Conference.

But my mind was focused on the two figures seated behind me — couple Lito and Fe Barino, the brain and the heart of the Duros Group of Companies — who were radiating love and happiness with loving taps and sweet glances.

I did not expect to see this side of the couple up close as I joined them for the inauguration of Duros Development Corporation’s asphalt batching plant in Barangay San Isidro, Santa Fe, Leyte.

Barangay San Isidro is located about 15 kilometers from the Daniel Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City and I only meant to take pictures and videos, write the story and then buy chocolate moron.

But I have been distracted since we left Liloan town in Cebu at 6:30 a.m. because the two were giving off energy that there is no need to celebrate Valentine’s Day because any day with the two of them around already means an abundant shower of love.

When Palo Archbishop John Du blessed the asphalt batching plant, I caught Sir Lito staring at Maam Fe. He smiled. The smile of a man hopelessly in love with his woman. My heart skipped a beat. What a privilege to witness moments of love like that!

It was the kind of love that is manifested by action, and not words.

I have known the Barinos for 10 years now. I first interviewed them for a business feature published in the CDN newspaper in 2008. I have come to know them as the hardworking Cebuanos, who established a homegrown venture along with their siblings, which diversified in the fields of real estate, construction, interior fabrication and manufacturing, property management, education and food.

I have observed them from afar; often wondering how they manage to balance business and church work while remaining humble and down-to-earth. Maam Fe is the president of the Commission on the Laity. They are dedicated to the Surrender to God (SuGod) program, a community-based drug recovery and renewal initiative that started in August 2016. The program has produced close to 800 graduates.

There is so much love in this advocacy too. I would be bold by saying that their dedication for SuGod can only be surpassed by their commitment and love for each other.

I only know one other couple who acts like this around each other: heritage advocates Rodolfo and Louella Alix.

I was introduced to them in 2009 by former CDN reporter Bernadette Parco when I wrote a story about their then creative enterprise, Presents n Such.

But I know them by their names since 2005 when I was a volunteer of the Friends of Pedro Foundation Inc. assigned to work on the newsletter. I even remember editing an opinion piece by “Rodolfo Alix.”

The couple is Tito Rudy and Tita Loy to me. They are like my second parents, who will gladly open their doors for me and my fellow “dafters” for sumptuous meals and delicious stories. To my children, they are Lolo Rudy and Lola Loy.

Tito Rudy and Tita Loy’s talents complement each other.

Tita Loy writes and talks; Tito Rudy takes pictures and records videos.

Tita Loy cooks; Tito Rudy eats.

Tita Loy smiles; Tito Rudy stares.

It is a joy to behold how they can still adorably flirt with each other after more than four decades of being married. I love how they exchange malicious looks and then tease each other online and offline.

They make love look like a fun adventure.

I have come to appreciate the kind of love and affection that people of this age show to each other.

It is real, genuine and sincere.

There is very little to no social media brouhaha about how much they love each other.

But you know that love is there because you can see it in the interlocking of fingers, the terms of endearment uttered in the most careless ways, the gentle reminder of avoiding fatty food to follow the doctor’s orders of consuming green, leafy vegetables.

Not everyone will be blessed with the kind of love that Sir Lito and Maam Fe Barino share; or the kind of affection Tito Rudy and Tita Loy show towards each other.

Many of us can only hope for a love like theirs.

There are too many superficial and overhyped videos about true love on social media these days. But I learned about the best love stories when I was offline. I found that true love endures the test of time. I discovered that true love brings smiles and joy.

I write this with humility and gratitude in my heart as I am blessed with a man who loves me for who I am and lets me be the woman whom I choose to be.

Unlike my two favorite couples, my husband Jeff and I will never grow OLD together. Our age gap of 28 years made that possible. But we are growing UP together in this marriage filled with love and understanding. For me, that is enough.

On the month of love, I wish that most, if not all, of you find the Lito to your Fe, the Rudy to your Loy, and the Jeff to your Cris.

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