Endearing Engagements

Overseas LDR Couple Pays Homage to Roots

'We wanted our photos to continue to reflect our Filipino roots'

Jon Joshua Ocdamia and Hannah Carmelle Banua met as nursing students and of course, what else would be a better subtle move than a “study” date? Josh and Hannah eventually went on a first date but took their time deciding on whether or not to make things official because Josh was scheduled to return to the US later that year and that meant they’d be in a long-distance relationship.

Ultimately we decided it was worth it despite the distance,” says Hannah. That was late 2019 so in 2020, Josh and Hannah had no opportunity to see each other physically because of the pandemic. But Josh was determined to propose to Hannah in person and he popped the question late 2020 near their alma mater.

As an LDR couple, both of whom were raised outside the Philippines, Josh and Hannah felt they wanted to highlight their roots in their engagement shoot, thus creating the classic modern Filipino feel in their photos.

Below, Hannah and Josh share their how they’re planning their intimate wedding as an LDR couple, half being overseas, and the biggest lesson they’ve learned in love because of their situation.

Any special reason why you selected this engagement shoot theme? 

Considering that Josh and I were raised outside of the Philippines, we wanted to choose a location and motif that exuded a modern yet classic Filipino feel and wanted our photos to continue to reflect our Filipino roots. We want to bring that Filipino identity to our home one day and show our future children that we’re proud of it.

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Tell us about your wedding planning process. What’s helping you plan as an overseas couple who’s also in an LDR?

We are actually utilizing the efforts of Altuz Events to help us plan the wedding! With Covid around, and with Josh in the US, we figured we'd need a coordinator's services to make it through. Thus far, we're only at the beginning stages of the planning such as setting a final date and locating a venue.

What advice or tips can you give to couples planning their prenup photoshoot during this time? 

One piece of advice that we can think of, is to relax when in front of the camera! Josh is a bit camera shy so he felt that he was a little stiff in front of the camera, but with a little coaxing from our prenup team and the photography team, he managed to strike some poses that got us our great shots!

Our second advice is to plan things together such as picking the right people to be in our photoshoot team and attending zoom meetings together with the suppliers. Discuss the photoshoot theme as a couple and ultimately decide on what you think is meaningful for you both. 

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Picking the right people for our suppliers is really important. We’re really blessed to have them during our shoot because they really made sure we were well taken care of and that they were happy to help us. 

What is the top lesson you’ve learned about love thus far?

One thing that we've both learned, especially since we're in a long distance relationship, is that love is a team effort. We used to think that that was a no brainer, but we know now that it's much more challenging for both parties to always give 100%. Which is why we have each other, to make up for it when the other isn't quite at 100. And communicating each other’s feelings is so important in our long distance relationship. We are not physically together, and it’s quite hard to understand and be patient. But when we learned how to tell each other the truth about each other’s feelings, it was easier for us to manage. It helped us learn how to make time for each other despite the different time zones. 

 Lastly, could you share your love story and the proposal?

Josh: Hannah and I actually met in nursing school! She was a year ahead of me, but took a gap year. So we ended up in the same batch for our senior year! We were grouped together in the same section of our class, and also happened to be on the same hospital rotation schedule. From then on we started talking more and more until I asked her out on a "study" date… to which she said "no". But after some convincing, she finally went with me on that date! We knew that we had some thinking to do before we became official because I was moving back to the US later that year. Ultimately we decided it was worth it so in September of 2019, we decided to continue our relationship despite the distance.

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We weren't able to see each other in 2020 because of the pandemic, but after careful consideration, we decided to proceed with our plans to get married. I had planned my trip to the Philippines late in 2020 despite the ongoing pandemic. It was a scary time for us because we didn't know for months how bad Covid would continue to be. But I was determined to come back to be able to physically propose to Hannah.

Upon arrival to the Philippines, my friends and I hatched a plan to surprise her near Adventist University of the Philippines, the school where we met. I had told her that I wanted to go see the school in Silang to revisit our old hangout spots. So I took her and a few friends on a short trip over from Manila to meet up where some other friends had decorations waiting. We blindfolded her and walked her to the candlelit path where I was waiting in front of a sign that said "Will you marry me", and the rest is history.

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The Dream Team

Full wedding coorindation by Altuz Events | Photography and videography by Rule of Thirds | Makeup by Juno Matata Makeup Artistry | Hairstyling by Mikay Marasigan | Prenup styling by Jeff Galang | Location: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar Bataan