Proposals That Pop

Earvin and Jirah - A Pleasant Surprise

Don't let the pandemic stop you from proposing–Earvin

For former schoolmates turned workmates turned couple Earvin Ong and Jirah Bonsay, a pandemic is no reason to stop your marriage plans. Earvin first planned to propose in 2019 and then adjusted his plans to mid-2020, and he wisely used the time in quarantine to get himself ready for the next step of marriage as he planned his proposal to Jirah.

Jirah says she had a bit of an idea that something special would be happening on October 29, 2020, since the 29th is their monthsary and Earvin’s accomplices made her slightly suspicious. But Jirah let it go and didn’t pry.

Earvin proposed at the Bonsay home and he requested for Jirah’s workmates to call on a meeting to distract her as he and her family prepared downstairs. Earvin then join the zoom call and asked her to meet him downstairs, and that’s when he popped the question in front of her family and yes, still on the zoom call.

Related: WATCH Love Wins Live Forum - The New Normal Wedding Checklist

I felt like I was floating as everything was unfolding in front of me, one by one. It was a joy for me to connect everything and see it happen as I figured it out. But of course I didn’t really figure everything out and that made it even better. Seeing Earvin downstairs really made me excited and I was just thinking, ‘This is it!’” says Jirah.

Earvin wrote down everything he wanted to tell Jirah in a letter, of course except for the magic question “Will you marry me?” And he advises men who’re planning to propose to plan ahead, ask for her parents’ blessing, prepare a back up plan, and pray. “Don’t let the pandemic stop you from proposing–but of course follow safety protocols.”

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Proposals That Pop

Arvin and Kathy - Beating the Odds

Arvin Bautista and Kathy Cua met as officemate but their love story, all the way up to their proposal, was riddled with many hurdles. Only two years after meeting did they start a friendship. And after two attempts at courting did Kathy agree to accept Arvin as a suitor. As Arvin says in the interview below, it was likely because their journey toward the altar took years, many tears, and prayers that a mere three day preparation for his proposal seemed apt. Kathy was planning to meet her friends on the weekend and Arvin says, “I can’t say that there was any inspiration for the proposal, it was just the perfect timing to turn a random Saturday meetup to something a bit more special.

Read below how this couple overcame the differences of their cultural background.

How did you become a couple?

Arvin: Kathy and I met as officemates in 2012 but the relationship started off on the wrong foot. It took two years of us being officemates until we actually became friends. As we started doing the same activities–travelling, attending church–our friendship grew. I’ve always cared about Kathy but never thought about pursuing her because of the difference in cultural background. But two years ago, I decided to give it a try and see where it goes. She said no to me twice when I asked if I could court her, but on April Fools 2018, she said Yes. Our courtship had a very rough start because of the cultural background–there were tough conversations, lots of crying, and uncertainty if we’ll ever get to really be a couple. Thankfully, we had a handful of married couples who helped us. Their advice, wisdom, and prayers, helped us to navigate the challenges that we faced along the way.

What made you feel that it was the perfect time to pop the question?

Arvin: Because of the pandemic, the only place we could meet was when I would visit their house. This opened up opportunities to interact more with her family, especially her parents. The lockdown also forced some classes to be available online so I was able to take up learning Fookien which improved my interaction with her parents. We were able to celebrate birthdays in their house, which made me feel like I could start asking for her parents’ permission to marry Kathy. Thankfully, her mom and dad gave their blessing, and this was the moment I was sure that I would ask her to marry me.

How did it all happen?

Arvin: On the morning of the proposal, I had the bouquet of flowers delivered at my house. In the meantime, Kathy’s friend went to True Boss early to setup balloons and pretend it was the store's anniversary and even asked the store crew to pose in the spot where I should be proposing. I tried memorizing what I was going to say, but felt like I would end up forgetting it. So, I wrote it down in a letter–I know that she appreciates written letters so this would be something she’ll like to keep. 

When I arrived, they were already seated near the door beside the balloon decorations. I had a bouquet in one hand and a mini tripod with my phone on the other hand recording the video. The security guard in the establishment opened the door for me as I entered, the song from Something in the Rain played, and that’s when Kathy turned around and saw me. After removing my mask and sanitizing my hands, we stood beside the balloon decors and I read my letter for her. I knelt down on one knee and asked her the words I didn’t think I could ever ask her, “Will you marry me?” 

She said “Yes”, hugged me and we started taking photos. We video chatted with some of the important people for us, and some people dropped by to congratulate us. Some may say that the planning and execution for the proposal was very short, I only did it in three days, but from our journey as a couple, we’ve shed many tears, and prayed for years, that this moment would come.

Kathy: It was a normal Saturday for me. I had planned to meet with two of my friends at a tea store. There was nothing out of the ordinary for me even as they have requested a color-coordinated outfit and that there was balloon setup for the store's anniversary. And so when Arvin arrived at the venue, I was surprised me to see him that day. As soon as I realized phone cameras were out and were focused on us, it dawned on me that this may be a proposal. As Arvin went down on his knees, I already knew what I wanted to say! I have been waiting for this day for a very long time.

Proposals That Pop

Dinner is Served

Charlie and Mae’s Anniversary Special

How do you surprise someone you can never surprise? Charlie Grifaldo pondered this long and hard when he sought to propose to JC Mae Navarro Antonio. In the end, the simpler way proved to be the most effective way.

Prior to the day, the groom-to-be already met with Mae’s parents to discuss his proposal plans. Both parents were thrilled at the news and immediately gave their stamp of approval. Charlie then proceeded to reach out to Mae’s best friend to assist with organizing the big event.


On the afternoon of August 3, 2018, Charlie invited his sweetheart to celebrate their fifth anniversary with a romantic dinner at Antonios, Tagaytay. The restaurant took on the feel of a sanctuary as the pair pretty much had the place to themselves. A server led them to a table by the window where the cool breeze wafted in and they were treated to a serene garden view. However, the nervous Charlie had to take a quick restroom break for a couple of deep breaths in order to compose himself.

“As I went back to the table,” Charlie said, “I felt like I was walking towards my future.”

Just as the couple started with their salad course, a server who was in on the grand plan approached the two to offer to take their photos. It was then that Charlie knelt in front of Mae, which felt to him like a movie scene in slow motion. All he could see was her face and all he could hear was her voice. He spent many sleepless nights working on his big spiel, but at the moment, all he could muster was, “I love you. Will you marry me?”

Mae responded with a resounding “Yes!” and the newly engaged pair proceeded to have their most delightful dinner yet.


Proposals That Pop

An Engaging Errand

Lyle and Julia’s Surprise Stopover

Lyle Apalisok and Julia Villostas’ love story was blessed since the beginning. The pair met at church and became friends, but it took years before they became a couple. According to Lyle, “I can really testify that love at His sight is better than love at first sight.” That gradual blooming of their love gave Lyle the confidence and assurance that their relationship was ready for the next level, so the proposal planning officially began.

When Julia’s sister and brother-in-law arrived from abroad, Julia joined them for a mani-pedi to be followed in the evening by a dinner with their family. Afterwards, they headed to the house of her “brother-in-law’s friend” to pick up a package. Unbeknownst to Julia, this was actually a rented house that Lyle had decorated especially for the occasion.

The group arrived, and Julia was convinced to come to the house for a lookaround. She entered the backyard and found it filled with candles and rose petals. When she entered the house, she noticed the hanging photographs and all the sunflowers, her favorite blooms. That was when Lyle appeared to ask for her hand in marriage.

Their family and friends were overjoyed, and the engagement was sealed with a prayer to bless the blissfully engaged couple. The celebration continued with a celebratory dinner at their proposal venue.


Proposals That Pop

A Piece of History

Ash and Thea’s Period Proposal

There may be a lot of naysayers for long-distance relationships, but Elvin Ashley Agustin and Thea Marie Pias’ nine-year LDR status is living testament that true love finds ways. With the groom-to-be based in Hawaii and his love living in the Philippines, Ash has made it a point to try and return to Manila every year for Thea’s birthday. While it wasn’t always smooth sailing, the effort he put in certainly paid off. Ash was ready to pop the question.

Taking his beloved’s appreciation for travel and history, the groom-to-be decided on a getaway to a historic location. Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is a collection of restored Spanish-Filipino houses in Bataan that reflects the architecture of a bygone era. The proposal plan was six months in the making, and Ash admitted that the experience was nerve wracking. The five-hour drive felt like forever!


After checking in to their destination at noon and taking a little walk, the pair decided to retire back to their accommodations to rest after the long drive. Ash managed to excuse himself on the guise of having a look around and snuck off to the in-house photo studio that he was already in contact with to finalize the plan. When he got back to the house, Ash informed a giddy Thea that they were scheduled to have a photoshoot. The bride-to-be was equally surprised and delighted that they were to don traditional garb for the shoot.

The pair and the camera crew walked to several different sites to get various backdrops. Ash had a challenging time posing as his costume pants were tight and made concealing the ring box difficult. But Thea was distracted enough by the posing to notice what was coming. Finally, the group reached a stunning part of the property that featured a view of a mansion in the background. The photographer instructed Ash to kneel for a more romantic pose, and that’s when he made his proposal!

The newly engaged pair spent the rest of the evening wining and dining to celebrate.


Proposals That Pop

A Love That Soars

Jake and Sam Fly High

As professional pilots, Anthony Jake Chanco and Samantha Bachini both know what it feels like to glide, starry-eyed up in the sky. And it was that amazing feeling that Jake had in mind when he organized his proposal to his sweetheart on their third year as a couple. The two met and fell in love during their time in flight school, and they used to fly together frequently. However, working for different companies didn’t give them a lot of “air time” together. It became Jake’s mission to remedy that for their anniversary celebration.

With the assistance of Sam’s best friends and cousin, Jake arranged for him and Sam to fly from Plaridel Airport in Bulacan to Subic for lunch after the groom-to-be’s morning flight with some students. This was in line with their usual tradition of going out of town for their anniversaries. He positioned GoPro cameras inside their plane to document the entire event. The pair had a relaxed Subic lunch date and even enjoyed some coffee afterwards, while Jake subtly awaited the signal of his team back in Plaridel for them to fly back. Finally, the pair took to the sky once more. It was the arrival of the sunset that Jake was aiming for them to catch. Because Sam loves sunsets, he wanted them to share the especially glorious view from 3,000 feet where the sky glowed golden.


Approaching Malolos, Bulacan (an entry for landing in Plaridel), Jake gave his sweetheart full control of the plane to land and taxi back to Plaridel Airport. As they got back, they received instructions from the control tower to “park at any convenient parking bay.”

When they reached the main ramp, tarpaulin posters asked The Question and instructed Sam to park either left or right, depending on her answer. The pair was greeted by Jake’s co-conspirators as they descended the plane, and Jake handed Sam a bouquet of flowers before getting down on bended knee to formally present the engagement ring to a tearful but thrilled Sam.

The feels? It’s just like flying, even without wings.

Proposals That Pop

The Playdate

Alfonso and Erica’s Glorious Game Night

Some folks play the game for the glory, while others play for love. When Alfonso Luis Paulino started planning his proposal to his One True Love, Erica Regine Reyes, he sought to bring together special memories from early on in their relationship and a whole lot of excitement from their mutual love of games. The milestone of choice? Batangas in 2007, where the pair officially dated and became a couple. For the proposal venue, it was a board game cafe that would set the stage for the big surprise.

Two months after he first started organizing the big event, it was game time. Alfonso had previously called his and Erica’s family and friends, swearing them to secrecy about what was to come. E-vites followed with instructions for them to arrive at exactly 6 pm and to tell the server that their reservations were for the mysterious Mr. Echo. This would give Alfonso, Erica, and all the other participants in the proposal enough time to settle in and start playing with the board games. The crafty groom-to-be even orchestrated a faux promotional shoot for the cafe in order to get the photographer and videographer crews inside the establishment and all set up without arousing suspicion. He also arranged to have a curtained area for him to hide in right before popping the question.


Using the same shirt and perfume he wore during their first date back in 2007, Alfonso picked up Erica and proceeded to the veranda of the cafe. Their three friends arrived soon after and strategically chose the Exploding Kittens game to be able to shorten or lengthen their play time to keep up with the schedule. Once Alfonso got the go-signal at 6 pm via text from his mom that all their guests had arrived, he excused himself from their group to go to the washroom. Then the song “Take My Breath Away” by Emma Bunton began to play, the same song that was playing during their 2007 date.

A server approached Erica to present her with a Toy Story puzzle game that would earn her a prize if she solved it. After finishing the puzzle, her reward was a Starbucks bottle with a note inside an Army of 2 Playstation game cover that the pair had previously completed. It read, “PLAYER 1 HAS ENTERED - LUIS. Are you ready PLAYER 2? Press Start to Level up. Est.3,874 days ago.”

As she read the note, the couple’s nieces and nephews instructed the curious Erica to head to the first floor of the cafe. Once she took her spot in front of the curtain, Alfonso surprised her with the famous Toy Story line, “To Infinity and Beyond!” written on his back. The couple’s nearest and dearest entered the venue behind her, and the groom-to-be gave his speech as he pulled out a ring box with a Mario and Princess Peach sticker on it and popped the question to the ecstatic Erica.

The boyfriend and girlfriend have now leveled up into soon-to-weds! MO

Proposals That Pop

Tokyo Time

Kane and Erine’s Tokyo Time

The summer of 2018 proved to be a fruitful getaway for Kane Dayrit and Erine Garcia. It was a Japanese jaunt for the sweethearts as they visited popular haunts in Tokyo. On May 5, the couple filled their tummies in Tsukiji Market, joined the controlled chaos of the Shibuya Crossing, and marveled at the bustling streets of Omotesando.

An architect by profession, Erine also took the time to appreciate the modern architecture of the city. She set her sights, in particular, on the Dior Homme flagship store that was designed by one of her favorite architectural firms.
With its gleaming glass facade that glows at night, the imposing edifice did not disappoint.


What was already a dream come true for Erine turned all the more magical. It was then that Kane felt that perfect timing factor, choosing then and there to get down on bended knee to pop the question. His bride said yes, and their radiant smiles practically matched the summer sunshine.

Proposals That Pop

Come Fly with Me

Floating in the clouds with BRYAN and MONIQUE

IT WAS BACK IN September 2016 that JONATHAN BRYAN SALCEDO announced to his best friend that he would be proposing to his love, MONIQUE ASHLEY MARTINEZ, in between their birthdays in February 2017. It would be a tricky achievement for Bryan as it was imperative that Monique be completely surprised by his move and her family had to be there to celebrate the special occasion with them.

This prompted Bryan and his friends to think up a proposal that would be “high in the sky”, literally. So the groom-to-be coordinated with the professional paragliding pilots at Paragliding Philippines to achieve a proposal 1,000 feet above ground. He worked closely with the company to develop the plan, down to the contingencies to make sure that all bases were covered.


Came the big day, the couple’s group of friends gathered in Carmona under the guise of free passes to a paragliding session. Unbeknownst Monique, everyone else in their party was already in on the plan and had already been briefed on what was to follow. The plan of six parachutes in the air had to cut down to three due to wind conditions, but Bryan was prepared for Plan B. The couple got on separate parachutes and while midflight, Bryan showed Monique a tarp that said “Will you marry me?”

At first Monique didn’t even believe it, asking if Bryan was serious in his proposal. To which Bryan cheekily replied, “Bakit, ayaw mo ba?” And the bride-to-be said yes. Bryan landed first and Monique’s pilot landed her in front of him, at which time he fished the ring from his pocket, went down on bended knee and proposed, all of which happened while there were petals falling from the sky. Undoubtedly, Bryan took Monique’s breath up, up, and away!


Proposals That Pop

Overseas & Overjoyed

ONJU and NADINE’s Persistent Love

THE STORY STARTS WHEN ONJU REYES and NADINE CUISIA first met at a community retreat back in 2002. According to the groom, his future bride already caught his eye. However, the timing wasn’t quite right as his friend was actually courting Nadine. But as fate would have it, they became close friends anyway.

It was 2004 when Onju left for Canada...for good. Though their story seemed just about over, technology and social media made frequent communication between the pair possible. Fast forward to 2013: Nadine started flying internationally for the country’s flag carrier airline. That gave her the opportunity to travel to different countries, and the two arranged to meet in Toronto two years later during a flight layover.


While 11 years went by without Onju and Nadine being physically present for each other, that continuous communication cemented their bond. Meeting in person only helped to strengthen Onju’s realization that he and Nadine would be a match made in heaven. So when she got back to Manila from that layover flight, Onju sent her a series of text messages detailing the slow and steady building of his feeling for her over the years. It then took a month of courtship to finally win Nadine’s heart, and the pair was officially a couple!

Their romance culminated on August 23, 2015, in a land far, far away from where the whole thing started: San Francisco! Nadine and her son, Nate, were in the Golden Gate locale with family and friends. Little did she know that Onju flew in the same day she did! That sunny Sunday afternoon found Nadine and Nate at her sister Meggy’s party. After 5pm, Nadine heard the roar of a jet plane’s engine and looked up to see “I <3 YOU NADINE. WILL YOU MARRY ME?”

After a moment’s pause, it dawned on her that the writing on the sky was no coincidence. It was Onju’s proposal! To top it all off, she was so surprised to find Onju standing right behind her with a bouquet of flowers and a box of her favorite chocolates. Onju proceeded to sing and dance to Bruno Mars’ Marry You to Nadine, and her sister, brother-in-law and cousins started dancing behind him in flash mob fashion. (Yes, even the choreography was done through different cities, from Toronto, New York, and San Francisco!) It’s finally official, they were engaged! Their love conquered time and distance. Their love prevailed.