February 16, 2014

Love, Filipino style



“We wrote letters all the time for one year when he came back to the U.S.,” Norma said.

They chose to wait two years to marry. Art didn’t last. In February 1975, he wrote a very strong proposal in a letter. Weeks went by without a response from Norma.

“My niece and her first cousin were high school students,” Art said. “They decided to write. They said, ‘Uncle Art is no fun anymore. You have to answer him.’ Lo and behold, she answered. She said if you show up I will marry you. So apparently my letters had been waylaid by weather. She didn’t get them until the same time my niece wrote.”

By that time, Art had a temporary reading job at Northeastern Clinton but there were two part-time openings for a driver-education instructor and a math instructor. Art received his certification in driver education in June after completing a two-week course at Ithaca College.

He flew to the Philippines on July 1, 1975.


The Rev. Thomas Gabio united them in holy matrimony on Anhawan Beach at 7 a.m. July 27. A reception followed.

A new bishop required them to get married in the Oton, Iloilo, parish church, also. In the afternoon, Art and  Norma were married by Father Leyon, a former New York City resident and a huge Yankees fan.

“The first hour, they talked about the Yankees,” Norma said.

She waited patiently and listened about the exploits in the cathedral of baseball but she eventually got her groom and the priest to focus on the matter at hand: the wedding ceremony.


The newlyweds were in Mooers by Aug. 26, 1975. Since none of the groom’s family could attend the wedding abroad, they married for the third time Oct. 11, 1975.

In the Philippines, Art was best man at his Peace Corps buddy Jerry Hilliard’s wedding to Marie, a Filipina, in January 1972. Jerry was his best man in Mooers. Art’s letter-writing niece, Karen, was Norma’s maid of honor.

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