He sent her beautiful love letters and roses, and showed up at the hospital where she worked in the middle of the night to bring her snacks.
That is how Dr. Marilyn Dalisay Marañon remembers the way Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo “Freddie” Marañon Jr. courted her after he first set eyes on her at the University of the East-Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, where she was a fourth year medical student in 1966.
Marilyn, who is from Romblon, says she was on duty when a very ill Alfredo Marañon Sr. was admitted to the hospital and she was tasked with writing down information about his condition for the consultant who would attend to him.
His son, Alfredo Jr., came to visit and spotted the then 25-year-old Marilyn to whom he would be introduced at a dinner party soon after.
When she first met her Freddie, who is six years older than her, he was wearing a maroon polo shirt, had a flat top hair cut, and his face was shiny, she says.
He was a civil engineer who had graduated from De La Salle in Manila and was doing surveying work on a property for sale in Toboso town in Negros Occidental, and would go out to sea on his family’s fishing vessels, which explained the shiny face, she says.
Marilyn says she was attracted to Freddie because he studied at a Catholic school and had a religious background, and was quiet but caring.
BOARD EXAM FIRST
“I had a feeling he was the man I would marry but also said I would not get married until I passed the medical board exam,” she says.
Freddie took her to see the Johnny Mathis show, on dinner and lunch dates, and when she worked late at night, he would show up with snacks, or would bring her roses, she says.
He lived in Negros but often came to visit.
When he travelled to other places, he wrote her beautiful love letters describing what he saw, and telling her he wished she were with him, she says.
Marilyn passed the medical board in February 1967 and married Freddie on June 17, 1967 at the Immaculate Concepcion Church in Cubao. They went to Tokyo, Japan, one of the places he had described to her in his love letters, for their honeymoon.
After their marriage, the couple moved to Negros and it was only then that Marilyn learned that her husband was a Sagay City councilor. He would later become mayor of Sagay City, a congressman, and is currently governor of Negros Occidental.
She says her husband has remained a caring man who puts a lot of value on keeping their family together, despite his being a workaholic.
He is always thinking of other people and how he can find new ways to provide livelihood opportunities, she says.
Her husband is the kind of person who, if he had only P1 in his pocket, would give it away if somebody was in need of help, she says.
Despite her husband’s dedication to public service, she has romantic memories of their life together, Marilyn says.
“One of the most romantic moments in our married life was spending one of our anniversaries in El Nido, Palawan.” They went kayaking in the big lagoon, swimming, snorkeling and fed the fish, she says.
Other romantic moments were when they viewed Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower at midnight and watched the sunset from the Boardwalk in Vera Cruz, Mexico as they sipped the best coffee ever, Marilyn says.
Today, Marilyn, 71, and Freddie, 77, have seven children and 15 grandchildren.
Marilyn says she and Freddie were disciplinarians; they did not spoil their children with money. But she says Freddie, whose eyes light up at the sight of his grandchildren, is a doting grandfather.
Their children are Anna Marie, a neonatal ICU nurse specialist in San Diego, California, who is married to Todd McConchie; Aileen, a neonatal ICU nurse specialist in Los Angeles, who is married to Dr. Armand Lontoc; Rep. Alfredo Marañon III, a marine biologist, who is married to Dr. Fe Rodriguez;
Agnes, a businesswoman with a degree in commerce, major in entrepreneurship, from Assumption College, who is married to Takayuki Iida of Nagoya, Japan; Carmela, a dialysis nurse, married to Patrick Valderrama of Bacolod City; Dr. Anthony Marañon, who works in Norwalk, Connecticut, and is married to Dr. Cathy Robillo; and Arthur Marañon, a farmer and aquaculturist, who is married to lawyer Charisse Hiponia of Bacolod City.
He will spend Valentine’s Day with his wife and grandchildren, Freddie says.
Freddie says he fell in love with Marilyn because of her simplicity and her quiet grace, calling her a typical provinciana. She does not brag, she is not pretentious, he adds.
“Love is a many splendored thing,” is how he describes his life with Marilyn.*