|Genaro “Lim-ao” Alvarez Jr. and his then girlfriend, Dolly, who met when they were 17 in the summer of 1960*
“Some enchanted evening
When you find your true love,
When you feel her call you
Across a crowded room,
Then fly to her side,
And make her your own”
The lyrics are from the song, “Some Enchanted Evening,” from the 1949 Rogers and Hammerstein musical "South Pacific", and for Dolly Kho Alvarez, they best describe the night she first met the man she would fall in love with, marry, and father their three children.
Dolly was 17 and she had just been chosen queen of Kabankalan in southern Negros Occidental in the summer of 1960.
“It was not a beauty contest. It was a tradition that only a Kabankalanon could become the fiesta queen, and that the queen’s family could afford to spend for the coronation gown,” Dolly says.
However, the coronation night was postponed because there was a typhoon, but the guests were already in town, so the mayor, Sofronio Cordova, hosted a party at his residence.
Dolly says that, from across the crowded room, she saw a tall, lean and handsome teen whom she had not met before.
He then came across the room with the mayor’s nephew, Larry Cordova, who introduced him as Genaro “Lim-ao” Alvarez Jr.from Sipalay City.
The 17-year-old teen was the son ofGenaro Perez Alvarez and Mercedes Montilla Alvarez, who had both been mayors of Sipalay City, and who himself would grow up to become a board member, congressman and vice governorof Negros Occidental.
“We danced to the song ‘Some Enchanted Evening’. Later, I insisted that the song be our ‘theme song’ and Lim-ao agreed, to keep the peace,” Dolly says.
The two got to know each other, but soon Dolly had to go off to pursue her pharmacy degree at the Philippine Women's University in Manila, while Lim-ao went to the University of San Carlos in Cebu.
Dolly would write him two to three-page letters and he would send her telegrams in reply.
“There were no cell phones then. He could not call because, as a boarder inside the university, we were not allowed to use the phone except for calls to and from parents,” she explained.
After a year, Lim-ao moved to the University of the East that was nearer to the Feati Flying School where he was pursuing his private pilot license requirements.
Dolly says she fell for Lim-ao because he was different, he was not like the slick city boys she knew. He was straight to the point and blunt, and he had the endearing expressions of a country boywho had grown up in Sipalay, that made her laugh.
HAVING A CAR HELPED
“He spoke softly, and in a manner not common to urban young men. It helped that he had a car that time. Very few of the boys had one. My friends didn’t find him a braggart and pretentious. He was learning how to fly a plane, something that fascinated me,” Dolly says.
After graduation, Lim-ao went into farming in Kabankalan and Dolly contemplated accepting a U.S hospital training position with her other pharmacy friends.
But finally, she decided to teach at the Philippine Women’s College in Iloilo City, where she had finished her high school studies.
“Lim-ao and I got married after a year of teaching physics, algebra, and chemistry to high school and college students,” Dolly says.
Dolly says they were both 25 when they married on May 20, 1967 at the Bacolod Bishop’s House, and she wore a Joe Leonardia designed gown.
Their eldest son, GR, was born Sept. 10, 1968. John Paul came in 1971, and they didn’t plan to have another child but, after almost 12 years, Mercedes was born, Dolly says.
“Our joy was complete. We named her after my mother, Mercedes Coloso Kho and Lim-ao’s mother, Mercedes Montilla Alvarez,” she says.
GR and Mercedes became members of the House of Representatives, while John Paul became mayor of Ilog.
“Our three children call their father, in jest, ‘Lover Boy’ simply because we seem inseparable,” Dolly says.
GOOD FOR HIM
She says her husband is not demonstrative, but is full of surprises and is a good man.
“What you see is what you get, he has no pretenses, he's honest, he has a good heart and cares for others,” she says.
As for the vice governor, he says he married Dolly because he knew she would be good for him, and is as beautiful now as when he first met her.*