Jano Gonzales and Marianne Rios were led to each other’s paths by their love for art. They met at the University of the Philippines as Fine Arts students. They were both editorial cartoonists at the school publication, Philippine Collegian. He was her editor and their friendship developed over many discussions on the state of the world and how best to translate it into an editorial cartoon.
It would take years before romance blossomed between the two. In 2008, Jano founded Gerilya, an artist collective, with two other Fine Arts comrades, and Mar would also join the group. They create comics, street art, graffiti animation, accepts commissioned works and organizes art exhibitions. They’re known for works that are “political, socio-cultural, and historical.”
Jano and Mar have had their share of adventures as street artists, says Mar. “Nandiyang nalaglag si Jano sa hagdanan habang nagpipinta sa kalsada. Pumapanhik kami ng scaffolding. Walang nagpapasakay na taxi sa amin kasi ang dumi namin at may mga bitbit na pintura,” she recalls.
Philippine arts and culture have been a part of their life as a couple over the last 10 years, which is why when they decided to take their relationship to the next level, they made it the theme of their wedding.
But first, the wedding proposal. On Jano’s birthday last April 12, he went the extra mile by taking Mar to a private parking lot in Parañaque somewhere near NAIA. “Sabi [ni Jano], meron daw kaming meeting with a client because we’re doing a mural in a parking lot,” she recalls. “Tapos nagulat ako na pinapasakay na ako ng mga tao doon sa helicopter.”
Mar had no inkling they were flying to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan, the theme park and resort known for its collection of Philippine heritage houses. She previously mentioned to Jano how she’s long wanted to visit the place because of the artworks there. So when the helicopter landed at the tourist destination, “it felt unreal.” She told him, “Ang bongga ng birthday mo ha.”
Jano then asked her, “Ano, ready ka na?”
Mar thought he was asking if she was ready for a selfie-taking spree around Las Casas. But then he knelt down and brandished a skull ring. A skull, Jano told her, symbolizes a man’s readiness to face a new chapter in his life. “Pwede na ba tayong magpakasal?” he asked. Without hesitation, Mar said, “Oo naman.”
When word got out about the engagement and the modern Filipiniana theme of the wedding, artist-friends began volunteering their services for the occasion. “It became like an exhibit na ang tema ay wedding,” says Mar, totally pleased with the outcome.
The couple collaborated with fellow Gerilya Nico Zapanta in designing their black-and-gold invitations. Nico created the intricate patterns, Jano did the wedding portrait, and Mar took charge of the layout.
Seven of their artist-friends—Mclen Talento, Dan Dinopol, Carlo Tobias, Ysa Calinawan, Ashley Garcia, RD Aliposa, and Ianna Engaño—made the couple’s portraits displayed at Enderun Atrium, where both nuptials and wedding reception were held.
Cake Tree Manila collaborated with CCP Thirteen Artists 2021 Awardee Gino Bueza in making the wedding cake which had colorful brush strokes. Among the giveaways were especially-made rugs that had “habambuhay” written in baybayin—a collaboration between Gerilya and Filipino contemporary artist Indya Gokita.
Bad Student made risograph prints out of the Filipiniana-themed art painted by the bride and groom. And as gift to their principal sponsors, taka or papier-mâché figures of a precolonial Filipino couple were personally handpainted by Jano and Mar.
The architect-turned-event stylist Anton Arcellana of Arkitierra Botanika put all the elements together. The venue’s walls were covered in Filipiniana-themed toile, adding an old world vibe to the venue. “We came up with conceptual imagery showing icons depicting tagpuan, suyuan, ligawan and harana. Each icon was beautifully illustrated with love by Gerilya,” says Antón. He incorporated mango and sampaguita in the design elements. Mango leaves strung along doorways, he says, are believed to symbolize good luck and prosperity. Sampaguita, meanwhile, is a Spanish term which originates from the Filipino words “sumpa kita,” meaning “I promise you.” Which is why this flower has become a symbol of hope, love, purity, devotion, dedication, strength and fidelity.
Jano dressed the part, with a barong he personally handpainted with Pinoy pop culture symbols. Mar kept her gown in traditional white, with terno sleeves and sampaguita accents.
Mar says their wedding is not only a celebration of their union but also of the beauty of Filipino culture. “Just like what we do in Gerilya, where we want to instill nationalism thru art, we wanted to showcase our being Filipino as a wedding theme,” she offers. “We wanted our wedding to be an extension of our love not just for each other, but also our love for our country and our identity as Filipinos.”
Photos courtesy of Jano and Marian Gonzales