40 years ago Rodel Rodis and Edna Austria got married

Rodel and Edna at their wedding 40 years ago in Daly City. Facebook photos

By Loida Nicolas Lewis

On Sunday, July 28, 2019, Rodel and Edna (née Austria) Rodis celebrated their 40 years of marriage at Colma Community Center in California.

Around 200 guests attended the renewal of marriage vows with Father Rey Culaba officiating, this time with their three adult sons Carlo, 33; Daniel, 30; and Eric, 27,  acting as groomsmen. I flew in from New York to attend and asked Rocio Casimiro-Nuyda, my high school classmate, to join the festivities having been invited also by Rodel.

As a background, let me recount Rodel’s community leadership.

In 1971, the young student activist Rodel arrived on the West Coast because his father exiled him to San Francisco to avoid Ferdinand Marcos’s tightening noose on student leaders. He finished college at San Francisco State University and graduated with a law degree from New College of California in 1978. He opened a law practice and became a successful immigration lawyer. As a lawyer, he continued his fight for good governance, social justice and equality for his fellow Filipinos in the Philippines and in the United States. He led rallies in front of the Philippine Consulate during the Martial Law years.

In 1979, Rodel married Edna, who had graduated a year earlier from the University of California San Francisco Nursing School. She recently retired after 42 years as a registered nurse.

Renewing their vows last month. With their three sons Carlo, Daniel, and Eric.

In 1987, Rodel was appointed by then Mayor Art Agnos to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the first FilAm to be appointed in the city government. Rodel was elected to the San Francisco Community College Board and served for several years from 1991 to 2009.

In 1997, Rodel Rodis with Alex Esclamado (now deceased), Michael Dadap, and yours truly founded the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) while we were meeting in my office of TLC Beatrice International in New York. The goal was to represent the interests of Filipinos in the USA and to fight for good governance and true freedom for Filipinos in the Philippines. Greg Macabenta was elected National Chair a few years later, and millennial Brendan Flores currently holds the position.

In 2010, after attending the inauguration of President Noynoy Aquino at the Luneta, Rodel together with several members of the campaign US Pinoys for Noynoy/Mar, formed the US Pinoys for Good Governance. From the start, Rocio Nuyda and six others were elected as board members.

In 2012, Rodel Rodis, Ted Laguatan and I founded the Global Filipino Diaspora Council (Rodel created the name) during the Global Summit in Manila sponsored by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas headed then by Imelda Nicolas, my sister. Greg and his wife Gigi, Ted and his wife Josie, Rocio, Michael and I were among the 200 well-wishers at the Center.

One of the highlights of the wedding reception was classical guitarists duo Michael Dadap and Florante Aquilar. They played a spirited rendition of “Kuratsa,” a Filipino courtship dance. “Romansa de Amor” is the couple’s all-time favorite. They concluded with an inspired rendition of “Sa Kabukiran,” a Visayan folk song.

After the fabulous entertainment, Rodel talked about that wedding held on July 23, 1979 in Daly City. He told us about Nelson Navarro, his activist colleague during the Martial Law years, who  spoke during the reception about the Filipino myth of Bathala (God) breaking sticks into two and throwing them in different directions. It is our human task, he said, to find the other part of the stick so we can be brought together in life. That is why our life partner in Filipino is called our “Kabiyak.”

In their wedding in 1979, Edna’s Filipiniana bridal gown was completely embroidered (callado) by hand. That night, it was exhibited at the entrance of the hall looking as new as ever.

Like any Filipino affair, the reception would be concluded with all-night dancing. Music was provided by a trio of musicians playing the disco sounds of the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Time does fly when you are having fun.

© The FilAm 2019

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