On January 27, 2009, rocker Jay Contreras and former child actress Sarah Abad surprised everybody when they defied tradition by having a wedding with a black-and-red color motif.
Photos of the offbeat affair at the St. Pancratius Chapel of Manila's Paco Park—along with prenuptial photos taken guerrilla style in a cemetery at the Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles City, Pampanga—quickly circulated on the Internet. The photos received mixed comments from bloggers who found them either "freakingly beautiful" or "very original."
"Nagulat na nga lang kami, nasa Internet na!" says the petite and bubbly Sarah when YES! interviews the couple in their present home at Teacher's Village in Quezon City.
Jay Contreras, 31, is the frontman of Kamikazee, the rock band credited with such hits as "Narda," "Seksi! Seksi!," and the remake of the Apo Hiking Society's "Doo Bidoo."
Sarah Abad, 22, appeared in such movies as Wanted: Perfect Father; Ika-11 Utos: Mahalin Mo, Asawa Mo; and Tunay na Magkaibigan, Walang Iwanan... Peksman, all made in 1994. The two met in 2002, when Sarah was a teenage girl of 16 and Jay was starting his music career at 24.
Back then, Jay's close friend, Parokya ni Edgar frontman Chito Miranda, was wooing Sarah's older sister, teen actress Kaye Abad. "Bale kasi ang sister ko, chini-chicks ni Chito," Sarah narrates, using swardspeak. "Si Ate, bino-boylet niya si Chito."
Sarah recalls that whenever Chito visited Kaye in the Abad family home in Imus, Cavite, he brought Jay along: "Lagi nila kaming niloloko—nina Chito and Ate—na, 'Uy, diyan ka na lang kay Jay.' Hindi nila akalain na magiging seryoso lahat."
Jay's innate humor and laid-back style appealed to Sarah. "Sobrang nagustuhan ko 'yong company niya, kasi masaya siyang kasama. Unlike other guys na show-off, todo-porma—siya, nakatsinelas lang."
The two became a couple that year, but the relationship lasted only a month. "Bata pa ako noon, ang layo ng age gap namin," says Sarah, who's eight years younger than Jay. "Iba ang takbo ng isip niya sa akin. Hindi kami magkasundo."
At that time, Jay had a lot on his mind, being a struggling rock musician whose band was putting together its first album, the self-titled Kamikazee.
Still, while leading separate lives, the two kept in touch. "Magkaibigan naman kasi kami even before naging kami," Sarah explains.
In the three years that followed the breakup, Jay had two other girlfriends, and Sarah had her own short-term relationships. "Pero nothing serious," she says. "Kasi, iba talaga company niya."
They got back together in 2005, the year before the release of Kamikazee's second album, Maharot, but soon found themselves facing a new problem: Jay got Sarah pregnant. And he didn't want to get tied down.
“Ang ganda ng love story namin, ano?” Jay cracks during the interview.
Though reluctant to get married, he was determined to stand by Sarah, who was then in college.
“Hindi ko naman naisip na takbuhan,” he says. “Noong time na sinabi namin sa magulang niya na buntis siya, humarap na ako. Umiyak ang mommy niya, kasi baby nila ito, e, bunso. Sinabi ko rin na kung magpapakasal kami, ’tapos mag-aaway lang kami, kawawa ’yong bata. Basta hindi ko naman pababayaan.”
Sarah’s mild-mannered father had a hard time accepting the situation. He refused to speak to Jay.
“Noong haharap na kami sa daddy niya,” Jay recalls, “tumawag ang mommy niya sa daddy niya. ‘Bakit? Magpapakasal ba?’ tanong ng daddy niya. Sabi ng mommy niya, ‘Hindi.’ ‘Wala kaming dapat pag-usapan,’ sabi ng daddy niya. Kaya hindi ako humarap muna.”
It was only after the birth of Kidlat Caio—on August 24, 2006—that the rocker established a normal relationship with Sarah’s father.
“Noong buntis siya, hindi kami nagkikita ng daddy niya pag nagpupunta ako doon,” says Jay. “Nagkita lang kami, noong galing kami ng ospital, dala namin ang anak ko. Kasama ko pati mga magulang ko… Noong una, ayoko pa sana. Baka ’kako awayin ako, ayoko namang madamay ang mga magulang ko. Pero sabi ni Chito, ‘Wala nang mas gaganda pang timing.’
Pagdating namin doon, may nakasabit pang ‘Welcome Home, Kidlat.’ Okey naman ang tatay niya. Magmula noon, okey na lahat.”
Though unmarried, Jay and Sarah tried to create a normal family environment for Kidlat. Jay would visit his little family in the Abad home whenever he was free. The three of them would also attend the birthday parties of their friends’ children as a family.
Meanwhile, other family members were reviving the issue of marriage. “Since 'pinanganak si Kidlat, hindi maiiwasan na pag-usapan,” Sarah says.
“Noong una, wala talagang plano. As in, wala. Kumbaga, ako, for Kidlat lang.”
Finally, around August last year, when Kidlat was about to turn a year old, Jay and Sarah sat down to discuss the matter—and decided to get married.
“Nag-mature na rin siguro kami,” Jay says. “Kami pala talaga, e. Naks!”