Theirs was a love story made stronger by the hurdles they had to overcome from the beginning of their relationship more than two years ago to their wedding in Balesin less than two weeks ago.
The fact that it was raining hard in the beautiful island the entire day before their wedding until the wee hours of February 15 was quite symbolic of how Senator Francis "Chiz Escudero and Heart Evangelista weathered every storm in their relationship.
As fate would have it, it was sunshine all throughout the day and moonbeam all throughout the night of their wedding.
In his homily during the wedding ceremony, Father Jerry Orbos summarized the couple’s love story--succinctly, perfectly.
“How can two people from different worlds of showbiz and politics find each other? Could it be magic, destiny, God’s will? God brought you together for a reason,” intoned Father Jerry.
AGAINST ALL ODDS. It was no secret that the idea of their youngest daughter being romantically involved with the senator did not sit well with Heart’s parents right from the start.
Chiz stood his ground, maintaining that it was never a big issue between him and Heart even at the height of the controversy back in 2013.
He said in this exclusive interview, “Because quite the contrary, our relationship became stronger because of that.
"So it’s a challenge in our family, but not in our relationship.
“Because I’d like to count Heart as part of my family and her family as well.”
PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) had a one-on-one chat with Chiz and Heart six days before the couple’s Balesin wedding.
Heart admitted that she almost buckled down and had considered ending their relationship to save Chiz from the wrath of her parents.
“I tried to break up with him.
“I felt that I was doing him a favor.
“But we never fought about it,” Heart explained.
THE BEGINNING. Looking back at how their love story began, Chiz never thought that someone like Heart can love someone like him.
Admittedly, the 45-year-old senator knew that Heart’s ex-boyfriends from showbiz were all heartthrobs.
“I didn’t court her in the real sense of the word. Kasi parang ang kapal naman ng face ko.
“Liligawan ko siya baka biglang barahin ako. But it felt comfortable.
“Sabi nga nila, ang lalaki hindi magtatanong hangga’t alam nila na may 50/50 chance na ‘oo.’
"Hindi ka magtatanong na ‘hindi’ [ang sagot ng babae],” Chiz exclaimed with a laugh.
Little did he know that Heart, in her words, was “majorly crushing” on him way back in 2007.
Apparently, she was blown away by the senator’s simplicity the very first time she saw him in person at a restaurant in Bonifacio Global City.
Fast forward to May 2012, Chiz and Heart finally had the chance to get to know each other through the match-making antics of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
Senator Miriam convinced the Kapuso actress to try meeting eligible bachelors outside show business, and number one on her so-called list was Senator Chiz.
PLAYING HARD TO GET. It was the feisty lady senator who gave Heart’s number to Senator Chiz.
PEP asked: “Can you still remember your very first text exchange?”
Heart giddily related: “I remember it clearly: ‘Hi Heart! Do you know you’ve always been my idol?
“Because I saw you before in ABS. You were waiting for your car.
“Anyway, I got a text from Miriam and I was wondering if I can call you, dot dot dot.”
Heart didn’t want to look overeager to a potential suitor so she didn’t reply to his text message and neither did she answer his call that day.
“Sabi ng friend niya ‘wag muna siya tumawag, then after five minutes tumawag para kunwari hindi halata.
“On the other line naman, nung tumatawag siya, si Lovi [Poe] naman ang sabi, ‘Huwag mo muna sasagutin para hindi masyadong halata!’
“So hindi ko sinasagot. And then I remember nag-take pa ako ng eksena nun so sabi ko sige patagalin ko ng kaunti,” Heart fondly recalled.
As Heart was playing hard to get, he was already regretting his decision to send her a text message first.
“Nung hindi siya sumagot, minumura ko na yung kaibigan ko.
"‘Sinabi ko na sa ‘yo dapat tumawag na agad, e!” Chiz recalled with amusement.
In the end, Heart revealed to Chiz about her long-time crush on him when they were already together for two years.
They officially became a couple on July 31, 2012.
PRIVATE WEDDING. As public figures, they never really kept their relationship a secret from the public.
But the couple opted to exchange I do’s in a very exclusive for-members-only resort in Balesin, Quezon, because they wanted it to be intimate and laid back with only over two hundred guests—a small number given their stature in their respective fields of career.
According to their Balesin coordinator Jen Lim, the couple’s vision of their wedding was no more than “just chill.”
As early as February 12, the couple flew to Balesin for the last-minute preparation as well as for some ultimate bonding time for their family and relatives.
Then on February 14, most of the couple’s guests who arrived were part of the entourage and some close friends who joined Heart’s 30th birthday celebration cum despedida de soltera.
Heart and Chiz partied with their loved ones until past midnight of February 15, hours before their wedding at four in the afternoon that day.
Set in a garden by the beach, everyone anticipated that moment when Heart would finally walk down the aisle for the ceremony.
Heart, who actually reserved seats for her parents at the wedding reception’s presidential table, probably hoped that her parents might just show up on the last minute.
But when they didn’t, the 30-year-old Kapuso star still managed to walk solo without shedding tears.
Indeed, she looked every inch the happy bride when she was met at the altar by her beloved.
THE VOWS. In her vows, Heart declared that her love for Chiz is far greater than any difficulties they would ever come across.
“Thank you so much for loving me. Thank you for making me feel like fighting for me and for our love was easy.
“For you, I would do it a thousand times over.
“I love you and I will love you forever with all my heart,” said a part of Heart’s tear-jerking wedding vows.
Chiz, on the other hand, made the guests laugh as he talked about how much Heart adores him.
He partly stated: “Napapatunayan kong mahal mo talaga ako tuwing sinasabi mong gwapo ako.
"Yung nagmamahal lang talaga sa akin ang makakasabi nun.
“Thank you for giving me the time of day, for giving me another chance to love, to be loved, to live, and to believe again.
“You are my first my only one true love and you are and you will be the last.”
Watch GMA Network’s two-part special coverage of Senator Chiz Escudero and Heart Evangelista’s Balesin wedding on March 1 and 8.