Ryan Agoncillo was so sure of his feelings for Judy Ann Santos that he could have asked the popular actress to marry him on the very first day they became lovers.
"So, if you're gonna ask me when I wanted to propose? It
would have been the first day of the relationship," Ryan candidly told Megastar
Sharon Cuneta in a special TV interview aired last night, July 6, on Sharon.
It took Ryan almost three years to pop the question, which he finally did at Juday's 30th birthday last May 11 at the Antulang Beach Resort in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. The engagement was witnessed by some of Judy Ann and Ryan's closest friends.
Instead of rushing things, Ryan opted to enjoy the relationship first while gradually discovering Judy Ann as a real person beyond the superstar façade.
"When we got together, ‘yon na. ‘Yon na yung decision ko, ‘Okay, let's try to make this work,' to try and make this a very lasting relationship. So, dahan- dahan na. It's a daily thing for me, it's a weekly thing for me, na kapag nakikita ko siya nabubuo ‘yong paniniwala ko na, ‘Yes, I can spend the rest of my life with this woman.' Pero dahan-dahan, so, nakakatuwa," Ryan related.
NO ORDINARY WOMAN. Courting and eventually hooking up with a Judy Ann Santos was never easy, or at least that's how most men perceived it. Ryan recalled having a huddle with broadcaster Julius Babao and Kim Atienza a few years back, and they discussed how difficult it might be for a guy to please a woman like Juday.
"Sila ‘yong mas problemado for me," Ryan recalled, "kasi sinasabi ni Julius, ‘Paano mo reregaluhan ‘yan? Ang hirap regaluhan niyan.'"
In truth, Ryan stressed that Judy Ann is very humble and unassuming—a rare trait, given Judy Ann's stature as one of the most popular actresses of her generation. But even Juday's unpretentious nature, according to Ryan, presented a problem of its own.
"Actually, hindi siya mahirap regaluhan," Ryan recalled explaining to both Julius and Kim. "Which in turn makes it din mahirap regaluhan kasi sa sobrang simple, kailangan siyempre gawin mong espesyal. So that was the challenge for me."
Undeterred, Kim fired back and said, "Bro, she's not an ordinary woman. ‘Pag binigyan mo ng singsing ‘yan, hindi lang ‘yan basta-basta."
Those words caught Ryan off guard and eventually haunted him as he was about to ask for the hand of Judy Ann.
THE RING. The story of the entire engagement was first relayed by the couple in the latest issue of YES! magazine.
To soothe his nerves, Ryan sought the help of closest friends in mapping out the engagement strategy. For the diamond ring, Ryan asked the assistance of Beth Tamayo's husband Johnny Wong. The ring was purchased in Hong Kong, with Johnny's cousin Cindy Kung as the negotiator between Ryan and the Chinese jeweler.
Afraid that he might not be able to contain himself, Ryan mentioned that he personally requested Beth Tamayo to safekeep the ring for him.
POPPING THE QUESTION. Together with their closest friends namely Beth Tamayo, director Dante Garcia, makeup artist Nonong Geronaga, and showbiz habitué Anna Dasig, Ryan and Juday were at the Antulang Beach on the eve of Juday's birthday—and everyone was waiting for the clock to strike 12.
For Ryan, choosing his girlfriend's actual natal day to propose marriage made a lot of practical sense.
"Parang I was thinking kung kailan ‘yong maximum fun for her na ‘yong proposal," he explained. The beach setting also helped a lot in setting up a romantic vibe.
Ryan first handed Juday with a gift, which was a book, wrapped simply and without fanfare.
"It's a book of Ploning. When I saw it, it's just wrapped in a white cartolina. Simpleng-simple, walang ribbon, walang ka-eklatan na dahon-dahon. Plain and simple white book," Juday quipped.
The Ploning book—published in black and white format was a collection of the film's behind-the-scenes photos taken by Ryan himself—was personally requested by Juday as a birthday present from her boyfriend.
"Before that, ipinakita na niya sa akin ‘yong colored version ng libro na napakaganda din. E, kaya lang, nai-submit na namin sa printer ‘yong black and white, so, for printing na kinabukasan," said Juday.
She thought that the book Ryan gave her was the colored version. "I was thinking na maybe this is the colored version, na first edition, sa akin niya ibibigay. ‘Yon lang talaga ‘yong nasa isip ko. 'Tapos nung binuksan ko, black and white pa rin."
Ryan then asked Juday to browse the book once more saying, "Baka may bago akong picture na nilagay, may isinulat ako diyan na hindi mo alam."
While feeling uncomfortable and puzzled by the presence of her friends' cameras, Juday continued browsing the book while Ryan pitched in frequently, "O, wala pa? Wala ka pang nakikita? Baka naman hindi mo talaga binabasa?"
Juday admitted feeling weird in the midst of leafing the book's pages, but getting a marriage proposal at that exact moment never occurred to her.
Toward the end of the book's pages, Ryan asked their friends to take pictures. "E, naka-pajama lang ako. Wala naman akong alam na special event. E, kung alam ko lang di sana nag-tube ako!" chuckled Juday.
The moment Judy Ann turned the last page, she was greeted by the question: "Will you marry me? –Ryan"
"Para akong sinabuyan ng tubig na malamig!" gushed Judy Ann.
Ryan confessed that he became more nervous while waiting for Juday's reply. "Coz there's always that chance that she would say no."
When Juday accepted his proposal, Ryan's next dilemma was the ring. "Hindi ko alam kung kukunin ko 'yong singsing, ilalagay ko sa kanya o kukunin niya 'tapos isusuot niya. ‘Yon pala, ako pala ang magsusuot 'tapos hindi ko alam kung sa kaliwa o kanan."
NO RUSH FOR MARRIAGE. Immediately after the engagement, Judy Ann gave her mother a phone call. Overwhelmed by the moment, Juday was crying when she informed her mom about the news.
Mrs. Carol Santos asked her daughter in alarm: "Bakit ka umiiyak?"
A sobbing Juday replied, "Kasi may nag-propose sa akin."
Upon her return here in Manila, Juday proudly showed the engagement ring and the book to her mother.
"Niyakap niya ako," recalled Juday. "Sabi niya, 'Kaya siguro inaatake ako ng insomnia ko kasi iiwan mo na ako.'"
At this point, only the engagement remains definite, not the exact wedding date. Ryan explained, "I wanted it to come from her, na she will sit me down and tell me what her plans are. ‘Pag narinig ko ‘yon kung mag-meet kami half-way, then at least narinig ko sa kanya. Kasi if I make suggestion at this point, at least narinig ko sa kanya."
Sharon asked the couple if they intend to have a baby right away after getting married.
"Hindi namin talaga pinaplano kung kelan agad magbi-baby," enthused Juday. "Pero nung kinausap namin si Mommy, ang main concern din ni Mommy is 'yong biological clock ko... 'Yon yung unang concern niya, kasi siyempre, 'yong lola, gustong magkaroon ng bagong apo din."
Juday added, "Kung darating, darating. Pero kung hindi naman, okay lang din."
Before the interview ended, Juday and Ryan pulled off their own question to the Megastar.
"Ate [Sharon] will you be our matron of honor?" asked Juday.
Sharon replied instantly, "Again, yes!"