Art & Aggie

Sharing the same First Love… and their greatest adventure yet

Art & Aggie: The Story of Us

February27

Arthur V. Fronda and Agnes Ruth V. Manangu officially became a couple on December 7, 2005.  That’s an awfully long time ago, right?  And here we are on the verge of pledging before God and men to spend an even longer time with each other.  By all symptoms and indications, this must be LOVE.

For all who are interested in how this came to be, here in pictures and brief prose is THE STORY OF US:

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Starting Out: What were We Thinking?

I was hardly aware of Art that first day of on-the-job training at Consumer Loans Operations, but apparently I had a warm and beautiful smile that pretty much did him in.  The day soon rolled around when I would have to learn about how to clear checks, and little did I know about his crafty manuevers to make sure that he would be the one to teach me.  It turned out to be fateful.  A few minutes with this mabango, quiet, and gentle fellow with the naughty eyes and delicious complexion and I was hooked as well.

Both only weeks fresh from break-ups of years-long relationships, we found ourselves at a crossroads in December 2005.  Everything happened so fast that we hardly had the time to think, but a chance at love was presenting itself to us, pressing us to trust without asking so many questions.

Of course there were BUMPS on the road.  And how!  I remember telling him, “Masyado kang banal, and ako I don’t believe in anything.  Hindi tayo magtatagal.  I just gave you a chance because I think you’re cute.”  I had always imagined I would end up with a brooding, existential, right-brain type who would dream of despair and suicide with me while making high art.  On the days when we weren’t making googly-eyes at each other (because we really were head over heels in love), we would fight passionately about whether God existed or not, and if He did exist if He were truly loving or truly cruel.  In Art’s private prayers during this time, he would ask God again and again if he did the right thing in choosing to be yoked with an unbeliever.

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Reaching the Next Level:  Art’s Prayers Answered

Art soon learned wisely not to spar with me on the all-important matter of God and his place in the universe.  Instead he sustained his prayers for God to make the effort to introduce Jesus to my thirsty soul.

On my part, I found the quiet a good opportunity to observe Christ in action in Art’s life.  As his girlfriend, I bore close witness to his quiet trust in Providence, his self-control even in the face of daring provocation, his freedom from worry, his gentleness and kindness emanating from what seemed to be an other-worldly core.  I was during this time still wallowing in the despair of existence, trying to find my answers within myself and in other people.  I was dreadfully envious that peaceful Art seemed to have all the answers.

During one particularly trying Sunday, I considered during a lunch date at Shakey’s Greenbelt about how it would be nice to end up with Art.  But in the same heartbeat, I realized the relationship couldn’t last if it were to be based on our own personal agendas and selfish beliefs.  After refusing his invitations so many times before, I humbled myself and asked him to bring me to church.  And the rest was history.

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Pastor Art and Baby Aggie

So by opening my heart and mind a little bit, I began to find out many things.  I found out that God was indeed loving, and had a wonderful plan for all of us.  I found out that He created me and knew me better than anyone, and that He knew that left to my own devices I was headed toward destruction.  Then I soon understood, in that shining moment of my life where my heart and mind were wisest, that God sent his only Son Jesus, sinless and innocent as he was,  to take all the punishment for everything shameful that I had done, if only to grant me a chance to be with Him always at the end of this life of pain and suffering.

The knowledge once accepted was liberating and heady.  How wonderful it was to be loved from all sides, my soul loved and kept by Jesus divine, my earthly person loved and kept by gentle and long-suffering Art.  Aside from all these wonderful discoveries, I began to find out more about Art. I found out how God was using him to share the good news of Jesus to other thirsty souls like myself.  I found out how God spoke through him when he would take the pulpit on Sundays to preach.  And I found out how marvelously he was used by the Lord to guide the many young people of Christ the Counselor Fellowship (CCF) toward upright and godly lives.  How was I going to become a helpmeet suitable for him?

I had just gotten to know Jesus at this time.  Aside from being the eldest and default cabin counselor of the young ladies of Fira House during the Youth Camp in Nagcarlan, I had little notion of what God planned for me in the future.  But soon I began to wonder where all these were leading.   In the same thoughtful way Mary was taking everything in when Jesus was growing up, I kept all these observations in my heart.

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Becoming Ate Aggie to Kuya Art: Accepting the Commission

Art was mentor to both young men and women in CCF at this time.  How surprised I was when I was tasked to mentor young ladies of my own.  I started out with Ritzel, Micah, Jane, and Cathleen… and eventually, Janice, Reiann, Jacque, and Patricia as well.  It wasn’t easy starting out, but by God’s grace my little group soon started evolving into a formidable team for God’s Kingdom.

So it seemed that in God’s complex imaginings He had succeeded through seemingly simple ways in providing Art a partner for ministry, someone who could help him mentor the girls in godly womanhood and who could join in him encouraging the guys to be better men.  Soon we spent so much of our time together talking about how to improve the ministry, and without really sensing it, we were falling ever more madly in love with each other.  We truly became partners at this time, drawing up dreams and grand plans for the Church, pondering the kids’ problems as would a father and mother, challenging each other to learn more about God’s Word, praying with and for each other.  We still had our faults, but God used both of us to whittle each other into shape.  We were becoming better people for each other in the course of our service to God.


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The Critical Junction: Jesus or Art?

We were soon settling into a comfortable routine.  He loved me.  I loved him.  We became best friends, supporting each other through work and personal stresses over lunch or during walks we liked to take.  Then on Sundays, I took my place at his side at youth leader meetings, a constant support and sounding board in our many activities and projects.  The relationship was reaching a level of predictability that could have been either one of two things: the beginning of the end, or the signal to go to the next level.

One day, the littlest of things set off the most ground-breaking of conflicts… one where Art was pressed to declare where he wanted to go with the relationship and I was on point to evaluate what was the most God-honoring use of my time and affections.  After about two weeks of internally wrestling with confusion, intense emotion and each other, we parted ways in October 2008.


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Becoming the Girl (space) Friend God Intended

What did breaking up with Art feel like?  Like I sliced my heart with a serrated knife clean off my chest, stabbed it several times, squeezed a basket of calamansi on it, and put it right back, throbbing.  I’m not kidding.

People couldn’t understand why we broke up, and on particularly difficult days, neither could we.  We seemed so in love and so devoted to each other, and there were some who couldn’t imagine us fighting over anything.  Art shared to members of our Church how he always prayed that God would lead me to maturity in Christ.  During this time, however, he would add ruefully that he had no idea God was going to do just that, by cutting him out of the picture.  On my part, I threw myself into my work, my ministry, and my other relationships.  Independently, we worked on being still and humbled enough to hear God speak.

After the first stormy weeks had passed, we actually became the best of friends during this time… with both the pressure and complacency of a relationship off our shoulders.  In straight words we could never say to each other as boyfriend-girlfriend without provoking a shouting match, we encouraged each other to be more mature, to be better, and to be more responsible.

Managing the emotions that came when we were around each other continued to be difficult, but we pressed on still serving alongside each other in church.  I became busy with my own life and the possibilities that lay ahead of me, hardly aware of what new plans Art was hatching for the year 2009.

After weeks of praying and talking and praying some more, almost at the close of 2008 Art asked for me back with real plans on his lips and purpose in his eyes.  I looked up at the sky for guidance, and did what any sensible girl in my position would do.  I said, “Yes.”

Thank you, Lord.

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The Proposal

And so we found ourselves back with each other, ever more committed, patient, and loving now since God had taught us just how much we had to lose.  Our happiness became tempered with rationality and consideration… gaining another dimension that made it evolve into pure and simple JOY.

The first half of 2009 was a blur, until that day Art insisted that I meet him at MOA on August 8, 2009 just to walk around.  After a long talk with no agenda in particular over pancit and halo-halo at Razon’s, evening fell and we sat by the bay to watch fireworks, which suddenly started popping in the sky at that very convenient time.  I was tensing up inexplicably as I leaned back against him and my face was burning. What exactly was going on?

As the fireworks ended, out of nowhere came Art’s hand with a tiny transparent box enclosing a red cushion and a sparkly little ring.  Before he even whispered, “Will you marry me?”, of course I already knew what I was going to say.

And the rest, they say, is history.  :)

posted under Art & Aggie, Blog
66 Comments to

“Art & Aggie: The Story of Us”

  1. On February 27th, 2010 at 11:02 PM Bea Says:

    “What did breaking up with Art feel like? Like I sliced my heart with a serrated knife clean off my chest, stabbed it several times, squeezed a basket of calamansi on it, and put it right back, throbbing. I’m not kidding.”

    Wow. I only felt that way about one person and that person isn’t even among my exes…

    At least, things are running smoothly now (I hope!) and let’s pray this remains for the rest of your lives. :)

  2. On February 28th, 2010 at 7:38 AM aggie Says:

    A hearty amen to that!

  3. On February 28th, 2010 at 5:47 PM Jowell Says:

    I always wondered what it’d be like when I finally decide to get married… And reading about your story, I now want mine to be as close as possible to yours in terms of growing with each other and growing in the Lord. To me it’s perfect in the sense that you have taken all the good and even bad/broken pieces together and made something beautiful out of it. Hahaha maybe that’s why I’m in the wedding industry – I’m a sucker for these things!

    Art looks different with hair hehehe mas mabait. And I didn’t know you both mentored groups of your own!!

    Anyway, great idea to put up a website, everything’s so organized! First time I’ve seen a couple do this. It would certainly make all your preps easier and remove a lot of clutter on the wedding day itself.

    Good luck to you guys and God bless! :D

  4. On March 13th, 2010 at 7:59 AM aggie Says:

    Thanks so much, Jowell! We pray that God blesses you as well when the time comes for you. =) Thanks for dropping by and for taking the time to read this! Take care :)

  5. On May 18th, 2010 at 10:46 PM Ley Says:

    This is soOoooo touching! You guys really deserve to be happy :-)

  6. On May 18th, 2010 at 10:57 PM aggie Says:

    Thanks for reading through this, Ms. Ley! :) God-willing, we’ll be the happiest couple on earth, next to you and Jeryc. hehehe.

  7. On May 19th, 2010 at 2:04 AM Art Says:

    Thanks Ms. Ley! God bless! :)

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