By Mylene Billups
Fifty years of marriage is a milestone that every married couple strives for. My parents, Vic and Emy Paysan celebrated their 50 years of Catholic marriage on May 1, 2015. Originally, they didn’t want to celebrate it with fuss; but the children made sure our parents’ milestone was recognized with a church blessing and small family gathering on June 27, 2015.
My parents met in the Philippines when my dad was 25 and while my mom was 21. I remember my mom telling me that they met at Bureau of Lands in the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 1964 where they were both working as casual or temp workers. I guess the attraction and love between them was intense that in April 1965, they decided to elope and get a civil wedding against the wishes of my strict Grandma Josefa.
My parents’ marriage has not been devoid of any rough patches. There had been challenges with finances early on in the marriage because of hardship getting a stable job and drama experienced from relatives on dad’s side of the family. Based from what I heard, the marriage grew stronger during these trying times because they both faced the challenges together. Life got better for my parents when my dad was hired by Glaxo Philippines in 1965 to work as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative.
One of the milestones was when the whole family immigrated to the US in 1989 from the petition received from Lola Epang. This resulted to my dad filing for a temporary resignation from Glaxo Philippines, his employer of 23 years. His employer advised him he would never get the same position he already had in the Philippines if he decided to quit his job at Glaxo. My dad was already a Regional Sales Manager that time. True enough, finding a better-paying job and a senior level management position didn’t happen at all. My dad had to accept menial jobs such as working as a Pharmacy Clerk at FEDCO. We knew that this was a hit on my dad’s ego. He could have turned his back and decided to return to the Philippines where his comfort zone was; however, my dad has always been a man of conviction with rooted love for his family. He decided to officially resign from Glaxo Philippines and decided to stay with his family in the US. For him, having a complete family was far more rewarding than a high position and a better paying job back home. God rewarded his efforts because soon after, he was accepted to work in Glaxo America (now called GlaxoSmithKline) as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative and his years of service from the Philippines were credited towards his retirement years. He worked for them for another 17 years until his retirement in April 2006.
My parents have been blessed with 5 children: Joy, Michael, Mylene, Mervin and Michelle, and have been doubly blessed with 13 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. Currently, my parents live in Austin, Texas where my younger brother Mervin and his family live as well since 2008. They enjoy traveling and spending quality time with the family at every opportunity.
What has made their marriage work for 50 years? A major part of it is because from the beginning, their relationship remained primarily focused on the positive coupled with deep faith in God. My dad and mom have stayed connected when life has not been easy or even when life has gone well.
When they received their 50th year wedding blessing on June 27 at San Antonio Catholic Church in Anaheim Hills, my parents were presented a Certificate of Apostolic Blessing from Our Holy Father, Pope Francis.
Mylene Billups and her husband Jim have three children and live in Altadena, California.