Valentines Series: Mareng Winnie Monsod’s Love Story
Mareng Winnie Monsod is known for having a sharp tongue and severe persistence when it comes to heavy-weight topics like law, economics, patriotism and the truth. Listeners get a feeling they’re in the presence of someone great in the way Mareng Winnie seamlessly weaves through arguments and seem to win them all the time.
Facing a highly experienced critic may not be a very appealing prospect. But tell that to Mareng Winnie’s husband of more than 50 years Christian Monsod and we might end up eating our own words. Because behind the strong personality and the brilliance lies someone who has also done crazy, funny things in the name of love.
Christian Monsod was a law student when he first met Economics freshman Solita ‘Winnie’ Collas. Both did not find the other particularly attractive. But the meeting soon turned into a friendship that led Christian to fall in love with her.
After Christian broke up with his then girlfriend, he knew he had to win Winnie. He finally did convince her of his love at a dance, making Winnie realise she was also attracted to him after all. Christian said ‘It was the first and only argument I’ve won in our marriage.’ He wasn’t particularly a handsome boy. But Winnie quips it was Christian’s sexiness which won her over.
The first kiss was what finally sealed the deal, and it was the outspoken Winnie who hang on to the promises that went with the kiss: ‘That’s it baby! He doesn’t know [it], but I’m going to marry him. Nahalikan ko na siya, eh!’
But it wasn’t all easy for the two who then became an official couple. Winnie was bound to America for further studies while it didn’t sit well with Christian’s parents that Winnie was a Protestant. The compromise the two made is a good example of fairness that should be shared by lovers in a serious relationship: Winnie converted to Catholicism to marry Christian, while Christian dropped all his pursuits in the Philippines to climb on a plane with Winnie to America.
For Winnie and Christian spending years abroad has helped strengthen their relationship. At this time, the Monsods turned from the academe to family life. Winnie started to take more responsibilities at home after graduate school. But for Christian, who was then working for the World Bank, this situation at home should only be temporary — Winnie must work so she won’t waste her talent and skills learned from school.
Christian also disliked the idea Winnie might turn to neighbourly gossip if bored, and was afraid she might bring boring conversations to the dinner table.
Ingredients of the perfect love
For the Monsods, keeping it spicy is the secret to a successful marriage. Each one tries to surprise the other with simple gestures like pasalubongs from groceries. They also said intimacy and flirting is vital, and mentioned weekends in Subic walking naked around the house.
Intelligence is vital to the couple’s conversations, but so is silliness. Winnie declared humour saves marriages. Christian added ‘Maintain romance, pray for passion. Love is a decision – make up your mind that you love this person.’
Mareng Winnie explained ‘Alam niyo, love is a decision. Once you have decided to fall in love, you’re saying now I married him, he has married me, we are going to make it work. There is no other alternative.’
Annoyed by absentee congressmen, Winnie approaches no other than lower house speaker Belmonte to answer for the missing-in-action lawmakers. This is a demonstration of the type of straightforward talk and tough love Winnie is known for.
Winnie is also a great keeper of items with sentimental value and constantly has love notes hidden in her purse. Christians love notes to her remain legible in her eyes, and she loves to re-read these in her past time.
Through the years they have been together, despite being tempered by experience and earning respected names in their chosen careers, the tough and feisty Winnie revealed one weakness: being left behind by Christian. She said if her husband dies ahead of him, she will surely kill him a second time because ‘Hindi ko kayang mag-isa.’