Ex-priest marries sweetheart after 30 years

Posted at 02/06/13 7:49 PM

MANILA, Philippines – It was in the 1980s when Julio Lao met Nelia Meliciano, who instantly became his sweetheart.

Nelia then moved to Austria, which left Julio no choice but to send her letters. The communication stopped, and Julio eventually ended up serving the Lord as a priest.

Sweethearts Julio Lao and Nelia Meliciano

In 1990, Julio left the priesthood, but not because of Nelia. He led a peaceful life, but he wanted something more.

Fast forward to 2011, Julio suddenly remembered Nelia, and wondered how she is doing. Taking advantage of today’s technology, he searched for her on the social networking site Facebook.

He found her -- and she was still single.

“Nagpunta ako sa Facebook. Hinanap ko ‘yung pangalan niya. Tapos noong nakita ko ‘yung pangalan niya at saka ‘yung picture niya, sabi ko, ‘walang kaduda-duda, siya ito.’ Maganda pa rin, andun pa rin ang mga ngiti. Nag-send ako ng message sa kanya, na ‘do you still remember me?’” he said in an interview on the ABS-CBN morning show “Umagang Kay Ganda.”

Nelia did not reply, but that did not stop Julio from trying again.

After ignoring Julio several times, Nelia decided to initiate a conversation via chat, thinking that this may be her only chance to talk to him again after several years. “Naisip ko na baka ‘pag hindi ako sumagot, mawala na naman ang communication namin,” she said.

Because of the online conversations, Julio and Nelia were able to rekindle their romance.

Last February 2, they finally tied the knot.

“Ganoon pa rin siya, maganda, mabait, and always smiling,” Julio said, referring to his wife.

“Oo,” said Nelia, when asked if she immediately felt the love when she saw Julio even after being apart for three decades.

While theirs is a love story worthy of their own Hollywood movie, Julio and Nelia advised the younger ones to make the most out of their time with their loved ones so they would not have to wait long for their “happily ever after.”

Their advice came as the world prepares to celebrate Valentine's Day next week, on February 14.

“[May regret na] sana mas maaga [kaming nagpakasal ni Nelia]. Huwag niyong patagalin masyado,” Julio said.