Dr. Robert & Prof. Theresa Guinoo
Everybody loves a good love story. And there could be no better time to tell one than on Valentine’s Day. This year, we feature one of many couples who both serve in the university. For this couple, theirs is a love which anchored in faith, centered on God and joyfully endured in prayer.
Dr. Robert Guinoo of the Biology Department and Prof. Theresa Guinoo of the College of Nursing have been married for 23 years. Their union has been blessed with two sons: Richard Robert, a senior Medical Technology student, and Nathan James, a ninth grader. In an interview, they both shared their versions of the story that brought them to the altar in 1992, in front of friends, family and God, to say “I do.”
My first recollection of Tess was seeing her at church one Sunday morning in 1989. There was nothing significant about it, but I can’t ever forget. At that time she was still preparing for the board exam. Not long after, I was informed that she garnered the fifth place in the 1989 Nursing Licensure Exam. That made me more curious; I wondered more what she was really like.
Upon her return to Dumaguete in 1991, I saw her again at church one Wednesday afternoon. I took notice of how beautiful she was. She probably knew nothing about me but I certainly knew some things about her from her friends. It was at a weekly bible study group at the El Oriente Hotel which we both attended that gave me the opportunity to know her more. At that time, I was still working for B-Meg Shrimp Feeds; Tess was teaching at the College of Nursing in Silliman.
To make the long story short, after much prayer, I courted Tess the following year. What attracted me to her were not only her sparkling eyes and straight hair, but her character and her faith in God.
I promised that when I enter into a relationship with Tess, it would be for keeps. On New Year’s Day in 1992, I asked her to be my lifetime partner.
I met Robert during a medical mission at church in 1989. I did not know his name nor took notice of him then because we were preoccupied and busy helping others.
One evening in 1991 after mid-week service, he eagerly offered me a ride with one of my friends. I was surprised that my friend asked to be dropped off first. I felt so uncomfortable and foolish riding with a person whose name I did not even know but he seemed to be so familiar with me.
A few months before he gave me his first love letter, he was unusually kind and was particularly chivalrous with me more than the others. I noticed but reminded myself not to interpret it to mean something other than kindness.
He would find all reasons to pass by our place to drop little “pasalubongs” from his work-related trips. It was New Year of 1992 when he insisted to drop off something. He referred to as “mabahaw kung dili ihatod” (It would get spoiled it not delivered that instant.). When I looked at it, it was a brown bag with roasted peanuts in it. A look closer into the bag and there was his love letter. It contained a prayer for me to be his wife. The same letter asked that I pray about the idea of him being my husband too.
Initially, I was quite disturbed. I had convinced myself that I will not marry after experiencing heart aches in the past. But God answered both our prayers; I realized that I loved him too. I knew then that I wanted to be his wife.
Since Robert was working in Calatrava, Negros Occidental at the time, he would visit me once a week. It was whenever we were together that we would exchange weekly love diaries to keep us connected. It was challenging, but it remains to me a sweetly romantic distance love affair.
When two become one…
Robert and Tess had a memorable garden wedding in December 23, 1993 at South Sea Resort which amazingly pushed through despite a strong typhoon bashing Dumaguete City.
“The wind destroyed the decorations, the wedding cake, and the travel schedule of a lot of guests. But no one seemed to notice; everything went on smoothly,” Robert recalls. A small camping lantern, which was a wedding gift from Tess’ mother, was most useful to the newlyweds in their new home because power was out for a month after the storm.
Tess resigned from her job in Silliman to join Robert in San Carlos City, where he worked as a technical researcher.
“We hold wonderful experiences as a young couple, and the addition of our first son, Richard, added to our joy,” Robert shares.
When the research facility in San Carlos closed down, they moved to Ormoc City where they spent seven years. They opened a bookstore and started teaching in local schools. It was also over the same period when they were able to build their first house and receive another blessing, their second son, Nathan.
With mounting responsibilities and a growing family, they realized in their first ten years of marriage that not being able to spend quality time with each other led to marital squabbles. They then resolved to go on a date at least once a week. And until today, they both strive hard to honor what they both have committed to doing to keeping the fire burning.
This arrangement continues to help them draw strength from each other. It also allows for them talk about and decide on key issues affecting their family, including child discipline, financial management and faith nurture.
It was this bond made stronger by their love for each other and their commitment to keeping the family intact that encouraged them to return to Dumaguete and start anew. Being able to provide their children with good education was a major consideration.
“Overall, our married life is far from perfect; but because of God’s grace, we enjoy being together as a family,” Robert says.
When asked how they both plan to spend Valentine’s Day, Robert answers: “We plan to go out on a family date to celebrate God’s goodness in our lives.”
Describe yourself in three words.
R: Quiet. Persistent. Friendly.
T: Frank. Tough. Principled.
What is your motto in life?
R: “The grass is greener where you water it the most.”
T: “Live for God.”
What makes you laugh?
R: Funny stories
What makes you cry?
R: You may ask my wife.
T: Sentimental movies.
What’s your favorite time of the day and why?
R: 10PM onwards, because that is my sleeping time
T: At night, because I can rest
What’s your favorite day of the week and why?
R: Sunday, because it is worship day as well as family bonding day
T: Sunday, because I can go to worship God and it is family day
What do you love doing when not working?
R: Watch TV
What is your favorite hangout place in the University?
R: My office and research laboratory
T: William Barry Thompson Faculty Lounge
What makes you blush?
R: When my wife tells me I’m handsome.
T: Heightened emotions.
If you were an actor/actress, who would you be?
R: Robert Downy Jr.
T: Julia Roberts
Tell us a fact about yourself.
R: I turn my ballpen many times whenever I write something.
T: I am very forgetful.
What’s your favorite game growing up?
R: Indians and soldiers
T: “Dakpanay” and “balay–balay”
What is your idea of a relaxing day?
R: A day without classes when I can be in the field to do research work
T: A cool windy day where I can stroll
What one thing would people be interested to know about you?
R: I know how to bake.
T: I supplied Christmas decors for Gaisano Ormoc Department store
What song best describes the YOU and the life you have now?
R: “He loved me” by Tom Fettke
T: “In Christ Alone”
What is the first thing you do right after waking up in the morning?
R: Pray and read scripture
What’s your idea of a family?
R: A family is composed of a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, uncles, aunties, lolos and lolas.
T: A family is designed by God, bounded together in love and responsibility.