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Ready, get set, stay married!

Amid the dazzling and dizzying filter of showbiz and social media, one picture-perfect celebrity couple stands out in Anthony and Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan. Married for an amazing 30 years now, and blessed with five genetically-blessed children, broadcaster-turned-motivational speaker and former dramatic actress just seem so consistent, together, and, well, perfect for each other.

Husband and wife and co-authors have been married for 30 years.Husband and wife and co-authors have been married for 30 years.

Husband and wife and co-authors have been married for 30 years.

The energetic and expressive Anthony and dignifiedly demure Maricel will, however, burst out laughing and politely smile with pursed lips (respectively, of course) if you tell them that's what you think of them.

Why so? Because this husband and wife team, who gifted giddy teenage girls with present-day matinee idol Donnie Pangilinan, will always be first to admit that no matter how perfect they appear from the outside that they have had — and continue to have — their share of trials and tribulations as all married couples do. They even have a brand new book to prove it, very challengingly titled, “Marriage Is a Marathon: Run it one step at a time.”

Five years in the making, “Marriage Is a Marathon” is the second literary collaboration between the husband-and-wife duo, who are proudly a product of constant marriage counseling. More than just their story of falling in love, getting married, raising a family, and their spats in between, the book is a collection of candid reflections on the journey before and after they exchanged “I do's,” interwoven with anecdotes of the pair and their children's experiences as “Team Pangilinan.” That is, a family that has seriously taken on running and arrived at the conclusion that the brutally intensive training the sport involves, besides running a marathon itself, is exactly the same as navigating marriage and family life.

At a cozy launch of their co-authored work on August 10, Anthony and Maricel called the book their “way of giving back” to couples out there at every stage of their relationship. They said it is the least they can do as a husband and wife who have been together three decades and counting because of mentors and counselors who have served as their strengthening coaches in running the marathon that is marriage.

The Pangilinans guarantee that if a couple both do the work in their journey together, the prize at the finish line is worth it.The Pangilinans guarantee that if a couple both do the work in their journey together, the prize at the finish line is worth it.

The Pangilinans guarantee that if a couple both do the work in their journey together, the prize at the finish line is worth it.

Both Anthony and Maricel bring unique perspectives and qualities to their writing. Anthony's background as a credible news personality and his emerging career in management training and motivational speaking provides an engaging kind of clarity in the storytelling. Maricel, on the other hand, having totally embraced marriage and motherhood when they wed in 1993, not only writes from her devoted experience but also with a Master of Family Life and Child Development degree from UP Diliman and a Doctor of Theology (DTh) degree from the College for Global Deployment in Washington State, USA.

Oh, and not that there's any competition, Anthony's credentials include an Executive MBA from Tsinghua University in Beijing and Insead business school in France, as well as a Master in Change degree from Insead in Singapore. Just in case there are those who want to know.

Now for those unaware, the Pangilinans are credited for organizing three highly successful Philippine Parenting Conventions to date, which guarantees that their writing is not just based on being celebrities.

And in choosing to compare marriage and family life with the concept of marathons, husband, and wife count seventeen 42.2km marathons between them plus several Ironman triathlon experiences. This figure has yet to include marathons completed by their mini-me's, with four out of their five children having been active Ironkids competitors throughout their childhood.

Feigning nonchalance at the book launch, Anthony revealed, “We intended to publish the book on our 25th wedding anniversary, but we got just so busy.”

Surprisingly it was his serene and sensible wife who went straight to the book's premise: “I think we wanted to separate every other year, sa totoo lang [honestly], which is what you want to do in a marathon — you want to quit every mile. But, somehow, you realize that the finish line is worth it.”

And while they may sometimes differ in their approach to completing the course, they agree that what pushes them to keep going is family.

“We are far from perfect,” Maricel declared. We often see that a lot in our journey as a couple. There were so many times that we questioned each other if we should continue being together. That's when we remember the faces of our children waiting at the finish line and realize we don't want to fail them.”

Reiterating that the book hopes to help couples in all stages of a relationship, the pair quickly touched on the most crucial bits of advice they can give two people in love.

“Filipinos throw the best and grandest weddings, don't we?” Anthony started.

“We've seen that through these 30 years — how people are so excited to have their grand weddings but not so much [in] giving their time and effort to prepare for the [real] wedding, which begins the day after [through] forever,” Maricel expressed, taking his cue.

“And just like the lessons we had from running marathons worldwide, marriage also takes a lot of preparation. There's even a science to it — preparing, training and recovering. These are all important and you will need all the help you can get along the way,” Anthony continued.

“Marriage Is a Marathon” comprises eight chapters, each demonstrating the co-authors' tried and tested experience of approaching marriage as one would a long and daunting marathon. From decision-making to preparation, from seeking guidance from those who have walked the path before to the importance of sharing the journey with loved ones, Anthony and Maricel, fervently hope their labor of love will help as many individuals, couples, and families whose patience, commitment and determination to stay together will always be tested.

“Marriage, relationships will never be an easy journey. It will cost you, but Maricel and guarantee the prize is worth the price,” Anthony concluded.

“Marriage is a Marathon” is now available online at anthonyandmaricel.com and leading e-commerce platforms.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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