It All Started In Instagram—Here's How Martine Cajucom And Cliff Ho's Love Story Began
When girlboss Martine Cajucom weds Cliff Ho this weekend, expect your social media to burst with picture-perfect snaps of, as Martine describes it, the Best. Wedding. Ever.
Martine Cajucom has come a long way from five years ago, when she left her dream job in the States and came to the Philippines to join Sunnies Studios as its Creative Director, while the company was still in its infancy. But back then, up ‘til now, she has taken her own advice, followed her intuition, and look where she is now—and who she met because of it.
It All Started in Instagram
When Martine recounts on how she and Cliff had met, she couldn’t help but laugh and repeat on how crazy their story is—and how over-the-top Cliff was when it came to pursuing her. “Cliff had been really close with George (Georgina Wilson-Burnand); Cliff considers George his sister. Before that, I had never met him, never heard of him. So when George uploaded this photo of me; a very provocative photo, to say the least, like I’m topless, full-on committed to that hubadera look, I guess, he comments on it! Like says, ‘Oh my God, how have I never met this cousin of yours, she’s so banging, tell her I’m in love.’”
Cliff didn’t let up with his comments. He would sometimes throw in the word “wifey” and wedding ring emojis here and there, and while Martine was amused, she didn’t think anything of it. But when they finally met, Martine found out for herself that Cliff wasn’t all just talk. “He came to visit George, and when he saw me, he gave me the biggest hug! He was just being so silly, and he said, ‘Please take a photo of me and my future ex-wife!’ He’s got such a funny sense of humor.”
After that 10-minute meeting, it was two weeks straight of being on the phone with Cliff every day, with one phone call lasting for nine hours straight, and raking in a $3,000 phone bill. “It was just insane,” Martine recalls, “I remember he was so sweet about it. I was saying that it was so much money, I’m so sorry, and he said, ‘It’s the best money I’ve ever spent in my whole life.’ So sweet.”
If it weren’t for Martine trusting her gut, her first date with Cliff wouldn’t have happened. “I never thought anything of it, but he really did pursue it. He told me to give him six days and make sure my passport’s valid, and he was going to take me on a first date. Keep in mind I’ve only interacted with him once for 10 minutes prior, and I’m like, ‘What am I doing? Like I don’t even know this person!’ But I guess it gave me comfort that George really vouched for him, and they were like so close already. I had met so many people who knew him and adored him. So George drops me off to his hotel, and I had a whole luggage packed, not knowing where I was going. We ended up going to Bohol. So, literally, the first day we spent together, we’re like, ‘I don’t want to be with anyone else.’ That’s when we got together.”
Bonding Over Business
Martine and Cliff were at the same crossroads in life, building their businesses from the ground up. While other couples would break up due to their busy schedules or the need to focus on their careers, Cliff and Martine became stronger because of it. “When I first met him, we had just started Sunnies, and he had just started his business as well. So we went through all the growing pains together of learning how to be a manager and a leader, and how to grow a business and all the things, all the nitty-gritty things you need to do to make things happen. So we really grew together and in our relationship. What I’ve seen from him and where he began when we first started dating to what he’s created now, it’s so admirable. It’s definitely the number one reason I was attracted to him. I think we really bond over how we’re managing our business; it’s really a mutual support system for the both of us.”
They made a promise to not be apart for more than four weeks at a time, and while they’re intensely busy and hardworking people, they took time off to be with each other. “Since we’re business owners, our schedules have the flexibility so we see each other more often. But definitely, long distance relationships have its challenges, like I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but our lifestyle allowed our relationship to flourish. We’re both so busy that we respect each other’s times even more so, and the beauty of LDR is every time we see each other, it’s special.”
The Expected Yet Unexpected Proposal
Martine starred in a reality show, and when she was asked on what was going to happen to her for the year during the show’s run, she replied, “Well, it can go two ways. Either Cliff could propose, or I could be like a sulking girlfriend.” Martine laughs about it now, but she remembers a scene in the show wherein her and Cliff talk about it. “We’re long distance, and sometimes our future is semi-uncertain. Like where are we going to live, what are we going to do, how are we going to raise our children in two different continents. You know, as a woman, I’m seeing everyone around me getting married and move forward in their relationship, and I don’t know what we’re doing. It’s something we talk about a lot, and we somewhat have a plan. So that’s a big scene in our show, and it’s a real conversation that we had.”
The conversation came to a halt when Cliff whisked Martine off to Bali under the pretense of a random ex-deal trip, but it was in fact to propose to her—and Martine got a whiff of the plan. “We go to the resort and it was so beautiful. It’s the most beautiful resort I’ve ever stayed in my whole life. Of course, like an idiot, I was like, ‘Are you going to propose? Because this is super nice!’ He just looked so sheepish! Honestly, what a way to ruin the moment for me!” she shares, laughing.
They were having dinner during sunset while overlooking the cliff, when a waiter comes over with the menus. “But it’s really a book of all our memories, including a photo of that first day we met,” Martine recalls. “I was big ugly crying. It was such an emotional experience. I’ve always talked about getting engaged being such a funny weird experience. I’ve never had a near death experience, but I suppose it would be something like that, because you see your life flash before your eyes. It’s just a really weird, surreal, out of body experience. I think it’s also because we love each other very much, it got so emotional.”
Martine doesn’t recall what Cliff actually said or if he got down on one knee—it was that emotional for the both of them—but the beautiful diamond ring on her finger says it all. “He had been asking me for so long about what kind of ring I was envisioning, and I actually don’t wear jewelry at all, and don’t really like diamonds! But now that I look at it, oh my God it’s so beautiful! When I’m upset with him, I just look at it and think, ‘Okay he loves me.’”
Do Wedding Plans Like a Boss
Martine and Cliff approached wedding planning much like how they did with their businesses—with as much decisiveness as possible. Martine says, “We’re very decisive! We needed to get stuff done right away and make a hundred decisions a day. We’re still in the process of wedding planning, but the way we’ve divided the work is complimentary to our strengths as well. I’m handling the aesthetics, music, feel—so overall general atmosphere, feel, and look. He’s handling more the guest experience because he’s brilliant at that. He knows how to get a party started and how to make an event something really meaningful.”
When asked on what specific look she was going to go for in terms with the theme, Martine was tight lipped about the details. “I don’t know, actually! Only time will tell. It will still be overlooking a cliff, definitely. Still in Bali, in the same resort, just because it’s such a special place for us. It’s between both our hometowns, and we want to share that with all the people in our lives.”
The wedding festivities will span for three days, with all guests staying in the same resort. Around 150 guests are expected to be at Martine and Cliff’s wedding, and considering Martine and Cliff’s combined knowledge and constant attendance of countless events, they know what to do. “Well, for sure I’ve done and been to enough events to know how detailed they are, and I’ve gone to enough weddings to know what works and what doesn’t. Honestly, the more weddings I go to, the more I realize how critical guests are! So I’m going to spoil my guests like hell. Well hopefully, there’s minimal criticism or feedback.”
Dressed by Señora Rosa Clará Herself
Apart from the wedding planning is the search for the wedding dress, which requires an entirely different plan in itself. For Martine, being the first Filipina muse of Rosa Clará, the search for the wedding dress came with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet the brand’s namesake. “Meeting her was so special because we really had an instant connection. She really took a liking to me, and so did I. She created my dream dress. She got it right away. She has a lot of intuition. When we were doing the gown, she told me, ‘I feel like you’re my daughter, and this is such a special moment.’ We got along so well. She also runs this massive international business. She’s so influential, not just in Spain, but globally in the bridal industry. You don’t get to that size of a business without intuition.”
When pressed to go into more detail about her gown, Martine smiles and replies, “I think anybody who knows me could imagine what it will be exactly. I have a love-hate relationship on how predictable and consistent I am, but that’s how it is. I like what I like, I’m very consistent with what I like, so anyone who knows me well could probably imagine what it would look like.”
We are so excited for our #RosaClaraPHbride and the first ever Filipina muse of Señora @rosa_clara, @martine! Can’t wait to see how gorgeous you look on your wedding day! Beautiful photos taken during #BarcelonaBridalWeek as featured on @metrodotstyle. #RosaClaraBride #RosaClaraPH #RosaClaraManila #RosaClara
Best. Wedding. Ever.
Martine’s circle of friends has been getting married in quick succession, and the comparisons between the weddings of the “It Girls” is something that the general public enjoys doing. But for Martine and Cliff, they would rather focus on creating a wedding that reflects them as a couple. “If I were to describe the wedding, hopefully it would be the best wedding ever!” Martine says, laughing loudly. “But no, no, I don’t want to compare. I mean, I really just hope our guests have a great time, have fun. As long as we get to give a little bit of ourselves to them, show some insight into our relationship, that’s it, I’ll be happy.”
As the wedding date draws closer, Martine isn’t feeling the anxiety that usually comes with it. Perhaps it’s due to philosophy of taking things as they come, but when the moment is there and it feels right, she goes all in. “I think with anything in life, go with what feels right for you. Just take everything day by day. Because big things happen if you do the small steps to get there. It’s the same thing with relationships, it’s the same thing with the wedding planning, same thing with life. It’s all the small things you do that make the big things happen.”
*This article was originally published in Metro Weddings' Vol. 18 No. 1 issue
Photos from @cliff_ho