Metro In Love: "Tomorrow Is Not Promised"—KZ Tandingan & TJ Monterde On Getting Married Amidst A Pandemic
She describes their wedding day as a "miracle," while he thinks it's "magical"
At the end of 2019, the entire world gazed hopefully at the coming of a new year and a new decade. It was to be a fresh start for many—a chance to reset, to do things differently, to live life more fully. For KZ Tandingan and TJ Monterde, the coming year was to be the beginning of the rest of their lives. On December 30, TJ’s thirtieth birthday, the couple of five years became engaged and then promptly geared up for a year full of music, love, and travel. And then the pandemic struck. Suddenly, they—along with the rest of the world—were forced in an indefinite lockdown, uncertain of what was to come.
Because of that uncertainty and because of the realization that one cannot control everything, KZ and TJ decided to push through with their wedding that was really originally scheduled for August 28, 2020. A few things had to change: Instead of holding it in Baguio, they had to find a more accessible and safe venue, which eventually became The Farm at San Benito in Batangas. KZ’s father wasn’t able to walk his daughter down the aisle because he and the rest of his family were stuck in Mindanao, so her mentor Martin Nievera swooped in to do the honors. KZ and TJ’s families weren’t there physically, but they watched tearfully through Zoom, their love for the couple felt even miles and miles away.
Whereas some couples have opted to postpone their weddings because of the pandemic, KZ and TJ chose to push through with theirs—not despite of the pandemic, but because of it. “Wala sa atin ang nakakita na magkakaroon ng pandemic this year,” says KZ. “Wala sa atin ang nakakaalam na mangyayari pala 'yung nangyari this year. So that only means then that tomorrow is not promised. If we can do it now, let’s just do it now. Kasi push back tayo nang push back, hindi natin alam ang mangyayari.”
The two musicians met some seven years ago, jiving almost instantly because of the things they had in common. They are both musicians and both Bisaya. They started out as friends, always hanging out with other people. “Unti-unti, nahulog ako,” TJ says. They dated for a year and then became official in 2015. “Five years after,” TJ smiled, “we got married.”
At first, KZ didn’t think he was serious. Her first impression of him was that he was a little bit on the arrogant side. “Nu’ng una parang feeling ko mayabang siya,” says KZ. “When he walks into a room, kahit na wala siyang kakilala, after five minutes, siya na ’yung host. But we became friends. D’un ko siya mas lalong nakilala. ’Yung first impression ko ay hindi naman nag-last.”
KZ and TJ found what they were looking for each other, enough to have them move from being friends to being each other’s partner. “Sobrang siya niyang kausap,” TJ says of his wife. “Mahilig kami sa music both pero ’yung music namin is opposite. ’Yung sa akin very magaan, very light and acoustic, kay KZ naman medyo soul, medyo powerful. Pagdating sa side na ’yun iba, pero [when we listen to music], we share almost the same sound. Parehas kami ng pinapakinggan.”
“One of the reasons why I started to love him is because I saw how he is with his family,” KZ says. “He’s very caring sa parents niya, sa sister niya. Sobrang maalaga siya and that to me is something we should all look for in a partner. ’Yung tao na inaalagaan ’yung mga mahal niya sa buhay. I always look for that in a guy. ’Yung marespeto sa mga magulang niya, and nakita ko ’yun sa kanya.”
KZ and TJ’s love for and compatibility with each other are obvious from the get-go: In between sweet proclamations for each other are lighthearted jokes, a clear sign that their relationship stemmed from a wonderful friendship. Their being family-oriented is clear, too. When deciding where and when to propose to KZ, TJ knew immediately that he would choose a simple venue with their families over a scenic view of Mt. Fuji in Japan, one of the couple’s favorite destinations.
In June 2019, TJ already knew he was going to propose to KZ and so he sought the blessing of his would-be father-in-law, KZ’s dad. Unbeknownst to him, KZ’s dad accidentally spilled the secret: He told her that TJ was planning to propose, and so her most genuine reaction happened then. As the newlyweds tell Metro.Style this story, they couldn’t help but laugh. But there’s more to it.
When KZ found out that TJ was planning to propose, she didn’t know when he would. Still, she had an inkling he would do it on his birthday. When he started to plan something for his birthday, she knew something was up. “I had a feeling na gagawin niya sa birthday niya, kasi he never celebrates his birthday,” says KZ. “Ok na siya mag-kape sa birthday niya. Masayang-masaya na siya. Tapos sobrang weird na he asked me to help him plan the gathering, the party, inviting my parents.”
“Pero hindi pa rin ako ’yung talagang super na nag-expect na gagawin niya d’un sa birthday niya kasi, si TJ, ’pag alam niyang expected, ’di niya gagawin.” So KZ had to come up with a plan. She sought the help of one of their friends to find a ring for him, because if he wouldn’t propose, she will. On December 30, when he got down on one knee and popped the question, so did she.
After their “double proposal,” they immediately moved onto their planning and preparation stage because they had a full year ahead of them. KZ had an upcoming tour, work-related travels, and plans of studying music abroad. When the pandemic hit, at first, they weren’t sure whether they should push through with their wedding. When they did, they couldn’t help but marvel at how right their decision was, calling the day of their wedding “magical” and a “miracle.”
TJ excitedly tells the story of their wedding date, August 28 (or 8/28). Looking at his wedding photos, a Bible verse stood out to him: “All things work together for good to those who love Christ.” TJ says, “Looking at the photo, sabi ko, ‘Grabe ’no? This photo speaks so much of God’s goodness sa buhay namin. All things will work together nang mabuti talaga ’pag you let Him do His thing.” He then realized that the verse is Romans 8:28—the same date of their wedding, and he’s been in awe ever since.
When KZ and TJ announced that they’d been married, they did so with a music video and a song. “Can’t Wait to Say I Do,” a lovely 3-and-a-half-minute lo-fi track that details what the couple felt before they got married. Accompanying the song was a music video of the couple singing, interspersed with clips from their wedding day. The music video is monetized, says KZ, with the proceeds being donated to Inspire Church Metro.
“I just wanted to write a song that describes how we felt pre-wedding. As in ’yung literal lang talaga na very straightforward na, this is how I feel. Hindi mo siya kailangang kalkalin for a hidden meaning. Very chill lang,” says KZ. Indeed, the song is an easy listen, laid-back and casual, a reflection of who KZ and TJ are as a couple.
KZ and TJ were worried that their decision to push through with their wedding amidst a pandemic would result in backlash. Instead, well-wishes flooded their social media pages, attesting to the fact that they made the right choice indeed. After all, they can now rest easy knowing that they’re in this life together, and that from here on out, it really is only hellos, and no more goodbyes.
Check out our full interview with newlyweds KZ Tandingan and TJ Monterde below:
Lead photos by Mayad Studios
Video producer: Grace Libero-Cruz
Video editor: Bria Cardenas