The tears flowed at a wedding last Saturday (April 23), as a Singaporean woman was reunited with her former domestic helper of almost three decades at her wedding.
Kelly Chua, 28, was unexpectedly reunited with her yaya (Tagalog for caretaker) Lolita Tabaque, 71, during her nuptials at Church of our Saviour in Queenstown.
The Filipina, a native of Sibalom, Antique, had been secretly flown in by Chua's brother Keith from the Philippines. It was a surprise known to all in the family except the bride-to-be. Tabaque, affectionately known to the family as Lita, stayed at the home of Chua's aunt for five days before the wedding.
A 70-second clip of the occasion captioned "My brother gave me the biggest wedding surprise ever" was posted to TikTok on Thursday and has since garnered more than 177,000 views.
The video begins with Keith's remarks, "I've prepared a very big surprise for you. Are you ready? Look over there." Applause and tears ensue as the camera turns to Tabaque, who shyly waves before walking over to the couple to give Chua a big hug.
Chua, 28, explained in the video, "She went home three years ago and told me she couldn't attend my wedding because she didn't manage to renew her passport. But my brother actually had it all planned from the start."
She added, "I love you yaya."
Those who commented were equally moved by the occasion.
Chua, who is self-employed, told Yahoo Philippines that her husband Ken Toh, 38, only found out about the surprise a few days before and kept asking the makeup artist to “waterproof” her makeup. "He’s never been so concerned about makeup, but I now know why."
Tabaque is heading back home on Sunday. In the meantime, she has been spending time with the Chuas, heading to places like Lucky Plaza and Gardens by the Bay and visiting the niche of Chua's late father.
Chua fondly recalled that she shared a room with Tabaque for almost her entire life. "(As a child), when I had trouble sleeping, she’d wake up in the middle of the night to massage my eyes, helping me to feel relaxed and calm enough to fall asleep."
The family has been in touch with Tabaque since her departure, sending her a box of items including clothing and some of her favorite food on her birthday every year.
Chua has been wanting to visit her in the Philippines, but was unable to do so due to the pandemic. Tabaque also lives in a village with limited access to wifi. "There was one year she climbed up a hill all by herself late at night, with the moon as her only source of light, to get enough reception to call and wish me 'happy birthday'."