July 31, 2021 was supposed to be the day when couple Raquel Panganiban and Ralph Waldo G. Landicho would finally get married.
Unfortunately, Ralph didn't make it to the altar. The groom had passed away after being infected with COVID-19.
"All the 'CONGRATULATIONS' turned to 'CONDOLENCES,'" wrote Ralph's sister Roxanne Geronimo Landicho, who uploaded a touching video for her late brother on Facebook.
The now-viral video shows clips of the couple, from their heartwarming proposal to their romantic engagement shoot.
"Totoo ang COVID-19," she said. "Ang akala namin na simula ng pagmamahalan na pang habang buhay, nanakawin lang pala ng pandemyang ito."
Ralph, who is a seafarer, returned to the Philippines last June 4.
In an exclusive interview with Manila Bulletin, Raquel recalled how excited her fiancé was to prepare for the wedding: "Kung saan-saan na po kami nagpunta. Bumaba siya ng barko at hindi agad kami nakapagpa-vaccine kasi super excited siya sa pag-aayos ng kasal namin."
Everything was running smoothly until Ralph started experiencing body aches. A few days later, "he started having chills and fever," she said.
Eventually, Ralph tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted to the hospital.
On August 3, Raquel recounted how Ralph’s breathing “got worse.” She shared, “His coughing was getting more severe. His oxygen level was going so low that he even finished around 20 oxygen tanks in less than 24 hours.”
Ralph passed away that same day.
On Facebook, Raquel left an emotional message for her partner of four years: "Alam ko na mahal na mahal mo ako at alam mo din na mahal na mahal kita. 'Di ko alam papaano ako. Hanggang dulo ng hininga ko mamahalin pa din kita. Walang papantay sayo!”