By Michael Eng | Managing Editor
If this doesn’t tug at your heartstrings, you’re either dead or carry around a piece of black coal inside your chest.
Last week, Facebook user James Worley sent us a link to a YouTube video.
“Watch this AWESOME proposal video of a Plant City couple,” he wrote.
I’ve always been a sucker for love stories, so of course, I clicked through. In the July 1 video, titled “Surprise Marriage Proposal: Scavenger Hunt,” bride-to-be Jovelyn Ortiz walks through Burchwood Park, collecting pink gift bags containing trinkets and notes left by boyfriend Brian Smith. The bags chronicle the couple’s 17-month relationship, turning the park into a deeply personal memory lane.
As Jovelyn reaches the final stop, Brian is waiting — not with a bag containing another memory but rather a promise for the future.
“We started out as something simple and became something big,” Brian says to her before getting on bended knee.
OK: Cue the collective, “Awwwwwww!”
Here’s the best part: The couple is every bit as cute in person — with a love story fit for Hollywood.
Jovelyn, 23, a native of the Philippines, moved in February 2009 to Plant City to enter a Certified Nursing Assistant program. That same month, Brian, 24, a Plant City native, boarded a plane bound for the Philippines to begin a mission trip.
“We probably passed each other crossing the ocean,” Brian says, smiling.
Back home, Jovelyn met Brian’s sister, Alicia Quigley, through the CNA program, and the two became quick friends. Alicia encouraged Jovelyn to write a letter to Brian in her native tagalog, which Brian was learning. The two began dating officially 17 months ago, after Brian returned home.
“For me, there wasn’t a moment when I just knew (she was the one),” Brian says. “It’s just been the whole experience of growing together. She’s stuck with me through the good times and the bad.”
“Brian has always been so supportive all the time,” she says. “He’s American, but he speaks my language. He’s really respectful, and we get along well.”
So far, Brian’s proposal views has garnered more than 800 views on YouTube. The groom-to-be says he had been thinking of ways to propose for the last three months. Then, when the scavenger hunt emerged as the best idea, he, with the help of family members, put it all together in about a week.
The couple is planning for a September wedding, which will be held at Brian’s church, the Plant City Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jovelyn already has chosen her colors (light blue and white), and the couple is narrowing down their options for a honeymoon. At first, they thought of Hawaii but now are considering returning to the Philippines, which would mark the first time the two would be in the country together.
“As it turned out, I was doing my mission work very close to where she lived,” Brian says. “So, I am familiar with areas she talks about.”
With 10 family-owned acres off Pierce Harwell Road, the couple hopes to build a home near Brian’s parents.
From all of us at the Plant City Observer, congratulations, Brian and Jovelyn. We wish you health, wealth and many years of happiness together.