Christine Pascua & Steve Povey

Christine and Steve met at a South Philadelphia happy hour in 2015. The two strangers laughed when they ordered the same drink, toasted each other with their shots of Patron, and in the moments before returning to their separate groups of friends, made plans to meet again three days later — she would treat him to Moshulu for his birthday. He was far too interested in this cute and funny woman to admit he hates fish.

Before long, Steve, who grew up in Norwood, Delaware County, introduced Christine to his parents and sister. Then came dinners with the Poveys and weekend shopping or spa trips with Steve’s mom and sister, all of which made Christine very happy. Since moving from Pine Bush, N.Y., to oversee the cardiac ultrasound department at CHOP, she was only able to see her family every other month. She missed her three sisters, her parents, and the weekly trips with her dad to his favorite store, H Mart.

Christine’s dad had taught her to cook Filipino classics: pancit, the glass noodle dish that is his specialty; adobo, a tangy stew with fish sauce; an oxtail dish called kare kare. Now that she was home only every other month, she stayed connected with the Pascuas via FaceTime and group chats, and the cooking she did in her own kitchen.

Christine prides herself on cooking to her audience’s preferences, and her wooing of Steve was very cheesy. “Lasagna, baked ziti, she would make trays of them for me,” he remembers.

Once she fell in love with him, she taught Steve to cook with her.

Christine has taught him many things, Steve says. “From where I was before we met to where I am now, I’m just much better off as a person,” he said. He had been selling Toyotas, making good money, but working 60-plus-hour weeks. “She told me, ‘You can change that.’ She helped me find a direction, and helped me get a college degree.” Steve, who is now 32, is in charge of loading and unloading aircraft for UPS at Philadelphia International Airport — a job he loves, even when it rains.

Christine, who is now 35, earned a degree while Steve earned his — at the same time both worked. The support is mutual, she said. “Whatever day I’m having, he’ll do his best to make it better,” she said. “His goal in life is to make me laugh, and he balances out some parts of me — if I’m too worried about something, he will show me another way to look at it.”

Christine Pascua and Steve Povey. The Engagement Selfie.
Courtesy of the couple
Christine Pascua and Steve Povey. The Engagement Selfie.

In 2016, they got their first place together, in Chestnut Hill. On their annual romantic Jamaican vacation that year, Christine was, as usual, bugging photo-shy Steve to get in her selfie. “Why don’t you take it with this on?” he asked, offering an engagement ring.

Almost immediately, Christine began to plan, fretting and re-fretting over every detail. Steve, who makes decisions more easily and never second-guesses any of them, gave her space to do her thing. “We generally agree on most things. She’ll second-guess a little bit, but we almost always end up in the same place,” he said.

In this case, that place would be Terrain at Styers in Glen Mills. On May 29, 2020, they hoped about 100 guests would witness their vows and eat truly amazing cake.

Just three flavors in, Steve tried the lemon cake with strawberry frosting and proclaimed it the one. Christine needed to try them all before they narrowed the other two layers to coconut with key lime curd and butter cream — key lime is Steve’s dad’s favorite flavor of everything — and white cake with pistachio butter cream.

In February, Christine suggested Steve start packing for their Jamaican honeymoon. By March, planning for anything — even routine things like a day at work or a trip to the grocery store — become increasingly difficult. COVID-19 had arrived in Philadelphia. Businesses and schools were closed. Large gatherings were no longer allowed. Everyone was supposed to stay home.

Steve and Christine, who now live in Prospect Park, decided they needed to postpone the wedding. But then Christine began second-guessing:

What if the virus were more contained by then and restrictions lifted? What if they invited fewer guests and seated them 6 feet apart? What if they found masks for everyone?

But also, what if one of them got sick and they had to cancel last-minute? Or, worst of all, what if they or a guest had no idea they were sick, and then one of their parents or Steve’s wonderful great-aunt got really sick?

Christine could not stop going over the facts and possibilities again and again and again. But the what-ifs ended and the un-planning began when her father said:

“I’m kind of afraid to come to your wedding.”

Christine's parents, David and Lita Pascua . For the story about Christine Pascua and Steve Povey.
Courtesy of the couple
Christine's parents, David and Lita Pascua . For the story about Christine Pascua and Steve Povey.

They pushed the wedding to 2021 to allow more time for the virus to be brought under control, and so that all the carefully chosen vendors would be available.

Every vendor agreed to let them postpone with no penalty, and in turn, Christine and Steve offered all of them another chunk of their payments to help them get through this lean time.

The spread of the virus in the weeks since their decision has made surreal a time when there was even a question.

“Even if we flatten the curve by then and people are able to travel, it’s just not the right time for a wedding,” Steve said.

“God forbid, if even one person were sick ,” Christine said.

Her brother-in-law now does most of her parents’ shopping, but recently, Christine mailed her dad a box of extravagant meats — pork chops, venison, chicken, and a whole duck.

“I knew sending this would give him some escape — he would not be reading the news while he cooked, so he would not worry,” she said.

When her mom texted that her dad was on the computer hunting for duck recipes, Christine knew she had succeeded.

The couple now has a new wedding date: Memorial Day 2021. “Same month, same place, next year,” as Christine puts it.

Next month, on what would have been their wedding day, Steve and Christine will share a little sadness — and a lot of cake.

Lolo’s Pancit (Bihon Guisado)

8 ounces Pancit Bihon Rice Noodles (also called Rice Stick or Rice Vermicelli Noodles)

¼ cup peanut oil (or other oil)

1 medium onion, diced

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

⅔ cup carrot, thinly sliced or matchstick

⅔ cup celery, thinly sliced

1-2 bok choy or ¼ head of medium sized cabbage thinly sliced

⅔ cup of green beans or snow peas (optional)

1 cup of shrimp (cleaned, butterflied)

1 ½ cups pork sliced thin (against grain)

1 cup of chicken broth (add ½ cup for more broth)

3-4 Chinese sausages sliced thin (optional)

1 tablespoon of achiote molido (ground annatto powder), optional

3 teaspoons soy sauce, divided

Salt and Pepper to taste

2-3 stalks of scallions, thinly sliced

Lime wedges


Directions

Soak noodles in water until tender and drain (around 10 minutes).

Heat wok (or large pan) on medium heat. Add ½ cup of water and cook the pork. When water has cooked off to less than half, season pork with salt and pepper then cook until all the water is absorbed. Add ¼ cup peanut oil to the cooked pork and fry until browned.

Slide the browned meat to one side of the wok then add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add shrimp and cook for an additional minute.

Add the celery, carrot, chopped onion, and green beans. Stir and cook. Add the achiote, if using, and let the mixture cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the bok choy, and let cook 1 minute. Add 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 teaspoon of the soy sauce. Stir and bring to simmer. Add Chinese sausage, if using, then add ¼ cup more broth. Add the noodles, stirring until all broth is absorbed.

Garnish with scallions and drizzle with soy sauce. Add freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve with lime wedges.