It started as a secret — when Julio Cesar Mora Tapia was 31 years old, he quietly married 25-year-old Waldramina Maclovia Quinteros Reyes, despite the disapproval of both of their families. Now, 79 years later, they have officially become the world's oldest married couple.
Now 110 and 104 years old, respectively, Tapia and Quinteros are both in good health. With a combined 214 years and 358 days, Guinness World Records awarded them the certification of the oldest married couple in the world in August.
Tapia was born on March 10, 1910, and Quinteros was born on October 16, 1915. They met on vacation, because her sister was married to his cousin, and were friends first before entering into a relationship and getting married seven years later.
She said she fell in love with his loving and youthful spirit and beautiful poetry and he said he fell in love with her beauty, long conversations, big heart and firm character.
The couple got married on February 7, 1941, surrounded by their godparents and closest friends, in a ceremony at the oldest church in Quito, Ecuador, La Iglesia de El Belén. Their relatives did not get along in the beginning, but over the years, the couple has been able to bring the families together.
"The love and maturity that we had as a couple from the beginning of the marriage allowed us to know each other and grow emotionally to define our future," the couple said in a statement. "It was not easy because our relatives did not have a good relationship, but with time and patience we were able to unite them and we became an example and the best reference for the younger generations."
Both Tapia and Quinteros are retired teachers. They live in Quito and say they cannot wait to see family and loved ones after the coronavirus pandemic is over.
The couple has a large family — four surviving children, 11 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and 9 great-great-grandchildren. Their oldest son died at the age of 58.
They are incredibly proud that all five of their children earned college degrees, believing it is one of the greatest achievements and best legacies they could leave. "Family unity under the rules of love, mutual respect, honest work, and proper education based on family values are the keys to healthy coexistence," the couple said.
"The secret formula = love + maturity + mutual respect," the couple added.
One of their daughters, Aura Cecilia, said the family likes to go to the movies and the theater together, harvest plants and share food with family and friends over large dinners. But during the pandemic, it has been difficult to stay connected.
They said they are eagerly awaiting their reunion with their family.
"It is true that at this time it is difficult because we are overwhelmed by the pandemic that affects the world and we still do not have a solution," they said. "However, the first step for us to follow the rules with respect and love the life."