Friday, August 19, 2005
Last August, St. Joseph Parish Catholic Church in Tabunok, Talisay City, offered free weddings for unwed couples, some of whom had already been living together for many years.
Many devout Catholic couples in the Philippines live together without getting married. This is dictated by simple economics: most Filipinos are extremely poor and it is very expensive to get married, especially in church. There's the marriage license, rental of a wedding gown for the bride and barong Tagalog for the groom, "donation" to the church and officiating priest, wedding feast and gifts for family members and neighbors.....Oi! I've known couples here who went deeply into debt just so they could get married in church. So it's no surprise that many poor "live-in" couples would jump at a sweet offer like a free wedding.
I read about it in the morning Cebu SunStar; 40-plus couples were expected to participate. I hopped on a jeepney to Tabunok.
The wedding was held at St. Joseph Parish Church in Tabunok, about 10 miles south of Cebu City.
It was blazing hot inside the church, especially for the brides in their thick gowns and grooms wearing long-sleeved shirts and barongs.
They all looked splendid.
It's my observation that Catholic weddings in the Philippines are generally not "fun" events. Several priests spoke during this wedding mass, and all were serious...except for this animated father who told funny stories and got the congregation laughing...a welcome tension-buster for this solemn occasion.
He even sang a few lines of Elvis; and explained that once married, you can't just "Return (a spouse) to sender."
The "stern admonition," an essential part of every Filipino church wedding.
A lighter moment: priest blessing a couple.
Blessing of the coins.
"With this ring..."
"You're mine now, buster..."
The bride and groom are covered with a lace shawl....
..and then connected with a silk cord.
A little joining music...
Removal of the cord signals the end of the ceremony.
Signing the marriage license...
...and heading for the door!
Some looked happy, some not so...
Back to reality!
After the wedding, the couples and families were treated to a free reception at the nearby Tabunok gymnasium, where they were dined and wined for the evening. Each couple was provided a private table with wedding cake and bottle of red wine, courtesy of ten generous private sponsors of the entire event.
Then....time to go make more babies.