Mass Wedding in Tabunok

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.

St. Joseph Parish Church

 

It was blazing hot inside the church, especially for the brides in their thick gowns and grooms wearing long-sleeved shirts and barongs.

Brides and grooms

 

They all looked splendid.

Bride and groom Bride and groom Bride and groom

 

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."

Priest

 

The "stern admonition," an essential part of every Filipino church wedding.

Stern admonition Stern admonition

 

A lighter moment: priest blessing a couple.

Priest blessing a couple

 

Blessing of the coins.

Blessing of the coins Blessing of the coins Blessing of the coins

 

Holy water.

Holy water

 

"With this ring..."

Wedding ring Wedding ring

 

"You're mine now, buster..."

Putting on a ring Putting on a ring

 

The bride and groom are covered with a lace shawl....

lace shawl lace shawl

 

..and then connected with a silk cord.

silk cord silk cord

 

A little joining music...

Music

 

Priest speaking.

Priest speaking

 

Holy communion.

Holy communion

 

Removal of the cord signals the end of the ceremony.

Removal of the cord

 

Signing the marriage license...

Signing the marriage license Signing the marriage license Signing the marriage license

 

...and heading for the door!

Married couple #1

 

Married couple #2

 

Some looked happy, some not so...

Married couple #3

 

Married couple #4

 

Back to reality!

Married couple walking down stairs of church

 

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.

Stained glass window