Hundreds participate in 2 mass weddings-A A +A
Friday, February 15, 2013
FOR American national Marion Weidner, marriage is just a “political mean” by the government to unite a couple legally. But he said his love for his 37-year-old Filipina girlfriend, who is two months pregnant, is beyond marriage and knows no boundary. They have been lovers for over a year.
“You can love someone and take care of her life forever,” said the 49-year-old college professor from Georgia.
Weidner and Cindy Solomon of Lapu-Lapu City, along with 150 other couples, formalized their union through a mass civil wedding held in a mall in Mandaue City yesterday morning.
The activity was organized by the Pag-ibig Fund. Some couples brought along their children.
For the experience
Solomon said they joined the mass wedding because they wanted to experience the feeling of marrying in the presence of other lovers. She also said most of their families don’t reside in Cebu.
Weidner, who teaches English at a school in China, said he is lucky that Solomon accepted his love. They first met online.
“She is the most wonderful person in the world,” he said.
Before Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes officiated the wedding, he drew laughter from the crowd after he said that marriage is no heaven and there was still time for those who were not ready to leave.
“Do you know why you close your eyes when you pray… cry… kiss?” he said in a speech.
“The most beautiful thing in our life is not seen, but felt by our hearts.”
He said marriage is “not a simple contract, but a bond.”
Sense of security
Pag-ibig Fund-Visayas vice president Victoria dela Peña said the wedding can instill in the couples the sense of security as they are now legally chained together under the law.
She said they dubbed Feb.14 as their “Pag-ibig Day.”
“This activity is for the sake of the couples and their kids,” said dela Peña. “We would like to show the public that we really care. We just don’t give housing loans.”
With mass weddings being held simultaneously nationwide yesterday, dela Peña said they hope they can generate more Pag-ibig Fund members.
She also said they opted to conduct a civil wedding since not all the couples shared the same religion.
Vilma Dani, a member of the T’boli tribe, and Jover Singcala, who belong to the indigenous group B’laan, also formalized their four-year relationship yesterday. They put on their native clothes.
After the male host signaled the start of the 28-second kiss as part of the program, Weidner kissed Solomon’s until the countdown was over.
Chocolate cupcakes with heart-shaped toppings and wine were later served.
“This is the happiest day for both of us,” Weidner said.
Eduardo Saladaga was 44 and single when he decided he would marry a woman much younger than he was. He courted Tina Bonganciso, a 21-year-old worker at an eatery where he used to eat during lunch break, and asked her to live with him.
Tina gave him five children. Yesterday, after 17 years of living together, Eduardo, now 61, and Tina, 38, married in a mass wedding sponsored by the City Government of Lapu-Lapu.
They joined 113 other couples who are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the National Government’s flagship program against poverty.
Mayor Paz Radaza was the solemnizing officer of the mass wedding, which was held at the City Auditorium in Barangay Poblacion.
Eduardo was a tricycle driver when he met Tina, who was born in Bukidnon Province. He said if he married a woman his age, he would not likely have a child.
Eduardo, now a senior citizen, sells cigarettes and tabloids, while Tina takes care of their children, ages eight to 17. They live in Sitio Seaside, Barangay Pajo.
Tina said lack of money prevented them from marrying earlier. She also encountered problems with his birth certificate.
“Unya sige na sad kog anak-anak (Then I gave birth to a child after another),” she said.
Their family has been receiving a monthly subsidy from the conditional cash transfer program.
More than 5,600 households in Lapu-Lapu City are beneficiaries of the program, which aims to help the country achieve the Millennium Development Goals, particularly the goal to provide universal access to education, and lower the maternal and infant mortality rate.
Valentine’s Day gift
Every month, beneficiaries receive P500 for health and nutrition expenses and P300 for every child below 15 years old, for a maximum of three children, for their education.
To receive the cash grants, beneficiaries must immunize their children, visit the health centers regularly, and send their children to school, among other conditions.
Mayor Radaza said the free mass wedding is the City’s Valentine’s Day gift for the couples.
“Ang ato lang nga makahatag sila’g maayong kaugmaon sa ilang mga anak (What we want is for them to be able to give their children a brighter future),” Radaza told reporters.
Ermelita Degamo, head of the Department of Social Welfare Services-Lapu-Lapu City, said most of the couples married late because of financial problems.
Vice Mayor Marcial Ycong, former Barangay Mactan councilor and Aileen Radaza (who is running for congresswoman of Lapu-Lapu), Judge Toribio Quiwag and the city councilors served as wedding sponsors.
Each couple received a white cake and a casserole from the City Government.
Tina hopes she and Eduardo can also have a church wedding soon. “Kung naay kwarta, maayo gyud magpakasal sad sa simbahan (If we have the money, we would also like to have a church wedding),” she said.
Tina and Eduardo said communication is the key to a successful relationship.
“Kung unsay desisyon sa bana nga makaayo sa pamilya, sunod lang gyud ang asawa.
Magsabot gyud (The wife should support whatever decision the husband makes, as long as it is for the good of the family. Both should talk),” said Tina.
For his part, Eduardo said husbands should stop vices that can affect their marriage and family. He said he quit smoking and drinking a long time ago.
Husbands should also go out with their wives every now and then. “Isuroy-suroy gyud ang asawa. Manimba. (You should go out with your wife. Go to church),” he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 15, 2013.