SIXTY-TWO-YEAR-OLD Nelson Naranja and his 48-year-old partner Lalina Trio will be the oldest couple among the 469 pairs who will tie the knot today in the mass wedding at the Bacolod Government Center at 3 p.m., Tuesday, February 14.

City Civil Registrar Hermilo Pauyon said they initially received applications from 480 couples, but only 469 pairs were able to complete the requirements.

The mass wedding will be officiated by Mayor Evelio Leonardia. The rites will be witnessed by Representative Greg Gasataya, Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, the city councilors, and Joely Cabarles, officer-in-charge of Philippine Statistics Authority-Negros Occidental.

Pauyon said the bride can wear a wedding gown, but those who do not have one can wear a white formal attire.

The mass wedding project of the City Government in February coincides with the observance of the Civil Registration Month.

Pauyon said the City Government allotted a budget of P205,000 for the tokens, cakes, and wines for the couples. The processing of the couple’s documents are free.

He said they will provide a photo booth for the couples.

Couples plant mangroves

In E.B. Magalona, Negros Occidental, Mayor Marvin Malacon asked the 69 couples who will get married in today’s mass wedding at Wilkinson Gym to plant trees.

Malacon said that before the rites, the couples planted mangrove seedlings in the coastal village of Tuburan.

The mayor said he will ask the Provincial Council to pass an ordinance to make mangrove planting a requirement for couples joining the annual mass wedding program.

“We are experiencing climate change and we want them to be part of the solution. We require each couple to adopt a tree,” Malacon said in a phone interview.

Couple Arnel Remias and Rose Marie Presquito said they had a hard time walking through the muddy shore but they were glad to have done something for nature before finally getting married.

Green Alert-Negros was one of the organizers of the event dubbed “Date with a Tree.”

“The event also aims to educate the participants and the community on the importance of mangroves in the coastal ecosystem and get involve in coastal conservation and preservation through mangrove growing,” the group said in a press statement. (MAP/TDE)