Valentine’s Day- February 14 will always be a memorable date for the 170 couples who vowed to be by each other’s side forever at the 2012 Mass Wedding sponsored by the Olongapo City government and held at the Olongapo City Convention Center (OCCC).
In their wedding garbs, couples marched at the red-carpeted aisle, designed and set-up just for the occasion, as though they were attending a royal wedding. One couple arrived in an ambulance – Cary Patinggo, 41 and his bride Nimpa Patinggo, 47 – and made it to the wedding march in a hurry.
Cary, in his desire to marry his long time partner, asked Nimpa’s doctor to briefly discharge her from the hospital.
Nimpa, who was confined at James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital at that time due to diabetes mellitus and complications, attended the wedding rites in a wheelchair.
Olongapo Mayor James “Bong” Gordon Jr., officiated the wedding ceremonies and also stood as sponsor, together with First Lady Anne Gordon.
City Councilors Rodel Cerezo, Tet Marzan-Estrella, Gina Perez, Ellen Dabu, Edic Piano and Edna Elane were also ninongs and ninangs along with city government department heads.
After the wedding rings were sanctified through their promise to always love each other and the “I do’s” of matrimony were expressed in unison, Mayor Gordon finally pronounced the couples as husbands and wives.“
As Mayor Gordon and FL Anne’s brainchild, the mass wedding project has been a great help for financially challenged Olongapeños who want to get married but could not afford the accompanying expenses.
Marriage will not only legalize their union but will consequently lead to the legitimization of their off-springs born out of wedlock,” City Civil Registrar Keren Cajudo explained. According to Cajudo, a total of 1, 201 couples have benefitted from the mass wedding project since it started in 2004, including the indigenous people (IP).
In fact, one of the grooms in this year’s mass wedding, Peter Flores, is a former tribal chieftain of Aeta Development Association (ADA) in Cabanggan, Zambales.Kevin Vitug, 19 and Rowelyn Vitug, 19, the youngest pair among the happy couples, released the matrimonial doves while Isagani Tamundong, 76 and Loida Tamundong, 62, the oldest newly-weds, sliced the cake and led the ceremonial toast.
Each couple, in turn, received their portion of the wedding cake and wine as symbol of their commitment to share their lives together.Aside from the wedding gifts, the newlyweds also received their respective “envelopes of love” as symbols of their prosperous lives ahead.