LALA, LANAO DEL NORTE — Some 1,261 couples said ‘I do’, Sunday (March 20), in a mass wedding ceremony organized by the local government unit (LGU) of Lala town and its partner, a non-government organization, Everca Foundation.
The ceremony came after the national inter agency task force on COVID-19 placed Lanao del Norte’s pandemic risk status to alert level. The town has zero covid cases since the start of 2022.
Wearing their bridal gown and a coat and tie, the couple, coming from the 27 barangays in Lala, started coming to the venue at the ground of the town center as early as 4:00 am to prepare for the ceremony to be officiated by town Mayor Angel Yap.
The LGU provided them their gowns and suits and helped them in preparing and processing their marriage license and other pertinent papers.
Yap said, the mass wedding, dubbed as Kasalan Ng Bayan, is the highlight of 73rd founding anniversary celebration of Lala that aims to legalize the marriage of the couple in Lala who have been living together.
“Making your marriage legal is also a gift to your children,” Yap said in his message.
Couple Erlan Espinosa and Mary Ann Pobadora has been living in for 12 years. They have three children aged 8, 5 and 3 years old.
Espinosa is a person with disability (PWD). He was born without two legs. He came to the venue of the mass wedding on a wheelchair.
Espinosa, a fisherman of Barangay Pacita, said they attempted to get wed earlier of their relationship but it was pushed through because their income is not enough. Pobadora is a plain housewife.
“Akoang income igo ra man ipamalit og pagkaon ug ubang panginahanglan sa pamilya,” Espinosa said in an interview.
Another couple, Roger Francisco, 62 and Jovy Amador, 53, are also living together for 14 years.
Francisco, a trisikad driver, said their financial status is also a challenge why he was not able to give Jovy a wedding she dreamed of.
“Human aning kasal, mag-drive napud ko’g sikad kay wala mi bugas, aron makapalit mi og bugas. Wala nami selebrasyon kay wala,” Francisco said.
Like the newly-wed Espinosa couple, the Francisco couple has only one purpose of participating in the mass wedding: to get married legally.
Vice Mayor Cesar Yar, Jr. in his message said he appreciated the couples to get wed in the mass wedding because it only showd they are interested to be legally married.
“This will make the government recognize your children and entitled them to your income, social security benefits, health and life insurance, pension, joint tax return and othe benefits as couple,” Vice Mayor Yap said in his message.
“Akoang panghinaut nga ipataliwala ninyo sa inyong kaminyoon ang Diyos, ipalabi ang kalipay sa inyong kapikas ug modesisyon nga magpabiling nahigugma bisan sa mga pagsulay,” the vice mayor added.