On Saturday Jerry’s brother got married in a mass wedding. All over the Philippines (on St Valentines Day) couples were able to get married for free in a civil ceremony administered by their local governments. So on Saturday Jerry’s brother and his girlfriend were married alongside 163 other couples.
The wedding was originally scheduled for Wednesday but the flooding rains of Typhoon Basyang caused a postponement. No one thought it important to update the banners and signs to the new date though.
Arriving at a local plaza and basketball court on a hill near the centre of town, we all squished our way to the top and began searching for the marriage papers. A man off to one side of the plaza (and completely surrounded by women in a variety of traditional wedding gowns and makeshift whiteish frocks) was sorting through a pile of hand-typed forms and calling out names to the anxious crowd.
Ryan and Le-an’s form was eventually found outside the plaza on a table almost completely consumed by the crowd. We stood, pressed on all sides against the other collaborators and their families, waiting for the precious paperwork to be released. Jerry complaining bitterly about being being hot, being bored, being tired and then all three at once.
Once we found the paperwork the young couple walked back to the bottom of the hill to line-up for the wedding march. Jerry and I stood to one side waiting for Kuya Ryan and Ate Je-an to come into view.
After about 20 minutes all the couples marched through the plaza entrance. There were young heavily pregnant girls in cream dresses, there were boys so young I though they could hardly be in high school. There were giggling seniors. Some dressed up. Some didn’t. Along they marched into the plaza to the 326 plastic chairs waiting their arrival.
Chairs for the couples that is, Jerry and I stood to one side until Kuya Ryan told Jerry to sit down in his seat. The national anthem played and Jerry placed his hand on his heart and sang all the words. A year or so back I hired a tutor to spend a week with Jerry and teach him the whole national anthem so he could sing it and get all the words right. I was very proud of him on Saturday.
That was until the couples sat down (plus Jerry) and I stood next to him as the speeches started. Six speeches ranging from 10-30 minutes EACH. Yes, that’s the Philippines people. Jerry told me constantly how boring it was and kept asking for the time.
“What time is it?”
“Tita Meeeeelllll …. [repeat for 9.17am, 9.21am ad nauseam until well after 10am].
In between asking for the time Jerry realised that (seated) his hands were at the same height as my (standing) tummy. A wicked look appeared on his face. Trying not to laugh he began poking and prodding my almost 50 year old belly through my burgundy dress all the while making some very naughty comments. Hilarious. NOT!
Finally after what seemed like an eternity to a 10 year old little brother, the Mayor requested all the couples exchange rings, raise their hands, and then (grooms) kiss their bride. The ceremony ended with a little cupcake, distributed to each of the couples and eaten in unison.
I’m not sure if the ‘couple’ behind Kuya Ryan and Je-an were legally married as only the bride and her son were present. As to where the husband was I’ll never be sure. She still ate her cupcake though.
And that was it. Jerry’s Kuya (older brother) Ryan married at 22 and Jerry telling me …
“Tita Mel, that was fun! Can we do that again?”
© 2018 Melinda J. Irvine