A couple slices the strawberry wedding cake prepared by the La Trinidad local government during the strawberry festival mass wedding on March 13. A total of 27 couples exchanged ‘I Dos’ during the event. (Photo by Redjie Melvic Cawis/ PIA-CAR)
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- The importance of love and caring between spouses, and their responsibility toward their children, the community, and the environment were spelled out by local government officials to 27 couples who took their wedding vows here Wednesday.
“You have a responsibility to your spouse to understand and accept each other despite disillusion of who the other person was when you were just partners. Send your children to school, be involved so that they may grow up as good citizens. Accompany them to church, not just send them,” Mayor Romeo Salda told the couples who exchanged “I dos” during the event, which is part of the Strawberry Festival.
The local government gave each couple a cash gift of PHP1,000, a mini strawberry cake, and a coffee seedling they need to care for, symbolizing their responsibility to the environment.
Joan Solano-Bacoling, municipal civil registrar and chairperson of the mass wedding, noted that the family is the foundation of nation-building.
“Once a family has been established, and it is firm, we don’t have street children, we don’t have crimes. That is strengthening the family. That’s the start of the community as a basic social unit,” Bacoling said.
She said the mass wedding legalizes the union between two persons living together without the benefit of marriage and couples who want to start a family life but think that the process is expensive.
“The mass wedding is (held) every year. It’s a return engagement. It has become a tradition targeting about 30 couples,” she said.
Bacoling said the mayor officiates a mass wedding every Wednesday to residents who wish to get married but the Strawberry Festival mass wedding is a bigger event.
“It’s bringing in the local government’s involvement. That is why we have this kind of program from the LGU (local government unit). It is the government’s way of showing that they (the couples) are important, giving their marriage ceremony as a gift,” she said.
The solemnization fee of PHP1,000 is waived by the local government. The couples are also given a moment to walk down the aisle, a grand march, a grand ballroom reception, and a compact disc containing the video and photos taken during the ceremony and the reception.
Like any wedding, each couple is given a cake and wine ceremony, and a photo opportunity while signing their marriage contract.
“They may not remember the gift they had, or who solemnized (their wedding) but they will always remember that when they walked (down) the aisle, they were given a moment of importance and that feeling will last a lifetime,” Bacoling said.
The municipal gymnasium, the wedding venue, was decked with arcs of flowers and the aisle was lined with flower arrangements.
The gift of a coffee seedling
Bacoling said they give each couple a coffee seedling, not only because the local government is promoting its coffee industry but also because it symbolizes what couples need to do to make their bond stronger and their family intact.
“It is like a memorial tree, reminding them that they married on that day and they planted (the seedling). They will take care of it, let it grow, let it flourish,” she said.
“When you take care of your marriage, it symbolizes also that you take care of that gift. We take care of gifts because it is given with the best intention," Bacoling said. (PNA)