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350 pairs say ‘I do’ in Zambales Valentine’s Day mass weddings

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BOTOLAN, Zambales—Hundreds of lovestruck couples in Zambales said “I do” and pledged to live together as man and wife for richer or poorer in the loveliest possible time—Valentine’s Day.

And love was all they needed literally to be legally united, as local government units sponsored “Kasalang Bayan” mass weddings in at least three municipalities in Zambales on February 14.

Here in Botolan town, 150 partners took advantage of the civic rites presided over by Mayor Jun Omar Ebdane on Tuesday morning.

The wedding was all free, Ebdane said: “We took care of all the expenses—the ceremony, food, cake, entertainment, even gifts like cash and rice that they bring home.”

“It’s our way of encouraging couples—some of whom have lived together for years and years—to legalize their marriage and make a stronger commitment to each other and their family,” Ebdane added.

Among the 150 couples who said their marriage vows last Tuesday are Benny Basa, 33, and Elena, his partner for 10 years. The Ayta couple from Barangay Naculcol marched to the wedding with their two children in tow: Ellen, 4, and Edmund, 1.

Asked why they would want to wed after 10 years of living as man and wife, Benny and Ellen replied that marriage would make their partnership stronger. “Mas matibay ang pagsasama,” the couple said.

Love also won the day for 73-year-old Reynaldo Bundang Mora and 58-year-old Nelia Encarnacion Divino, both residents of Barangay Beneg in this town, who were the oldest pair to be wed here during the Valentine’s Day mass wedding.

The youngest couple, meanwhile, were Melvin Collado Ignacio, 21, of Barangay Villar, Botolan and Alexa Dela Cruz Abong, 18, from Barangay Sta. Barbara in Iba, Zambales.

The simple ceremony included a wedding march, recital of marriage vows and exchange of rings, eating of cake and wine toast, and finally a wedding dance. All the newly-wed couples also went up the stage for souvenir photos with Mayor Ebdane, Vice Mayor Doris Ladines and other town officials, as well as wedding sponsors.

Botolan local civil registrar Clevelyn Deliquiña said a lot of couples registered for the wedding ceremony this year because even the Certificate of No Marriage Record (Cenomar) was given free.

She added that of the couples who initially filled up the 150 slots, two were found out to have been previously married, but luckily two other couples came in to even out the number.

Meanwhile, Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. attended a similar “Kasalang Bayan” held on the same day in Subic, Zambales and became one of the “ninongs” or primary sponsor, along with Zambales First District Representative Jay Khonghun and Castillejos town mayor Jeffrey Khonghun.

The Subic wedding solemnized by Mayor Jonathan Khonghun involved more than 200 couples, which included Cornelio D. Sadiera, 66, and Adoracion F. Mendigorin, 60, of Barangay Calapandayan. The couple has been living together for 43 years and has four children.

Another elder couple who said “I do” in Subic were Antonio S. Evangelista, 72, and Marciana C. Curitana, 65, of Barangay Calapacuan. They have been living together for 38 years and have four children, too.

In San Felipe town, 26 pairs were also legally united in a mass wedding on Valentine’s Day.

Image credits: Contributed photo

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