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Friday, December 6, 2013

Filipino Wedding Traditions -- Does Anybody Understand Or Live Them At All?

By profession, I am a TV and radio newscaster, events host and entertainer (singer on special occasions), and I have had my fair share of wedding hostings. In every wedding reception, I make sure I let the guests know the reason behind every Filipino wedding tradition like the giving of the arrhae, the putting on of the veil, etc...

Despite the fact that I had my script down pat, I have come to realize that I really haven't lived it in my own life. In fact, I think it was just all TALK on my part, and not much WALK, if you know what I mean.

A Wedding Reception Hosting Vegas-style, Feb 2008

Filipinos are BIG on weddings, most especially church weddings, since we are predominantly Catholic.

I will attempt to write here one by one the Filipino wedding customs and traditions:

Prior to the wedding, there is the "pamamanhikan" or when the soon to be groom goes to the soon to be bride's home to ask for her hand in marriage from the woman's parents. He usually goes there with his whole family. This is to formalize the marriage proposal.
With my younger sister Erica and my Papa, the late Atty. Butch Cleofe

After accepting the proposal, both parties discuss the wedding arrangements and other details. It is usual for the groom’s family to shoulder the expenses, but in these modern times, the bride often agrees to pay for part of the cost. (Actually, more often than not, nowadays, it is the bride and groom who pay for the whole wedding without much help from their parents.)
The Alejars including actors Jojo and Toby Alejar, my husband's older brothers 

Afterwards, the bride’s family holds a despedida de soltera as she bids goodbye to singlehood, while the groom may hold a bachelor’s or stag party. (Dong and I had none of this although we underwent the "pamamanhikan" part. He asked for my father's permission to marry me. My mother passed away when I was just 17, so it was only my Papa then whom he asked permission from. Papa died 6 years after that.)
My big Salvador Clan (I was formerly Veronica Salvador Cleofe.)

I will get some more info from this site    and add some of my own info. :) Mine would be in parenthesis.

Here are some of the wedding symbols of Filipino weddings...

- The bride’s gown is white or a shaded variation such as ecru, while the groom usually wears a barong tagalog over a pair of black slacks. (White also symbolizes purity or virginity.)

-  In selecting the members of the entourage, the couple usually considers one or several pairs of principal sponsors or godparents - "ninong and ninang" to serve as the primary witnesses of the wedding ceremony. Ideally, some of them may be the couple’s baptismal godparents. They are people whom the couple admire and respect and expect guidance from.

"Ninangs" ChiChi Robles, Aida Geronimo, Vizmalau Bonalos. "Ninongs" Nene Pimentel and Dick Trofeo
With the Flower Girls, Ring and Bible Bearer (my nieces and nephews.:))
- There are also secondary sponsors, usually made up of the couple’s friends or younger relatives: the best man, groomsmen, maid/matron of honor and bridesmaids, along with veil, cord and candle sponsors. They are followed by the coin/arrhae, ring and flower bearers, and the occasional Bible bearer.
With our Secondary Sponsors

- The lighting of the pair of candles, one on each side of the couple, is reminiscent of their baptism and symbolizes the presence and guidance of God in their married life. Later, the couple may decide to light a “unity candle” using these two candles to signify the joining of their families and of the couple’s oneness.

Unity Candle to Signify Oneness

- Apart from the bridal veil, which may form part of her gown, the veil is made of sheer white material, and it is more traditional to have only one during the ceremony. It “clothes” two persons and unifies them in marriage, as well as signifies their commitment to protect each other. This is why it is draped and pinned over the groom’s shoulder and over the head of the bride, to represent his strength and protection of his soon-to-be wife.
Kris Baang my cousin and Gino Alejar, Dong's older brother affix the veil

- Next to the pinning of the veil, the cord is placed over the heads of the couple and allowed to rest on their shoulders. It may be made of silk, or a string of coins or flowers, or designed like a rosary. Aside from the obvious reference to marriage binding the couple for life, the cord is also customarily looped into a figure eight to symbolize infinite loyalty to each other, as well as their promise to act together henceforth.

Dong's older brother Paolo Alejar and my cousin-in-law Pinkie Geronimo affix the cord

- The arrhae are made up of 13 unity coins to represent prosperity. They are placed first in the hands of the groom who then hands it over to the bride, to symbolize how the husband will provide for the welfare of his wife and entrust his worldly goods to her care.
Arrhae symbolizing husband's provider role in the marriage

- The ring’s circular shape stands for eternity. It is usually engraved with the couple’s names and the wedding date. Sometimes, these are replaced with a short phrase that is meaningful to them. Some couples prefer slipping their wedding rings on the left middle finger, which is said to be connected to an artery that leads straight to the heart. Others keep with the Roman tradition of putting it on their right ring finger. Regardless of which hand is used, the exchange of rings highlights the fact that marriage is a covenant between God and the couple, and the sacrament itself is a show of everlasting commitment between the couple. 

With the richness of the symbolism of all the Filipino wedding traditions and customs, it is my prayer that all Filipino marriages here and around the world (as well as the non-Filipino marriages all over the world!) will imbibe and live in their daily lives, the Grand Design of God for Marriage, whatever nationality or color.

Genesis 2:21-25 

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

2:21 At hinulugan ng Panginoong Dios ng di kawasang himbing ang lalake, at siya'y natulog: at kinuha ang isa sa kaniyang mga tadyang at pinapaghilom ang laman sa dakong yaon:
2:22 At ang tadyang na kinuha ng Panginoong Dios sa lalake ay ginawang isang babae, at ito'y dinala niya sa lalake.
2:23 At sinabi ng lalake, Ito nga'y buto ng aking mga buto at laman ng aking laman: siya'y tatawaging Babae, sapagka't sa Lalake siya kinuha.
2:24 Kaya't iiwan ng lalake ang kaniyang ama at ang kaniyang ina, at makikipisan sa kaniyang asawa: at sila'y magiging isang laman.
2:25 At sila'y kapuwa hubad, ang lalake at ang kaniyang asawa, at sila'y hindi nagkakahiyaan 

This was our "first kiss" after he proposed to me. :) We opted not to kiss from January 27, 2004 (proposal) to April 17, 2004 (wedding day) to make it sweeter. :) Priest said it was the sweetest kiss he has ever witnessed. :)

It is my prayer dear sisters in Christ that God be glorified through the sacrament of marriage. May your married lives be richly blessed! God bless us all!

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