Thursday, June 19, 2014

We are Gathered Here...

We are gathered here today, April 25, to celebrate the joining of Challikes and Ayree in Holy Matrimony. And, boy, many were gathered in Bontoc for the wedding of the year. As I said in Monday's post, April began and ended with a Bishop's son's wedding.

Patrick, Sir Junior, Maritess, Carolyn, Noemi, Grace, and I all traveled to Bontoc on Thursday. We stopped for a lovely lunch with a gorgeous view in Banaue. Then the ECARE development staff including me sat through a three hour long meeting that afternoon as the rain pounded on the tin roofs making it impossible to hear anything.

The wedding was one big reunion! I met up all the CDWs (community development workers) who I hadn't seen in months. The night before the wedding we went to a local place, drank beers, sang karaoke, listened to beautiful live music and celebrated a wonderful fellowship!

{Enjoying the views of our lunch spot}

{Singing Karoake at Cable}

{What a beautiful morning for a wedding. View from my hotel room}

{Wedding party gathered outside the church}

The morning of the wedding was beautiful. Everyone was buzzing with excitement around the church as the pews began to fill up. One cool thing, Andrew Joyce, another YASCer, was part of the wedding party. Community members from far and wide came to support the Bishop's son during this important day. Here in the Philippines, weddings aren't an exclusive event. It's about displaying the couple's commitment to one another to the whole community. Everyone is invited!

The ceremony itself doesn't stray too far from a Episcopal liturgy at home. The major difference is the presentation of three symbols - the Bible, the Candle and the Cord. Andrew Joyce was in charge of presenting the cord which binds their love together. Talk about a heavy responsibility! Highlights of the service were the bride's emotional procession, Prime Bishop singing during his homily, and the traditional Igorot offertory procession including gongs and dancing.

{Selfie fun with Jen and Arriane before the service}

{Andrew Joyce with the wedding party}

{Tradition is the bride's parents process three-quarter's of the way down the aisle. Then the Bride walks towards them and the parents together escort her the last quarter to the groom. Joyous tears streamed down Ayree's and her parents' faces, which made me almost cry!}

{Binding of Love Together}

{Procession of Offertory which includes vegetables, rice, and monetary offerings}

{The altar post offertory. Lovely!}

{Catching of the Bouquet}

Once the two hour long ceremony commenced, the bridal party, sponsors, and families gathered for pictures. Then all the community members went outside for reception and lunch. The sponsors, wedding party, and family members, sit under a designated area where they are given preferential treatment. While the community is fed a mass meal and finds places to gather anywhere out of the sun.

After people have eaten and pictures have been taken, the Bride and Groom take their seats under a tented area. This is where they will sit and greet all the guests and be presented songs and dances from surrounding communities and barangays. And no, they don't get to eat before or during. Hours after the line began, the couple finally gets a break to eat and rest.

{Bride's and Groom's parents}

{Area for the sponsors and families. I spy cupcake towers!}

{Area for the dancing and presentations}

{Andrew taking his duties as bartender very seriously}

{As part of the presentations, some of the groups require the Bride and Groom to get up and dance which they teach them as they go along}

{Me, Arriane, and Jen dying in the heat of the afternoon}

I've come to the conclusion that Filipinos are exhausting for the couple. They are an all-day community affair without any breaks. This wedding went from 9am to midnight! While the celebration is about the couple, they really have to be "on" the whole day and put on a good face. It's not like weddings in the states where it's a big party with your closest friends and family. For me, it was a wonderful time! I'm glad I was able to make it and support Bishop and his family on that special day!

On Saturday, we all headed back to Santiago. We stopped again in Banaue for lunch but at a new spot, Sanafe Cafe. It's recommended by TripAdvisor and its no secret why. There were many foreigners there enjoying the views and delicious filipino dishes. I loved their map where you can pin where you're from. Unfortunately, somebody already pinned Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia area. 

{Me and Noemi, Patrick's daughter}

{Fried bananas with honey and sesame seeds}

Thanks for reading!

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