When I was staying in the Philippines I was fairly resolved that I would never marry, after failing in my first two, I assumed it just did not fit my lifestyle.
Of course, falling in love, having a wonderful sex life, having 3 babies, does not require a marriage license, but after 7 years and totally no desire to find any other woman, I knew it was time.
During the last mayoral election as a campaign tactic, the mayor started a program to get those people who were living together to be actually married. It seems that for a very large % of the population the costs for a wedding, the actual administrative costs, were too much for them to have the actual ceremony. As a result of this, 5 very nice old ladies came to our basket ball court and set up a table to file the ‘common law’ marriage paperwork, for free. I know a bargain when I see one, so I sat down… she asked where was my wife… went home and asked her to marry me, today… and filled up the paperwork. As it turns out foreigners are not provided for as a common law marriage, but my wife after several conversations in a language I only get the gist of, told me we will be married but we have to go to town.
Above is a picture of the 61 other couples who got married, for free, with my wife and I. Some dressed, some did not. All the decorations were provided by the mayor… this is an indoor basketball court. Outside and to the left and right were those who were sponsors, theoretically twelve for each couple, but if you were lacking in sponsors, no problem just ask the guy next to you.
There was a lot of talk about how good it was to have a foreigner at the wedding as it meant that those wed here would travel. The Mayor was very shocked as he had done this the last 2 elections, and I was the first foreigner who ever attended, let alone got married.
How was it done you ask? After registering at the back of the hall, all of the brides and grooms mingled around for 15 minutes or so, then, finally, the generator started (it was brownout), the music began and somebody motioned to me to start walking down the isle, and, I and the remaining 61 other couples marched to the repeating over and over wedding march down the isle, got a pic taken that I have never seen since at the top of the isle, got up on the stage, walked across the stage, down off the stage, and sat in the chairs provided, all the while accompanied nervously by this woman, whispering directions to the first five or six couples,
who seems to be having just as much fun as we were.
If you look in the backgrounds you can see that at 58, I was not the oldest attendee. The average age of the couples were almost seemed to be over 40, but many were also in their 20s. I observed that many of those married with me were mentally retarded, hope nobody thought I was. For sure I was not one of the 10 or so couples who were Mamannawa, a tribe of people only one generation from the forest and look like people from Borneo, with very dark skin and frizzy hair.
The ceremony was in English, with a lot of stumbling. I think this was for my personal benefit, nobody told me otherwise.
After the wedding, all of the visiting, we went home. Theresa had fixed a meal for our sponsors, and they in turn invited perhaps 200 (how can you count?) people, fully 100 I have never seen before. Theresa knew this would happen and had prepared enough for an army. Our guest helped themselves and that was very OK with me as I had no idea what to do with all that food anyway. It was a little disappointing that our guests also took 4 forks from a matched set, almost all the spoons, and unknown number of glasses, and 3 cups from a punch bowel set of 12.
Having been married before, and attended perhaps 50, this was by far the most fun of any. No, it was not totally free for me, but it was very inexpensive.