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19 unwed couples in Albay tie the knot in Legazpi City

By Rhaydz B. Barcia

BEFORE the love month ended, couple Francis Belarmino, 40 and Analyn Laguna, 39, of PNR site, Legazpi City, who already have four children, finally got married during the mass wedding ceremony together with 18 others couples on Saturday, Feb. 27, here.

The Belarmino couple is all smiles and elated as they walked the aisle along with other couples at the Embarcadero de Legazpi celebration plaza where Fr. Dave Ramoso, parish priest of the St. Raphael Parish, members of the church choir and their principal sponsors happily welcomed the entire entourage.

Francis is a tricycle driver while Analyn is a plain housewife. They have been living together for 12 years without the benefit of a church wedding.

But on Saturday, Francis and Analyn officially received the solemn sacrament of marriage presided by Fr. Ramoso. Their wedding was witnessed by Analyn’s father, Bobot Laguna, a mediaman based in Sorsogon province.

Francis and Analyn are beneficiaries of the Ako Bicol partylist mass wedding initiative for partners living together without the benefit of church weddings due to financial constraints.

HAPPY COUPLES. Ako Bicol Partylist solons Zaldy S. Co and Alfredo Garbin, Jr., (foreground) with the 19 newly-wed couples. (Rhaydz B. Barcia)

“We are living together for 12 years through a civil wedding but it’s our desire to be married in a church. But our ultimate dream was realized through this mass wedding ceremony and initiative of Ako Bicol,” Analyn said.

“We’re totally grateful that our dream to have a church wedding was finally realized before the love month ends. We are totally grateful to Congressmen Elizaldy S. Co and Pido Garbin for this initiative as our union is totally blessed,” she said.

The mass wedding event was also attended by Board Member Jescel Salceda representing his uncle, Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, and Luis Gonzales, representing Gov. Al Francis Bichara.

Fr. Ramoso lauded the initiative of Ako Bicol for bringing together the couples to receive the sacrament of matrimony amidst the pandemic.

“We are happy and grateful to Rep. Zaldy Co and Pido Garbin for uniting these unwed 19 couples who are living together to receive the grace of God through a matrimonial wedding ceremony,” Fr. Ramoso said.

Ako Bicol Rep. Elizaldy S. Co said that based on his observation many couples are living together without the benefit of a matrimonial ceremony or church wedding.

“We realized that a lot of couples are living together without the benefit of marriage and so kumpil (confirmation). To correct this, we opted to help these couples living together to receive the sacrament of matrimonial ceremony this love month,” Co, a former seminarian said.

Free foods, cakes and one sack of rice were given by Ako Bicol to the 19 couples as wedding gifts. Co and Garbin were the principal sponsors of the couples.

Rep. Salceda also provided one sack of rice to each couple. The 19 couples went home with two sacks of rice after the wedding.

To help them start up a business, Co also provided the 19 couples with P15,000 each as seed capital for their livelihoods.

“To make your day merrier as official couples, we will be giving you P15,000 each as your seed money or capital for whatever business or livelihood you are aiming to start with,” Co said.

For Analyn and Francis, the money they have received from Ako Bicol will be used for the sari-sari store business. “This is a big help to us to start up a sari-sari store,” Analyn said.


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