As the world celebrates Valentine’s Day today, I would like to recall a very romantic gathering I was truly blessed to witness. Back in October 2011, my friends and I were invited to attend the Talaandig Festival in Songco, Bukidnon. Talaandigs are one of the indigenous groups in the mentioned province.
We were truly fortunate to have met datus and baylans who helped us understand and appreciate their heritage (blogged about it here). Aside from that, we got to witness a tribal wedding. Our hosts Datu Anilaw and his wife Lorie tied the knot during last year’s Talaandig Festival. This time, we got to witness Datu Anilaw’s nephew marry his girlfriend who happens to be from a different tribe in Bukidnon. And the hopeless romantic in me clasps my hands together and sigh.
We were told that being garbed in red and/or ethnic accessories is a great demonstration of partaking in the Talaandig festivities. And you know how much I love red and how I’m easily drawn to ethnic designs. Outfit back story here.
I found it really amusing to see this parade of loved ones kick-off the wedding. (I assume it was the start of the wedding rites even if the bride did not appear at the end). Their costumes seemed to be painstakingly designed and their auras display great joy and love for the couple.
Upon entrance to the Hall of Peace, the groom’s family faced the bride’s to initiate the negotiation for dowry. I assumed this typically takes place before the bride’s parents agreed to give her hand. I noticed the bride was not present while this was going on.
Although I could not comprehend the exchanges among the elders, the couple and their families, I could feel how joyful everyone was. Especially when it was time for reception. We always have to conclude such gathering, dialogue about great beginnings and make new friends in the presence of food. How Pinoy! My best friend Lakapati was still on her 30-day juice feast at the time, her husband Alvin and I no longer consume red meat. The sight of lechon may not be appealing to us, but we enjoyed the fruits one of the guests brought and the vegetables they prepared specially for us. We were so thankful.
The best part? The party extended until the wee hours! Bukidnon is home to great musicians like Waway Saway, his son RJ Saway (he plays the guitar as if he were playing the piano) and – my favorite discovery – the reggae band The Mo (I have a copy of their CD).
Now that I’ve mentioned this reggae band, I recall how Datu Anilaw played Cupid that evening. The things in-a-relationship people do to single people! Haha! I’m tempted to tell you how his attempt went, but you’ll just have to wait…until it’s my turn to deliver a bride’s speech.
* – photos by Gerald Rago
~ – photos by Lakapati