by Natasha Mae Arañez, Czarina Joy Arevalo, and Renee Marsha Babao
This coming December 12 at 4pm, 88 Los Baños couples will tie the knot – for free.
The local government of Los Baños, through the Gender and Development (GAD) Office, will hold the Kasalang Bayan 2014 General Paciano Rizal Park in Los Baños, Laguna.
The Kasalang Bayan is a free mass civil wedding ceremony for the residents of the municipality held every February and December. The event coincides with the quadrocentennial celebrations of the municipality.The brides will be wearing the Filipiniana dress while the groomsmen will wear their barong tagalog or camisos de chino.
According to Nanet Saldaña from the GAD Office, the Kasalang Bayan is part of the municipality’s implementation of Act No. 2013-1240, also known as Kasalang Bayan Act, which was first enacted in 2013.
Eighty-eight out of the 100 slots were secured during the October 30 registration for this year’s Kasalang Bayan. Saladaña shared that aside from enjoying a free wedding and reception, the 88 couples will benefit from a joint Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) that is extended to their children.
The future couples’ age ranged from 18 to 60 years old. The youngest bride and groom for this year’s Kasalang Bayan are both 18 years old. Saldaña noted that applicants who are below 26 years old were required to secure their parents’ consent. Most of the couples come from Brgy. Bambang, with 15 pairs.
A Collaborative Work
According to Saldaña, this event will be a product of the collaboration of municipal offices. She further noted that this is an activity of almost every staff of the municipal office. The flow of the program will be handled by the Kasalang Bayan Core Group, which is composed of sub-committees, will be led by Atty. Genalyn Bagon-Soriano, the Municipal Administrator of Los Baños. Municipal Accountant Lolita Leviste heads the project’s sub-committee on finance. The total cost for the Kasalang Bayan, including the required seminars, amounts to an estimated PhP 460,000. Engr. Ricky Estopace, the municipal engineer, will oversee the event’s physical arrangements.
Dr. Fe Banasihan, the municipal agriculturist, will be in charge of event decorations. Banasihan’s committee is envisions a traditional ambiance, in accordance to the quadricentennial theme. The decoration committee is also responsible for the entourage and the photo booths.
Dr. Alvin A Isidro, the Municipal Health Officer, will lead a medical team consisting of at least 15 nurses and two doctors to stand by in case of emergencies. No serious injuries have taken place in the previous mass weddings. The medical team is preparing for cases of dizziness, heatstroke, hypertension, anxiety attacks, minor wounds, and other accident-related injuries. An ambulance will also be on standby.
Los Baños Police Chief Insp. Ricardo Dalmacia will be in charge of traffic and security. Police Chief Dalmacia said the event is unlikely to cause heavy traffic in the area and that there will be no need to close or block any roads however, the Los Baños PNP will deploy 60 policemen to implement the security plans for the event.
Each couple is entitled to a reception table which accommodates up to eight persons – for the bride, the groom, the parents of the bride, the parents of the groom, and a pair of principle sponsors. Aside from the food and catering during the reception, the municipality will also shoulder the couple’s wedding pictures, give-aways, invitations, bouquets and the video coverage. However, the couples will shoulder their respective wedding rings, which are optional.
The municipality scheduled the event orientation on November 4, followed by the mandatory seminars on November 11. The marriage license application will start by the third week of November, and the general rehearsal is set on December 10.
The holding of the biannual Kasalang Bayan aims to give couples who are unable to afford the requirements of a marriage ceremony the opportunity to get married. By helping couples with the costs of their certificate of no marriage (CENOMAR), marriage license, wedding ceremony, the reception, invitations, souvenir items, and pictures, Saldaña believes that they are able to deal with the barrier of poverty that hindered them from this process.