OK, so Papa’s permission for the wedding was firmly in place, so the wedding was on. Feyma had already said yes to my proposal before “The Talk” with Papa, with the only caveat being that I had to secure the permission of her father.
In the Philippines, if you want to marry, you have to go apply for the Marriage License, and then wait for 10 days before the wedding can take place. During this 10 day wait, there are lots of things to do. You have to attend some required seminars, take care of wedding plans and other such things. Of course, for an “average couple” doing things like planning for the wedding can take place for months or longer. In our case, it was all squeezed into that 10 day waiting period. This was because I had traveled so far, half way around the world, and travel like that is expensive, so making a second trip for the wedding was just not practical.
The next day after getting permission from Papa, we headed to City Hall (in General Santos City) to apply for the Marriage License. Going to City Hall were Feyma and myself, of course, accompanied by Papa and Mama, and Feyma’s sister, Sally. Sally came along because she is very good at handling things like this, and has a lot of political contacts in the government. In the Philippines, one of the most important things is “who you know” so Sally’s help could be indefensible. Papa and Mama came along because in the Philippines, at least at that time (I am not sure if it still required) if the bride was under 25 years of age, her parents had to sign a form to give permission for her to marry. The talk with Papa was a formality, but his signature on the form was a requirement!
After applying for the license we had to wait 10 days before the wedding could legally be conducted. There was plenty we had to get done in 10 days, though!
After going and finishing up the application for the Marriage License, we went to the Church. Both Feyma and I were raised Catholic, although neither of us is Catholic now, so we went to the Catholic Parish nearest her home, St. Peter and Paul Parish in Lagao, General Santos City. It so happened that during her High School, Feyma had attended the Catholic School that was connected with this Parish, so the people there knew her well.
When we got to the Church we told them that we wanted to get married and have our Wedding celebrated at the Church. Well, I have to say, the people at the Church were rather hesitant about a foreigner marrying a girl from the Parish. They were not quite so sure that my intentions were as they wished! As I have said earlier, not many (if any) foreigners went to General Santos in those days, so this was something that they were uncertain about. They really grilled me! First I had to talk to the Church Secretary, a man named Mr. Espejo. He questioned me at length. After many questions about my background, my religious upbringing and such, he asked the question that I knew had been at the front of his mind all along.
Mr. Espejo: Why do you want to marry a Filipina?
Me: Well, I really don’t want to marry a Filipina. I want to marry her (pointing toward my now-wife). I explained to him that I really did not care what nationality she was, I only knew that she was the woman that was right for me.
I could see from his face that this answer impressed Mr. Espejo! Soon after that answer, he called for the Parish Priest to come for my final questioning. The Priest came and asked me more questions. I had cleared the first hurdle, though, Mr. Espejo, and it was clear that the Priest used Mr. Espejo to clear out the bad candidates, so the questioning of the Priest would be much less difficult. He was, however, particularly interested in whether I really was Catholic or not, before he would approve of a Church Wedding. Luckily, I had expected to need to prove my Catholicism, so I brought a lot of documents with me showing that I was part of the Church. This was very helpful in getting the Church Ceremony approved.
There was so much to do, as I said! Feyma needed to take care of the things like getting a wedding dress. The family took care of arranging things like the wedding reception and such. Mostly, I did not have to do much, just take let Feyma and her family take care of everything. They have always been good to me in that way, they get stuff done so that I don’t have to worry. That has been the case through 27 years of marriage to Feyma, and it all started while preparing for the wedding. I am a lucky man.
Next time around, I am going to tell you about the seminars that we had to attend for our final approval for the wedding. There is some stuff in that story that will have you on the floor laughing. 🙂 Tune in again next week!