Saturday, November 17, 2007


The wedding today was totally different. I am very happy to have been given the chance to do this once-in-a-lifetime thing. We had two ceremony setups today: a Muslim wedding which happened first then a civil rite followed immediately after.

Of course you have seen our A-Tent before. We moved it to dry ground as it had been raining for three days and the ground was soggy. Anyway, nothing new here. Moving along.

The groom, Eric, is a Christian and was converted to Islam today in a very simple but elaborate ceremony which was held here at the larger gazebo. The bride's father made sure that all the guests - especially the Christians - glued in to this part of the program. A kind of watch-and-learn, so to speak. This was my favorite part because it was a ceremony where Christians learned from the Muslim. I do not have to remind you of the roots of our decades-long insurgency problems in the South for you to understand the significance of this encounter.

Anyway, we made a simple setup. In fact, the banig never had the chance to fold out completely (see where the folds used to be). Anyhoo, my crew chief, Tony, came up with something nice with my green tablecloths. He decided to wrap them around the bare posts in a malong manner, which I totally appreciated because it was very male and represented Eric in a way as the groom. Symbolism ranks high in the way we do things at Vatel Manila.

If you are wondering why a tablecloth is hanging there at the Muslim wedding setup, it was to shield the bride from the prying eyes of the crowd - and that of the groom. Cute. She is not to be seen until the groom actually moves in to join her at the altar and that is when the cloth is removed. We've had that tablecloth for many years (used it a lot in Cagayan de Oro) until I brought it to the farm for a photoshoot. Now, two years after, it has seen the light of day again.

Of course the capiz curtain is here again. Here we can also see the intricately carved Koran stand, a prinsa (antique flat iron) which I used to hold hot coals for the incense used during the ceremony. The table is two bangko (chair with no backrest) held together by a beaded scarf.

Detail. Calla lilies, pink astromeria, and palm leaves.

Detail. On this side... A leatherskin drum (tied a yellow scarf around it), antique burnays (Ilocos jars) topped with rosal leaves and dendrobium orchids lorded over by a bunch of deep red DX Royale tropical blooms.

The pretty bride, Shay, poses with her parents at the altar area.

Meanwhile, in the lavatory, Eric is being cleansed by the imam. This was taken after the washing of his feet.

Finally, Eric wears the mullah.

The ceremony for Eric wraps up with a solemn vow to follow the tenets of Islam. After this, he is led by the imam to the altar.

Sorry but I don't know what was going on at this point. I'm pretty much dead curious myself. As I was typing this, I noticed that Eric was wearing a barong pala, something almost always never worn by our Muslim brothers as they were not under the direct authority of the Spaniards when the latter were still in the Philippines unlike the Tagalogs who had to wear this flimsy clothing to make sure no bolo or something similarly bladed was hidden under their shirts.

I forgot to ask what the hotdog pillow was for. They seem to be fond of pillows. Shay is Tausug, by the way. She and Eric met in St. Luke's Hospital where she is a Nutritionist and Eric is a graphic designer (presumably for the in-house newsletter, but I could be wrong). That red-and-white banig was my mother's. It has been displayed in my bedroom for many years until today. I have forgotten its provenance. Must be from the Visayas.
Thank you, Lord (Allah) for this wonderful day.

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