DAVAO ORIENTAL— Ten couples simultaneously exchanged wedding vows on Monday, September 3, 2018 during the fifth founding anniversary of the Provincial Government-run Happy Home for former rebels.
Sponsored by the Provincial Government, the mass wedding joined in holy matrimony the couples consisting of former rebels, with some of them having partners who are also former rebels.
The wedding took place at the San Nicholas De Tolentino Cathedral, wherein prior the ceremony, couples underwent confession while some received the sacrament of baptism and confirmation.
The newlyweds expressed their gratitude to the Provincial Government for its support not only in helping them in their reintegration to the mainstream society but also for making their simple dream wedding possible.
One bride, who will be delivering her first child next month, said she has been dreaming of being wed to her husband whom she had known since she was still in the communist insurgent’s movement.
“I am greatly thankful to the provincial government that we are now legally married. This is really a big help for us because we have been dreaming of this moment ever since we came here at the Happy Home. I have known him when we were still in the communist movement but our love only blossomed here because it is forbidden to be in a relationship inside the movement,” she said.
Her husband likewise thanked the provincial government, the Happy Home staff, and the 701st Brigade of the Philippine Army for “their untiring support and for providing all our needs.”
Mass weddings are only among the wide-ranging services the Happy Home renders to its beneficiaries who could not financially afford organizing a wedding on their own.
Implemented under the Provincial Government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), more benefits were added to the wide-array of services the former program’s version (CLIP) has offered. Under the E-CLIP, reintegration assistance as well as firearms remuneration has been increased, and at the same time, rebel returnees can enjoy employment assistance and access to various social services of the government.
Congratulating the married couples is Provincial Administrator Art Benjie Bulaong who represented Governor Nelson Dayanghirang. He urged them to continue sowing the seeds of joy they have acquired atthe “Happy Home”.
“Our governor is one hundred percent in support to whatever the programs, the endeavors under our Happy Home… Indeed this place is where all happiness starts… Governor Nelson Dayanghirang is hoping that your joy will continue even outside the Happy Home. He also hopes that you will apply in life what you have learned in your stay here and that may you continue supporting all of the government’s programs because there is only one government that truly cares for you. Our governor would like again to extend his gratitude for being very supportive in all of our endeavors especially to the Local Government Unit of Davao Oriental. And for you to know, our province, especially our governor, is very much honored and very much delighted that this program has become successful,” Bulaong said.
Gracing and witnessing the occasion are Department of the Interior and Local Government Provincial Director Yvette Tolentino Sunga, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office Head Sarah Gudes, Happy Home Center Manager Emmalyn Oliveros, Provincial Civil Security Unit Head Ret. Major Hermie Montelibano, and 701st Brigades Community Military Operations Capt. Rey Boy Ibanez, among others, who served as godparents of the couples. By Riza M. Golez/Photos by Joel Owano