The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office VII, the Cebu City Government, along with other partners, namely, Nano-Nagle Child Care and Learning Center, Inc. Cebu, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Regions 6 and 7, and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Region 7, organized the first Sama-Bajau civil mass wedding for the Indigenous Peoples (IP) community to cap off the National IP month celebration.
Eighteen (18) Sama-Bajau couples from Sitio Alaska, Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City, exchanged their “I Dos” in a civil mass wedding held at the Social Hall of the Cebu City Hall on Thursday, October 26, 2023.
The agencies organized the first of its kind for the Sama-Bajau community to legalize the IP couples union who have been married in traditional marriage rites, which the tribal chieftain or leader officiated.
Initiated by the DSWD’s Comprehensive Program for Street Children, Street Families, and Indigenous Peoples in Street Situations (COMPRE), the activity aimed to help IP couples obtain their marriage license and place their union under the bounds of the law.
The local Chief Executive of the City Government of Cebu, Mayor Michael L. Rama, solemnized the wedding.
In his message, he said that on the many occasions he presided over a mass wedding, this was his first for an IP community.
“We hope that this will not be the first and the last wedding for Sama Bajau but hopefully more for other couples,” said the mayor.
DSWD-7 Assistant Regional Director for Operations Juanito C. Cantero thanked all the members of the inter-agency body and recognized their contribution to making the event possible and successful.
All couples are also household beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), which makes the program a convergence activity of the government and the private sector.
Samari Daomani and Paulita Aliudin were among the Sama-Bajau couples.
Aliudin was a former DSWD employee and worked as a social welfare aide, now a licensed teacher, while Daomani is one of the first who graduated college from the community with a degree in maritime transportation.
“Oo, minyo mi sa mata sa among tribu pinaagi sa among tradisyonal nga pamaagi apan wala kami gikuptan nga dokumento. Mao nga kini nga higayon, dako kaayo og tabang aron mahimong legal ang among kaminyoon (Yes, we are married under the traditions of our community, but we do not have any document. That is why this (civil mass wedding) helps make our marriage legal),” shared Paulita during the wedding reception.
The two have been wanting to legalize their marriage but did not push through it because of the expenses that come in compliance with the requirements and preparation for the wedding day.
Through the support of a multi-stakeholder committee, the Daomanis and other couples were relieved from the wedding expenses and exchanged their “I Dos” in front of the city mayor and other guests.
During the ceremony, the couples danced to the beat of their traditional music called Kulintangan, played live by one of the members of their community. They also had their slicing of the cake and toasting of the wine.
Before the event, the couples took part in a prenuptial photoshoot wearing their colorful ethnic attire.
The Social Marketing Unit (SMU) of DSWD-7 organized the photoshoot. The public can view the photos on the DSWD 7 official Facebook page at DSWD Region VII. ###