Friday, February 22, 2013

An Unconventional Wedding

Poor toenails. Witness the muddy demise of  the red nail polish.
Have you ever tried hiking up a steep slippery slope in some mountainous region you never dreamed existed? Ever experienced having your muddied feet washed by some random stranger in a harmless and unintentional re-enactment of the symbolic washing of the disciples' feet by Jesus? And by some random coincidence, have you ever stood up eating so close to the main course table in some stranger's banquet inside a room full of guests also inconveniently eating in vertical position? Well... I have. ;) 

Chocolate-covered tarsals. Nomnom! Ate Leizel  after an effortless toss and turn down the  God-forsaken hill of doom.

 No. I am not talking about the infamous town fiesta so generously practiced by more than 70% of Filipinos with the other 30% eager feast goers who are obviously just in for the free food.(I hate to admit it but yeah, just so you know I'm part of the other 30% haha!) Yep! I hope we're on the same page because my relentless narcissistic drone on this article will be about weddings-the unconventional ones!

My first unconventional wedding happened last year in the remote town of Barili located in the Northern part of Cebu Province. Me and Ate Leizel got the humble invite from our nurse aide Ma'am Moodie whose younger brother was set to be married. Since we were both off duty on the scheduled date, Ate Leizel and I were just stoked as ever most especially because we'll be travelling on a motorbike.

The trip started off smoothly except for the fact that I had to hold on to dear life as I struggled with my "gigormous", ill-fitting helmet that made me look like a puny astronaut for I was seated at the rear end of the bike. We grazed the concrete jungle of Cebu unscathed and eventually reached our desti.... oh wait... no... By some twist of fate, a sudden blanket of ominous clouds loomed at a distance as we traversed the long and winding road along the mountainside. Yep this happened a little over an hour during our sojourn after we exited Carcar City and took a right turn towards Barili. 

Okay for starters, I've never been to Barili and honest to God I was expecting it to be just at least over an hour drive and vwahlah we'll reach the church in no time but no! It wasn't anything like that. Nah-ah! It was as if a series of unfortunate events was set in motion just for us that day. I made mention of the ominous clouds right? Well yeah, the obvious eventually happened as we continued to drive. What started as an innocent drizzle ultimately turned into a violent downpour so we had to stop by a vulcanizing shop in a vain attempt to let the rain pass. The latter turned out to be pointless as we noticed the unforgivable shower didn't seem to have plans at stopping any sooner so we had no choice but to head out again in the open. My butt did start to protest after I found out that the said church was located at the topmost hill as it was actually the last barangay in Barili. >_<

By the time we reached the church, the wedding was almost over. We were soaking wet. The crowning glory resting over our heads were so close to being gory and our feet didn't look like feet at all. I swear in that moment I felt like an Abu Sayaf who barely made it out of the war zone. Luckily, Ma'am Moodie had an extra pair of pedal pushers and a pink shirt just my size so I was able to trade my costume for a casual and comfortable one. 

The bride and groom then signed the wedding contract and had their pictures taken. (I know. We missed the smooching part.) Anyhow, we were not personally acquainted with the bride and groom so Ate Leizel, Ma'am Moodie's boyfriend and I just stood awkwardly near the church door gawking over the nameless faces surrounding us. 

Eventually, the crowed thinned out as a couple of guests piled a hired 8-wheeler truck one by one. Yep you got it, an 8-wheeler truck! Women in hot pink silk clothing and white high heels as well as men in barong tagalog somehow miraculously managed to get aboard the multipurpose truck so as not to miss the eagerly awaited reception at the bride's humble abode. By this time, the entire wedding experience just got more exasperating yet interesting at the same time. (P.S.Got a little pissed seeing Gwen Garcia's mobile transport etched with her name in acronyms across the vehicle's body which was an obvious pathetic attempt at an early political campaign.Yeah me bitching out on Gwen. Ugh!)

We trail-hiked for another fifteen minutes and boy I was just glad I got the chance to change earlier. Ate Leizel however was not sufficiently equipped with the right gear though for she was wearing an uncomfortable slippery black sandals with about an inch of elevation on the heels.On the other hand, I was wearing my comfy Caribbean slip-ons and yet I still struggled down the muddy terrain. Yep! The road to good food was an obstacle course for us. Ultimately, Ate Leizel slipped down the muddy trail and landed painfully on her buttocks and the best help I offered her was a hearty laugh. LOL. Call me mean but hey I bet you would laugh your heart out too and of course a kind villager helped her up to her feet immediately. I wasn't adding insult but merely shoving humor to the injury. Nothing beats a good old hearty laugh. =D 

Finally, we reached the bride's abode. There were already people inside and more people flocked the canopy outside the house as it was still raining at that time. An then all of a sudden, a kind-looking fellow offered to wash Ate Leizel's feet. The boldness of the offer took us aback. I mean who does that nowadays?! Plus the dude asked in a non-perverted, I'm-expecting-something-in return kinda way. He was just simply sincere in his offer to help. My friend declined the offer but the dude was persistent so in the end, Ate Leizel's feet was freed from the clutches of MUD..temporarily! :) 

We then made our way up the the house after Ma'am Moodie finally noticed our starving countenance from a distance. Yet again, even upon our descent to the bride's home, two men once again helped us maintain our balance. ;)

Inside the house, we were greeted with plates, utensils and of course food. The bride and groom sat across a table filled with the usual food that Filipinos dig and yes most of the people inside the house were standing so close to the table...while eating. O_O  I didn't exactly experience a culinary orgasm with the food prepared but it was more than enough to feed tired and weary guests like me. There was just this one uncomfortable moment when a guest deliberately grabbed the food by hand and placed it on our empty plates. Geeshh! She didn't even give us the time to decide on what to eat but even so, out of respect we yielded. 

Yes. The entire experience was exhausting, quirky and unconventional yet it was fun and utterly memorable. The most striking observation that I had probably on that sojourn was the conspicuous display of classic Filipino hospitality. I am just extremely grateful for the extra hands that casually helped us while we were there and I'm just mighty glad to say that modern day chivalry didn't completely die out yet. We may not feel it in the concrete jungle of Cebu or in any other city for that matter but it does still exist in places where inhabitants are most primitive, simple and yet pure and humble in their daily living. Cebuanos may call them "taga-bukid" and Manilenios may refer to them as "probinsyano". I say they are the real kind of people. It may be a quirky wedding but in the end, it made me realize how life is definitely more fun in the Philippines! ;)

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