When someone says Visayas, Cebu probably comes to mind first. To the west of that is, of course, Western Visayas, a treasure trove of beautiful, loving people that are undoubtedly the stuff their beautiful weddings are made of.
Modern weddings in Western Visayas are very much like their traditional weddings. Although not lavished with poetry and rituals as before, but lavished, nonetheless, with love, and the personalities to deliver the popular phrase, “If I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it big.”
What drove Filipinos to the television screens in 2004, for example, was the much-publicized wedding of Negros Occidental First District Representative Jules Ledesma to popular local actress Assunta de Rossi.
Although it did not take place in Negros Occidental but in Makati City, Representative Ledesma pulled out all the stops in his bride’s “dream wedding”, a grand church wedding with tenor Nolyn Cabahug, Vera Wang gown, and a Makati Shangri-la hotel reception.
What’s more, other people present were showbiz personalities from ABS-CBN, Assunta’s network, a lot of prominent families from high society, and principal sponsors including no less than the President of the Philippines.
Their wedding was aired on a special coverage, for the viewing pleasure of Filipinos, especially those back home in Negros Occidental.
This kind of chutzpah has not gone unnoticed to some columnists who gushed over other weddings from Western Visayas. Even Negros’ Manolet Teves of the prominent sugar and political families, a columnist for the Visayan Daily Star, can’t help but point out heartwarming local weddings.
A particular example would be the wedding of Ella “Chu-Chu” Lee, second daughter of Oriental Negros retail giants Edward and Elsie Lee, to Ryan Uy, son of Samar business magnate Leo and Elena Uy.
Teves dubbed it the “most romantic wedding of all time”, and who could disagree? Not with a sunset setting, teardrop crystals in the pedestals, and ladies in “alta costura” multi-hued gowns by the famed Larry Espinosa.
And like with the Ledesma wedding, the guest list glittered as well with various taipans and prominent figures like Alexander Gaisano, John Gobenghuy, Gil Tan and Manuel Osmeña, among others.
Elsewhere in Western Visayas some time in the past, Panay-Bukidnon weddings were very much detailed and prepared for, much like the Western Visayas’ weddings of today.
This mountain-dwelling locality celebrated weddings with a “pudong” (head dress), “walkos” (belt) adorned with antique coins, and the beat of “agongs” and “tambors” (kinds of drums).
Then, there were no fancy invitations, just the powerful sound of gongs, a cultural showdown of dances and chanting, and a feast like no other.
According to one recount of what used to happen, one pig, ten chickens, and one sack of rice are provided by the groom’s family, all of which are to be made into “dinuguan” (pig’s blood and innards), “sarciado” (pork and sweet potato) and “la-uya” (pig’s legs/feet with jackfruit).
These are served for dinner after an entire afternoon of dancing “Binanog” and “Suguidanon” or chanting. As the actual wedding ceremony starts, the bride hides in a room and the groom waits, while the parents of both parties meet and talk about what is best for the young couple.
After giving pieces of advice to the couple (on infidelity or marriage) and the wedding ceremony, a sword called the “talibung” is raised to signal the end of the wedding. Century-old drumsticks beat upon yellowish dried deer skin, matching the sound of the gongs. The couple performs a hawk dance called “Binanog,” just before they exit for their honeymoon.
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Kasal.com thanks the following sources for this article:
Gonzales, Jyh Ming. “Reclaiming an ancient wedding ritual .” Retrieved September 4, 2008 from http://www.thenewstoday.info/2008/06/24/reclaiming.an.ancient.wedding.ritual.html
Salterio, Leah. “Wedding reunites Assunta with family.” Retrieved September 4, 2008 from http://www.newsflash.org/2004/02/sb/sb003294.htm
Teves, Manolet. “A grand wedding!” Retrieved September 4, 2008 from http://www.visayandailystar.com/2006/June/26/starlife.htm