Monica stopped receiving her "manliligaw" after she heard some people refer to him as "Ayap" (string bean.) The young man having been "talbog" (spurned), Kang Moni left to join her mother's family in Tayabas, Quezon, where she later married a man from Baryo Kalumpang and raised children. Sayang, I would have wanted to see her get married in Paete, but just as well.

All Paete weddings were public affairs, so as a child, I got to see a number of them. The way to know there was going to be a wedding was to watch the side door of the church. Whenever I saw a group of young men and women decorating the door with palm trees on either side and making an arc of woven palm leaves overhead, I knew there was going to be one.

I was there when Amang Pidong (Wilfredo Angeles) married his first wife, Inang Caridad (now deceased); when my Inang Ikang (Teodorica Cagahastian) married Amang Siso (Narciso Beato) from Santa Rosa; when my cousin Kang Andres (Agbada) married Kang Isidra from Liliw; when another cousin, Kang Dadi (Andres Lindo) married my mother's stepsister, Kang Benita (Dagunton); and a lot of other weddings that I cannot now recall.

Paete weddings then tended to use more symbols than western nuptial rites. Aside from the ring (a symbol of continuity and wholeness), there was the "pahiyas," silver coins strung together, which the bridegroom handed over to his bride to indicate that she would now share "all his worldly possessions," no matter how meager.

Another symbol, a mantle, was draped over the couple to signify that they would now be living under one roof. Finally, a silken cord - loosely knotted in the shape of a horizontal figure eight, the sign of infinity - was slipped around their shoulders to symbolize the concept of total binding. Husband and wife were now one flesh.

A great chunk of the couple's pulot-gata (honeymoon) period was spent visiting relatives and friends, especially those who were not able to make it to the wedding for one reason or another. Such visits were done to ask for blessings, to receive counsel, to partake of family meals and sometimes, to receive gifts. This custom is called "nangluluhod" because the newlyweds actually knelt before their families and relatives to receive their blessings.

Gifts given to Paete newlyweds were most touching in their practicality and simplicity: a pandan mat wide enough to cover the entire floor of the house, a family-size mosquito net made of sinamay, an enamel chamber pot (urinola), an ironing board (palantsahang kabayo), a laundry tub (batiya), a box of laundry soap, a sack of rice, walis-tingting (broom made of coconut frond ribs), a carved bas relief of the Last Supper, a pal'yok (clay pot).

The Paete weddings that I saw featured no wedding cakes or doves but they lasted for a long, long time.

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