Why is it that the finest and most memorable Filipino weddings seem to have a genuine bonhomie that is perhaps best described as having a fiesta atmosphere? Whether they are simple rites in a pastoral setting, or a grand affair in the city, there is a distinct and extremely appealing feel to this Filipino take on a wedding celebration. Maybe other former Spanish colonies such as Mexico or countries in South America share this type of celebration, but ours has certainly evolved into bayanihan-meets-friar-filmed-by-hollywood spectacle. The photo up top was taken in front of the Sto. Domingo church in Quezon City a couple of hours ago, just as the wedding rites of Senator Mar Roxas and Korina Sanchez had ended and the reception in the courtyard of the church was about to begin. Several hundred folks waited outside the church and watched the festivities on large screens as their idols Korina and Mar said their vows. The crowds, the lights, the balloon vendors, the hubbub all contributed to the fiesta feel.
It started with the arrival of a very simple, yet elegant and totally proper invitation. Worded in very clear, plain Filipino, it was obvious that this celebration was going to have a very Filipiniana theme to it. Mrs. MM was out of town today, and good friends who we would normally go to the rare occasions such as these with also left town today, so if I were to go, it would be solo.
Thankfully, my brother had a nice pina barong that he graciously lent me, so I wouldn’t have to go out and spend a small fortune on a custom-made one. When I got to the church, instead of the lengthy wait to go around the block and be dropped off by car, I decided to walk on Quezon Avenue instead, and got to the church well before the designated time.
As we waited inside the church, I noticed how beautiful the stained glass windows were.
The altar was very simply decorated with all white flowers including lilies, roses and sampaguitas. The aisles were bare.
The wedding started wickedly late, but after all the famous folks, celebrities, civil servants, relatives and friends settled in, the wedding party finally marched down the aisle. Senator Roxas beamed as his fiancee finally made her grand entrance, escorted by her three brothers, and wearing a gown with a rather long train…
The wedding rites/mass was officiated by Fr. Tito Caluag and assisted by 7 bishops. Almost completely done in Filipino, it was elegant yet simple and totally appropriate at the same time. Nothing seemed over the top, with the possible exception of the remote sky camera over the altar which filmed the entire proceeding… but this was going to be on primetime television, I gather.
A few weeks ago, the couple cancelled the planned large reception at the Araneta Coliseum and instead donated part of their reception budget to charity following the several natural calamities that have struck the country. They held a very short and simple meet and greet reception in the gardens beside the church after the wedding. A smaller dinner for close family and friends would follow at the Araneta home in Cubao. The church courtyard/gardens were covered with a large tent and with the help of dramatic lighting and simple strands of sampaguita hanging from the trees, it was transformed into a reception hall with rather charming results.
I love the way the sampaguita perfumed the large tented space, without overpowering the senses. Small cocktail tables with candles were also set up on the grass.
But of course the part I was really curious about was the food that would be making the rounds in a few minutes time. Thanks to MF and TL for allowing me into the kitchen or food prep staging room to record these behind the scenes shots of the food…
Instead of a fancy five course meal, the theme of the simplified reception was to offer some native snacks and sweets to go along with a drink or two. I LOVE that they decided to anchor the late afternoon merienda with pan de sals filled with all kinds of things. There were small pan de sals filled with adobo flakes, chorizo, galantina, peanut butter and guava jelly, mangosteen jam, various cheeses, etc.
A small army assembled and wrapped what must have been thousands of pan de sals…
…and they were wrapped in some grease-proof paper so your fingers wouldn’t get too messy.
There were all kinds of rice cakes, sweets, etc. on offer as well.
Beautiful hand-cut paper elegantly clothed the polvoran and other sweet native delicacies from Central Luzon… The trays of these goodies were just stunningly beautiful!
The cake, of which I had taken this snapshot BEFORE I entered the church mid-afternoon, continued the Filipiniana theme with an embroidery pattern done with icing, almost like a finely embroidered pina barong… with some rosal, sampaguita and other native gum paste flowers on top.
Overall, I just marvelled at how pleasant and appropriate everything seemed to be. There was a sensitivity to the times displayed, that even when you discount some due to the obvious political undercurrent, just screamed a whole lot of class and restraint. Who says you need to spend a bijillion on fancy meals, outrageously over-the-top floral displays and vintage wines to throw a great wedding reception? Finally, as I left this evening, I got this last photo of the “bridal pajak” which I gather Mar was going to pedal with Korina in the passenger seat (where her five-meter train would go is unclear), to the delight of onlookers and the crowds outside. Okay, okay, I would forgive them this last cheesy stunt as they are going into a presidential/vice-presidential campaign soon…
So what does one give as a wedding present to a couple that seems to have everything they need? Who have thousands of guests and for whom a toaster or hotpot would be a bit mundane? How about 100+ jars of homemade organic guava jelly and mangosteen jam… that were used as palaman (fillings) in the pan de sals served at the reception this evening?! Marketman & Manila/Cebu crew are all honored to have contributed just that teeny tiny little bit of sweetness to the fantastic cornucopia of native delicacies and food items that were served at the reception. Obviously, you now know who is getting our vote in next year’s Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections. :)