Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Badjao Wedding ~

~An Atypical Tuesday Morning ~
On Tuesday morning at 11, I was invited to attend a wedding among the Badjao. When I asked why get married Tuesday morning at 11? The answer made me smile. To understand the answer you must know that the Badjao are a native ethnic group in the Philippines. They are social outcasts, sea gypsies and street beggars. They have their own language and live in stilted housed on the sea. Most are Muslim but not all. Those who live in Isla Verde are some of the poorest. So when I asked why Tuesday morning? I was told, “When nobody works; Why not?”
 The bride is named Lassa. She is the pastor’s daughter and was marrying late at 18 yrs old. (Most are married off at 13 or 14 yrs.) A Badjao wedding is a three day affair with dancing, food and festivities. The whole town is invited. I got there on the final day of festivities, to find most of the town gathered in front of the church, watching dancers and waiting for the fun to begin.
 The bride was beautiful! She reminded me of a fine porcelain doll with her layers and layers of make-up! She had white foundation, green and gold eye shadow and a perfect circle of bright pink blush on each cheek! Her lipstick was deep red and she wore one inch fake eyelashes! They must have been heavy as she kept her eyes to the floor- downcast and demure.
 She wore a white, frilly gown that must have been sweltering in the heat! Her hair was tucked up under a white tulle veil that trailed behind her. On her hands she wore lacy gloves. Each finger donned at least one large gold ring and her wrists drooped with gold bracelets. Around her neck hung not one but two large gold necklaces with another in her hair which laid low on her forehead. She resembled nothing of the giggling young girl I had met months before. She didn’t smile. She didn’t move. She didn’t giggle. She sat stock still while one friend caked on more and more make-up and another fanned her with a piece of cardboard. She looked very nervous- and hot!
The groom was also in his finest. But for him, that meant shiny new sneakers, dark blue jeans and a traditional white linen shirt. His hair was spiked with gobs of gel. And up until the vows, he wore brand-new black sun glasses. He looked green and ready to pass out at any moment! As it came time for the ceremony to start, the crowd cheered as the groom went to get the bride and then led her to the altar.

 They sat on a bench with their hands neatly folded on golden pillows and stared stoically as the crowd bustled in close for a better view. The crowd stood quietly as they exchanged rings and vowed to love each other in a way that would glorify God! Then slowly, the church emptied and the kids ran for the cake. It was simple and lovely. There was just one thing. The groom was reluctant…and the bride was hopeful. Their families had arranged it for social prestige and money. She came with a hefty dowry (14,000 pesos or $300.00 US). ….. And he had no choice. Pray that they learn to love each other as Christ loves the church!