By Glazyl Masculino
BACOLOD CITY – A total of 220 couples tied the knot in a unique “Mask Wedding” ceremony at the Bacolod City Government Center (BCGC) on Thursday.
Mayor Evelio Leonardia officiated the wedding dubbed “Kasalan ng Bayan: 220 on 02-20-2020” at the BCGC – an iconic symbol of the city and considered as the “most photographed City Hall in the country.”
The couples braved the scare of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) exchanged “I dos” and kissed their partners while wearing masks distributed by the City Health Office (CHO).
Although Bacolod remains free from COVID-19, the City Health Office (CHO) required the couples to fill out Health Declaration forms to ascertain their health status and their travel history for the past 14 days.
Rolly Glenn dela Cruz, 60, and Jennifer Mijares,62 were identified as the oldest couple to be wed.
Both said that they have been living together for 38 years, but decided to tie the knot only this year because they didn’t know about mass weddings and that they also considered the education of their two children first.
The couple has been living together since 1979, and they already have two children who have graduated from college.
Leonardia, in his message, said his administration wants to help establish and stabilize families, as strong families make up strong societies.
“If our families are strong, the city of Bacolod becomes strong, too,” he added.
Congressman Greg Gasataya, Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, and Councilor Al Victor Espino co-sponsored the event with the city government.
Gasataya gave the Words of Counsel, while Philippine Statistics Authority- Negros Occidental provincial head Luis Gonzales delivered the inspirational message as a special guest.
Also attending the mass wedding were Councilors Cindy Rojas, Renecito Novero, Simplicia Distrito, Carlos Jose Lopez, Al Victor Espino, Archie Baribar, Israel Salanga, Bartolome Orola, Ana Marie Palermo, and Ayesha Joy Villaflor, City Administrator Em Ang, and City Civil Registrar Atty. Hermilo Pa-oyon.
For years now, the Leonardia administration has been sponsoring mass weddings annually as part of its traditional post-Valentine’s treat to Bacolodnons.
Leonardia had also officiated the mass wedding in Bacolod in 2013, with 2,013 couples—widely considered the biggest in the country so far.
Bacolod City is also known for the world-famous MassKara Festival.