28 exchange vows at mass wedding in city

DUBAI — Forty-two-year-old Roberto Concepcion and Virginia De Guzman, 39, yesterday said ‘I do’ along with 28 other couples at a mass wedding held at St. Mary’s Church in Dubai on the sidelines of the 33rd anniversary of the UAE National Day.

By Ramona Ruiz

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Published: Fri 3 Dec 2004, 12:15 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:22 PM

Roberto and Virginia, who had their civil wedding in 1986 in Taguig, Metro Manila, are the oldest couple in the group.

The couples in the 10th mass wedding are all Filipinos, except for a mixed marriage between a Nepalese groom, Girendra Ghimere and Filipina bride Fatima Vargas.

“We had been working abroad for more than 10 years, and our annual vacation didn’t always coincide. We have four children who are all in their teens except for our seven and a half year-old daughter Kimberly Anne, who’s our flower girl. She’s so excited that she hardly slept last night,” said Virginia.

Husband Roberto said that they had both talked about having a church wedding for some time now.“We also know Father Zaki in Muscat where we were earlier employed,” he said.

Filipino priest Father Zaki Parra and parish priest Father P.M. Peter, officiated the mass wedding. Father Zaki praised the couples for taking a bold decision to be part of a mass wedding.“The sacrament of marriage is important. The secret of a successful marriage does not lie in beauty and wealth alone. You should put God at the centre of your life and marriage,” he advised.

The youngest couple, Jerick Delgado, 21, and Marilou Salud, 22, who met eight months ago in Dubai, is expecting their first child next year. Marilou, said that their parents were also celebrating their marriage yesterday.

“My family has already met Jerick’s parents in our home. We have their blessings and we are glad to be part of the mass wedding today. We hope to have another wedding in the Philippines next year,” she said.

Maria Melanie Monsod, 26, looked stunning in a yellow-gold wedding grown and stood out from among the 28 other brides.“I didn’t want to be just like the rest in this mass wedding. I wanted to look nice. A bride should look her best during her wedding day, right?” she said.

Melanie tied the knot with William Dimayuga, who works at a call centre. The couple met at a call centre in Makati last year. Melanie left for Dubai in May this year, while William followed her a few months after.

“We just wanted things right,” was Melanie’s reply when asked why they chose to join the mass wedding. “We hope to have another wedding in October 2005 to celebrate it with our families and friends,” she added.

Nepalese national Girendra Ghimera, 29, and his bride Fatima Vargas, 32 met in Dubai three years ago. Girendra, who works at Royal Mirage, said: “My father died six months ago so Fatima and we couldn’t get married. Fatima, who works at Hilton Jumeirah, dreamt of having a church wedding so we decided to join this mass wedding. However, we will have another Hindu wedding in Kathmandu in July next year.”

Rexy Marty, couple coordinator and in-charge of documentation for the mass wedding, told Khaleej Times that the church wedding serves as an inspiration to a number of Filipino couples to have a church wedding.“ A number of these couples have already been married in civil rites, but this year, there are more couples who are marrying for the first time,” she said.

Twenty-nine couples also took part in the ninth mass wedding last year. The number of couples this year would have reached 30. However, Gary Delos Reyes and Lea Alata failed to meet the deadline of the requirements set by the church.

“However, couple Nos 24 and 28 were able to beat the deadline, as they got their baptismal certificates and ‘freedom to marry’ certificate, just recently,” she said.

Butch Braga, chairman of the Mass Wedding 2004 project said that it took about 85 people working in 15 different committees to ensure the event’s success.

Among the committees included secretariat, documentation, lights and sound system, souvenir programmes, ways and means, food, physical arrangements in the church and the mini hall, marshals, traffic brigade and photo and video.

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