MANILA, Philippines—Out of 18 brides who tied the knot with their husbands in a mass wedding at Camp Crame on Tuesday, Maricris Ginete stood out in a standard blue police uniform instead of a flowing white wedding gown.
“I don’t mind that I’m not wearing a gown. I think this is better,” said the 27-year-old Ginete, a Police Officer 1 (PO1) detailed at the Philippine National Police General Hospital.
Beside her, in a barong Tagalog, stood her civilian husband, Jay-ar Abellano, an aspiring seaman with whom she has a son, nine-month-old Carl Jethro.
The couple joined 17 other pairs in the mass Valentine’s Day wedding sponsored by PNP Director General Nicanor A. Bartolome at the St.Joseph Church in the PNP headquarters at Camp Crame.
Most of the newlyweds featured male police officers with civilian wives, and Ginete was the lone policewoman with a civilian husband. On the other hand, PO1 Kenneth Tad-awan and PO1 Marilyn Tumbali were the only policeman-policewoman pair.
Ginete and Tumbali were the only ones in blue among the 18 brides who came in their prettiest white.
Her hair pulled back in a bun, Ginete said: “It’s more special this way. I’m the only policewoman with a husband who’s a civilian here.”
Ginete said she and Abellano, also 27, had already had their civil wedding in December 2010 but Tuesday was only the time they had the chance to make it official before the Catholic Church.
Natives of Indang town in Cavite, the two first met as schoolchildren in the Guyam Elementary School where they attended class together from Grades 1 to 6.
“We were never friends. We rarely talked. He kept to his own group of friends, and I didn’t want to be friends with boys,” Ginete, an electronics and communications engineering graduate, said.
That changed in August 2004 when the class had a reunion.
“We got to talk, and we clicked. Then I wooed her for three months,” said Abellano, who has temporarily abandoned his application for a job as a seaman in order to look after their child.
Bartolome and members of the PNP command group, along with their wives, led the principal sponsors for the couples at the wedding, which was held as part of the 21st Foundation Day Celebration of the PNP.
“This mass wedding, which coincides with the day of the hearts, will inspire our PNP personnel to do their best not only in performing their duties as law enforcers but also by being responsible providers for their families and loved ones,” Bartolome said.
The Most Rev. Leopoldo S. Tumulak, Roman Catholic vicar of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, was the main celebrant, along with the Rev. Senior Supt. Deody O. Barret, director of the PNP Chaplain Service.
According to the Rev. Supt. Jason D. Ortizo, Catholic Base Chaplain, the newlyweds came from different PNP offices, mostly in Luzon and Metro Manila. Insp. Alfredo Maluto from Region 4-B was the oldest at 50 and Senior Insp. Ramon Nazario from the National Capital Region Police Office was the highest-ranking officer.
The Valentine’s Day wedding came virtually free of charge.
“Aside from the free wedding, the PNP also provides free wedding reception at the PNP Multi-Purpose Center for all newlyweds and their dependents,” said Ortizo.
Bartolome, addressing the newlyweds, said they should consider themselves fortunate for the chance to get married on Feb. 14, one of the most in-demand dates for a wedding.
“It’s so hard to get a schedule for a wedding on a day like this. You are so lucky,” he said.
“It’s also rare to have [PNP Academy] cadets as escorts to their wedding. It’s also rare to have a wedding that’s covered by a lot of media… and to have one officiated by the highest bishop in the police and military,” he said.