GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- Even a civil wedding can usher in unique and enduring love stories.
This was seen in the 6th mass wedding dubbed "I Do I Do" sponsored by the PagIBIG Fund and the city government on Valentine’s Day, Feb.14, at the Robinsons Mall here.
The venue was filled with a sea of couples - a total 106 who were determined to enter the married life lawfully.
But among these lovebirds, it was the story of Julius Luis Garfin, 31, of Polomolok town in South Cotabato and Michelle Dela Rosa, 38, of Barangay Apopong here that captivated the moment.
The couple started as textmates for six years, with Michelle initially getting Julius’ number from a textline of a local news program here.
Before coming to Gensan, Michelle was originally from Jose Abad Santos in Davao Occidental.
She has a congenital poliomyelitis disease or polio, which became a stumbling block for her to acquire an intimate relationship with the opposite sex.
Julius, who is currently employed as a security guard, clearly did not mind that.
Despite Michelle’s handicap, he did not hesitate to accept and consider a lifetime commitment with her.
When they first become textmates, Julius said he was looking for someone who can give him affection that he can truly feel.
Apparently, the polio-burdened woman from Davao Occidental was the answer to his prayers.
"Magaan yung loob ko sa kanya. Yung di ko maramdaman na pag-ibig sa mga dati kong kinakasama, naramdaman ko sa kanya (I felt comfortable with her. I was able to feel the love that I longed to have but failed with my previous relationships),” he narrated.
"Masaya ako na tinanggap niya ako kahit ganito ang kalagayan ko (I am happy that he accepted me despite my condition)," Michelle said in a grateful tone.
Julius and Michelle eventually decided to elevate their relationship to the next level and enrolled in the free mass wedding program of PagIBIG Fund.
They attended various prerequisite seminars of the City Population and Management Office and Local Civil Registrar before they were allowed to join the mass civil wedding, which was officiated by City Mayor Ronnel Rivera.
During the ceremony, the mayor gave his insights to the newly-wed couples as a married man himself.
"Marriage is hard. Di yan madali. Kaya nga ang masasabi ko lang is dapat magbasa kayo ng bibliya dahil ito ang gagabay sa inyo (Marriage is hard. It is not an easy ordeal. That's why the only thing I can say to you is that you have to read the bible because it will guide you),”he said.
Aside from hosting the mass wedding, PagIBIG Fund also gave out gifts for the couples, with some lucky pairs getting special items and livelihood packages.(Ian John Lagare/PNA)