Basyang’s moderate rainfall early Wednesday morning did not stop 56 couples in this city from walking down the beach to become man and wife during the celebration of the 16th Love Affair with Nature on Valentine’s Day.
Mayor Lucilo Bayron officiated their wedding on the shore of Sitio Barimbing, Barangay San Manuel, where the city government held this year’s mass planting of around 10,000 mangroves to show love and devotion to the marine environment.
“Ito ang ating taunang gawain upang ma-proteksyunan ang buhay-ilang na umaasa sa ating bakawanan, at para sa atin at salinglahi natin. Sana ito ay maging patunay [ng pagmamahal natin] dahil naka-labing anim taon na tao, tuloy-tuloy na tayo, walang makakapigil nito,” said Bayron, as he thanked residents who attended.
“When it comes to the protection of the environment, it is absolute and we will not compromise. It is non-negotiable,” said acting Vice Mayor Nancy Socrates.
She was quoting her father, the late Palawan governor Salvador Socrates, whose legacy in protecting the environment has been the guiding light of green warriors in the province over the years.
“Napakahalaga po ng ating pagtatanim ngayong araw na ito sapagkat bawat puno ay nagbabawas ng epekto ng climate change. Bawat puno po ay napo-proteksyunan po natin ang ating kalikasan,” she added.
The city vice mayor reiterated that “as stewards of the planet, each has the obligation and responsibility to protect the future.”
In 2017, Love Affair with Nature saw 83 couples getting hitched free of charge from the city government.
This year, 56 were wed, according to city information officer Richard Ligad, and two of the couples were the Solomons and Dacasins.
Arnaldo Solomon, 23, who married Melenlen Panday of Barangay Mauyon, said the event is a big help to couples like them who can’t afford even a small wedding.
“Malaking naitulong [sa amin kasi] maliban sa kulang [kami] sa pinansyal, mas mabilis ang proseso ng requirements. Binigyan kami ng government ng magandang opportunity para mas mabilis ang proseso ng kasal,” he said.
His wish is for the mass mangrove planting event on Valentine’s Day to continue for couples like them, who have nothing to spend to have a wedding
“Sana wish namin na magtuloy-tuloy ang ganitong programa ng gobyerno para malaking matulungan,” he said.
Leticia Dacasin, 50, and Juanito Dacasin, 68, also preferred tying the knot during the Valentine’s Day mass planting event because the process was smooth and swift.
The Dacasins had to remarry since Letecia said their first marriage license was fake.
“We are grateful for this opportunity,” she said.
Editha Arguelles, a resident of Barangay San Miguel, said that she regularly attends the event because she cares for nature.
“Lagi akong uma-attend taun-taon dahil mahal ko ang ating kalikasan. Kailangan talagang pahalagahan natin ang ating kakahuyan. Kailangan nating makiisa sa mga ganitong pagkakataon,” she added.
Charlene Macado, 22, however, said that aside from feeling nice in seeing the romantic couples get married, the event gives her something worthwhile to do for the environment.
“Tayo rin ang makikinabang in the future. Kapag pin-reserve natin ang mga mangroves natutulungan natin ang mga susunod na henerasyon. Na-feel ko din ang love, love, love,” she added.
Dwyane Maclang, 11, from Angel’s World Academy, meanwhile, said that the responsibility of taking care of the environment is not defined by age.
He also said that he is aware of climate change as it was taught to them in school. “Everybody should join the mangrove-planting activity because it will do good to the environment,” he said.
City information Richard Ligad, City Information Officer, said they are satisfied that more than 2,000 attended the annual event.
“Well, satisfied tayo sa attendance,” said Ligad, expressing gratefulness to residents who trooped to the site despite Basyang’s scattered rains.