‘Marriage scam’

THE day our secretary got married, we closed the office and walked three hundred meters with the bride and the groom to the Capitol in what could be the longest bridal march ever.

I remember that and the return walk very well because it was I who took pictures of the wedding entourage but captured nothing for printing (it must have been the camera, my law partners consoled me).

Like most couples planning to wed but who don’t have the time or the resources to prepare for an elaborate church wedding, Myrna and Allan decided to exchange vows before a judge. In their case, it was before the late Judge Leonardo Cañares. We made sure of that.

The law does not require a marriage ceremony to follow a particular form, only that the parties must declare that they take each other as husband and wife in the presence of the solemnizing officer and of two witnesses. The vow to hold and keep each other for better or for worse, for richer or poorer and in sickness and in health until death do you part is not required by the Civil Code.

So a marriage ceremony can be as business-like and as straightforward as the arraignment of an accused except that instead of being made to choose between “guilty” or “not guilty,” the bride and the groom are told to pick “yes” or “no,” whether he/she does or he/she doesn’t.

Judge Leonie, however, made sure that it did not happen in weddings that he officiated. Before the ceremony, he had two ceramic (wooden?) doves placed on his table and an old phonograph on the stenographer’s. Music (“Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, if I remember correctly) wafted softly in the air as Myrna and Allan exchanged “I dos.” And his five-minute sermon could put to shame a priest or pastor! No wonder, his sala was a favorite destination for couples desiring to get married.

We were lucky because Myrna and Allan (who, like Judge Leonie, has since rejoined his Maker) married a long time ago. If they had decided to tie the knot today, we wouldn’t have been able to choose Judge Leonie. In fact, we wouldn’t have been able to pick our judge at all.

As a result of the expose of an alleged “marriage scam”, weddings will now be raffled for assignment among the judges. The move shows sensitivity to public perception. But since a scam is defined as a fraudulent scheme, how come no one of those who have been supposedly overcharged has come forward to declare that he has been swindled?



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