he next day was the day before our wedding and as one might imagine, we had plenty of last minute details to attend to. Luckily, some friends of Emelda's family had arranged to show my family the sights of Ozamiz, so Emelda and I would not have to worry about entertaining them in the midst of our many errands.

The Bad Banana Lady's gang!
The first task of the day was for us to sit through a seminar that would be administered by the City Health Department. We arrived at the government building on time at 8 a.m. I was the center of attention again in the crowded, small, hot building. There were several couples there waiting to take the seminar. As Emelda and I sat, waiting for the seminar to begin, more couples continued to enter at irregular intervals. At one point, Emelda and I were summoned over to a small desk where three ladies giddily asked us personal questions.

At 9:15 a.m., the 8 a.m. seminar began (Filipino time again). In the 75 minutes that we had been waiting, my butt had began to go numb and my back had begun to hurt from the harsh wooden seat that I was in. The seminar was, to my chagrin, in Visayan. For three hours, I sat listening to lecturers speak in the foreign language as I sweated like an American in The Philippines. Every once in awhile, the teachers would say something in English and the entire class would become focused on my response. I fought the urge to fall asleep and tried to position myself so that my butt would wake up. Emelda was not happy either. The seminar seemed to be centered around things that an American learns in high school.

When the ordeal was over, we received a certificate (which we would need in order to get the marriage license). We were then told that we would have to go to the D.S.W.D. for yet another seminar. We were never told about this seminar previously. No one could tell us what the initials D.S.W.D. stood for. No one could tell me what the D.S.W.D. did. No one could tell us when the seminar would end, but we were told to be there by 1 p.m. I became frustrated at the lack of information and I felt like I was being held hostage.

Since we had an hour to kill, I suggested that we have lunch. Emelda agreed and we took a motor to the nearby Jollibee. The downstairs dining room was full, so we went up to the second floor to enjoy our hamburgers (it was a rare no-rice meal in The Philippines). Neither of us was in a great mood. Emelda was very angry that we weren't given a seminar in English. I was angry because of the surprise seminar that was going to monopolize our afternoon (during which we had several errands to run). We attempted to suppress our anger and enjoy the meal.
Mom and The Bad Banana Lady

Right before we were about to leave, I spotted one of the ladies who was spending the day with my family. She was walking up the stairs and coming toward us, unaware that we were there. I turned and got her attention. Her look of surprise remained burned into her face as she approached us. Much to my surprise, she said that my family was downstairs ordering lunch as we spoke. It was a weird coincidence.

Before long, my family began pouring into the second floor dining room. It was their turn to be surprised. Emelda and I talked with them for a few minutes before we had to leave for the mystery seminar. They had been enjoying a lovely day with some great people as opposed to us. We were consumed with obligations.

We arrived at the D.S.W.D. office to discover that it was no longer called the D.S.W.D. It was now the D.T.W.S. or something. We entered the office and found several of the couples who had been at the earlier seminar, so we knew that we were in the right place. Still, no one could tell us what the seminar was about, who would conduct it, if we really needed it or when it would be over. Emelda uttered the phrase which I had heard all too often; "We need to wait." We waited for five or so minutes, but I could no longer stomach the stunning lack of coherency I was being subjected to. No one could tell us anything pertinent to our situation. Since City Hall had told us that there was only one seminar (the one we had attended in the morning) and Emelda didn't think that the church required that we attend the D.S.W.D. seminar, I suggested (strongly) that we head for City Hall. Emelda agreed and we caught a motor.

As we entered the City Hall building, several female secretaries started 'whooping' at me. Their attention lightened my mood a bit as we ascended the stairs to the second floor. We handed the registrar the seminar certificate and he began to process our paperwork. He told us that we didn't need to take the D.S.W.D. seminar because I was a foreigner. I was quite relieved to hear him say that. He handed us a form and told us to pay a fee downstairs.

I paid the 50 peso fee near the whooping ladies who continued to giggle and talk about me. At one point, one of them yelled out, "How old are you?" When I told them that I was 29, they said that I was young. My mood was suddenly happy again.

Back upstairs, I showed the registrar my receipt. He opened a large book which we had to sign and then handed us the marriage license. He also wanted a personal fee of 10 or 20 pesos which I gladly paid. With that, we were off to the church.

At the church, after handing the marriage license over, we were informed that Emelda would have to make her 'final confession' at 5:00 p.m. (apparently, a Catholic bride must make a confession to a priest right before her wedding). I was also informed that I would have to pay the church a 1,500 peso fee ($57.69) even though it was my understanding that the church's fees were all paid up. After having to give Emelda's parents an extra 8000 pesos ($307.69) earlier (for additional wedding reception expenses), I bristled at the fee, but forced a smile to my annoyed face. Our honeymoon money was getting spent before the wedding ceremony and that worried me.

With that, all of our pre-marital requirements (except for the confession) were complete. I felt a sense of accomplishment. It had been a long and difficult road to get to that point, but we were now closer than ever to becoming husband and wife. Emelda and I ran some additional errands and then parted shortly before 5:00 p.m. I went to The Plaza Beatriz. I would be staying there that night because I couldn't stay at Emelda's house (lest I see the bride in the morning prior to the wedding ceremony). Emelda headed for the church with plans to come to The Plaza Beatriz after her confession. After the last mass of the day, everyone involved with the ceremony was planning to meet up at the church for a rehearsal of the ceremony.

Emelda and I arrived late for the rehearsal (Filipino time again), but no one seemed to mind. After a few minutes, Emelda disappeared with my sister, Marilyn (the bad banana lady), who was helping to plan the ceremony and Lourilyn who was going to sing at the ceremony. They were gone for quite some time while my family and several members of Emelda's family waited with family friends near the back of the cathedral.
A cousin with the reception's main course lounging behind her

Before long, I was playing with a few little children who were fascinated by the presence of the many white people. I was back in a fair mood and the kids cheered me up even more. Then, suddenly, the Down's Syndrome man showed up again. He sat down next to me like I was an old friend. I explained to my parents that I had met this man at the procession as he spoke to me in Visayan. I wish I could've understood what he was saying. His mood was as jovial as it had been on Good Friday.

After about 30 to 45 minutes, Emelda returned with the others and informed us that there would be no rehearsal. She said that we didn't need one. I said, "We dumb Americans need a rehearsal," but she said that it was so easy that it wasn't necessary. I took her aside and tried to convince her that it was crucial to rehearse the ceremony because none of my family (except for my brother-in-law) were Catholic. Emelda then told everyone where they should walk during the ceremony and my parents seemed to be satisfied. I was extremely disappointed that I couldn't convince Emelda to let us rehearse, but I didn't want to make a scene in front of everybody. If the ceremony went as Emelda described, everything would probably be fine. I hoped for the best.

Everyone returned to their homes except for me and Emelda who headed for The Plaza Beatriz (Emelda was going to iron my family's wedding clothes at the hotel before returning to her house). When she tried to turn her iron on in my room, there was a loud popping sound. I soon discovered that her iron was a 110-volt iron (most irons in The Philippines are 220 volts) and that the iron was now ruined by the hotel's 220-volt outlet. I felt bad, but Emelda didn't seem to be too upset (perhaps she didn't like to iron as much as she had led me to believe). I called the hotel's Housekeeping Department and they informed me that they would be happy to iron the items.

Right after I got off of the phone with the hotel, our doorbell rang. Emelda's brother Ernie and two women entered the room and began talking with Emelda. I was informed that these ladies would be handling Emelda's hair and makeup in the morning. I was also informed that Emelda had to leave immediately. There was some urgency for some reason and I never really got a private moment with Emelda before she left. I laid down on the bed to rest before I joined my family for dinner.

Dinner that night was the first time I had been alone with my family since their arrival. We ate in the restaurant in the hotel lobby. The food was terrific and so was the company. My family told me about the events of their day and we marveled at how many wonderful people had touched our lives in Ozamiz. The impending wedding ceremony was on our minds as well. We were all looking forward to the following day. We turned in early so that we would be ready to go in the morning.

When I returned to my room, I plopped down on the bed and watched a little television for awhile. I woke up a few hours later, having fallen asleep during a bad Chevy Chase film. I was too tired to get up and turn the lights off, so I just laid there, trying to go back to sleep. I was soon assisted by a power failure. Again, I woke up hours later (when the power came back on). This time, I got up and switched off the lights and television for good.