Why Ampatuan-Somama wedding has prominent government officials as sponsors

August 27, 2018 - 5:33 PM
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Filipinos were shocked at the staggering number of politicos who were invited to the nuptial of Ampatuan's daughter last week in a five-star hotel. (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

Filipinos decried the list of principal sponsors in the wedding of Zaldy Ampatuan’s daughter because of the large number of government officials invited.

Last week, former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan was allowed to leave his jail cell to attend Bai Nor Aila Kristina Ampatuan’s wedding to Mohammad Omar Somama.

Zaldy Ampatuan is among those charged for the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, regarded as the single deadliest event for journalists in history that killed 58 people who were part of a convoy of the Ampatuan’s political rival Esmael Mangudadatu.

The list of the principal sponsors in the wedding went viral and people noted the high-ranking officials included, notably Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and Special Assistant to the President Bong Go.

These are the principal sponsors for the wedding of the daughter of Zaldy Ampatuan, one of the main suspects to the Maguindanao Massacre. from Philippines

The picture was originally shared by a CNN Philippines correspondent.

Despite being on the list, Go denied attending the event and reasoned out that it was a “usual practice” of Filipinos to include personalities even though no formal answer has been given to the invitation yet.

Reports quoted him saying, “Usual practice ‘di nagpapaalam, nilalagay name niyo kahit di kayo nag-ok.”

Duterte-Carpio, meanwhile, said that she was invited but was “not able to attend the wedding reception,” according to another report.

When the list of the principal sponsors went viral, journalist Raissa Robles described it as a “horror list” and cited it was a move “great for dynasty building and re-election.”

One Reddit user noted that it was a “handy list of people” one should not vote for in elections.

Principal sponsors in weddings 

In Catholic weddings, principal sponsors consist of senior men and women who are expected to act as the couple’s second parents or counselors in their married life. They also serve as legal witnesses to the couple’s marriage.

Bride and Breakfast noted that principal sponsors should consist of couples whose marriage the newlyweds admire.

They are also chosen for their “character traits,” “achievements worth emulating,” or “for being models of respectability,” according to My Wedding Philippines.

Principal sponsors are also usually relatives or friends who have “positions of influence in the community,” Facts and Details reported.

A wedding ceremony of an American couple in Hotel Vitale, San Francisco. (U.S. Air Force/Lance Cheung)

This is because a wedding’s social status also reflects the couple’s line-up of principal sponsors.

“Hence, it is not surprising that prominent personalities are often asked to be a ninong or ninang,” the report continued.

While there are no strict rules determining the exact number of sponsors invited, the numbers may also reflect the couple’s popularity (or how much they want to be perceived as popular) and a reflection of how influential the family is.

The more principal sponsors there are, the more powerful the couple’s families are in the community.

Principal sponsors are also expected to give wedding presents or contribute a monetary amount to the newlyweds.

In Muslim rites, there are principal sponsors whose number is not strictly determined by the book as well.

Like Catholic weddings, they more or less serve the same role — to act as counsels to newlyweds as the latter start a married life. They are also expected to give monetary contribution to the couple’s wedding. — Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos; With additional photo from Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali