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Tawi-Tawi's Muslim Royal Wedding | A Sacred Love Sealed Under the Moon





Being a spontaneous traveler, I always love the idea of not knowing what I might go through in every places I visit especially in this isolated province of the country, Tawi-Tawi.

As I set foot in the island’s capital, I already felt a smooth smell of love in the air and the nostalgic flare of  passionate emotions that was simply contagious. Little did I know that there was a big celebration in the island; the union of hearts between two Muslim lovers set during the rising of the bright full moon in December.  

The Gatecrasher!

At first, I was thrilled to realize that I could personally witness a traditional Muslim wedding in this southernmost part of the country. I was doubly overjoyed when I learned that the groom himself was the youngest child of the Provincial Governor who happens to be an appointed Assemblyman to the Regional Legislative Assembly in the ARMM.

Guests attending the traditional wedding ceremony
Honestly, I was too overwhelmed that I do not have a vivid recollection of what really happened that day. All I know, things happened too fast; at one point  I was just trekking the majestic Bud Bongao then I suddenly found myself on my way to the bride’s house to witness the regal traditional Muslim wedding ceremony.  Thanks to the staff of the Provincial Vice -Governor who tagged me along with him. By the way, both the groom and the bride have their own separate celebration.

The wedding celebration was indeed grand as hundreds of visitors wandered outside the bride’s house. Who would have thought I could be one of these guests feasting on the buffet served by her family. I tried to look around hoping to see even one familiar face in the crowd but there was none, then; I realized I am actually in the company of strangers. Ironically, I was not a stranger to them. They never let me feel that I am an outsider. I was welcomed with warm smiles and hospitality, one can only be found in Tawi-Tawi.

The bride preparing for a ceremonial dance after the rite
Princess Jasmine is that you?

The first time I laid my eyes on the bride, Dr.  Fahda Raisa Joe Haji, I was smitten by her beauty which brought me to the world of Disney Princesses in an instant. She was wearing traditional Muslim attire designed with intricate golden embroidery and her glam was enhanced by the gold necklaces, tiara and other traditional accessories that are  suited for a royalty. 

The Pandalas of the bride
She was surrounded most of the time by her beautiful Pandalas or the bridesmaids in their traditional colorful garments known as Batawi. This ensemble is composed to 3 parts, Sawal (pajama), Badju Sigpit (blouse) and Kindang, embroidered cloth like sarong.

The bride looks stunning in her traditional white Muslim ensemble that represents purity sitting on a bin cushion while  patiently waiting for her groom to arrive in her room where the actual Pagkawin was agreed to be performed by their Imam (the Islam's equivalent to Catholic priest).




And Before I Say 'I Do'

Prior to the Pagkawin or the wedding ceremony, dowry was prearranged by Assemblyman Nurjay M. Sahali, the groom and his family with the family of the bride. This is locally known as the Pagturul Taymah. The value of the dowry varies depending on the social status of the bride’s family and the wealth capacity of the groom.

The Dulang
Chant it to Win it!

The arrival of the groom and his family was announced by the traditional chant known as Lugoh. The groom stands firm and royal in his traditional white attire known as Kupot, accessorized with a colorful Pis Syabit on his shoulder.With them were  the  food offerings  known as Dulang that shall be shared by the newly wed as part of their wedding tradition at the later part of the rite. 

The Pag-Passal
Part of the Pagkawin is the Passal where the bride and groom are being groomed by their relatives in separate chambers accompanied by a traditional chant called Lugoh

The female in-laws of the bride lead the Passal by retouching her makeup and accessorizing the hands of the bride. For the groom, the male relatives enhanced the looks and outfit  making him more presentable for his bride. 

Before the groom can actually be with the bride, the Lugoh was aired again  which serves as the traditional  gesture or key for the groom to enter the  bride's chamber .

The Imam officiated the union and vows were exchanged. The groom performed a certain maneuver around the bride and then he put his right thumb on the forehead of the bride as a significant sign of their union. Then the groom kissed his bride then both  signed the ‘marriage contract’ witnessed by their friends and families. After such, the newly wed would give their Salam or gratitude to the united families by marriage.

The newly wed with their brothers and sisters
The newly wed were now seated on the bed for picture taking and then they would be joined by their families. This was followed by the Dulang. They would eat the food with their bare hands offered in the house of the bride. It is customary for the bride to take the first bite on the food offered by the groom.The newly married couple was then presented to the public after the ceremony for a program and public celebration.





Make it Civil!

Often times, the Pagkawin is the first and most important part of a Muslim Union. For those who can afford it, there is usually a civil wedding which will follow after such. For Assemblyman Nurjay M. Sahali and Dr. Fahda Raisa Joe Haji their civil rites were done in Zamboanga City which was attended by the five governors of ARMM.

Let me end this article with a line which I quote from the older sister of the groom the Provincial Vice-Governor of Tawi-Tawi Hja. Ruby M. Sahali when she said “the pagkawin of Nurjay & Fahda in Tawi-Tawi is a celebration Tawi-Tawians should take part because we are proud of our culture…we are proud of our heritage.” 

My sincerest thanks to the Sahali Family . Best wishes to the newly wed and may your children bear and prosper the enchanting and beautiful culture and traditions of Tawi Tawi.

MAGSUKUL TAWI-TAWI!

Credits: Primary facts of this article were contributed by Michael Guanesio, the Legislative Officer to the Office of the Vice-Governor of Tawi-Tawi, giving the author insight on the authentic traditional Muslim wedding in Tawi Tawi. 



45 comments :

  1. swerte mo naman LB na witness u to :) kaw na tlaga!

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  2. AY!! GUSTO KO DIN MAKA WITNESS NG GANYAN! sana meh mag invite din sa akin sa Tawi- tawi.

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  3. the tale of the gatecrasher Love Mindanao!
    I guess, this was a sumptous event..
    One that you could retell over and over again. ;)

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  4. Go to Tawi Tawi na Don and experience the beauty of the south ....

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  5. Yes am the ultimate gatecrasher na ..lol

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  6. wow... you're so lucky kuya! indeed a once in a lifetime experience. the bride is soooo beautiful! anyways, i love reading your tales re adventures. keep it up!


    Riza
    http://rzzzp.blogspot.com

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  7. You're lucky to witness this beautiful ceremony! Actually, the wedding scene in Thy Womb is one of the reasons why I want to watch the movie. I got excited when Mercedes Cabral mentioned her scenes in the film will show the traditional wedding.

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  8. Indeed I was so lucky during my trip in Tawi Tawi .. I may have not seen the other islands but to witness an authentic wedding tradition wrapped everything and exceeded my expectations in a very good way. I love Tawi Tawi... I love Mindanao :D

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  9. ganda ng wedding. my first was a muslim wedding but ,we never had a celebration.

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  10. Rochkirstin SantosFebruary 2, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    The bride is beautiful! Congrats to them--the couple. I fancy their clothes and I think Catholic weddings should also have a variety of colour for the wedding gowns. :D

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  11. Ultimate gatecrasher! hahaha! what's to gain without trying? I find the bride to be pretty calm and collected :)

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  12. Those wedding pictures look great. I learned a good deal today because of your post about Muslim weddings.

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  13. That's so interesting. I have so much to learn about Muslim culture. The bride is so pretty and elegant.

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  14. What a beautiful wedding. It looks more Malay than Filipino. Your post makes one realize how diverse our country is.

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  15. Ang ganda ng bride bro! At pati ba wedding gate crash din? :p

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  16. hahaha .. maybe it comes with my nature edmar ...:D

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  17. Truly beautiful and every Tawi Tawian would love to be wed like this,., they may have a resemblance to malaysian wedding since geographically speaking Malaysia is just near Bongao...

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  18. The bride is really pretty and it was nice of you to witness a traditional muslim marriage.

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  19. The Bride really looks beautiful, and it looks very colorful weeding.

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  20. I've seen a lot of these televised back when I was in Malaysia. Really grand and lavish, and most of the time, the clothes do have real gold thread :)

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  21. I love their wedding practices and the dance that is usually done.. it's just a blast of culture..

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  22. Maria Gemma Defeo-HilotinFebruary 3, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    You are one lucky creature! I guess, you were born to witness all the wondrous experiences in this world! Happy Tawi Tawi people! I love their attires and unique ceremonies!

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  23. Beautiful bride. I've experienced this also when my cousin married a Muslim prince. And yes, their wedding celebration is very amazing from their dress to their unique ceremonies and beliefs.

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  24. seeing the pictures looks like its a different country already specially with marriage..ive been to mindanao to visit relatives but i never witness like this on tawi tawi..thanks for sharing! c",.)

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  25. A very lucky wedding gate crasher.. I must agree the bride is just too lovely. How I wish to see for myself a Muslim wedding. Sa description mo, it seems marami silang seremonyang pinagdaanan.

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  26. Oh, that was a beautiful wedding, Dennis. But something in particular got me curious. Muslim ladies are supposed to put on a scarf on their heads, right? How come the bride's mother (assuming that she's the bride's mother) wasn't wearing any? :)

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  27. That's the sister in-law Reggie.(married)....some are already modern. they still wear esp. in some occasions ...

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  28. this is one beautiful couple in a very rich culture and tradition. wish them both a long and happy marriage. Yahweh bless.

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  29. it was a fine crazy day for me Sherwin ,,, one moment i was just at the peak of Mt. Bongao then suddenly am rubbing elbows with a beautiful Muslim bride ... truly a celebrated day.

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  30. the ceremony was so solemn with a practice I have only read on books.. such a beauty ..

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  31. it is a culture we must embrace and be proud of ... the true color of Mindanao is covered with peace and solidarity.

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  32. Are you actually referring to the hijab or veil used by muslim women? FYI, turong is not worn because every muslim woman should do so. Yes, while it's true that it is required for them to do so, they are bound with responsibilities wearing hijab, thus, most often than not it is made optional for them to wear one.

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  33. lucky you to have witness such beautiful ceremony... certified gatecrasher ka talaga LBM! ehehe

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  34. This is truly a royal rand wedding! The bride is so beautiful in her Muslim gown and she looks quite happy though I can hardly see any GLOW in her eyes :(

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  35. Wow, a Filipino version of royal wedding. The bride is so pretty!!!!

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  36. I love royal weddings. coz Iti's the closest thing to fairytales! :)

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  37. you're so lucky! Such a rare wedding to witness..:)

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  38. truelaloo she's really maganda!

    i want to see a traditional muslim wedding too!

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  39. come and visit Tawi Tawi Lakbay Diva , itaon mo lang na may ikakasal , usually full moon ung sched :D

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  40. Oh my. I see familiar faces. <3

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  41. What do you mean by "in her Muslim gown"? I think the American Muslims, British Muslims, Russian Muslims and others do not wear that so-called "Muslim Gown". Thank you.

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  42. You are right I supposed. It's called "HIJAB".

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  43. Quite vague..when you say Muslim culture. You mean Muslim Culture in Tawi-Tawi?

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  44. Hello,
    my name is Iqram. I'm from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Can I know where to find the history of the man traditional dress. I am a student that need to do a research about "Malay ethnics" in Philippines. Can I know where to find the websites or the books title. It is very difficult to find one..

    hope to hear you soon,
    Thank You..

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