For their first kiss as husband and wife, Ben Leonin and Lallyn Velasquez wore face masks, mindful of health precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bride is a nurse, among frontliners in the crisis that upended daily life, including weddings that couples spend years planning.
The Sacred Heart Parish in Quezon City where the wedding took place on July 17 was near empty, save for a few witnesses, some of whom had entire pews to themselves. A nun wiped seats with disnfectant before the ceremony while the floor had markings for physical distancing.
The officiating priest, Arlo Yap, also wore a face mask as he wed Ben and Lallyn. The church is just around 12 minutes by car from St. Lukes Medical Center, where the bride works.
It was only in early July that pandemic restrictions allowed religious gatherings of up to 10 percent of the venue's capacity. Metro Manila is under a general community quarantine or GCQ until the end of the month and athorities said a return to the stricter Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine or MECQ was possible if virus infections in the region fail to slow.
As of July 17, the Philippines tallied 63,001 COVID-19 cases including 1,660 deaths and 21,748 recoveries. President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his penultimate State of the Nation Address on July 27, where he is expected to discuss the government's response to the health and economic crises spawned by the pandemic.