800px-University_of_the_Philippines_at_Los_Banos-GateLuzon: Although the Philippines has yet to allow same-sex marriage, gay and lesbian couples at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) in Laguna could have a feel of tying the knot, reports newsinfo.inquirer.net.

The UPLB Babaylan opened “Weeehdding,” a marriage booth during the annual UPLB February Fair running Feb. 11-13 in what the student group supporting LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights calls a modern version of the precolonial ritual.

“Couples will be asked to exchange vows. Then there will be some sort of reenactment of feeding the couple cooked rice from the same plate as a sign of their support to each other,” the group’s “punong babaylan” (head) and chemical engineering student Yvann Zuñiga told newsinfo.inquirer.net.

Zuñiga said the partners would pretend to exchange “wedding rings” and sign a “marriage contract” provided at the booth for a 50 pesos fee. If the “married couple” wants a printed souvenir photo included, they would pay 100 pesos.

The UPLB Babaylan, which currently has 42 members, upholds equality regardless of sexual orientation. The word “babaylan” means a priestess.

Since it was founded in UPLB in 2009, Zuñiga said the student community has been cont-friendly” campus.

Students, he observed, had become more open to discussions on LGBT issues and that even “straight” individuals started joining their cause.

The university’s Gender Center, which focuses on gender and development for research and extension, has also partnered with the UPLB Babaylan in several activities.

“In 2012, when we last had the wedding booth, about 60 couples got married. Only 10 percent of whom were straight couples,” Zuñiga said in a phone interview.

He said it was then recognized as the UPLB Chancellor’s Choice for being the most unique among other student booths. The chancellor gives the recognition every year during the fair to a selected student organization.

The wedding booth was included in the fair for the first time in 2011. It was not put up last year due to an internal problem in the organization.

Source: newsinfo.inquirer.net