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Man, 64, weds woman, 23, on Valentine’s Day in Maguindanao

MAX Gandalibo kisses his wife Venus Usman who appears to be stoic during their wedding.

MAX Gandalibo kisses his wife Venus Usman during their wedding.

COTABATO CITY – Maguindanao hosted another record-setting wedding, this time between a 23-year-old bride and a 64-year-old groom, sponsored by Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu on Valentine’s Day.

While ethnic Muslim residents in Maguindanao are generally not celebrating Valentine’s Day being a foreign practice outside the scope of events in Islam, relatives and friends of bride Venus Usman and groom Max Gandalibo opted to hold the wedding rites on the globally-noted day to ensure the presence of Mangudadatu as principal sponsor.

For Mangudadatu, the event was significant because it fell on the birth anniversary of his late wife, Ginalyn, and the final leg of the Inaul Festival that his three-term gubernatorial reign had set for annual observance every Feb. 6 to 14.

His wife died alongside 56 other people in the infamous Nov. 23, 2009 Maguindanao massacre.

The Inaul festival has reportedly been scrapped by current officials of the province.

“Isa na namang patunay na bulag ang pag-ibig at walang pinipiling edad kapag ito’y kumatok sa puso ninuman,” the first-term congressman said in Facebook post coupled with wedding photos of the new couple.

“Ngayong araw mismo ng mga Puso ay pinatunayan ng isang 23-years-old na batang babae na si Venus Usman na umibig sa isang 64-years-old na lalaki na si Max Gandalibo,” Mangudadatu added.

The sponsorship of the Venus-Max wedding was the second fanfare-filled for Mangudadatu.

His first was the more publicized wedding of Philippine iconic singer Freddie Aguilar and 16-year-old Jovie Gatdula Albao on Nov. 21, 2013 as a highlight of Maguindanao’s anniversary foundation celebration.

The wedding in Muslim rites of Aguilar, who was then in his early 70s, had effectively quelled threats by detractors to sue him for “immoral and unlawful” romance with Albao.

Under the country’s Civil Code, persons below the legal age of 18 years would not qualify for marriage. But in Islamic Shariah Law, qualification for matrimonial age is reckoned on the first menstrual day of the bride as exemplified in the marriage of Prophet Mohammad with Aisha, who was about 16-year-old then. (Ali Macabalang)