LEON B POSTIGO, Zamboanga Del Norte – After surrendering to the government, two (2) former members of the armed New People’s Army (NPA) were married during the Leon Postigo Municipality Mass Wedding in Leon Postigo, Zamboanga del Norte, Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2020, finally reintegrating into mainstream society with the assistance of the Leon Postigo Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

Exchanging “I Dos;” in a simple and memorable wedding ceremony, Arcel (28years old), and Irene (24years old), committed to new life together, forever. The love story started in the mountains of Leon Postigo, Zamboanga del Norte and was sparked by Arcel’s and Irene’s mutual distrust of and realization and awakening from the violent Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) aim to overthrow the peoples-elected government through violent armed rebellion.

Arcel was wearing a smart black suit while Irene was wearing flowing, white oversized bridal dress as she was eight (8) months pregnant with their first child. After the wedding, both had mixed feelings of happiness and nervousness, overjoyed to be finally be married and nervous for their future as a newly married couple and soon to be family with a baby coming in a few months.

The nervousness gave way to confidence during the customary picture-taking after the wedding ceremony. Irene and Arcel were confident in the future, having just both received 65,000 pesos each from the government last February 13, 2020 as livelihood assistance from the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP). Asked on their immediate plans, both answered that they would use the 130,000 pesos they received from the government to buy household items and clothes and baby stuff.

Arcel would be undergoing technical and skills training from the Technical Educational and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to be equipped with the needed skills and education for him to either find a job or start as an entrepreneur to earn a living for his family. Irene and Arcel are hoping that after the TESDA training they would receive the 100,000 livelihood materials and implements or employment assistance from the E-CLIP. Promised more assistance, both are looking forward to being processed for and awarded with socialized and free housing from the National Housing Authority (NHA).

A female Army soldier, who assisted Irene and Arcel during their surrender and processing for reintegration back to society and was invited by the couple for the wedding, asked Irene if everything was wrong as she was very quiet throughout the wedding ceremony and even during the wedding pictorial. Irene answered that she still could not believe that she was being wed to the love of her life and that they were about to have a child of their own. She said she was afraid that it was all a dream and she would wake up and she would still be in the mountains running away from government soldiers, afraid for her and Arcel’s life, hungry and not knowing what they were doing with the armed and violent New People’s Army.

Arcel, sensing their child being distressed by Irene’s nervousness, reached out and held Irene’s right hand and said: “Ayaw kahadlok, kauban ta bisag aha, maningkamot ko para sa imo ug sa atong bata., nagsugod pag lukso nato, karon naay forever lagi langga para sa atong kalinaw ug kauswagon.” (Don’t be afraid. We will be together, wherever we may be. I will work hard for you and our child. We started when we escaped (from the NPA), now, there is forever LANGGA for our peace and growth.