2 marriages bring Valentines’ Day mood out in Zambo del Sur


Liberato Villacora and Efepania Labiaga

PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur—-She had been a widow for some time. He had grown old waiting for a “partner forever.”

As fate would have it, their paths crossed.


Efepania Labiaga, then 58, was riding in a motorcab being driven by Liberato Villacora.

Villacora admitted he was immediately smitten with Labiaga.


“She got my attention. I became curious of her and found ways to visit her in her residence,” Villacora recalled.

He added that he dropped by Labiaga’s house many times after that first meeting and, over coffee, exchanged stories with the then 58-year-old widow.

And then the banter turned into something bolder—a kiss stolen by Villacora.

“I was surprised and cried. I was never used to being suddenly kissed by someone I’m not related to,” Labiaga said.

Labiaga said all the conversations with Villacora had drawn her to be attracted to the motorcab driver, too, who was seven years younger.

But the widow kept it to herself, conscious that it was still considered taboo for a woman to make the first move toward a man and express her feelings.

The stolen kiss led to the next step—a pamanhikan, a Filipino courtship tradition, which saw Villacora kneeling before Labiaga’s siblings and relatives, asking for their permission to have Labiaga as his wife.


On Valentine’s Day 2020, after living together for 10 years, Villacora and Labiaga were among 117 couples who tied the knot at a mass wedding officiated by Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co.

Villacora said she jumped into the opportunity of having her relationship with Labiaga solemnized in a wedding because “somebody may snatch her away from me.”

Beaming as Villacora described her as “officially my wife,” Labiaga said they had a happy and content union.

“We never fought with loud voices, we just talk and immediately iron things out,” she said.

Now that they are legally a couple, Villacora and Labiaga said they wish to have their own children soon.

Labiaga was childless from her previous marriage.

Petronila and Daniel Pasco

In neighboring Dumalinao town, the couple Petronila and Daniel Pasco said patience was the sole secret of their 49-year marriage.

The Pascos joined 19 other senior citizen couples in a Renewal of Vows ceremony presided over by Mayor Junaflor Cerilles on Valentine’s Day.

Daniel said when his wife has bad temper, he would go to the farm and go home in time for her to have cooled down.

“When we argue, we make sure to solve the problem before the day ends,” Daniel said.

In 49 years of marriage, through all the ups and downs, “we place everything to God, and we also taught all our five children the same.”

Edited by TSB

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