Last September, Marissa and I were invited to become one of the primary sponsors of Stella and Ar-ar Cajocson’s wedding. Of course, we said YES to the invitation not because of the superstitious belief that it would bring bad luck if you refuse an invitation for wedding sponsor but we could not say No to the groom’s father — Uncle Orlando Cajocson. They have been one of our closest relatives in Marissa’s side. And besides, it is truly a humbling experience to be invited as Ninong and Ninang for the third time.
In Philippine wedding tradition, especially among Roman Catholics, wedding principal sponsors also known as Ninong and Ninang or Godparents become very important in the wedding entourage. In fact, they are the only people the couple legally needs at the ceremony because they serve as official witnesses of the ceremony itself. In most cases, principal sponsors are close family friends and relatives of the bride and the groom, or sometimes they are people who reached a certain status in the community — politicians and company bosses are popular choices.
But what does it really mean to be a Ninong or a Ninang?
Being a ninong or a ninang does not end at the ceremony or even after the reception. In our own understanding, godparents serve as the second parents of the bride and the groom. They are the people that the newly wed chooses because of these two reasons:
1. They are the people the newly wed admires.
Maybe the bride and the groom see you as respectable in your field. Or they admire you on how you handle your own ups and downs in marriage and they want to follow your values. This respect is clearly shown in the ceremony when the principal sponsors are being asked to raise their right hands as the priest say the blessings.
2. Because they believed that they can count on you.
As ninong or ninang means second parents when their parents are not available. It also means that they could reach out on you if they need advice about their family. In our case, we made sure to tell our godchildren that they could always send us a message if they need someone to talk about marriage. Our marriage life may be not that long yet but we believe we could be a good listener and we too have our own experiences to share.