The hallway of the trial court was deserted. It was stiffling hot but I had to brave it to go to one trial court branch to get a copy of a case decision before leaving for the office to write my stories for the day.
I’ve always hated going to the third floor of the Ninoy Aquino Hall of Justice because all the outlets of the aircondition units in the different rooms are out facing the hallway, making the place feel like one huge oven but I couldn’t altogether avoid going there.
As I turned a corner from the stairway, I heard the wailing of a child and wondered what a child could be doing in that hot inferno.
What I saw made me wish I had captured the scene on the lens because there, in the humid hallway was a bride in a flowing white gown, complete with a long face veil and make-up (alas, too heavy of it) carrying a child about a year old and trying her best to make the little boy stop crying.
She tried to dance the boy to silence, alternately threatening to throw him over to the open window and promising to buy him toys but the boy just went on shouting and wrestling with the bride, filling the hallway with deafening noise until everybody went out to help the bride with her difficult job.
After a few minutes, the boy decided to stop crying. Just like that and the group trooped back inside the courtroom to continue the interrupted wedding.
I peeked into the judge’s chamber out of curiousity and discovered that the little boy would not come near anyone else but her mother, who was the bride.
After two years covering the justice beat everyday, we were already used to it and in fact we have learned to love the crowd and the various people going in and out of the building.
One morning Bobby (of the other paper) and I had to squeeze through a thick crowd of dressed-to-kill people in the municipal trial courts hallway who were waiting for their turn to enter the courtroom. The whole entourage were perspiring in their transparent barongs, the ladies in their long gowns. Soon two little flower girls starting screaming with the heat while mothers rushed to silence them.
The groom, a man in his late twenties kept fanning his bride with a paper fan. Colored perspiration was starting to run down the bride’s face (from too heavy make-up) but there were just too many couples to be wedded ahead of them.
Also squeezing to pass through right behind us were four juveniles handcuffed to each other followed by two policemen, apprehended for petty theft, one of them answered when I asked him.
To sum it up, the hallway was a merry mix of people dressed silk gowns and barong, casual clothes and people in handcuffs and orange t-shirts (residents of the city jail).
Suddenly, there was a warning for everybody to vacate the trial court because a phone caller said a bomb was about to explode in a few minutes. Everyone scampered off to safety, except for Bob and me and some employees. Bomb scares at the trial court was not new for us but we went out just the same.
There before the small stalls offering photo copying services was the heavily-made up bride, running towards no particular destination while looking for her companions. She got separated from her groom-to-be in the scramble to get out of the building. I almost stepped on her trailing gown when Bob and I chased her for an interview but we were unable to because her relatives, who were also looking for her called her. She ended up being married to her groom under a mango tree outside the justice hall.
It would be wise for brides-to-be to think twice before investing thousands of pesos on an elegant wedding gown and be married in the midst of suspected criminals in handcuffs, police authorities who guard them, trial court staff and a lot of strangers, but whatever makes you happy, do go ahead, (expenses are yours anyway…). Besides it’s a unique setting, don’t you think?