Apply for a Holy Union During The “New Normal” – Mandaluyong Chapel

Lesbian or gay wedding in Metro Manila

The Rite of the Holy Union is one of the Rites of the Metropolitan Community Churches all over the world as stated in Article III, Section C, paragraph 3 of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches Bylaws and it says:

The RITE OF HOLY UNION is the spiritual joining of two persons in a manner fitting and proper by a duly authorized clergy, Interim Pastoral Leader (Lay Pastoral Leader) of the Church, Ministry leader or Deacon or UFMCC Elders of an affiliated MCC Church. After both persons have been counseled and apprised of their responsibilities one toward the other, this rite of conferring God’s blessing may be performed.

The essence of the Rite of Holy Union is the vow; the pledging of deepest fidelity of each other. It is the spiritual joining of two persons regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. It is a celebration of love witness and affirmed by their friends, family, and the Church.

Freedom of Religion

As of the present time the Family Code of the Philippines prevents the legal marriage of same sex couples (2018) in the Philippines. There is also no such legislation or jurisprudence yet recognizing the union of Transgender persons with their partners who might be construed by society and state also as a same sex union.

The Holy Union conducted by Open Table MCC is a religious ceremony that blesses, celebrates and affirms the love and commitment of persons wishing to declare their vows of life-long loving partnership and loyalty to one another.

As such, the Philippine Constitution guarantees that the Freedom of Religion is protected, in Article III, Section 5 of the Bill of Rights states that:

No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.

The essence of the rite of the Holy Union is the exchanging of the vows of two loving persons that promise to be together for the rest of their lives with or without the legal papers. This is a private ceremony to be conducted purposely for the celebration of love.

What Holy Union Is Not

It is NOT a Marriage
The word “marriage” is a legal term that denotes the government and its laws and through its agencies recognize a particular union or partnership. As of yet, since there is no law yet in the Philippines recognizing and protecting the union of same sex or same gender couples, the Holy Union is therefore not a marriage under existing laws.

However, the Supreme Court of the Philippines in its dismissal decision of the petition filed by Atty. Jesus Falcis, said the following:

“From its plain text, the Constitution does not define, or restrict, marriage on the basis of sex, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression,”

The petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court on the grounds of technicality but the above pronouncement is a clear indication that in essence and constitutional principle, the Supreme Court agrees that there is constitutional basis for the legal marriage of same sex / same gender couples.

Open Table (MCC) Church – as with all MCC churches around the world – believes, affirms, and celebrates same sex unions as Matrimonial like any other marriages of heterosexual couples, only that as of now, the family code of the Philippines prevents same sex couples from being recognized and protected by the law. We pray, work and hope for the day that same sex unions are recognized as legal marriages our Philippine legal system.

The struggle for LGBTQI+ inclusion in state laws continues whether it be Marriage Equality or the SOGIE Equality (Anti-Discrimination) Bill.

It is NOT a solution to broken and problematic relationships
There is no magic formula or prayer or incantation that can make a bad relationship a good one. Union ceremonies are ritualizations and celebrations of what is already true and real in a relationship. Therefore, a problematic relationship entering into a Holy Union will only create more problems. Holy Union ceremony is not the solution nor the bandage to heal a problematic and conflicted relationship. In the Filipino saying which we paraphrase “Nasa Diyos ang awa at pagpapala, nasa mag-asawa ang pag-gawa.

It does NOT provide assurance of “Forever”
While it is the hope and the prayer of the ceremony that the couple will last for a lifetime or to whichever time period they wish to be with, there is also NO magic formula that binds a couple forever. There is no assurance that after the ceremony, the couple will last. The longevity of the relationship is NOT dependent upon the ceremony. The longevity of a relationship is in the commitment and effort of each partner to make the relationship work every single day. The blessing comes from God and the effort and work is with the couple.

(Nasa Diyos ang pagpapala nasa couple ang gawa)

It is NOT a means to exploit others financially or in any other way
It’s a reality that some people, especially from third-world-global-south countries like the Philippines get into romantic relationships with economically able persons from first-world-global-north countries for financial and immigration purposes. Sometimes, a person from the global south country which would be much younger in age does this to exploit and abuse the feelings of the person from the first-world country. Other times, persons from global north countries having such economic power would exploit and abuse the economic vulnerability of the person from the 3rd world country. Or even within the same country of the same nationality, such exploitative relationships happen and exist.

Holy Union Ceremonies ARE NOT CONDUCTED for such exploitative and transactional purposes even if they have a semblance of a relationship.

Open Table MCC does not condone, encourage or support any form of exploitation based on a false pretense of a romantic relationship even if there seems to have a semblance of consent. The smallest hint of such a motive for one of the couples or both shall be enough reason for Open Table MCC to deny the request for Union and it is within the right and duty of Open Table MCC to do so.

The right to have a union does not give license or leeway for exploitation and abuse and certainly, Open Table MCC will not allow itself and the ceremony it does to participate in such situations and circumstances.

Official Personnel, Website, and Social Media

Please be reminded that the following are our ONLY official links and social media accounts:

Official Website: holyunion.opentablemcc.ph or opentablemcc.ph
Official Facebook – Church: facebook.com/opentablemccph
Official Facebook – Holy Union: facebook.com/OpenTableMCCHolyUnionMinistry
Official Contact Page: www.opentablemcc.ph/contact

Open Table MCC carries its historical prior identity of Metropolitan Community Church Quezon City (MCCQC). Anyone claiming to be MCC Quezon City or MCCQC not associated with Open Table MCC is a fraudulent claim.

All Holy Union requests are submitted through this website and are transacted through our official email also listed in this website. We do not transact over the phone or Facebook Messenger.

PLEASE BE AWARE OF SOCIAL MEDIA SCAMS AND MISREPRESENTATIONS.

Be cautious of those that are attempting to pose as Open Table MCC’s other official Facebook pages and/or personnel.

Rev. Joseph San Jose is the Pastor In-Charge for Open Table MCC.
Bro. Elmer (Vince) Madolid is the alternate Officiating lay minister for Holy Unions and also our Church Administrator.
Christopher Celeste is a board member and the Online Ministry Administrator.
Joshua Cheng is the Finance Officer / Treasurer.

Open Table MCC currently has no ecclesial relationship or organizational connection with any other Church or group that is outside the MCC Denomination and is not officially authorized by MCC Denomination.

Announcement: As of 3rd of November 2022

Vaccination: Starting August 2022 onwards, we require that couples and their witnesses have already taken their first COVID Booster (2 main doses and 1 booster)

Must Not be previously legally married or has already been annulled: Starting August 2022, we require that all couples have not been previously legally married (with marriage registration in PSA) or if previously legally married, must already be legally annulled. A CENOMAR or a proof of annulment will be required.

Available Schedule for Weddings in Our Chapel

Regular fee of Php 6,400 + Stipend

  • 2022
    • Dec 14: 11:00AM, 1:30PM
    • Dec 16: 3:30PM
    • Dec 21: 11:00AM, 1:30PM, 3:30PM
  • 2023
    • Jan 10
    • Jan 24
    • Jan 31
    • Feb 14
    • Feb 28
    • Mar 21
    • Mar 28
    • Apr 25
    • May 4
    • May 16
    • May 27
    • Jun 6
    • Jun 15
    • Jun 29
    • Jul 11
    • Jul 22
    • Jul 29
    • Sep 9
    • Sep 19
    • Sep 30

No chapel schedule yet for year 2023, months of October, November, and December.

Times for each date are:

  • 11:30AM
  • 1:30PM
  • 3:30PM

IMPORTANT NOTE: Schedule will proceed as long as Metro Manila and San Pedro, Laguna are under Alert Level 2 and lower, and as long as there’s no lockdowns.

If you reserve your wedding on the above specific dates, the venue of Wedding is ONLY in our chapel in Mandaluyong City, and cannot be changed.

If you wish to change the venue to somewhere outside our chapel, you have to reschedule your wedding to another date that is not included in the dates mentioned above, as we reserve those dates for in-chapel weddings.

(If you want your wedding to be held somewhere else, please read the alternate guidelines here.)

Eligibility

  • All participants of the wedding (the couple to be wed, and the witnesses) must be fully-vaccinated and with at least 1 booster shot. Proof of vaccination will be required.
  • 25 years old and above and at least 1 year in physical relationship.
  • Age difference NOT more than 15 years. You may make an appeal, but we have the prerogative on whether to approve and accept or not.
  • If long distance relationship, it has to be at least 3 years together
  • If previously legally married, or if previously had a Holy Union, documentary proof of legal annulment is required.
  • If previously had a Holy Union, a certificate of dissolution or lifting of vows from the church you had your previous Holy Union.
  • Open Table MCC reserves the right to reject any application that does not meet our eligibility clause and any other risk factors relating to pastoral care and organizational due diligence.

Health and Safety Protocols

  • Couple must be fully vaccinated (2 doses) and had their booster shot. Proof of vaccination and booster will be required.
  • Fully vaccinated and boosted: Reverend Joseph is now fully vaccinated with Moderna; the alternate Lay Minister, Vince Madolid, is also fully vaccinated with Sinovac, and boosted with Moderna.
  • Physical distancing and no physical contact with the Pastor or officiating minister and any other personnel or representative of Open Table MCC during ceremony.
  • Counseling interview of couple will be conducted online.
  • Facemasks are required for the couple and their 4 to 6 witnesses.
  • Must not show any symptoms on the day of the ceremony. If there are signs of COVID-19 symptoms, couple and their witnesses will be asked to leave and the wedding will be rescheduled.
  • Disinfect before entering the Chapel premises.

Online Interview and Counseling (via Zoom)

  • Pre-confirmation: We will pencil reserve your schedule upon receiving your online request. Make sure that you have a confirmed wedding date from us before depositing the reservation fee.
  • Final reservation: Wedding schedule becomes secured under your names once we receive the reservation deposit. Reservation deposit must be received at least a day before your scheduled interview. No reservation, no interview. Schedule is forfeited.
  • Please attend your online counselling on time. There are other couples scheduled for that day. If you are not present after 15 minutes, interview schedule maybe forfeited.
  • Both couples have to be present during the online interview
  • Details about the ceremony and other things to prepare will be discussed during the interview/counselling.
    f. You will receive a zoom link access once we receive your reservation fee and proof of deposit/transfer.

We need the soft copy (clear and readable PDF or photo) the documents sent to us via the application email thread:

  • Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination (2 doses) and Booster Shot – vaccination cards or vaccination certificates are accepted. Falsification of vaccination cards or vaccination certificates is punishable under the Philippine law.
  • Soft copy of original Birth Certificates
  • Soft copy of Valid Government IDs
  • Registration form (will be provided by Open Table through Email)
  • Certificate of Non-Marriage (CENOMAR) from PSO
  • If previously legally married, we require documentation of annulment. If you have had a previous Holy Union from another LGBT-affirming church, please obtain a certificate of lifting of vows or a certificate of Holy Union dissolution from the other church you had a previous Holy Union.

All information and documents gathered from the couple are kept confidential and solely for the purpose of verification by the church. Open Table MCC follows and upholds the current Data Security Act of the Philippines or RA 10173.

Witnesses

We require that the couple bring with them at least 2 witnesses of legal age. For more than two guests, the church volunteer handling the application process will inform you how many guests can join you in our chapel.

Holy Union Fee

New Fee: PhP 6,800 + Pastoral Stipend

Fee is non-refundable if couple will cancel. Any and all payments can only be used to reschedule a wedding. Absolute cancellation by the couple forfeits the schedule.

Reservation of PhP 3,400 must be deposited or transferred to our bank account a day before your scheduled Interview. No reservation no interview and schedule is forfeited.

Final payment of the remaining fee must be deposited or transferred to our bank account 5 days before your scheduled wedding. Proof of deposit or proof of transfer must be sent to our official email.

December Fee: – PhP 7,800 + Stipend

Every December is a high demand month for weddings or Holy Unions. As such have an increased fee for weddings scheduled in December.

Monetary Stipend for Officiating Minister – Please note that the Pastor and lay minister almost always does not get anything from the wedding fee you pay. The Lay minister only gets a day’s wage from the fee. Your wedding fee all goes to the general ministry and operating funds of the church. Hence, we are now requiring couples to give a stipend to the Pastor or Lay Minister as a token of appreciation. While the stipend is now required, it is up to the couple to decide how much stipend they will give to the Pastor or Lay Minister.

Submitting An Application

Towards the end of this web-page is the online application form. It is connected with our official email address. Please fill out with the complete information including each of your complete legal names.

Email instructions

GMAIL ONLY: Please use only Gmail – email. If you do not have a Gmail, please create one. Other email platforms like yahoo causes error in our system or sometimes goes to our spam mail, thereby causing serious delay or error. We only transact and have a conversation through the application you sent us and the email thread we have started with each other.

Other details: If you have other questions, special information or things you want to inform us for consideration, please indicate on the box ‘other details’.

GETTING A REPLY (RESPONSE TIME): We respond to all new applications and follow-ups every Mondays and Tuesdays. Not including holidays.

We also do not respond to applications and emails during our Christmas break of December 22 – January 3, and during Holy Week.

The people managing our Holy Union process are all volunteers. We ask for your patience, kindness and understanding. Should the response take too long, you may send follow-up email or message us via our official Facebook page.

Be mindful also of the time difference if in case you are currently located outside the Philippines. We work and respond under Philippine Standard Time.

REPLY ONLY: Once you have an email thread with us. Please send all your future questions, clarifications and concerns by replying only through the email thread you have with us. DO NOT SEND A NEW APPLICATION and DO NOT SEND A NEW AND DIFFERENT EMAIL. We need all emails connected under one email thread.

Receiving The Initial Confirmation and Official Transaction

Depending on when you have sent your application, you will receive a confirmation and instruction email from us on a Monday or Tuesday, whether your chosen date and slot is available.

If it is available, you will be instructed to already make your reservation deposit. The registration form will also be attached on that email together with other instructions.

If your date is not available, our Union Committee will work with you to find the best possible and available date for your desired wedding.

The initial response may also include some questions and clarifications.

Please be advised that all agreements, negotiations and instructions are ONLY coursed through our official email and under the email thread you have with us. We do not transact in Facebook or other social media platforms even if they are our official accounts. We also do not transact in person or through the personal social media accounts of any person. We will not honor anything outside of the official application and email you sent through this website.

Rude and Disrespectful Attitude

If the couple or any of their witnesses or representatives acting on their behalf becomes rude, disrespectful or are making things in the process difficult, Open Table MCC has the right to cancel and reject the couple at any time.

Please BE ON TIME. if you are late for more than 15 minutes, your slot maybe forfeited.

Holy Union Certificate

You will get the certificate of Holy Union right after the ceremony.

Couples Who Cannot Afford The Holy Union Fee

If the couple cannot afford the Holy Union fee, please reach out to us by sending an application and informing us of your financial and life situation. We will not deprive a couple of the sacramental rite of Holy Union if the only reason is the lack of funds. We will work with you on the best possible way we can bless your relationship and officiate your wedding ceremony.

Policies are Subject To Change

The above policies, process, and protocols may change without prior notice. Each wedding application is also treated on a case-to-case basis.


Holy Union FAQs

  •  Is the Union legal?
    Answer: No it is not legally recognized. There is no legal effect. It is purely a religious ceremony.
  • Is the Holy Union Illegal?
    Answer: No. It is not illegal. The Union Ceremony is a religious ceremony protected by the Philippine Constitution in its provision on Religious Freedom.
  • Why do you call it Holy Union and not Marriage?
    Answer: The term “Marriage” is a legal term that means it has legal recognition and protection by the Republic of the Philippines. We do not call our ceremony as marriage because as of present date, there are no marriage equality laws yet in the Philippines recognizing and protecting the union of two people of the same gender or situations where one of the partners identify as a transgendered person.
  • Why do you charge a cost or fee for Holy Union?
    Answer: Back in 2013 there has a been a debate within the Church leadership on the need to charge a cost for the Union.
    The decision is to the charge a cost of Union because of several reasons:
    1. The charge appropriately provides a certain degree of financial maturity for the couple. Also in a subtle way, it forces the couple to think about their readiness for a long time or life long relationship that entails the reality of shared finances. The cost of Union helps to a certain degree a sense of planning and thinking in terms of the realities of a relationship.
    2. Many couples who wish to have a Union ceremony are willing to spend a lot of money for the venue, the food, the sound system, the photography, the clothes and many others. It is but fitting that the primary instrument and institution by which the Union will transpire is also given due respect and importance through a financial contribution to its ministry and operations.
  • Who determined the cost and why?
    Answer: The Union Charge was determined by the Local Church Administrative Board (LCAB) of Open Table MCC. This amount was deemed practical and reasonable given the operational and ministry needs of the Church as well as the reasons provided above of the couple’s contribution to the Church and an amount that actually sets financial priorities and readiness for the Couple. The Funds collected from the Union Ceremony are primarily used for the ministry and operations of the Church, namely: liturgical supplies, electricity and water bills, pastoral and staff support, HIV/AIDS ministry, communication costs, retreats and other Church activities.
  • What does the Holy Union Cost include?
    Answer: The Union fee only includes the certificate to be issued and given after the wedding ceremony. It also covers Administrative costs. It DOES NOT INCLUDE any flowers, designs or any logistical costs. It DOES NOT INCLUDE the transportation of the officiating minister and admin assistant.
  • Do we need to pay for the transportation of the Minister and Admin Assistant?
    Answer: Yes, the couple has the responsibility to shoulder the cost of the transportation of the officiating Minister and Admin Assistant. Please see the Transportation Matrix.
  • Do we give any stipend or love-gift to the officiating minister?
    Answer: Answer: Yes. We now require the couples to give a stipend to the officiating Minister after the ceremony. A stipend is a financial token of appreciation. While we now require the stipend, we do not specify an amount. The couple decides how much to give as a stipend to the officiating Minister. The couple will put this in an envelope and give it to the Pastor or Minister after the ceremony.
  • If we are a straight couple (man and woman) can we request for a Holy Union?
    Answer: Yes, you can. However, it will still be a purely a religious ceremony with NO legal recognition and effect.
  • Will other countries recognize our Holy Union in MCC?
    Answer: MCC has a global presence and is well known in certain countries like Canada and in the US; however each country has its own laws regarding marriage and immigration. We suggest you consult with the Embassy or Immigration Office of the country you are migrating to, in relation to the acceptability and immigration effects of the Holy Union Ceremony you have done in Open Table MCC. The Union Certificate, depending on the embassy or immigration office of a particular country, MAY consider the certificate as proof of togetherness.
  • How will the ceremony happen? Can we get a copy?
    Answer: The Ceremony details will be discussed by the officiating minister during the counseling session. You may request a copy of the ceremony from the officiating minister.

Request for a Holy Union:

Reminder on Reply: The volunteers will reply every Mondays and Tuesdays, Philippine Standard Time. Not including holidays.

Please declare your complete legal names with middle initial. The names you submit will be the names that will appear in your union/wedding certificate.

For those who have a preferred name different from your legal name – please put this under “Other Details”. Please indicate reason why there is a different preferred name in the details.

    All Holy Union applications are received only through the application form (above) which then forwards the application to our official email address for Holy Unions.

    Applications not submitted through the online form above are not recognized and honored. All requests or concerns are only honored through our email-thread conversation.

    Once you have received an email response from Open Table MCC, please make sure that for succeeding questions, clarifications and any other concerns are all sent to the same email-thread by replying. This ensures we have all your emails under one thread and it is easy to back-track our ongoing email-conversation. This also serves as proper documentation.

    Please, do not send a new and separate email as this may cause some confusion and unnecessary delay.


    Last Updated: 3 November 2022