Newlyweds give back

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by Alison Pagsuyuin

 Maureen & Bahandi Gabuna

Maureen & Bahandi Gabuna
Flowers, dress, cake, music – all “must-have” items that most young couple’s budget for in their dream wedding. But for one newly wedded couple, giving back was at the top of their wedding list. Maureen Cruz and Bahandi Gabuna (now known as Mr. and Mrs. Gabuna) recently celebrated their nuptials with about 400 close family and friends.

Elegant yet simple decor, beautiful dresses with matching coloured barongs were worn, and a gorgeous bride and groom rounded off a fun filled evening of laughter, dancing and celebration. What set also set this wedding apart from most was that a family on the other side of the world was also celebrating in their newly built home in the Philippines. Maureen and Bahandi, in lieu of wedding favours, are the first couple ever to have made a donation to ANCOP International Canada to build a home in the Philippines for a family in need. This gift of love was made in honour of each and every guest who was part of their special day. Instead of the usual trinket such as a small bag of candy, a bell or other favour that couples usually give to each guest, Maureen and Bahandi chose to use that money towards helping those less fortunate.

When planning our wedding budget, we made sure that a certain amount was set aside specifically for this cause, before the wedding dress, the food, the flowers or cake. It was important to us. Because building a home for a family in need was important to us,” said the glowing bride. “I wrote a proposal to the head of ANCOP International, Mr. Ricky Cuenca, which outlined our donation  procedures so it can hopefully one day be used as a template for others to follow if they wanted to do the same,” Maureen added. “It’s in our Filipino culture to celebrate so many milestones such as birthdays, debuts, weddings, anniversaries etc. and for Bahandi and
 Maureen, Bahandi, Fidel Ramos, Mike & Rey Pagtakhan

Maureen & Bahandi recieve plaque of recognition from former RP President Fidel Ramos on behalf of Gawad Kalinga. (l-r) Councillor Mike Pagtakahan, Dr. Rey Pagtakhan & Pres. Ramos, October 26, 2008

me, it was important for us to extend our blessings and bring awareness to charities such as ANCOP International and Gawad Kalinga (GK).Bahandi added, “We really wanted to stress to others that you don’t have to wait until you have everything before you decide to give. You really don’t have to wait until the “right time” or the “right moment,” such as when you have a house, or extra money or that extra energy, etc. There’s no better time then the present.”

Giving of time and energy is not new to this couple. Well known in the community for their work with Filipino Youth Initiative (FYI), Maureen spearheaded the 2005 Sister Cities Initiative and Build 2007 along with Councillor Mike Pagtakhan and others. Bahandi was the physical trainer for the group whose fundraising efforts included pulling a bus and an airplane! The members of Build 2007 raised over $15,000 – enough to build 10 homes for the less fortunate in the Visayas region.

This is the first time something like this has been done through GK and we hope to inspire other young couples in the community to do their part too. It’s so easy to give, and make a difference,” said the new bride. Bahandi quoted a verse from the Bible, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25 verse 40). And so, this blessed couple truly lead by example.

For those interested in learning more about ANCOP or GK and making a donation at your next celebration, feel free to contact Maureen or Bahandi at


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