Social Customs and Beliefs in Batangas by Mauricio Zamora, 1917 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Social Customs and Beliefs in Batangas by Mauricio Zamora, 1917 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Social Customs and Beliefs in Batangas by Mauricio Zamora, 1917

This page contains the complete transcription of the 1917 ethnographic paper written by one Mauricio Zamora from .jpeg scans of the originals made available by the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections. Corrections for grammar had been made in certain parts but no attempt was made to rewrite the original paper. Original pagination is indicated for citation purposes.

Henry Otley-Beyer Collection

[Cover paper.]

Tagalog Paper No. 49.
(Folklore #156)



Mauricio Zamora


  1. TAGALOG: Lemery, Province of Batangas, Luzon.
  2. Social Customs: Beliefs: Government: Property right: Amusements: Marriage: Burial: Folklore.

October 8, 1917

[p. 1]


Mauricio Zamora.

The manners and customs of the natives of this province differ very little, if at all from the other inhabitants of the archipelago, this being the case more especially with regard to the Tagalog province of Luzon.

As a rule, the Filipinos of Batangas are very hospitable, moderate, sober, and religious and very much attached to the soil of his birth – a characteristic which distinguishes the race in general. Simplicity is also one of the most salient characteristics of the natives of this province.

The inhabitants of the province are very much attached to the soil where they first saw light, and only to emigrate to another section when obliged to do so by necessity; they very rarely do so for the sole purpose of improving their fortunes. The adventurous character which greatly distinguishes solutes, and especially the Anglo-Saxon race of other countries of the world, is not present in the natives of the province. The natural affection of the native of this province for the land in which he was born is easily explained because having but few wants and not knowing luxury, he is not forced to seek elsewhere the little which he requires to live, as in view of the prodigality of nature on this section, he always has more than necessary.

In addition to being sober and moderates, the inhabitants of this province are naturally simple. It may be asserted that

[p. 2]

persons having a knowledge of luxury are extremely rare, and even wealthier families are content with a life of relative comfort and moderation. One of the most salient features of the characteristic of the Batangan is his timidity and the profound respect which she professes toward the authorities and educated people whom he considers of a superior class. He is extremely backward in addressing equals, speaks when it is necessary, and shows enthusiasm very rarely; but when he speaks to persons vested with some authority and also are distinguished from the general masses, somewhat by their knowledge and education, timidity and respect, are still more evident. This timid character of the Batangan is due to the defective education which was received in being with principles contrary to the dignity of a man which the inequality of persons, sanctions. One of the proverbial inclinations of the native of this province, which may almost be classed as a custom is that relating to cockfighting, which is for the Filipino what bullfighting is for the Spaniards and boxing for the Anglo-Saxon.

Training of gamecocks essay work which occupies daily not only many players, but also persons who devote themselves they're too and make a living from it, as well; trained and cared for cocks, if they have good fighting conditions at very high prices, some reaching the fabulous price of ₱200 and sometimes more.

Of the ancient customs which constitute the law of the

[p. 3]

Tagalogs there are still many traces in this province. The father of a family, like the ancient pater familias of the Romans, is still reacted with many sights similar to those which the ancient Roman law vested in the parental power.

The religious respect which children displayed to their parents is still preserved, and the latter are obeyed without question. It is very rarely the case that a child acts without the will of the parents, however despotic it may be, but not withstanding the facts that parents are vested by custom with almost absolute power there occur very rare cases where they abuse their authority. The subjection of the paternal authority is complete as long as the person is not emancipated. In that state, he does not own anything, and all that he earns by his personal work belongs to the head of the family who may dispose thereof at his will. In order to adopt some determination in a matter of importance, he requires the permission of the father or the person exercising the paternal power. And even after emancipation, the son on many cases must consult the paternal or maternal will before contracting a serious obligation. The almost absolute power of the father of a family extends not only to the children but also to the mother of the same who on marrying is not emancipated, but enters upon a new kind of paternal power, represented by the husband.

In general, the condition of the woman in this province in comparison with the American or European woman, is still quite primitive and leaves much to be desired. While single, even though

[p. 4]

of legal age, she is always subject to the paternal power and is never emancipated. When she gets married, it gives rise to emancipation, but this is nothing but a fiction law [approximate: unclear phrasing], as she really becomes subject to a new parental power, which is that of the husband, sometimes more despotic than that of the father. The subjection of the daughter to the paternal power of the father is more complete than that of the son, because she is not even permitted to leave the house for a point at rouse [curious use of this word] distance when some mother requires it; and the field for the display of her activity as somewhat confined, being many times limited to the house itself.

With regard to the right of the sons to the inheritance of their parents, the daughters generally have little partier [unsure word] patron therein and the father dies and his property is distributed, the son receives the best and largest portion of the estate.

When the woman marries and brings property to the marriage, the husband has the administration thereof, disposing of the same as if it were his own. A married woman cannot make any contracts by herself and in any business, no matter how insignificant, she requires the intervention or authorization of her husband.

One of the most curious customs the origin of which is lost in the obscurity of tradition and which is preserved as, is a kind of law customs among the uneducated class regarding marriage and contracts preliminary thereto. After the suitor for

[p. 5]

the hand of a girl has been formally accepted, he is required to render personal services to the home of the parents of the same for one, two and sometimes more and more years, until the day fixed for the marriage arrives. During this time, the suitor selects the hardest work in the house, in order to carry the favor of his future parent-in-law and gain a reputation for being an industrious boy, and thereby assure the realization of his marriage, because of his conduct during the time of the service does not come up to the expectations or does not suit the caprices of the future parents-in-law, the projected union is broken off. Sometimes, the suitor not only gives his personal services alone, but brings in his friends at times and on days when more workers are needed in the house in which he serves, this always taking place during the period of the preparation of the land for the sowing of rice and sugarcane, and at harvest time. It is furthermore the custom to make more or less valuable presents to the parents of the fiancée, according to the wealth of the parents of the suitor.

Upon the approach of the day fixed for the marriage when it is to take place between well-to-do people, an agreement is made between the parents of the future spouses as to dowry which those of the male are to give the wife or to her parents. In this province, two kinds of dowry according to the general acceptation constituting a kind of gilt which the suitor or his pa-

[p. 6]

rents to the fiancée, and they marry which is the real dowry and what is called “Bigay Kaya.” The parents of the suitor designate the amount of the dowry, whether it consists of cash or other property, and the parents of the girl at the same time state an amount, in order that after the marriage, the newly-weds will have sufficient with which to meet the first necessities of the marriage and which may serve as a basis for the beginning of a business. Sometimes, the parents of the suitor are the only ones giving a dowry, those of the girl not doing so by special agreement between parents. Another custom which is worthy of consideration is that prevailing among the people of the province of meeting for nine days after the death of a relative in the house where it took place, for the purpose of saying the Holy Rosary in the house of the death or sometimes in the church every morning and evening and at the end of the nine days, the relatives and the friends of the deceased meet in the same house and after a brief prayer for the eternal repose of the deceased, they all sit down to a banquet according to the means of the family, but which is always sumptuous.

The respect for the dead in this province sometimes borders or real idolatry, and hence it is that for the peace of hat [unclear word], murmuring some prayers for the peace of the deceased, when a funeral is met. It is barely seldom that the dead are badly spoken of.

Due to the simplicity of the inhabitants and to the lack of

[p. 7]

education of the masses, many superstitions, the sad legacy of the past ages, are still preserved. The religious education which they received and which greatly favored the difficulty of abolishing superstitions, has also influenced greatly the general credulity of the masses in the supernatural acts, which impress their Oriental imagination deeply. Hence, notwithstanding the very radical changes in this community, we still have to lament that a majority of our natives [missing word: believe] in miracles and witchcraft.

To the low class has not yet lost faith in the “Anting-anting” (a kind of amulet) and believes in the efficacy of the prayers in Latin to free a person from future evils at the present time as for the last century, there exists a belief in the existence of the “Nunu” “Tibalang,” “Tianaka,” “Mangkukulam” and other evil spirits of old people. The superstitions consist of asking permission of the “Nunu” when entering unknown places such as forests, rivers, brooks, mountains, and other places which are entered for the first time; because if permission be not asked, the “Nunu” becomes angry and will cause misfortunes. It is also customary to ask permission of the “Nunu” when some large trees are felled when certain fruits are taken, or when a piece of virgin land is first prepared for cultivation. And when a person falls ill without the cause of illness being capable of explanation, it is attributed to the bad will of the “Nunu” who has been displayed [displeased?] by some disrespectful act on the part of the patient.

[p. 8]

The “Tigbalang” is a phantom which, according to a common belief, has the gift of appearing to man under different forms. It is believed that the appearance of any person that has made friends with the Tigbalang, they have converted to savages and no longer destined [unclear word] to live in the towns

The “Asuang” is also an evil spirit which is in the habit of appearing at night in the shape of a dog or other kinds of animals beneath the houses of pregnant women.

The “Tianaka” is a phantom of the Spanish and it is believed here that it is the soul of a child dying without having been baptized, and it chirps like a bird.

The “Mangkukulam” is a man or woman possessing the virtue of causing the sickness into death of a person with whom he or she is displeased. This belief is so widespread that when it is rumored that a person is a Mangkukulam, very few will approach the same and those who do so, everything their power to please him or her.

Among gamblers, the superstition is also prevalent that if they should meet a dead person or funeral in the street on leaving their houses, they must not go to the gambling house or cockfight, because they would surely lose.

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Notes and references:
Transcribed from “Social Customs and Beliefs in Batangas Province,” by Mauricio Zamora, 1917, online at the Henry Otley-Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
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