Former Marriage Customs in Rosario, Batangas Province by Antoline Lualhati, 1916
FORMER MARRIAGE CUSTOMS IN ROSARIO, BATANGAS PROVINCE.
Antoline C. Lualhati
- TAGALOG: Mercedes, Rosario, Batangas Province, Luzon.
- Social Customs: Marriage. 2b. Economic Life: Industries.
October 20, 1916.
POPULAR ANTIQUATED MARRIAGE CUSTOMS OR PRACTICES IN MERCEDES, ROSARIO, PROVINCE OF BATANGAS
Antoline C. Lualhati
[Side note: Mercedes is presently the town of Taysan.]
“Man yields to custom, as he bows to fate.” GC Crabbe.
“Man is but half without woman, and
As do idolaters their heavenly gods,
We defy the things that we adore.” P.J. Bailey.
Mercedes was known as Taysan (or Taisan) when it was a town a decade ago or more, and has acquired its present name only when it became a barrio of the town of Rosario. It is a place where there still linger the customs and practices perpetuated generation after generation from by-gone times.
The people of the place comprise the descendants of families that have lived and died there. Very, very few of the inhabitants are from other towns. Practically, there is no addition of people from the neighboring towns to the people of the place from year to year. The descendants are born, married, lived, multiplied and died in the same place, products of the same conditions, perpetrators of customs, beliefs, and superstitions of the locality.
Causes for the existing conditions are not very hard to find. The place has never offered inducements or attractions which could have encouraged immigration. The place is situated inland, and is very far from the sea-coast. The people never have
the opportunity of eating fresh fish from the sea-coast towns of Labao, Batangas and Bawan. They subsist on rice and corn, canned fish (as salmon and sardines), meat of pig and eggs. There is no bakery. Perhaps, the only thing that has favored the foundation of the town at the spot is the river that flows nearby. Transportation is difficult, and, indeed, there is no great need of improvement in this line because there are no native products which could be carried in commerce with considerable profit to the speculator. The merchandise that is sold in the few stores found at the place are bought from Batangas, or Rosario, or Lipa, and are carried by pack-horses. The distance to Rosario is about four kilometers and within that distance, there are as many as six rivers; to Ibaan (the nearest town) about five or six kilometers and within that distance, as many as ten or twelve rivers; all these overflow during the rainy season. As to the occupations of the people, there is none so prevailing as that of the agriculturist, or farmers. The soil is flat and favors the pursuit of agriculture by the people. There is no lumbering, herding or fishing. All these things combined are enough to explain why people from the neighboring towns are not and could not be led to make a living in this place.
Naturally, the traditions of the people remain the same, without alterations or additions. Enlightenment has not yet penetrated a greater part of the mass of the people. With the coming years, however, great evolution may well be effected; the old-time practices will probably be done away with – will be bat-
tered down and pass away. Then, and not till then will the “old order changeth giving place to new.”
The young men of the place, a great part of them, belong to that class that follow the plow. They divide their time in farming, wooing, amusements and pastimes. But it is with wooing and the marriage practices only that I have to deal upon here.
The young men perform their courting business at night time because they are occupied with their work at day time. However, in christening parties or marriage festivals whenever opportunity offers, the young men find time in whispering words of affection to the girls they adore.
In the country places, where the bulk of young men are farmers, courtship is done in a peculiar manner, which is but natural to persons of their kind. The young man makes nightly visits to his shrine. He gives the parents of the girl their due respects; his behavior is very calm; his actions are never harsh. The wooer seldom comes singly; he has some companions with him who are his personal friends, confidantes and advisers. The nightly visits often pass away without any love conversations between the girl and the young man. The parents of the girl are accustomed to old-time civilities and in general they come to prefer a quiet polite young man to a talkative and rash one. Visits often occasion personal talks with the parents of the girl. After so many visits, and when the favor and goodwill of the parents have been secured, the wooer may ask the parents to permit him to do all sorts of work for the household.
We find here no existence of true and self-borne love. The girl is naturally obedient to her parents (or guardian, as the case may be). She has no freedom of choice; she does not want to make any choice, or if she does want, the fear of punishment, or the feeling of devotion and obedience to parents, makes her accept the husband and parents’ like for her. Parents base their choice upon the rank, occupation, diligence, deportment and health of the wooer.
This practice is advantageous to the girl. It sometimes happens that the husband after some lapse of time in their married life, treats his wife indifferently, coldly, cruelly; she is punished for any slight blunder or offense committed. In such a case, she looks for protection or help from her parents who have chosen this partner for her; she puts the blame on her parents. On the other hand, in the case of marriage by elopement, the wife has to bear her lot for herself; she cannot appeal to her parents; because their marriage has been against their will. The case when marriage is by mutual consent to both parties is advantageous to the girl and to her parents. No responsibility is laid on the latter.
In the course of the wooing, there are cases of rivalry. When the favored lover has been permitted to proceed in doing all kinds of work for the girl’s family, a rival may at the same time do the same. But then, the latter is told by the girl’s parents to stop, saying that his services are not required. The, here bloodshed often occurs between the rivals, or the abduction of the
girl by the rival, which is probably to be followed by trouble or right between the two rival families.
The favored wooer does all kinds of manly household work. He constructs or repairs fences around the household lot. He brings water from the well. He gets fuel for the household. He cleans the house and its surroundings. He digs the garden; he plants the trees. He does many other things besides, which are too long to enumerate here. His services continue until he is required to discontinue, and the time of rendering such services varies from several months to two or three years.
At the end of his “serving” time, he is told to go home to tell his parents to come in order to have a talk about the marriage. This occasions a gathering at the house of the maiden, and this usually takes place at night. In the country places, the instrument of amusement for the occasion is usually the accordion or the violin. There are toasts, drinking and short witty remarks during the progress of the spectacle. The dowry to be brought by the young man is named by the girl’s parents to his parents. The dowry of the young lady is likewise mentioned. This is carried on by personal talk between the heads of the two families. The dowries of both become the property of the couple after their marriage. The dowry asked of the young man comprises a certain amount of money, a certain number of work animals and a certain number of acres of land. The amount of money asked varies from ₱20 to as much as ₱360 sometimes; then the work animals, cows, carabaos, horses so many of each kind or one kind. Sometimes
the whole value of the dowry is asked in money, which must be as high as ₱500.
In the case such as the last one mentioned, some persons may hold the girl’s parents up to ridicule. They assert the “transaction” as thoughtless, blind affair, and apply to it the name “daughter-trading.” The people say that in such a case, the daughters then are but in a true sense the property of the parents, and, therefore, are “vendable things.” The idea to them is truer when in the case of the absence of love on the part of the girl, the parents, who choose her partner for her, compel her to accept the chosen one. The parents announce the amount or quantity of dowry, which if any young man, whatever his station in life or his character, or his appearance may be, could produce, the daughter could be had by marriage. Here is a case where the daughter may be truly called “a saleable article that is sold to the highest bidder.” Money in this case is the all-powerful means of procuring the partner in life; yet the fireside resulting from such marriage is seldom smooth, tranquil and happy; hosts of evil beset the way to married-life felicity. The wife is put into “a hell on earth.” She wears a crown but it is a crown of thorns; she tastes the bitterness of married life – her husband treats her coldly, cruelly, almost like a true slave or an animal; a pet may be happier than her. The husband may turn out in time to be a vicious, lawless, extravagant, vile brute; or he may be a gambler in due time; he may keep [a] concubine and, therefore, neglect to care for his first wife. Suck kind of marriage is not uncom-
mon, and many a young woman has been married to an untimely death due to the unbearable misery that has enveloped and penetrated to the core of the soul.
For many days after a mutual agreement between the parties, the young man and the girl are taken before the parish priest; and this things is termed the “first call;” because it is the first time when the young people shall be questioned as to their preparedness or wish to receive the holy sacrament. A week after this, the “second call” is made. These young people are each time asked to answer questions orally on the Christian doctrine in order to test their knowledge. The marriage takes place on the third week.
A marriage ceremony is usually held on Monday, but sometimes on other days of the week. About a week before the marriage is to take place, the bridegroom’s party builds a dining stage of bamboo by the house of the girl’s parents. At the eve of the marriage, the party goes to the house of the bride, with their things that are to be used in the coming marriage festival. Their [missing word] comprise [of] rice, pigs, meats, sweets, pickles, dishes, pots and many other things of the table.
The occasion of the marriage festival presents a large gathering of the people at the locality. The night preceding is spent in singing and merriment. Before dawn, preparations are going along in the house. Everybody that is going with the couple to the church is dressing up.
The morning meal comprises [of] coffee and bread, and chocolate
also. After the marriage ceremony, the company returns to the house. Dinner takes place at twelve o’clock, and continues until all the people are through. After this, the party prepares for the departure. All the things that have been left after the festival are divided equally between the two parties.
The concluding part of the day’s affair is the pecuniary gift giving to the couple done by all the members of both parties. The couple sits by the table one opposite the other. On the table are two vacant plates and others that contain buyo, cigarettes, sweets and bread. A caller summons by name all the members of the bridegroom’s family; as each one’s name is called, he (or she) approaches the table and places his money on the vacant plate placed before the bride; this continues until all are called. Then, the members of the bride’s family are next called, and each to the same thing. Each time, a number picks a piece of the things on the plates. Of course, the gifts of the sponsors and the parents of the young people are the largest. The amount collected becomes the property of the young people.
After this, the bridal procession moves along towards the house of the bridegroom. This is the moment of parting. The bride’s household is filled with sorrow. The bridegroom is now allowed to go with the procession. He is left behind to stay at his father-in-law’s house for the rest of the afternoon.
Before the commencement of the procession, however, a man hurls a large pot up into the air and let it fall down to the ground. This means a wish [unclear word] that the couple would have plenty of
A week after the marriage, the couple bakes cakes. If the dough used in the making of the cakes tends [uncertain word] to rise, it is claimed that the wife will not be sterile. But then, whether the dough rises or not [unreadable word] sometimes is the condition reached by the wife.
In such a manner as described above is the typical marriage celebrated in my locality. We see that in it are manifested many popular customs and practices. Such a field is offered, and waits in the future to be tilled and planted with new ideas that are more important and more worthy of occupying the popular minds.
Notes and references:
Transcribed from “Former Marriage Customs in Rosario, Batangas Province,” by Antoline C. Lualhati, 1916, part of the Henry Otley-Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.