MARRIAGE CUSTOMS AND CEREMONY IN TANAUAN
- - - -
- TAGALOG: Tanawan, Batangas Province.
- Summary: Customary Law: Marriage Customs.
- - - -
In Tanawan, province of Batangas, marriage is still in its primitive state. However, there are exceptions to this, as for example, those people living in the town or those people who have acquired education. There are also people who are educated but still predominate in themselves the primitive customs and traditions of their forefathers. Let me be understood, therefore, before I proceed, that marriage customs in that town are not altogether the same.
Like [the] nobles and aristocrats of England, marriage contracts between families exist in that town. We have read and have seen in films that some people are forced to marry because of their parents’ approval and not because they love each other. Marriage, in that case, is not a matter of loving each other but family contract. It is not a crime to force their children to marry when they have not seen each other and without loving each other. These are the very customs that still exist in the barrios of Tanawan.
Families who are friends agree to see their children be united. They always look for the welfare of their children in the wrong way. Parents believe that by contracting their daughter or sons early, their children’s lives will be settled early and the better they would be. Children who are afraid of their parents consent and obey
their wishes. Unlike the foreigners, marriage contract is set at eighteen but still younger. Yes, they marry and what happens afterwards. Families are broken and the women are left destitute. The love of the home and the family cannot cultivate, and children’s reputations are hampered [curious word] by the public. Separation between husbands and wives is in the majority of cases the result and adultery comes next. Man finds love with another woman and woman, brokenhearted, returns back to the parents or the same case happens. Who, then is to blame? Abandoned wives sometimes struggle for their own living and also for the education of their children. [For] Men, nothing is lost, but women who are delicate and sensitive are ashamed to face the world. Sometimes, mothers die brokenhearted and children’s place in society is very low. Who is then to blame and whose fault? Public opinion is now to judge and [in] majority of cases, the woman is always to blame.
Let us now turn to the other face of life, where courting plays a part. Courting is that process of securing the approval of the one concerned or to endeavor to gain the favor of the attraction or fluttery [curious word]. Courting begins at an early age, sometimes at the age of fourteen on the part of the males or even younger. If they respond to the love of both, then they are engaged. Engagement exists until the time of union arrives. If both parties (the parents of the male and female) agree, it is called official betrothal. It is really wonderful and a problem if boys of fifteen or
sixteen years and girls even younger assume the responsibilities of marriage life. But if it is not an official engagement, they elope and live miserably.
On the other hand, there are those people that are not accepted. Man exists upon the acceptance of his offer. Man tries to be perfect before the woman he loves, and tries to win her favor. In case he does not succeed, he returns to the consideration of the parents. The man tells them (parents) of his love and seek their approval. Not only does he secure the consent of parents but also the relatives of the lady. The parents, on the other hand, when [they] find an interest in him observe his conduct, his place in the community and his behavior. When they believe that he is enough to fit their daughter, he is put under observation. By putting him under observation, I mean that the gentleman will live with the lady and with the parents and relatives. In there, he works like a servant or what we call in Tagalog “bataan.” When the man stays with the parents, they have a special name in Tagalog called “nagagasa.” His term varies from six months to one and a half years or even more. The kinds of work varies with only the occupation of the parents of the lady. He not only serves the parents of the lady but also the relatives, (all). The kinds of work are: carrying pieces of wood so that these will be ready for consumption. Getting fuel and putting them together have a specific name called “ng tatalacsan.” Other kinds of work are: care of the carabaos, cattle, pigs, horses, and helping in the cultivation of corn, sugarcane, harvesting rice,
plowing the field and planting. There is always a critic wherever the man is. There are many prerequisites before marriage. Like subjects in the university, we need to take certain units, and before marriage, certain kinds of work should be done not only in the grade of 5 but of 1.
I might as well tell how this work should be done. In carrying water, for example, all jars should be filled all the time, and should be done carefully; in case the pouring of the water slips out, then, that is a point against him. This action is enough for him to be dismissed and be disqualified for marriage or for marrying the girl. There are also some of this kind such as his negligence in the performance of his duties, lack of courtesy to the relatives and parents of the lady.
Besides labor, the man should cover all the shortages of the betrothal’s parents [curious phrase]. In case there is a shortage of rice, fishes or the like, the gentleman should secure all of these. When he fulfills all the obligations needed, then he is accepted. Then comes the other side of the problem which is marriage.
Marriage is the legal union of a man and a woman for life, as husband and wife. But before this is done, the parents of the lady asks [for a] certain dowry in the form of money, house or anything which will help the newly couple when they live separated from their parents. The less important is and which is of great value to those people, is the wedding gown. Those people who are not well-to-do merely hire the wedding gown.
Money is asked and in the majority of cases, the form of dowry given so that if they live separately, the young couple can start a business of their own. When all of these are supplied by the bridegroom, then marriage is settled.
Everything is settled and the parents of both parties arrange the marriage day. They go to the church and settle all accounts and secure [a] marriage license. All expenses should be credited against the bridegroom.
Marriage party starts in the house of the bride and usually takes place early in the morning. The parties will go directly to the church where the priest is waiting for them. There are basemen and escorts who accompany the young couple to the church and who act also as witnesses. After the marriage ceremony is over, they go directly to the house of the girl where a small party is awaiting the coming of the newly married couple. On their way, money and rice (raw) are thrown on their way. They have a superstitious belief connected with this. They say that if this is done, success will be nearer them, not only success but prosperity. The most funny thing is this. Some people or newly married couples upon leaving the door of the church run a race to her home (straight) and the first one to go up the stairs will be the one to dominate the other. Sometimes, they stumble down the streets and [in a] majority of cases in the staircase. After the party is over, the young couple will
proceed to the house of the bridegroom and then to the relatives of the bride and the bridegroom.
Notes and references:
Transcribed from “Marriage Customs and Ceremony in Tanawan,” by Josefa Valero, 1926, online at the Henry Otley-Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.