MARRIAGE CUSTOMS IN BATANGAS
Remedios Q. Kalalo
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- TAGALOG: San Jose, Province of Batangas, Luzon.
- Social Customs: Marriage.
October 22, 1916
MARRIAGE CUSTOMS IN MY LOCALITY.
Remedios Q. Kalalo.
It is interesting to note the marriage customs in San Jose, Batangas. For the recent years I have observed, and even before, I have heard of these things, but I now notice that among the town people these customs are gradually dying out. These are, however, practiced still to the extreme among the barrio people.
For the first time that a young man suits a girl, he goes to her house, usually at night at about seven o’clock. By this the girl and the parents could at least deduce that he likes her. Then he (the young man) will ask for some palay and to this it is understood that he wants to pound the rice. In case he is given palay, then it shows that he might be accepted by the family, but in case not, it shows that they do not like him. In this way, affairs go. If the young man is given rice, he will pound it or else somebody (a servant) [will] pound it for him. Very often, he will go to the house of the girl. Lastly, if he is decides to marry, he will have his father, some old relatives, and other prominent men in the locality to go to the house of the girl to ask for her hands.
This is what is called the “pamulungan” or “pautos.” These men will bring with them wine and other kinds of food and they will have a little party. In case the girl likes the boy, and her parents consent, a definite date for the marriage will be settled. But before this is done, they will first agree as to
what the dowry for the girl will be. This dowry they call “bilang” or “bigay-kaya.” Sometimes, the “bilang” consists of a home for the new couple, a tract of land, a carabao, and other things that a new couple may need; but, however, they do not ask for anything which the boy and his parents cannot afford. If they do so, it is understood that they do not like him and so the boy has to retire. The “bilang” (dowry) is offered to the girl. When all these are settled, then the date for the marriage will be fixed. Oftentimes, especially when the girl is yet young, the marriage is two years or more after the “pamulungan.”
During this length of time that they are waiting for the date of the marriage, the young man stays in the house of the girl, and there he is to help in every work. Sometimes, he is ordered to look after the plowing of the land belonging to the parents of the girl. Sometimes, he has to go on an errand. He helps in the preparation of the food, in the pounding of rice, and even in the getting of water from the spring – in short, he has to help in every work. In case the boy belongs to a wealthy family or a higher class of people where he is not accustomed to work and do these things, then he brings with him servants to help the family so that he will not do the work. But even then, he has to stay in the house of the girl for the length of time between the “pamulungan” and the date of the marriage. During the course of time, his character will be studied by them so that in case they see something which they dislike in him, he will be asked to wait.
When the marriage is nearing, every member of both the family
of the girl and the boy will be in earnest preparation for the wedding. Three weeks before the wedding day, the girl and the young man with some other relatives will present themselves to the priest, to let him know of their marriage and to settle the ceremonies which they want to be performed. This day of presenting to the priest is called “pakitaan.” From that time on, preparation will be more and more. A week before the wedding, the houses of both the young man and the girl will always be full of people helping.
In the afternoon of the day previous to the wedding, the family of the young man will invite friends – ladies and other persons in the locality. These, the will gather and bring to their houses. In the meantime, the house of the lady is being prepared to receive those guests from the house of her would-be-husband. Then, the family of the bridegroom with their invited persons and with all the things to be used, will march for the bride’s house. In this, they are accompanied by music, by a band, orchestra or whatever kind of music that can be afforded. When they reach the house, they will be met and greeted by the bride and her parents; and then the dancing, singing, serving in the table and some other sorts of enjoyment will begin. In the barrio, they used to have “fandango” instead of the modern method of dancing. It is another kind of dance with the accompaniment of [an] accordion. The guests will stay until about twelve o’clock as they will have yet to attend the next day.
Very early in the next morning, they will prepare to go to church. The guests will come again. When the bride, bridegroom, and others are ready, they will march to the church. They are accompanied by music. Then, the priest will perform the marriage ceremony in the presence of an older couple, whom they call “Ama and Yang Casal” meaning “Father and mother in marriage.” During the performance of the ceremonies, there are many superstitions believed by the old people. It is to their belief that if the ring when offered by the priest falls down, one of them will die very soon. It is also their belief that either of the candles of the couple which happens to die first signifies a shorter life than the other; that is, if the candle of the bride dies first, she will die first and so will the bridegroom if his were to die first. Also, it is believed that the first of the two who can be the first to pass through the door of the church will have the control of their future affairs; and so, there is always much confusion in the church when the couples are going out. When the ceremonies and mass are over, they will return to the bride’s house and continue the festivity.
The dancing and singing will last for almost the whole day. The best food that can be obtained will be served. Everybody will be in good humor.
At about three in the afternoon, a small table, two chairs, and two plates will be prepared in the center of the room. Then, the bride and the bridegroom will sit on each chair in front of each of which is a plate. The relatives and friends (mostly older
people) will offer money to the new couple. This money, which they put on the plates, they call “sabog.” The relatives of the boy put their “sabog” on the plate of the girl and the relatives of the girl so put theirs on the plate of the boy. It is very interesting to note this part of the wedding enjoyments. There is a great confusion in the house during this time. Sometimes, the couple even shouts. When nobody more puts money, they will be quiet. The groom will collect it, count, and put it in his handkerchief. Then, he will give it to his wife. That means that it is their first saving.
After this, they will get ready to go to the house of the husband’s parents. The bride will bid goodbye to her parents and to her relatives and friends in the house and she will go with the relatives and friends of her husband to his house. No one of her relatives can go with her. But the husband will be left in the house of his wife and he can come to her on the next day; when they go, all the things of the girl will be brought with her. They are accompanied by music on their way and the people shout and rejoice as they go along. When they reach the house, they will have another festivity. Then, she now will be considered [a] member of that family. She will entertain the visitors. In short, she will act as if she is a real member of the family.
Such are the marriage customs in my locality, but as I said, they are rapidly dying out. As the people become more and more civilized, customs are gradually developed, they are interchanged
with better thoughts and notions resulting to a more reasonable and more civilized custom which educated persons in a locality are apt to perform.
Notes and references:
Transcribed from “Marriage Customs in Batangas,” by Remedios Q. Kalalo, 1916, online at the Henry Otley-Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.