This page contains the complete transcription of the 1915 ethnographic paper written by one Julian Lopez 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.
Tagalog Paper No. 34.
SOCIAL CUSTOMS AND BELIEFS IN LIPA, BATANGAS
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- TAGALOG: Lipa, Province of Batangas, Luzon.
- Social Customs: Beliefs: Marriage: Birth.
CUSTOMS AND SUPERSTITIOUS BELIEFS IN MY LOCALITY, LIPA, BATANGAS.
The Filipinos as a people have many queer and interesting customs and superstitious beliefs. These possibly came from our ancient ancestors and are handed down from generation to generation so that many of them still survived at present. The town of Lipa being in the province of Batangas which is situated in the interior part of the islands, shares in the possession of this general inheritance of the race, and among my townspeople are to be found some of the most interesting customs and superstitious beliefs. It is, however, only among the common people of my town, especially among such as live in far away barrios who, as a whole, are very conservative and as [yet] have not gotten over their primitive beliefs, that the customs and superstitions, which I shall relate, are generally met with. It is, indeed, a sad truth that we have such simple people, but we must bear in mind that every place must have simple folk as well as its wise men.
Among our many customs and beliefs, it seems to me that the following are the most noteworthy. In case of marrying, the younger people do not usually have much to say as to whom they will marry, this is a case to be decided by the parents alone. The parents would never allow their sons or daughters to be married in the year having odd numbers (as 1909, 1911, 1913). Because they said that those who got married at this year would not live together
peacefully and would have a bad fortune; that is to say, the couple would always be quarelling and their financial situation always poor. Also, none would marry at the age of twenty-six as they said (*dalwampu at anim masamang pangitain*) meaning the age of twenty-six has [a] bad sign, so that according to what they said, if either one of the couple is at the age of twenty-six at the time of the marriage, in the course of time they are liable to live a miserable life. After the ceremony, the marriage feast takes place in the bride’s house, but towards evening the couple, accompanied by the relatives of both parties go to the home of the groom. Before they start, one or more pots are thrown high up in the air; this, according to their belief, would make the couple live happily and that they would have obedient children. As soon as they arrived at the house, the newly married wife goes straight to the kitchen and arranges the things there; there by signifying that she is going to perform all the work and duties of mistress of the house. Just before the people who accompanied the couple leave the house for their respective homes, each gives them his good wish for a prosperous life with each other, and as a sign thereof gives them presents of some kind, usually money or any other valuable things.
Among these country people, it is almost universal to bathe infants for the first time when they are only fifteen days old. The water they use for this purpose is slightly warmed, and into it is put a piece of money, usually a gold piece, and a book. This, too, is explained by the saying that the presence of the piece
of money will make the baby rich in after years, while the presence of the book in the water will make him wise.
Also during infancy, that is, for about three months, the baby is always placed in one covering of a “[blurred word]” an article commonly used by the common people for placing their clothes. This, they said, would make the baby obedient when he grows old and that he would not always be out of the house but stays at home and helps his parents.
Interesting customs would also be observed in the setting of trees and plants. When a coconut is planted, the farmer usually carries with him a branch from a fruitful tree and a piece of fat taken from a very fat pig. That branch, it is said, will make the tree bear many nuts, while the piece of fat will make the meat [unsure word] thick and oily. And both these results, every planter greatly desires.
When a person is planting bananas, he has a stooping position and keeps his legs far apart, and when the lower part of the plant is in the hole, he covers the base with dirt. In doing this, he keeps the fingers of his hands separate. They say that if a person stands up straight while planting a banana, it will grow to a great height, a result which is not at all desirable, while if he keeps his legs together, the sucker will grow very near the base; and if he holds his fingers together while covering the base, the banana in the bunch will be double rather than single, hence unfavorable to the farmer because double counts as one.
Even at present, it is the usual habit of our common people
to go to pilgrimmages. This custom is commonly made by the people of other countries, but here, it is especially interesting due to the accompanying ceremonies. The people, just before starting on a pilgrimmage, kneel in front of their houses and pray to God to protect their homes during their absence. Those who are left behind make preparations for the reception of the returning pilgrims after their devotions, so that a great feast for them. In going on a pilgrimmage, they never start on Tuesday and Friday for they said that if they do, misfortunes are likely to befall them. Also, the pilgrims ride in a carromata; he alleges that such a mode of travel is very different from Christ’s journey to Calvary and “Do as Christ did while on earth” is always a pilgrim’s motto.