This page contains the complete transcription of the 1917 ethnographic paper written by one Tarcila Malabanan 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. 59.
SOCIAL FUNCTIONS AMONG THE PEASANTS OF LIPA, BATANGAS.
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- TAGALOG: Lipa, Province of Batangas, Luzon.
- Social Customs: Birth: Marriage: Burial: Amusements: Beliefs.
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March 14, 1917.
SOCIAL FUNCTIONS AMONG THE PEASANTS OF MY LOCALITY (LIPA, BATANGAS)
To a peasant as well as to every other human being, I suppose, there are three important events in life – birth, marriage and death; and the most important social functions in which the peasant takes part are connected with these three events.
If a peasant is well-to-do, he usually celebrates the christening of his newly-born child by a banquet to which he invites his relatives and friends, and oftentimes the whole village. In these reunions, the principal feature is the banquet, but there may also be music, native songs and native dances. Nor must we forget the telling of boastful stories and wonderful adventures, which usually causes after the drinking of a generous amount of coconut wine, and which sometimes ends in blows.
A wedding is an event which a peasant very seldom fails to celebrate with great feasting and merriment. When a peasant decides that his son is marriageable, he usually puts a pig in a sty and fattens it by careful feeding. Marriage engagements are made by the parents of the contracting parties. The young man’s father is usually asked to pay a dowry which varies according to the pecuniary status of each, and the beauty, industry, and other desirable qualities of the girl. Sometimes, the girl’s parents ask for a piece of land, a house, a carabao as dowry; at other times, only fifteen or twenty pesos and a loom. In many
cases, the dowry goes to the parents of the girl; in others, they give part of it to the young couple; and in still others, it becomes the sole possession of the young couple.
If often happens that when the girl’s parents do not wish to accept the marriage suit, they ask for a dowry which they know is beyond the young man’s means, thus forcing the withdrawal of the suit. Very often, the bridegroom’s father has to sell his cow and run into debt which takes him months and sometimes years to pay, for marrying off his son. Sometimes, the brother or the sister of the bridegroom goes into temporary servitude to pay for the expenses of the wedding.
In a wedding, there is the usual merrymaking – feasting on the fattened pig, wine-drinking, music and storytelling. Sometimes, when both of the contracting parties belong to well-to-do families, the wedding has a special feature which is always full of interest to the company. This is the “sabugan.” Two chairs are placed near a table and the bride and bridegroom are made to sit on these chairs. Then one by one, the relatives of the bridegroom place their money-gift in front of the bride; and her relatives place theirs in front of the bridegroom. The amount collected in this manner becomes the property of the couple.
With the death of a person, many social functions are connected. Of course, the relatives and friends of the deceased gather together, and attend his funeral. On the fourth day, they again gather together at his house. Here, a banquet is prepared. Some
of the near relatives of the deceased take a bath on this day, because they believe that his soul takes a bath in the river Jordan, and it seems they wish to keep him company, in a way, in his ablutions. Before eating, all the people pray for his soul.
On the ninth day, they again meet in his house, pray again, and banquet once more. After a year, the taking off of the mourning weeds of the family is celebrated.
Besides these social functions connected with birth, marriage, and death, there are others more or less associated with the time of the year. In Lent, for example, when it is the fashion to sing the Passion of Christ our Lord; sometimes a group of young men would come of an evening to a young lady’s house to sing the Passion below her window. The young lady of the house is supposed to answer and sing some stanzas of the Passion also. Often, the young men are invited to come up and sing in the house. Gradually, people gather in and around the house to listen [to] the singing. Sometimes, passion-singers are invited to a house to sing the passion. The famous singers compete with each other in the melody of the times and the sweetness of the voices. The hostess prepares refreshments for the singers and for her neighbors.
At all times of the year, when the people of the barrio are not burdened with the labor of the farm, groups of young men serenade the girls and invite them to a singing contest of native songs. The songs of each party should be appropriate answers to what the other has previously sung.
In May, “luglugan” form the great social centers in the barrios. A sort of bamboo pergola is put up and decorated with lights, colored paper chains, and flags, and fruits, render this pergola on one side in an altar where an image is placed, surrounded with bouquets of flowers. On the other three sides are benches or stools for the people to sit on. Within the enclosure of benches, the dancers, men and women, dance primitive native dances to the tune of the calatong. The calatong is a sort of drum sometimes made of bamboo, and sometimes made by stretching lizard’s skin across the top of the hollowed wood. Sometimes, the dancing is accompanied with songs sung by the dancers themselves.
These are the most important social functions in the barrios. Most of the time, the peasant is busy trying to earn money with which to supply himself and his family with the bare necessities of life and he has neither the leisure nor the means to plan dances and like affairs. The pleasure derived from sipping hot tea and listening to white lies in prick afternoon affairs and receptions is something entirely beyond his comprehension.
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