Malvar, Batangas: Historical Data Part II - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Malvar, Batangas: Historical Data Part II - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Malvar, Batangas: Historical Data Part II

Historical Data graphic
Historical data from the National Library of the Philippines.



[p. 5]

b. Measures and accomplishments towards rehabilitation and reconstruction following World War II.

(1) Aid of the War Damage Commission in the rehabilitation of the destroyed houses and public buildings.

(2) There is a great improvement in the rural and urban communities in health, economic conditions, cultural, educational, citizenship civic, social and other aspects of life due to the influence of the community school.

(3) There is a great improvement in the lives of the people. Better houses are built; more artesian wells are constructed; planting of citrus is encouraged; and sanitation has considerably improved.

[p. 6]

Part Two – Folkways

A mother on the family way followed and remembered superstitious beliefs and customs to facilitate giving birth and evading death. The following are:

1. Not to sit or stay at the door.
2. Not to go under the house at noon time.
3. Not to face the jar while taking a bath.
4. Not to pass under a string or bamboo while walking.
5. Not to tie anything around the husband’s or wife’s neck.
6. Not to tie wire or rattan or help [hemp?] in building a house.

When giving birth, a mother has to follow the following:

1. Call for a midwife (hilot) and a helper (salag).
2. Fire [a] gun or firecracker.
3. Rub leaves of medicinal plants on the stomach and drink the juices of the medicinal plants.
4. An intelligent person should be requested to handle the first newly-born baby.
5. Use newspapers as pillows.

It is believed that when the child’s cry is loud, the godmother or godfather will be from a faraway place and when soft, the sponsor will just be nearby.

The first child should be delivered in the home of the parents of the woman.

When a child is born, the placenta is placed in a small glass jar with needle and thread with the belief that when the baby grows old, she will be a good dressmaker.

The water used by the mother in bathing after thirty days or less after birth usually contained the following:

[p. 7]

1. Payang-payang – Native herbs for making the mother’s body alert and strong.
2. Palad na Buli – Buri leaves for making the mother’s body always ready and eager.
3. Galamay-Amo – A native medicinal plant usually included in the water for bathing the mother and the baby with the belief that its use will save the mother and the baby from all evils.
4. Buhay na Bato – Alive stone [?] is also placed in the water to be used for bathing the mother and the baby with the belief that both bodies will be free from low temperature.


[A] Child not baptized after birth was considered unsafe and susceptible to the power of [an] evil spirit (tiyanak).

Selecting [the] godfather or godmother was based on character and other special qualifications. The elders always presumed that the child would acquire the personal greatness of the sponsors. The sponsors are always selected by the grandfather or grandmother of the baby.

The midwife who attended the delivery of the child should be the one to take the baby to the church with the belief that this practice would give good health to the newborn baby throughout its life.

After reaching the home after the baptismal ceremony from the church, the visitors, especially children, offered flowers to the godfather or godmother and, in return, they would receive money. Sometimes, coins were thrown or tossed up into the air for the visitors to gather. The belief was that the newly-baptized baby would grow in plenty or would become rich.

It was customary that before the baby was taken to the church, there was a temporary baptism in the home of the child. This is called the “buhusan.” The

[p. 8]

sponsor usually raised and blew the head of the child during this time in order that the child might inherit the good traits and habits of the sponsor. This temporary ceremony was being done when the family was preparing a pompous baptismal ceremony. It is believed that during this affair, they should have plenty of drinks, without it the baby’s eyes would always be filled with [a] mucus-like substance.


During the early days, [a] young girl and young man were being married without courting or talking with each other. Parents of both parties were the ones making the arrangement for the marriage of their sons and daughters.

Before approaching the house of the girl, the man usually took off his hat at the sight of the roof of the girl’s house. If ever a man knew and visited the girl, he could not sit near the girl. Signals using fan or handkerchief were used in conveying the woman’s feeling of love and affection. That was done because the parents of the ladies were very strict about the love affairs of their daughters.

Young girls, as matters of tradition, looked forward to the [an] early marriage. Before the marriage, the young man made personal service to the girl’s family as fetching water, gathering fuel and helping repair the house. The man’s family gave customary dowry which consisted of land, house, money, jewels and work animals.

[A] Few days before the marriage, the man or his parents did not give as presents hard things as firewood but, instead, they brought native cakes (bibingka), kind of sticky food. They believed that by so doing, the newly married couple would stick together throughout life.

[p. 9]


The people of the past buried their dead. The dead was dressed in his/her best and placed in a coffin. Much weeping usually took place. The bereaved family and friends mourned by wearing black garments.

When a person died, all members of his family were not allowed to go far away from home because they believed that when they did so, they were endangering themselves to accidents.

A lighted lamp was placed under the house where there was a dead person. They believed that the light would protect the dead from being molested by earthly ghosts and evil spirits.

Near the dead person, a plate or small box was placed. People coming to pay respect and sympathy to the dead used to put in the box or plate any amount they could afford in order to help spend for burial services.

It was also the belief that any person in the house or in the neighborhood who would take a bath when there was a dead person, such living person, if [he] happened to be sick, would be hard to cure. There was no sweeping to be made in a house where there was a corpse. Sweeping usually took place after four days after [the] burial. Pregnant women were not allowed to witness the burying of the dead. Sick persons we're not allowed to go to the house when there was a corpse, believing that after having been there, ailment would become worst.


Burial during the olden days was less expensive than that of the present. In the past, [a] dead person was wrapped in a mat which was closed by bamboo splits, then tied carefully around. That served as the coffin.

[p. 10]

Other people still believe that after the corpse is brought downstairs for burial, all windows of the house should be closed immediately. It is the belief that when someone looks out of the window, the spirit of the dead will return and frighten the people.

At the cemetery, before the burial service, the small children of the dead should stride across the corpse. People believe that the soul of the dead will rest in peace by doing so for the dead will never remember those who were dear to him.

There are families who used to include with the corpse all valuable possessions of the dead such as clothes, jewels, etc. They believe that these things will be used or worn in heaven.


Fiestas become a traditional celebration since the days when the people embraced the Catholic religion. It is celebrated to honor and to pay respect to a certain patron of a barrio or a town who was believed had done something good for the community. Fiestas are considered as [a] sacred promise and holy activity that when they fail to celebrate them, some calamities or misfortunes might befall them.

[A] Fiesta is a day when all people of a certain community wear their best in attending the mass. All homes are decorated with curtains, lanterns and leaves. Aside from these decorations, every home is prepared to receive invited or uninvited guests. When the celebration falls on a fine day, hundreds of people attend the celebration.

Sometimes, a certain individual will be requested by the priest to sponsor a day for a certain patron saint. A mass will be said and the sponsor will pay the cost of the mass. After the mass, the sponsor entertains the visitors in his/her home. In many cases, no one dares to deny the request because if one does so, the denial is taken as a dishonor to the said saint or patron.

[p. 11]


During the days when the laws were not written, the oldest folk in the village was the only person to decide punishment in all crimes committed by people in a village.

There were different kinds of punishments. A thief was punished by cutting his forefinger, a murderer by beheading him. When the crime is adultery, both the man and woman who committed the crime were flogged to death in the presence of their husband and wife. A spy or gossiper was punished by cutting the tip of his tongue. Other kinds of punishments were staying in a place where there were plenty of red ants, kneeling on mongo seeds, beating as much as one cavan or more, torturing, staying under the sun, and a system of garrote by which the hands and feet and neck were inserted in a block of wood or two opposite logs (Pangaw System).

The “PASAKNONG” System

It is a common practice in every community, especially in the rural areas, to help one another. When a family will have a certain project like the construction of a house, his neighbors come to help him. Sometimes, young men from other barrios come to help through the influence of the head of the barrio.

During the harvest season, the “pasaknong” system is very common. Any influential man or woman in a certain community, he may be a quack doctor, a midwife (hilot), an old man of the village, a father of a beautiful maiden or the strangest man may request the owner of a ripening rice field that he/she should be allowed to harvest the rice. As soon as the people of the community hear of the news, nearly everybody volunteers to help. Foods and drinks are prepared for the harvesters. Everyone is very jolly during the rice-cutting bee.

Occasionally, a certain family has something to celebrate. As soon as his neighbors hear of it, they come in groups and help the host. This practice is an excellent custom of the people of this municipality.


Notes and references:
Transcribed from “History and Cultural Life of the People of Malvar, Batangas,” 1953, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
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