PART TWO – FOLKWAYS
10. Traditions, Customs, and Practices in Domestic and Social Life.
a. The present customs of the present barrio folks are handed down from generation to generation. A large number of the people still cling to these customs and traditions. Those of the select few who are the products of the institutions of learnings are slowly but surely trying to cast away some of these old customs in place of the new and modernistic tendencies assimilated from western culture and civilization. Attendance of social gatherings are at times only through invitations. Only those who are closely related to the host are by practice should go to the house where the party is being held without the benefit of invitation. Those close relatives are to help in the preparation of food or other things needed in the party. It is gratifying to note that neighbors do not fail to come up and help in the household chores of the one celebrating, be it birthdays, marriage, baptismal or wedding parties. Close relatives, kin, compadres, comrades, and even distant friends join hands in the task of making the affair a success. At the time of eating during the party, rarely will one find these helpers eat. Only after they are sure that all guests have eaten already will these close kin eat. After the party, what little food is left is shared by the host to all those who helped in the preparation. This is to show the gratefulness and appreciation for the cooperation rendered by those who helped.
b. Births – When there is someone in the family to deliver, relatives, friends and neighbors of the woman don’t hesitate to visit the expectant mother to render assistance to the family. Someone will procure and boil water, another will call for the midwife (hilot) and still
the others do get ready for other things needed by the expectant mother. Those who were not present during the delivery do not fail to come and pay a visit to the newborn child and mother.
A newborn baby is usually first baptized through what is known as [the] “Buhosan” ceremony. This is done especially if the baby is somewhat sickly and ill. This ceremony is usually done at night in [the] house and is performed by an old devout Catholic assisted by the baby’s godfather or godmother. The ninong (godfather) holds the baby in his arms. With a lighted candle, he kneels and prays with the old devout Catholic who then pours water over the head of the newborn baby, saying “In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, I baptize as _________________ (this blank stands for the name of the child as told by the mother). Old folks always want to baptize a newborn baby as early as possible. They won’t like that weeks will pass without formally baptizing the baby. Formal baptism is, of course, done in the church.
Several days before the baptismal party, the members of the family usually have a little conference to decide on who will be the lucky sponsor in the child’s baptism. A good ideal one for the child is oftentimes chosen for they say that the child often adopts the ideal traits and qualities of the godfather or godmother as the case may be. Once the sponsor or sponsors are decided, the next step is to notify them. Then, the date is set. During this baptismal party, the sponsor shoulders the expenses in the church, buys the baptismal cloth; and last but not the least is the so called “pakimkim,” a sort of gift in money or in kind given to the child. If the family can afford, a grand baptismal party is held and is attended by the relatives, friends and neighbors of both the sponsors and the host.
c. Courtship and Marriage:
The present practices in courtship and marriages in this barrio are a combination of the past customs and the present or modern ones. There are still a few among our young men who, in the course of their courtship, have to heap favors not only to the girl of his dream but also to the parents, thinking perhaps that if he has little hope, that the girl will accede to his pleadings through the parents who may help him very much in convincing the girl to accept the suitor. Not frequently, some of the young girls marry against their will in order not to displease their parents who are in compromise with the parents of the other party. However, the modern trend of courtship as practiced by our young men shows their respect for the parents and the girls’ private and individual leanings. Not like before, few parents interfere with the love affairs of their children. Only when the suitor proposes will the parents intervene.
When the suitor and the girl decide to settle this matter made known to the girl’s parents, [the] parents of the young man are to be informed. The girl’s parents usually send for [the] guardians of the young man. This negotiation, then, is the start of the “pakilala,” which means that when the parents of the young man answers the call of the other party, they are bound to bring with them things that would prove their sincerity and determination to win [the] hand of the young maiden. Such things may be in the form of fish, water, meat, cigarettes and etc. When the girl’s parents agree to the proposal, the young man then is to start his pre-marriage services. The young suitor then serves in the house of the girl. He cleans the yard every day, fetches water, prepares firewood, pounds the palay every morning, feeds the cows and horses, plows the field, and
at times may also bring water and fuel to the houses of the girl’s nearest relatives. During this time of servitude, our young suitor is under observation by his prospective father-in-law. After a week or so and the services of the suitor were acceptable to the girl’s parents, a date is set for the meeting of both parties. This date must be with the consent of the maiden’s parents.
This meeting is called the “bulongan.” It is during this meeting when the parents of the girl are free to lay all the conditions they would like to ask of the suitor’s father and mother. [The] Date of marriage and how [the] marriage is to be carried out are also threshed out during this meeting. Dowries, gifts, sponsors are also decided in this meeting. When the girl’s parents do not ask for anything in connection with the marriage, the young man’s parents do the initiative by voluntarily offering what they can afford. Customarily, the groom has to bear all the wedding expenses. He furnishes the wedding dress of the bride, provides food for the wedding day, and pays for the marriage license and church fees.
There are what we call “Disposada” weddings. These are without the benefit of three announcements in the church during the three consecutive Sundays. [The] Regular marriage ceremony is always preceded by three announcements in the church in conformity with the religious regulation.
In case there will be a wedding party, the groom’s house begins to be like a beehive, buzzing with all different kinds of activities. Everybody, including the friends and relatives of the groom, is busy doing something in connection with the preparation for the final day of marriage. Women do the rice cleaning, making native
pickles, cigarettes, preparing sweets, borrowing dishes, silverware and utensils. Men go out to gather fuel, grind coffee, fetch water, borrowing tables and chairs. Others build the “sihi,” a sort of shelter where the eating is to be done.
Late in the afternoon of the eve of the wedding day, everything is set for “moving” to the bride’s house. All those in the groom’s house put together all the things to be taken to the bride’s home. It is a practice that they go together at the same time. The whole neighborhood is all agog. There is no let up on the eve of the wedding day. Everybody is busy doing something, while the young folks make merriment in the house. This day is the end of the suitor’s period of servitude.
Before dawn of the wedding day, all is set for the altar trek. The bride and groom in their wedding attires, with their maids and kin, proceed to the church followed by a curious crowd. After the “I dos,” the wedding breakfast or lunch follows as the case may be. From the church, the couple is sprinkled with rice upon reaching the stairs of the bride’s house. Before entering the main door of the house, the couple is again offered sweets and [a] glass of water. Then, eating starts. Incomplete is the wedding day if there is not even a string band to furnish the music. As eating goes on in the sihi, an extemporaneous program is going on upstairs. At times, amplifiers and microphones are used at present and they fill the whole barrio with loud recorded music. The choice for the first set at the dinner table is always given to the kin of the bride and sponsors of the wedding. After all the guests and relatives have eaten may the relatives of the groom eat at the table. At any rate, there is always enough food for all.
When all have eaten, a table is set for the “sabugan.” This is a practice that may reveal to those present the financial standing of both parties and families that were untied [united]. It is at this time upon the call of the manager, relatives of both parties united are called to give any amount of money as gift to the new couple who are seated at the two ends of the table, each with a plate in front of them. Relatives of the groom are to drop their money in the bride’s plate while relatives of the bride are to put theirs on the groom’s plate. Every now and then, the money is counted. When the amount in one plate exceeds the other, relatives of the concerned party are called upon. Any difference has to be filled up until the amount is even. When this affair cannot proceed further, there is a lot of noise, laughter, and hauling [howling?] such that finally, the amounts on the two plates will be put together and handed to the groom who, in turn, will hand it to his sweet half. This, they say, is the first of the groom’s duty in giving to the bride the money earned by the man. The part, then, concludes the wedding party.
The “lipatan” will then follow immediately. Everything used in the party is placed together again and are set for the return trip to the groom’s home. Now, it is the lady won. [?] Tables and chairs are returned. The couple kiss the hands of the girl’s parents and start for the house of the groom. Thus ends the strenuous and sometimes expensive wedding event. When the bride reaches the groom’s house, she at once rushes to the stove and puts away the fire in it. This, they say, is to make her new parents cool to her. At times, the groom is left in the bride’s house until after tomorrow when he will join his wife in his house.
d. Deaths and Burials
When a member of the family dies, the news is sent to the kin of the dead who are living far and near. Couriers or telegrams are sent to those who are living in far places. Acquaintances, friends, relatives and comrades flock to the house of the dead to extend their condolences and help in any work there is in the house. At night, the members of the family and close relatives of the dead stay awake all night to keep vigil on the dead. Usually, all those who come are first fed before they go away. The next day, when all those who are being awaited for have come and are gathered together, the funeral starts. When the bier is brought down from the house, one of the bamboo parts of the floor is taken away, signifying that one member of the family has passed away. Now the dead is on the way to the church for the usual ceremony. The funeral procession is followed by the relatives and friends of the dead. From the church, the bier is taken to the cemetery for burial. All the way from the house to the cemetery are heard the mournful cries of the afflicted family. Women, especially, would at times scream and cry out to high heaven, imploring the help of Divine Providence. Members of the afflicted family and close relatives are in mourning dress. Such mourning clothes should be worn for at least on year.
Members of the family of the deceased are not to indulge in merrymaking nor attend social affairs until after one year from the time of death. Music is also tabooed from the home. From the date of death, [the] praying ceremony starts up to the ninth day, and done always in the evening. At the fourth day, the praying is done at noon. This is a day when all those who attended the praying ceremony eat their lunch before they go to pray. That is, if the surviving family could afford to do preparations for this fourth day.