Courtship and Marriage Rites in Philippine
Perhaps of all customs and rituals, none
is as important to a society as courtship and marriage. For it is
in these events that a culture secures its continuity. Ties are
created, where previously there were none. Families clans are united.
And through the observance of traditional courtship, the individuals
find a bond, not only to each other, but to generations past...
ancestors who have lived and loved and forged relationships in like
This page takes us through the different
kinds of courtship practiced in the Philippines today, culminating
in the grand wedding. The nuances of these customs vary from region
to region -- yet all of them are marked by a heady mix of enigma
and excitement, nervousness and negotiation, ceremony and celebration.
Olog - The
Ifugao, Mountain Province
There is a practice among the Ifugaos of northern
Luzon of segregating "marriage-able" girls in a communal
abode called "Olog" or "Agamang".
(The marriageable boys are accommodated in another communal house
called the "Ato".) The boys from the "Ato"
regularly visit the "Olog" and performed the
first stage of courtship known as the "Ca-i-sing."
They unburden their feelings in native songs rich in meanings and
insinuation. The girls respond likewise in native verse. All these
are done under the watchful eye of the "Olog"
head -- an elderly and married woman or a childless widow who keeps
the parents of her wards informed of the developments of the courtship.
The practice, unique to our Northern Mountain
Tribes is also known as "Ebgan" (Kalinga) or
Courtship Through Poetry and Song
"Tapat" is practiced in
small towns of Ilocos. A young man employs music and verse to declare
his attraction to his lady love. The would-be suitor (sometimes
with a friend in tow for moral support) goes to the girl's house
and serenades her from her window. The lady then answers in a song--usually
one that suggests that the man has a long courtship ahead of him.
The man then counters with another song this time more passionate.
The musical repartee goes on and on until an "understanding"
This practice is also known "harana" in the Tagalog
regions. Among the Maranaos, the practice is known as "Tubad-tubad"
wherein playful verses are exchanged between the two would-be lovers.
Bisperas - The Eve of the Wedding
Province of Batangas
This is an old custom peculiar to Batangas.
The day before the wedding, an entourage consisting of the groom's
parents, relatives, "abays", "ninangs"
and "ninongs", and others concerned with the
wedding walk in a procession from the groom's house to the bride's
house. The purpose of this journey is to deliver all the ingredients
to be used in preparation of the wedding feast. Everything from
the cows and chickens, to the vegetables and rice, down to the condiments
and the cutlery are carried in the procession. Upon arrival at the
bride's house, refreshments are served. Then the elaborate preparations
for the reception will be proceed thereafter.
Pamalaye - The Formal Proposal
Province of Cebu
Among the traditional Cebuanos, the asking
of the girl's hand in marriage is no simple matter. The entire family
of the man troops the girl's home, bringing with them musicians,
gifts, food and wine. The discussions regarding the marriage are
deputized to a "Mamamae" and a "Sagang"
whose main qualifications are great skill in the art of debate and
rebuttal. They represent the interest of both families and are empowered
to make binding contracts regarding the dowry. The reaching of an
agreement between the families is the high point of this custom
called the "Pamalaye", and lavish festivities ensue.
Among the Ilocanos, this is known as "Tampa"
or, the more formal arrangement, the "Danon."
To the Tagalogs, it is "Pamanhikan." It is "Pasaguli"
to the Palaweños and "Kapamalai" to the
Pangagad - Bride Service
Province of Leyte
In Leyte, in lieu of paying a dowry, a Filipino
man wishing to wed into a traditional family is expected to perform
household service to the bride's family as proof of his sincerity
and fortitude. This can include anything from fetching water and
chopping firewood, working in the farm as well as running household
errands. This usually lasts about one year. This is more of a test
period--as the rendering of the "pangagad" still
does not guarantee irrevocable acceptance of the marriage proposal.
Thus, it is appropriately known as "Paninilbihan"
(being of service) or "Subok" (trial) to the
Tagalogs. In Bicol, it is called the "Pamianan."
Pangalay - The Wedding
Of all social events, perhaps none is more
elaborate than a wedding. And of all Filipino weddings, perhaps
none is as full of color, splendor and pageantry as a Tausog wedding.
On the eve of the affair, a cacophony of native percussion instruments--"agong",
announce the impending wedding. Everyone in the village, young and
old, are invited. The ceremony proper is performed by an "Imam"
or Muslim priest. After readings from the "Koran",
the groom puts his "fingerprint" on the forehead of the
bride. This gesture formally seals the marriage. Like all weddings--lavish
feasting, singing, dancing and marry making ensue. And the entire
tribe celebrates the joy and love and life.
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For more information about the different courtship,
wedding & marriage practices in other regions of the Philippines,
read Philippine Wedding Practices.
Related Link: IFUGAOS PRESERVE WEDDING CUSTOMS
-Inquirer (August 3, 1999)