E. Customs and Beliefs Associated with the Family Life Cycle

The young man, who has prospected a lady for marriage, does not court nor propose to her. Instead he contacts two or three elder men as his emissaries to the home of the lady to propose for marriage in his behalf. This process is called Tumok. The lady may plainly say no or argue with the emissaries. But if the lady says yes or is silent which means yes, a date is set for the families of both sides to discuss a date for the wedding. The parents discuss the wedding, with the guidance of the Elders, based on customs and traditions, e.g., as to the position of the moon and other observations.

Animals for the celebration are usually provided by the side of the bridegroom, while rice, camote, rice wine and other spirits are provided by the bride. In both instances, the expenses are taken care of by the parents. As a sign of prestige, carabaos and cows are among those butchered during the wedding. Tradition dictates that the celebration is done at the bride’s ancestral home.

On the eve of the wedding one pig is butchered and shared among all those present, except for the couple who would not partake of the meat because it is sacred (paneyew). Doing so or violating it spells doom for the newlyweds, especially if they had previous sexual contacts.

The following day is the wedding feast wherein all the animals are butchered and shared by everybody. Visitors are fed first followed by the members of the community. Uncooked meat are sliced and distributed to the relatives, especially those unable to attend.

The following day is an observance called the “teteg” or “sabang” with an offering of a pig and a three-day of “ngilin” wherein the couple would not have sexual contact until the face of the moon has changed. Together with this observance is the keeping of fire burning for the duration of the ngilin. This process if properly followed by the couple will spell success, progress and long married life.

During conception, the couple is required to perform the ritual called “toltolo” which means the butchering of three pigs with the accompaniment of the (gangsa) gongs where those in attendance will dance in merriment. This is the first stage of the (canao) feast.

During pregnancy and conception, the couples must observe some rituals in waiting. First, the woman must not eat a twin banana; in doing so, the baby might become twins or tied to each other. Second, she is restraint from laughing and or uttering bad words towards ugly creatures; doing so will make the baby acquire the traits. Third, both husband and wife are not allowed to attend a funeral wake because the baby to be born will be a blue baby or lifeless.

In the delivery of a baby are these practices and its rituals. If a mother will have hard labor in delivering a baby which is called pasekall, a small pig is offered and butchered (daw-dawak) to free the woman from pain delivery.

When the child is born, upon the removal of umbilical cord (abusing), it is securely placed between two cogon sticks and placed at the water source. This ritual is done to stop the continuous bleeding of the mother who had just given birth and so that the vagina from where the baby came from would not swell.

In naming the baby goes with the events of the time of birth, say for example when a baby is born in October, he is named killing after the name of the bird that goes with the last typhoon in the month of October. In such other cases when there is no big event at the time of birth the baby is named after his grandparents or great-great grandparents.

After weeks or months after delivery the couple is advised to part ways with the parents to dwell in a smaller house built for the purpose by the whole neighborhood. The stage of moving away from their parents’ house is called “lomokso.” Just like the chicks when they are separated from the mother hen. The structure of the new house, its parts are called “tukod” (post), “kalusod” (rafters), “kawa” (purloins), “pao-kibat” (second purloins), “becka” (native bamboo), and “atep” (roofing of cogon grass).

The construction of the house is by tradition a community work wherein all will share in the work force with the leadership of a skilled house maker. No one will receive pay, but will have free meals with either a pig or dog is butchered as viand. All materials will be the responsibility of the house owner.

The stages and rituals in the construction of a house are the following, first stage is the site to construct the house, this is done by performing “button”, the act to foretell if the place is fitted for human dwelling by the sacrifice of a “keyap” (chick) to see if the bile, “pedis” of the chick is “dilway” long which signifies the good and prosperous future of the couple who live in the house and compound. The next ritual is the observance of the cycle of the moon “beskaan”, that is the new moon or first quarter, the sign to start the house construction. “Boyag”, a ritual will again be performed, the act of sacrificing of two chickens, to clean the house materials of evil spirits. After all this rituals the community people, “man-ili” will now start the free service called “dang-as” a group work without pay but free meals with take home slices of meat, called “watwat”.

The next stage after the house construction the couple who are the house owners will now occupy the new house and then perform the ritual and feast “kape or segep,” wherein all the neighbors are invited, two pigs are butchered, male and female in offering to the spirits or souls of dead ancestors of the house owner, at the same time requesting the spirits to intercede to “Kabunian” God for the good health and wealth of the family.

When all have left the couple in the first night of their residence will have to undergo the ritual of “ngilin” wherein the live charcoal is to be kept alive never off and that they will sleep in separate blankets no sexual intercourse.

In the morning when all is well meaning no untoward incidents happened during the night, the feast of thanksgiving is performed with the butchering of a male and female pig, again the neighborhood are in attendance without any invitation, in fact all of them will do the chores of fetching water, cooking, slicking the meat so that all will be served, most especially the visitors, this is one characteristics or values of our ancestors which we still carry today and which had been our trademark as people.

In butchering the pigs, it takes some stages, first the male pig is butchered by a sharpened wood called “ewik”. It is pierced right in the pig's heart thru its forearm, the blood soaked wood “ewik” is placed in a winnower together with old Spanish/Mexican coins/”palata”, bolo, trowel and a part of roasted meat (dinawis). The prayer man (manbunong) utters a prayer to the soul of the ancestors after which and with the blooded wood “ewik” it is wiped on the checks of the celebrant as a symbol of their acceptance to society. The dead pig will now be slaughtered and sliced to pieces. Some parts to be roasted and other parts be boiled leaving some pieces uncooked in case of latecomers. When the roasted meat is ready, it is placed in a winnower made of bamboo together with old Spanish, Mexican, or American coins “palata”, the bolo of the head of the house and the trowel of the wife, this is to be offered and the prayer man utters an hour long prayers to the souls of the ancestors. This being finished the roasted meat is sliced to small pieces and distributed only to the elders.

When the boiled meat is already cooked, it is sliced into small pieces and stored in a bamboo basket together with the cooked rice on plates and again the prayer man utter his hour long prayer in the offering to the soul of the ancestors, likewise the good and bad spirits as well because it is their belief that when you offer only to the good ones, the bad spirits will be angered and that as a consequence will cause bad luck or sickness to the family of the celebrant. In this case which is our culture, those who will eat first are ancestors spirits, the good and evil spirits of the mountains, the elders, men and women then children.

As there were left uncooked meat, they will slice and take three pieces of fat, “taba” and two sliced of tenderloin placed it on a bamboo stick and placed atop the fireplace to dry, this is what they call “kiniing” in the native tongue. This process of placing the dried meat atop the fireplace is for the souls of the ancestors who by some circumstances have been absent during the festivity.

In the early afternoon of the day, the yard is cleaned of the “apay”, cogon grass from which the pig was butchered and sliced. A new fire is lighted taken from inside the house placed in the yard to be kept burning, then the female pig is butchered called “soposop” which is the last rituals to be done. Again the bile of the female is presented to the prayer man for his interpretation that is if the host will live happily and good fortune or there is something wrong and that another pig has to be offered and sacrificed which is termed “sepnakan”, when cooked, same ritual is done, the prayers to the ancestors, good and evil spirits of the mountains, eating time by all those in attendance. If there are left uncooked meat these are again sliced for distribution to those in attendance and also those nearest relatives of the host who were not able to attend the occasion.

During the night of the festivity, the couple will again observe the “ngilin” taboo not to sleep together and avoid physical contact. They have to keep the fireplace alive by means of live charcoal, which they have to now and then during the night so that it will not be put off. In the morning when they are awake, the elders or prayer man would ask them what had they dream during the night. If the dream foretells good fortune, which usually is seed or paper given to them, the seed signifies successful farming and that paper signifies monies and good business. This being their dream another pig is offered for sacrifices in thanksgiving to those who brought good fortune. On the other hand if a dreams spells misfortune, it could be remedied through a prayer of the “manbunong” to coat away those demons.

If the couple have no dreams at all the last ritual cooking of the pigs head be offered, to be done by the prayer man or priest, at this instance the couple are asked to wash their blooded checks over a basin of water that is prayed by the native priest. When all have eaten the native priest takes home his shares “lapa”, but before going home he must was his hands inside the house near the fireplace, the woman will take a cup of water then slowly pour it over the hands of the “manbunong” in order to left the good fortune in the couple’s house. The couple are left by themselves, but still they are not allowed to have physical contact until the third morning they are directed to take a bath in the nearest body of water. In here they will not bath together, after this they are now allowed to go out and work or to roam around.

Nowadays, there is a great influence of education and religion to this customs and traditions. On the educational field many among us have been liberated, in fact some of our parents have already become professionals.