Marriage Ritual of the Northwestern Benguets

Written by Juansing B. Empiso on .

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          Among the non-christian tribes of Mountain Province, marriage is still solemnized in accordance with the established tribal customs. This story tells you about a typical marriage among the pagan Ibaloi of northwestern Benguet.

          In a certain village, lived a prosperous and contented couple. Among the villagers were Pascual and Baoiran who were the richest and the most prominent in the village. Because of their wealth, these men were looked upon as headmen of the village.

          Pascual had a son named Locloc, while Baoiran had a beautiful daughter named Agnay. It is the custom among the rich to betroth their children to others of their level. Pascual and Baoiran agreed to have their children, Locloc and Baoiran, engaged. A pig was butchered as a sign of their betrothal. Locloc and Agnay were barely ten years old then.

          Eight years after, Pascual and Baoiran agreed to set a certain day for the wedding celebration. Grand preparations were made. Two pigs, three carabaos, rice and wine were prepared by Pascual. Baoiran prepared jars of rice wine. The neighbors did their share by gathering fuel and by making temporary seats in Baoiran’s yard for the visitors.

          Before the wedding, Pascual observed the heavenly bodies. “Oh!” he said to himself. “There is the moon and the group of stars called baknang which brings prosperity to those who believe in it. I think the wedding shall take place three days from now.”

          Locloc was informed. He felt nervous. He told his father to postpone the wedding until after a year.

          “Keep calm, my son,” his father said. “We cannot postpone the wedding. Big preparations have already been made. Invitations have been sent to the neighboring barrios. There is nothing that we can do but to carry out our plan as agreed.”

          Locloc turned pale. He knew that the time for the wedding was fast approaching.

          One clear evening, Locloc was accompanied to the bride’s house. His relatives took along with them pigs, carabao, rice wine and rice which they had prepared for the occasion. They carried Locloc’s blanket and some of his clothing, too.

          Upon arrival, everybody got busy. Some cooked the rice, others butchered the pigs. The women got busy distributing the rice wine to the old men and women. Everybody was busy doing something.

          After the pigs were butchered, the biles were shown to the old man. The old man said the biles were neither too think nor too thick and that was a sign of successfull marriage. So they did not have to butcher some more pigs.

          The bile bags were then placed at the end of the stick called owick, which was used for killing the pigs. The stick with the bile bag was then inserted in the eave of the house near the main door. This is believed to give blessings to the couple. This would also remind them to be thrifty as long as the stick remained there.

          Meals were served to the people present during the evening. After the meals the main part of the wedding ceremony started immediately. Locloc was escorted to the house. He was made to sit beside Agnay on a bed. Agnay blushed as many people came to the house. The house was filled to capacity. Those who were not lucky to have a place inside the house just stayed at the door. Others peeped through the windows and through the walls. Oh! Everybody wanted to witness the ceremony. This was how it was done.     

          A new jar of fermented native wine was brought out. A coconut shell was filled with wine taken from the jar. It was given to an old man. The old men prayed and then gave the wine to Locloc. Locloc drank part of it. Another old man came forward with shell full of water. He poured some water on the forehead of Locloc, as he gave his blessing to the couple. He did the same to Agnay.

          While drinks were passed around, the old men and women gave some pieces of advice to the couple. They cited their own experiences in life which dwelt mostly on the duties of husbands and wives. They sang native songs until morning.

          The following morning, three carabaos and one pig were butchered. The three carabaos represented the kalon which is to make the wedding more binding. This signified the marriage contract. The pig was the sabeng to represent prosperity and health.

          The pieces of meat were distributed to the people of the neighborhood and nearby barrios where invitations were extended. This tradition of distributing meat which exists until today is a sign of hospitality.

          As a part of the ceremony, Locloc and Agnay observed a three-day confinement within the premises of the home. Early the next morning of the third day, Agnay and Locloc washed their faces and knees from a wooden trough of water as Baoiran prayed for their success in the future.    

          After breakfast in the morning of the third day, Locloc went to the mountain to gather fuel. Agnay went to the kaingin to dig camotes. This ended the three-day confinement.    

         

Reference

Empiso, Juansing B. “Marriage Ritual of the Northwestern Benguets.” In Folk Tales of Mountain Province: Retold for Children-Grade V. 1st ed. Baguio City: n.p., 1960, 167-170.

 

Notes

This folk tale was produced by Area - - A during a Division Curriculum Workshop held in Baguio City, Philippines on February 9-17, 1960. The workshop’s theme was “Enriching the Curriculum Through the Development of Local Materials.” 

“Division” in Division Curriculum Workshop refers to a schools division of the Department of the Education. It could have been then the “Mountain Province Schools Division.” (YBelen,17December2014)

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