THE BETROTHAL SYSTEM

By: Manolo Ballug

The betrothal practice in Kalinga, specifically Taloctoc, was done by having a “contract” between parents for the marriage of their children. The practice was binding among the natives.

It starts of when a family decides to have its son or daughter be betrothed to another by sending an emissary who is a respected and influential member of the community. This emissary must at least know how to sing the “ullalim” as it is through this that he would make the initial proposal. In most cases, the proposal is accepted by the other family.

When the proposal is accepted, the emissary would go back to the proposing family and everyone would be informed about the acceptance. An announcer from each family would go around and inform all of their relatives and the community and everyone would be invited to the celebration. They would then agree on the date of the celebration, this is to officially inform everyone in the community about the contract.

During the day of the celebration,the emissary from the girl’s family would go to the house of the boy as early as 6 AM to officially announce the celebration. All the relatives of the boy should be there to receive the emissary. As soon as the emissary arrives, the father of the boy would instruct any of his relatives to slaughter a pig in order to entertain the emissary with “ullalim” until such time that the breakfast is ready. After breakfast, all the male relatives of the boy would line up and one of them would carry the head of the butchered pig. This is called the “lungos” which is taken then to the house of the girl to signify the start of the celebration and to manifest acceptance of the proposed marriage.

The emissary would then lead the march followed by the boy, who must carry a bundle of firewood. All of the male relatives would also carry bundles of wood or one of the 6 musical instrument called ” patonggok“. This 6 musical instrument would produce rhythmic sounds. The “patonggok” is made from bamboo and are whittled to regularly, decreasing sizes, from 1 & 1/2 foot to 6 inches in length. The alternate beating of the “patonggok” would produce a melodious sound that would accompany the group to the girl’s house. The sounds is loud enough for the whole village to hear and thereby are prompted to go to the celebration.

All the relatives of the girl will gather at the girl’s house and wait for the marching men. As soon as the marching group arrives at the girl’s house, an important, influential and respected “ullalim” singer would announce by singing, the official presentation of the boy for marriage.

CELEBRATION PROPER:

A man from the girl’s family who should also be a good “ullalim” singer, would sing the acceptance of the boy’s family. This will signal the start of the celebrations. A program would follow with “ullalims”, “salidsids” ( courtship dance), “salip” (wedding dance) and the “tadok” (dance for all).

Other activities may be initiated like games for children and adults while “basi” (native wine from sugar cane) is available for the men, and cakes for the women. More pigs, cows or carabaos are slaughtered and everyone in the village would be invited to take part in the festivities. The meat is boiled in one big cauldron without any salt or condiment and that is it. The feast usually lasts a whole day and is considered a holiday in the village, that means everyone is expected to be there. It is considered improper and impolite to be away working on such an occasion. The old folk from both parties would be discussing the future security of their betrothed children.

During the enforcement of the contract, the betrothed children must not pronounce or state the names of the other’s close relatives (father, mother, siblings and first cousins) as it is believed that this would cause the persons to get ill with boils.
This practice is called “paniyao“. The parents are expected to share with each other whatever things they have like vegetables, sugar, clothes, salt, bread , etc.

When the betrothed children become grown-ups, they are expected to help their respective father and mother-in-law in any way they could. The boy would gather firewood, fish and fetch water for the girl, while the girl is also expected to cook, wash and clean the house. In some instances when the father-in-law is too old to work, the boy is required to live with him to help out with work . The parent’s boy, on the other hand are expected to take care of the girl as their own, through financial assistance and the like.

In rare cases where the “contract” is broken, especially on the part of the boy, he would be required to replace or pay the animal which have been slaughtered during the celebration. This is a unique contract in which the whole village is a witness.

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