Last week, we featured some of the most interesting courtship rituals in the Philippines. You have the strange (leaving roosters at a loved one's house), the fanciful (using love potions), and the downright dangerous (threatening to stab oneself if a marriage proposal isn't accepted).
Today, we move on to the next stage: marriage. As you'll see below, Filipino wedding practices are no less interesting than the ones used in courtship. If you think Filipino marriages are essentially Catholic versions of their Western counterparts, these rituals will make you think again.
The Austerity of the Aetas
In Zambales, the Aetas practice simple marriage ceremonies, which consist of a bride and groom feeding each other from the same plate of food. Aeta men are usually monogamous, but if they have enough bandi (bride price) for multiple wives, they can marry as many women as they want. The bandi often come in the form of items like weapons, clothes, and money.
The Days-Long Weddings of the Igorots
In the Cordilleras, weddings aren't a one-day affair. The families of the bride and groom want to get to know each other as thoroughly as they can, so their pre-wedding rituals are just as thorough. The rituals happen as follows.
- The two families exchange traditional foods like faratong (black beans), khakhu (salted pork), and sapa (glutinous rice).
- One of the groom's parents visits the bride's house to eat breakfast. Afterwards, one of the bride's parents does the same.
- The bride and groom enter each other's homes and leave as soon as they can.
- The bride and groom are invited for breakfast to begin the tongor (alignment between the families).
- The couple's immediate family members meet for a breakfast known as putut.
- The bride and groom must sleep together for a 5-day period known as atufang. Note that the marriage isn't fully consummated at this point.
- The bride's family invites the groom's to their house, and declares that the couple have earned the right to sleep together as husband and wife. This is usually the last step of the wedding, though well-off Igorots may also hold a wedding feast known as lopis.
The Bisperas of the Batangueños
Like most Tagalogs, Batangueños observe weddings the way Catholics do, with one crucial difference.
The night before, the groom's entourage (consisting of his friends, family, relatives, godparents, best man, bridesmaid, etc.) drop by the bride's house to deliver the things needed for the wedding feast. These may include fresh food ingredients, shiny new cutlery, and ice-cold refreshments. Once this is done, preparations for the wedding reception can start.
The Sharing Culture of the Bataks
The Bataks of Palawan hold straightforward marriage ceremonies. In a Batak wedding, the bride and groom sit beside each other, with the following items between them: two cigars, a coconut shell with water, and a dish of cooked rice.
The bride's maid feeds the rice meal to the bride, while the best man does the same to the groom. The bride and groom then share the water and the cigars between them. Afterwards, the marriage is considered officially formalized.
The Kambitiara of the Maranao
Several days before a Maranao couple are married, their families put together a cultural event to celebrate the marriage. One of the highlights of the event is the kambitiara.
During the kambitiara, Maranao singers gather to show off their powerful vocals, and demonstrate their knowledge of their people's history and culture. The singing usually lasts one or two nights before the wedding, so at least two singers are needed for the event.
The Elaborate Weddings of the Tausugs
Of the wedding rituals mentioned so far, the Tausugs' are the most elaborate. Aside from the lengthy courtship (most of which is done by the couple's parents on behalf of the couple), Tausug weddings also involve plenty of pomp and glamour.
On the eve of the wedding, musicians announce the special occasion to the entire village by playing instruments like the agung, gabbang, and kulintang. Everyone who hears the musicians — regardless of age and personal affinity to the spouses-to-be — is invited to the wedding.
During the wedding proper (which is presided over by an Imam or Muslim priest), a reading of the Quran is done. Afterwards, the groom makes a "fingerprint" on the bride's forehead. The marriage is then sealed, and everyone engages in feasting and merrymaking.
Filipino Weddings in General
As mentioned earlier, Filipino weddings follow the Catholic tradition, though they also incorporate American, Chinese, and Spanish influences. Prior to their marriage, the couple announce the occasion in any way they see fit, and follow a set of elaborate rituals to formalize their status as husband and wife. We'll go into more detail on those later, but for now, let us hear what you think about the abovementioned rituals via the comments section!