TRADITIONAL ILOCANO WEDDING PARTY: FEEDING THE WHOLE BARANGAY FOLKS AND PEOPLE FROM OTHER PLACES
Olongapo City, Philippines
Traditional Ilocano marriage is not only a union between the groom and bride but, it is a mutual compact of two (2) families or clans including the relatives to the last degree of both parties. When the groom and bride finally decide to marry, they signify such wish to parents of both sides in order to schedule the consultative conference (umuli) wherein both parties will deliberate and decide on certain conditions like dowry (sab-ong) and the wedding party.
During the early days, dowry for a farmer usually consisted of a carabao and a piece of farmland which would enable the young couple to start with married life. The wedding dress, jewelries of the bride and the party would be shouldered by the groom’s family. Both families were expanded ceremonially by the so called sponsors (ninongs/ninangs) at the choice of the couple’s families. The wedding party feast rested on the number of carabaos, cattles, goats or pigs to be slaughtered to feed the two (2) families, relatives and practically everyone who would attend, be it from same barangay or village and those from other places. The wedding party was no less than a barangay fiesta. The burden to hold the wedding would lie mostly on the groom which made it very costly to marry among Ilocano men. The gala-gala was a dance of the bridegroom purposely for fund raising. While dancing, relatives, friends and well-wishers would pin money on both the groom and bride. Whatever amount raised in the process would be given to the new couple.
On April 08-10, this writer together with his wife, his youngest brother, wife & children together with some friends were enroute to Daramuangan Norte, San Mateo, Isabela to attend the wedding of a nephew. It was a family reunion on the groom’s side. Four (4) brothers and four (sisters) of the groom’s father attended and on top of such attendance was the “85 year old grandmother of the groom”. It came to the knowledge of this writer that the wedding party was solely shouldered by the groom’s parents. Five (5) pigs were butchered to feed everyone who were present on the evening of April 09 till lunch time of April 10, 2011. It was a church wedding and usual feast for the entire families concerned, barangay folks and people from other places. This writer did not bother to inquire about the dowry but, it appeared it was complied with to the letter including expenses from head to toe for the bride.
The usual gala-gala dance of the bride and groom was not dispensed with. It was carried out as one of the main segments of the affair. It was an expression of financial supports by the relatives, friends and well-wishers of both parties. The amount raised was fairly substantial for the new couple to start their married life.
Due to pressures and oppositions from elders, breaking the traditional way of wedding is difficult. Tradition remains a law among Ilocano barangay/village dwellers especially in farming communities. It is cumbersome and expensive for the Ilocano groom’s family. Nevertheless, the advantage outweighs the disadvantage especially to a family whose members are scattered in all directions of the province, region or country in general. Such an occasion is an opportune time for “FAMILY REUNION” which does not usually happen under normal circumstances for a certain family.