MUNICIPALITY OF VILLASIS (PANGASINAN), History and Cultural Life of Part 2 - Philippine Historical Data MUNICIPALITY OF VILLASIS (PANGASINAN), History and Cultural Life of Part 2 - Philippine Historical Data

MUNICIPALITY OF VILLASIS (PANGASINAN), History and Cultural Life of Part 2

Municipality of Villasis, Pangasinan



About these Historical Data

[p. 9]

door first will be healthy, prosperous, and will be a leader of men.

An expectant mother cannot be a sponsor, or cannot join the picture taking or else her baby will die befor the expected date of delivery.


Some of the old customs of courtship are still in existence. The pure male Pangasinanes in Villasis are enslaved by the in-laws-to-be. This is the test for the prospective groom. It is during this time when he is under close supervision that his character is carefully analyzed. If he can prove his worth, then the daughter's hands are his. In other instances, the barrio young men and women find their mates in the fields during the planting and harvesting seasons, while others make courtship in all its varied forms and stages. Parents and guardians of the would-be couple, in some cases, arrange the marriage without even the knowledge of the parties concerned; still others practice threats and force their children to marry their choice.


So much is meant to a couple during their marriage ceremony that they shall act carefully to prevent any flaw that may lead to bad luck. Dowries are always expected from the groom who will shoulder most, if not all, of the expenses to be incurred in the marriage rites and celebration, unless when the couple-to-be comes from more conscientious and understanding families that the woman's party needs not ask for dowries any further. A priest, a minister, or a Justice of the Peace solemnizes the wedding.

The bride and the groom have lighted candles at the altar. The brighter and the longer the candle lasts will mean a brighter future

[p. 10]

ang a longer life for the designated owner of the said candle. At the height of the ceremony, both try to step on the toes of the other, believing that to be stepped on is to be hen-pecked, if a man; or domineered, if a woman.


No place of man's existence is more wrapped in superstition than death. Even the veneer of civilization has not quite covered the mystery and the fear surrounding man's death. Because in death, he fights an unseen and unknown power, man does not know what to make out of it. He, therefore, finds refuge in mystery and fear in an elaborate body of customs and superstitions, which he hopes will protect him from the wrath of his gods.

Superstitions about death are the hardest to eradicate. Man is willing to abandon customs connected with birth, baptism, and planting, and adopting modern methods without much struggles; but when death comes, man is once more a primitive, cowering in his cave, tripping over himself on those things his forefathers had done long before him.

The dead is immediately bathed; nails, nostrils, and eyes are thoroughly cleaned. It is thought that God will not accept him unless he is scrupulously clean.

Mourning is seriously carried on by the bereaved family. Women wear black while men just have arms bands or a little piece of black cloth pinned on the brim of the pocket.

While the corpse is still lying in state, no member of the family shall eat sour things or round fruits. Eating sour things causes convusions; round things or fruits cause carbuncles or round fleshy outgrowths mostly on the head. Combing one's hair is prohibited because this will

[p. 11]

mean another member of the family to follow the dead sooner. Scratching the head during the period will also result to lousiness [probably means louse infestation], it is believed.


The placing of sacrificial articles or objects beside the dead, objects which the deceased was fond of is common in this municipality. If the deceased is a sot, a bottle of wine is placed; if he is a gambler, playing cards. Others are given money, cars, a rosary, books, clothes, a cane, shoes, and many others which wear loved most by him.

Most families that suffer bereavement, especially those families that can afford a man-pulled carriage, locally known as "carro," is rented to carry the dead, and a brass band accompanies the funeral queue ue to the church where a Mass is said. Slow, mournful music is played for the old; fast and lively for a young one. But there are sects that prohibit the accompaniment of music, in which case, no band can be seen.

Before the dead is interred, it is placed by the grave. The members of the family are made to cross the coffin without touching it. If the coffin is touched by the person crossing it, he will be haunted until he becomes ill and die. Lumps of soil are thrown into the grave by the members of the family to bid the dead an eternal goodbye.

The expenses or shouldered by the family, close relatives, and thoughtful friends who also share the work with the bereaved family.

On the day following the interment, shampooing is done by the riverbank. If this is not given to members of the family or anyone who was at home when death came to one of them, such a person will suffer headaches throughout the rest of his life, it is believed.


Villasis is true to the national tradition — hospitality. One can just perceive the air of hospitality tendered on him in the home of a Villasinian.

[p. 12]

A poor man is ready to sacrifice his last chicken to please or impress his visitors although this is disadvantageous on his part.

Town folks can easily predict the coming of visitors. A noisy house lizard, the dropping of a spoon or a fork, and the cat licking [its face] by the window or at the door means the coming of a visitor. An accidentally dropped spoon means a female visitor, a fork means a male visitor.


The town fiesta is the most well-attended and pompous among all other town festivities. Side shows, rides, moro-moro or zarzuela in the local dialect attract the barrio people and others alike. A queen, who counted the most votes in the popularity contest, and two princesses are crowned as reigning beauties in the auditorium where a dance is held.

Like in any other place, the town gets its fund for the town fiesta from the proceeds during the popularity contest and donations from civic-spirited citizens and other entities. The balance is used for various improvements for the municipality, especially in the town plaza.

Flores de Mayo is also celebrated and led by the more religious groups of people. Parlor games during the day, a religious procession which is followed by a dance highlight the activity.


No customary punishment is given to the evildoer as of old when corporal punishments were casual, except imprisonment or any other form of penalty.

To the people, whether living in the remotest barrio or among kin and kith in the poblacion, transferring a house or constructing a new one entails a certain amount of hazards, hence, the more backward people take no chances about making their gods and the spirits angry.

[p. 13]

There is a practice designed to bring good luck to a new house. This consists of putting money, usually in coins, under the posts of the new edifice. Putting money under the posts must be done in secret; if it is not done, the "charm" is believed lost. The blood of a pig or chicken is believed to give the same effect.

Removing fishbones stuck in the throat does not need a doctor's assistance. Rubbing the cat's paw on the patient's throat is believed to push down the offending bone.

Dog bite cases are seldom brought to the doctor until the case has become worse. In the distant barrios, sucking the wound will get the poison out of the person. Of course, this is done immediately or else the poison will go deeper into the body. With regards to snake bites, two stones shaped like buttons are soaked in vinegar and are placed over the bite. Scraped "tagumbao" bark placed over the bite serves the same purpose. In some cases, a man bitten by a snake eats a lump of soil, drink petroleum, and munches tagumbao bark so as to survive after half a day of unconsciousness.


Being Christians, the old folks of Villasis firmly believe in the world of Divine creation and any life existing on it belongs to God. It is believed that the topography of the world was changed because of the work of the giants that first inhabited the world. Those giants were not in good terms with each other. They fought one another. In order to insure one's safety, the other giants built trenches, now the mountains; dugouts, the caves, deep valleys, and precipices. In places were digging was concentrated

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became so deep that they turned out to be lakes. There was still danger that some giants grouped themselves. They were more serious and more determined than ever to destroy all other giants. They worked day in and day out, not knowing how deep they had dug. Their determination to destroy their opponents turned out to be the seven seas and the ranges that extend to great heights and distances.


It is believed that eclipses, earthquakes, lightning, and thunder are punishments or lessons for the sinners. Others believe that earthquakes are caused by the heavy footsteps of the giants who are having a duel on the other side of the earth. The lightning is the flash of their clashing swords, the thunder is the shouting of one giant who is in need of aid. With the advance of Science and the effect of mass education, the idea is gradually fading.


The conditions of the clouds, the pouring of rain, and the changes in the weather bring manifold beliefs and their interpretations as well as superstitions that are beyond the control of Science. Cirrus clouds mean a good catch for the fishermen. Clouds covering the entire horizon bespeaks of gloom — that the Lord is feeling bad on account of sins. Abrupt changes in the weather mean an unforeseen big event that is approaching. Bright orange clouds at sunset and sunrise bring strong winds or storms. Thunder and lightning in the west means a long period of rain; the same is true when the moon is enclosed in a ring, and the fowls seemingly oil their feathers on fences and treetops.


True to the doctrines of Christianity, people believe in Divine power in originating the first man and woman, while others say we

[p. 15]

came from apes. We do not know where the latter is learned, but it is in consonance with the findings of Science.

Birth of Twins or More and Others Related to Childbearing

Twins and other abnormalities are believed to be patterned after the mother's whims while she was still conceiving. Her fondness for twins and other shapes and forms brings about similar structures to the child. The love for holes and using chisels frequently cause harelips, ginger, connected fingers; anything dark like duhat, dark complexion. When the whims and caprices of the expectant mother are not satisfied, the mother will have a miscarriage or abortion.


The light of medical science is still needed to shine in Villasis, just like any other town. People still believe in the fantastic cures for all diseases and in witchcraft. Sickness and epidemics, especially, are often thought of as the work of evil spirits or of God, who wants to punish sinners who have sinned immensely. Certain groups of people still believe in the ability of an "herbolario" to cure the sick by using poultices of various kinds and other crude beliefs like "atang." In the latter practice, different animals are sacrificed at the quasi-altar where the rites are performed. Pigs or chickens and coins of definite characteristics are needed in the sacrifice. After the planning activities are said and done, the meat is cooked for the quack doctor and the ailing person's party to share at the sick man's table. In some cases, the patient becomes worse, while it brings relief to those who, are heart and soul believers of the practice. More and more families, resort to the rescue of medical service.

To some extent, the witch is believed to have a power in practicing her charms and spells on a person she so desires. In such cases, the said

[p. 16]

said victim of witchcraft faces a special quack doctor who seems to have some knowledge of Psychiatry. The patient is illusioned by the "doctor," who practices threats in making the patient expose the causes and instances that led to the incident, and even the name of the "witch" is pronounced by the patient who has no previous knowledge of the name of the witch.

In the more schooled groups, divination is seldom, if ever, practiced; but to the uneducated folks, it is something that cannot be avoided. Big trees frequented by fireflies should not be touched, or else lingering illness, if not death, will befall the person who does otherwise. Hillocks are believed to be the homes of dwarves who may bring good or bad luck to anyone they wish to — those who befriend them and offer sacrifices for them to get the blessings of their power.


Despite the introduction of scientific farming, farmers stick to the old practices. Farmers are still guided by the impressive body of customs and superstitions connected with planting and harvesting. There is no wonder why backyard gardens have bottles, pots and baskets hanging under trellises. Such hangings are believed to encourage the plant to bear more fruits and give a more fruitful harvest. The first fruits are gathered by males only as this will bring forth better fruits. Women gathering the first fruits leave the succeeding fruits cracked or wrinkled. The first harvesting gives a very ridiculous scene. No matter how few the first fruits are and no matter how light the gathered fruits are, a big basket is needed to hold them and another person is called to place the improportionately large container on the gatherer's head; this makes the succeeding harvest better than the one that does not practice the said belief. First fruits must not be roasted, for if this is done, the following fruits will

[p. 17]

be emaciated, wrinkled, and turn out to be of poorer quality.


The people, as a whole, have not deviated far from the old practices regarding songs, games, and amusements and other recreational activities. Games and amusements are characterized by gambling in the differeng [torn]. During fiestas and other occasions that draw big crowds, cockfighting, horse races, boxing, mahjong, spider fighting, cards, number games (bingo and jueteng) are carried on with bets. Schools, churches, and other civic organizations are working hard to wipe these out, these evil practices. Dances, ball games, programs, movies, radio, and newspapers are gaining greater popularity among townspeople. Folk songs are not as popular as the modern hits. Among the songs that survived the era are "Dungdonguan," "Manang Biday," and "Ti Ayat Ti Maysa Nga Lakay."


Riddles and puzzles are just as popular as songs. They are usually out as family amusements in the evenings, when intimate family fireside chats are held. Some of these are listed below:
1. Adda imbitin co nga uging tangtangaden daguiti ububbing.
I hang a charcoal which children stare at. (Duhat)
2. Adda asoc nga burburan nagtugay idiay kasiitan.
I have a long-haired dog seated in the thorny thickets. (bamboo shoot)
3. Pusipusek ta puseg mo rumuar amin a kinnanmo.
I twist your navel, all you have eaten comes out. (wooden trunk)
4. No iti aldaw lussoc no iti rabii tacop.
At daytime, it is a hole, at night time it is patched. (windows)
5. Takki ni Ingga nagidda.
The bowel of Ingga lies flat. (dike)
6. Adda maysa nga principe, intacker na nga inder-i iti kinatner na nga lalaki.
A prince heralded his [torn] by handsome. [torn]

[p. 18]

7. Igganak ta siket mo lagto ka nga lagto.
I hold your waistline, you kept on jumping. (Pestle)


Proverbs and sayings are the results of the repeated experiences of the people. They give good moral lessons to those who pause to think over them. The following is a list of the more popular ones and their nearest English equivalents.
1. Iti tao a mairurumen ni Apo Dios iti agtaraken.
God shall attend to those who are condemned for justice's sake.
2. No anis iti immulam isut apitim.
What you sow, you reap.
3. Siasino nga agiggim iti banga ket maugingan.
He who holds a pot shall have a spot.
4. Agit-it iti pipi-it no malipit.
The bird cries when it is hurt.
5. Iti tao a nataol saan unay a makagagat.
A barking dog seldom bites.
6. Iti nalaca iti pannaoaalana nalaca met la iti pannacapucawna.
What is easily taken is easily lost.
The harder the obstacles are overcome, the more glorious the triumph.
7. No adda utang adda bayadan.
He who has debts has something to pay.
8. Iti biag kayarigan na iti maysa a dalig.
No dadduma adda idiay ngato no dadduma adda idiay baba.
Life is like a wheel, sometimes it is up, sometimes it is down.
9. Iti agsidat sili magasangan.
He who eats pepper feels the pungent taste.


In the absence of timepieces, different ways of measuring time were adopted. The position of the sun, the conditions of leaves and the opening of the flowers are of significance in determining time. Sunrise is six o'clock in the morning; sunset, six in the evening. When the shadow is stepped on or the sun is overhead, it is high noon. Closed acacia leaves,

[p. 19]

opened patola flowers, and the "four o'clock flowers" means four o'clock in the afternoon. The first crowing of the cockerels tells us it is 10 o'clock in the evening; the second crowing is 1:00 at dawn. When the crowis is at close intervals and the sound made is louder than ever, it is already dawn.

The old folks have very special ways of foretelling the type of weather and climate in the different months of the year, thus enabling them to time farm activities. The foretelling of the weather conditions (pacta) starts on December 25 and ends on January 5, which is practically covered up by the Christmas season. December 25 is January; 26 February; 27, March, etc. Early morning showers on the 26th mean rains in the early part of February; a clear sky and a starry night on the 27th mean no rain in March. Heavy rains on the eve of January third mean strong rains in the latter part of October, etc.


There are no folktales that can be said to have originated from the place. The tales being handed down are mere reproductions of the tales found in famous books and collections.


The town is not fortunate enough to have one who has distinguished himself in writing or keeping records or other documents of very great significance. However, the town's grand old man took pains in keeping a record of events worth remembering. This is in the person of Don Teodoro R. Basconcillo, who wrote it in the local language. The record can be found right in this file.


Transcribed from:
History and Cultural Life of Villasis, Pangasinan, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections. The pagination in this transcription is as they appear in the original document.
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