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

MUNICIPALITY OF ENRILE (CAGAYAN), History and Cultural Life of Part 2

Municipality of Enrile, Cagayan Province



About these Historical Data

[p. 10]

when he grows big. Near the baby, a knife or scissors and salt are placed so that the witch will not steal him. A piece of garlic, too, is put near him so that goblins will be afraid to go hear. A piece of cloth is usually hung by the open window of a room where the baby sleeps so that the devils will be afraid to kill him.

Children should not see the placenta so that they will not become blind. When burying it, don't bury it so deep that the child will have an early teething. It should be buried in the ground under a drinking jar so that the baby will be cool-headed. In some cases, instead of burying the placenta, it is thrown into the river so that the child will be a good swimmer and will not easily get drowned.

When the baby is bathed for the first time, a spider is mixed with the water so that in the future, when the child will do any climbing, he will not fall.

A baby that goes for the first time to a house is given money, rice, oil, and cigar so that he will be lucky in the future. The first feces of a child should be kept by the mother so that when he will grow up for a few months or more, he will not be scattering his excreta. His first nails, too, should be kept to insure neatness in his work when he grows older. The first time a child is given anything to eat aside from the mother's milk, it should be during a full moon so that he will have a voracious appetite in the future.

When a child is born in a house, leafy vegetables are not cooked that day. Neither is anyone allowed to light his cigar from the fire or ask for some burning coal in lighted fuel so that the child will be rickety [? the usage of "rickety" seems inappropriate]. Fuel of the tough variety should be used so that the baby's teeth will grow hard.

[p. 11]


Godparents are chosen as early as the prenatal life of the baby or even long before that. Friends and relatives who wish to be sponsors of the baby insinuate their desire through jokes or by telling it directly to parents. In cases wherein no one volunteers to sponsor the baby, the parents select from friends or relatives, usually those who have good character traits because it is believed that the child inherits the traits of the godparents. When the children of a couple die at an early age everytime one is born, they usually select a very old man or woman to be the sponsor so that the child will live long.

As soon as the baptismal day is set, the sponsor or sponsors are informed about it. The sponsor, in turn, prepares to buy a baptismal dress, a pair of shoes with stockings, if possible, or booties if the child is very young, and a rosary and a bonnet. She brings these things with her when she goes to the house of the "Comadre" or "Compadre." The baby is dressed with the things given by the sponsor and then taken to the church. There are cases wherein the parents or the sponsor hire a band to conduct the group from the house to the church and back after the ceremony.

During the ceremony, the baby is made to cry so that he will live long. Care must be taken so that the baptismal dress will not touch the baptismal fount for it can mean a short life and bad luck for the baby. When there are two or more children baptized at the same time, sponsors usually race with each other to the door of the church with the babies in their arms as soon as the ceremony is over. This is done so that the child will not be behind the others in the future when he has a task or a piece of work to do.

[p. 12]

Upon arriving home, the sponsors hand the child to the mother with some money, either coins or paper bills. This is another gift to the child. Some couples have other practices. Upon arriving home, the sponsors, with the baby in his arms, dances to the tune of the music (Maskota) on an unrolled mat while coins or paper bills are thrown by the sponsors or anyone who would like to give.

Some parents practice the so-called "Babbag." During the party, they prepare rice cakes and wrap these with banana leaves, a plateful of them. A package is given to the following: the sponsor, an aunt or uncle, and a grandparent. Each of them will give a gift to the child ranging from clothes to shoes, hat, handkerchief, sacks, money, or rosary, to prevent the child from becoming sickly. When a child is sickly, they attribute the illness to the "Babbag" when it is not yet done. Accomplishing it plus the gifts given to the child are believed to cure the sickness.


Matrimony is considered a very important and sacred event in a person's life. Hence, the great concern, the multifarious beliefs and practices connected with it. It is an occasion when parents of both parties, especially those of the groom, raise animals such as carabaos, pigs, and chickens months or years before the wedding day. It is a party in the house when lands are mortgaged or even sold in order to be able to meet their financial problems.

T H E    M A R R I A G E    P R O P O S A L

The common practice, especially among those of the common tao, is for the young man's party to pay at least four proposal visits to the girl's family. The purpose and activities done during each visit differ.

When a man is in love with a girl, he starts courting her. After

[p. 13]

some months of courtship, he informs his parents about his wish of sending the "love letter" called "carta de familia." In cases where the boy and girl are engaged, this letter is a formal proposal to the girl's parents for the first time; but in cases wherein the ardent lover is kept in suspense and is anxious to know his plight, this letter is sent. In the first place, when the parents are in favor of the man, the letter is kept. If not, it is returned a few days after it is received. In the latter case, if the man is acceptable to both the girl and her parents, the letter is kept, too. If not, the poor suitor has to get his missive back. The so-called "carta de familia" is usually wrapped in a white or pink handkerchief, silk preferably. A relative of the man, preferably a respectable person or couple in the community, is usually selected to go and give the letter on a supposed good day early in the morning.

The next visit is a verbal proposal of the parents and relatives of the man. This is done always at night. On the day set for the visit, the parents of the girl are informed in the morning. This gives them enough time to prepare their house and to look for a spokesman who will refute the flowery proposals of the spokesman of the other party. The man's party, on the other hand, prepares some cigars, bottles of wine, and a lamp or a lantern. With some relatives (usually the bigshot relatives) invited as spokemen, and the parents, the group, with the lighted lamp, cigars, bottles of wine, and dishes needed proceeds to the girl's house. The spokesman, using flowery words, asks for the hand of the girl. It is but ethical for the girl's party to pretend to be cool towards the proposal.

There is an old practice of making the man serve in the house of the girl. If the family of the girl approves of him, they make the boy know indirectly, and so he asks his parents to pay a second visit. A few practice this nowadays.

[p. 14]

During the second visit, the girl's parents show signs of content or refusal, as the case may be. This visit is just a means of knowing the result of the second one. That is why it is called "gumina," which means to hear.

Usually, the date of the last visit is set during the third meeting. Here, final plans are drawn for the wedding day. They decide on the date and the kind of celebration they will offer. Because the last visit is for the final planning, it is termed "mamanimcal."

T H E    W E D D I N G    C E L E B R A T I O N

Pre-wedding Celebration:

Before the wedding day, there is a minor celebration to honor the day when the couple applies for a marriage license. Since the couple presents themselves to the priest and at the municipal building for the license, this event is called "mappasingan." The party, at the expense of the man, is held at the girl's house. It may be a chocolate party or anything that the man can afford.


After a lapse of three weeks, the wedding celebration takes place. The groom's as well as the bride's house are scenes of busy preparations. Relatives and friends of both parties work together in cooking candies, making pickles, and chocolate balls. These works are supposed to be done by the women. The men, on the other hand, prepare the supposed social hall at the bride's house and also at the groom's. They borrow dining tables and long benches for the dining room and chairs and benches for the hall. The young folks do the decorating.

Early in the morning, the wedding trousseau, which is composed of the wedding gown, veil, tiarra, handkerchief, umbrella, powder, and fan are packed neatly in a suitcase and taken by a responsible person's relative to the bride's home.

[p. 15]

At noon, the food supplies to be taken to the house of the bride are prepared. These are two baskets of rice, a basket of malagkit, rice, cacao, cigars, spices, a carload of fuel, and animals to be butchered, ranging from a pig to a carabao or cow or both, and some chickens, depending upon the financial condition of the groom's parents. In the afternoon, these things are brought to the bride's home with much pomp and ceremony, as well as superstitions. People carrying these things are not supposed to be orphans so that the couple will live long. As they start, great caution is taken so that nobody sneezes as they go. For those who can afford it, the procession is accompanied by music. The provisions are set in the middle of the house, and the girl's relatives, headed by a designated aunt or grandmother, inspects what is given. About those who are frank, they tell the other party what is lacking, which is understood to be secured and given to them.

On this day, the bride and groom are not supposed to take a bath so that it will not rain the next day, the wedding day. If it rains, they spread on the roof of the wedding salon a dress of the bride to stop the rain, it is believed.

On this day, too, relatives and friends of the parents of the bride and groom become the recipients of gifts in the form of money or foodstuffs. In some placees, cacao, sugar, coconut, and malagkit rice, or rice are given. This is commonly called "gacu." It is a return gift to the parents, as they may have also given to their friends and relatives on similar occasions.


On the wedding day, a dress of the bride and a shirt of the broom are hung atop their houses to insure fair weather throughout the day. Sometimes, for some reasons, the bride and the groom do not take baths. If, however, these have been done and it still rains, it is believed that either of the couple was born or baptized on a rainy day.

[p. 16]

Before the bride goes down the steps of her house for the church, she is given some coins. During the marriage ceremony, the couple should be careful not to let the matrimonial mantle slip off because if this happens, it may mean an early death for either of them, separation, or an unhappy married life. The same is true of the ring or the coins. It is believed that whomever of the two steps first on the other's foot will have the upperhand throughout their married life.

Upon arriving home from the church, an old woman meets the couple at the door and hands each of them a lighted candle; while right near the doorsteps are young people yelling as they pound coconut shells so that neither of them will become deaf. Later on, these pounded shells are wrapped separately in two anahao leaves and are thrown from both sides of the house toward the opposite sides. Of these wrapped shells strike each other in the air, it is believed that the coupld will have a child early.

The bride and the groom ascend the steps together. If one goes ahead of the other, he or she will have domineering power in the household. After a customary prayer led by the church choir, a mat is unrolled in the middle of the room and the couple stands at the opposite ends while a parent of each side dances to the strain of Mascota amidst the shouts and laughter of the people who toss coins or paper bills on the mat. This is called the "pagala" and the money is given in the term "gala." After the dance, the money is counted and handed to the bride.

Ballroom dancing follows. By lunchtime, after the first table has been served, another "pagala" takes place. Either of the dancers sing verses while relatives and friends of the bride and groom vie in tossing the biggest amounts of money. After the "gala" has been counted, it is wrapped in a handkerchief and given to the groom who, in turn, turns it to the bride.

[p. 17]

The bride wears another outfit after the pagala. This usually consists of an afternoon dress or a colored terno.

Sometime during the day, the bride and groom, together with relatives, friends, and the band, parade to the man's house to get his trunk, a pillow, and a blanket wrapped in a mat and tied with a red cloth. The abovementioned articles are usually brand new. The trunk usually contains the clothes of the groom, two plates, a platter, a bowl, a glass, a coconut shell full of rice, and some money. This practice is known as "malit" and is a symbol of the complete transfer of the man to his wife's home. This means, too, that he becomes a part of the girl's family until he can build a house of his own.

All throughout the day, care is taken not to break a dish or cooking utensils, or else the couple will not live long. If such misfortune happens, another dish or utensil is purposefully broken to counteract the dreaded result.

Before bedtime, the cash gifts are again counted. If necessary, the parents add some more to make the amount a whole and even number. This money is wrapped in a handkerchief and wine poured on it to make the couple prosperous.

During the first night of their marriage or married life, an old woman sleeps between the couple. She wakes them up at the same time early in the morning so that they will be industrious always.


Generally, a temporary shed called "sarong" is put up on the eve of the wedding day. The demolition of this "sarong" and the returning of the borrowed utensils and pieces of furniture require another feast among the relatives and close friends the day after the wedding.

[p. 18]


People have many beliefs regarding the ways death is foretold. A dog that howls mournfully at night and a chicken cackling at twilight are the most known harbingers of death. Dreams also announce death if they are about the loss of jewelry or the falling off of the teeth. Crows, owls, and black butterflies are also messengers of death if unusual behavior is noticed in them. An owl that enters the house must, therefore, be killed to evade the death that its entrance portends. For the same reason, the rice that boils off the pot cooked must be buried right in the ashes.


A corpse is usually bathed and dressed up so that he appears clean and presentable before God. It is then placed on a bed. If there is none, a mat is spread on the floor. The body is laid down parallel to the length of the house to protect it from witches believed to devour dead persons' livers.


The day of the funeral is a day of "don'ts" for the bereaved family. They are not allowed to handle round objects, ropes, sticks, and bottles. If they do so, they will suffer from boils, goiter, and varicose veins. It is also prohibited for them to whip or pinch children because it is believed that this will cause the spirit of the dead to stay and make any visitor who comes to the house get sick. The mirrors have to be covered to prevent the bereaved family from looking into them lest they get dizzy after the interment. Sweeping, breaking of dishes, cooking vegetables, and roasting are most definitely not allowed during the day.

[p. 19]

If insects like ants or flies are noticed on the corpse, killing them or saying anything about them will increase their number and so must be avoided.


Dead men tell no tales but they do hear. Usually, before closing a coffin, someone whispers to the deceased's ear that he must behave well. He must not be roaming around, but must come home directly if he cares to visit the earth.


All pieces of jewelry worn by the dead are taken off before the body is placed inside the coffin. It is believed that wearing jewelry when one appears before God makes Him angry and cuts off the parts of the body where they are worn.

The bereaved members of the family must not look when the corpse is placed inside the coffin. The parents or spouse usually tie a handkerchief around the head to avoid headaches. If it is a baby or a young child that dies, the mother hangs her hair and this will serve as a sort of shade for the child as he goes to heaven.

Great care must be exercised as the dead is taken out of the house. The feet must go down first and not a part of the coffin must touch any part of the house, or else another member of the family will die soon. When the coffin is lowered, the members of the family must not look and as the grave is refilled with earth, everyone must throw a lump of earth into it. The bereaved family walks around the grave calling the dead to go home with them.


The members of the deceased's family go to the river the following day to bathe and launder because it is believed that doing so will drown

[p. 20]

their sorrows.

The extra pieces of wood and shavings from which the coffin was made must be burned and never used for any other purpose. Failure to do so may mean the death of another member of the household. The coffin made must neither be too big nor too small for the corpse, not even a trifle. Another death will occur if this is not so.

Every afternoon until the ninth day, prayers are said for the departed soul. Close relatives and friends usually attend these until the "novenario" or the ninth day celebration.


Transcribed from:
History and Cultural Life of the Town of Enrile, Cagayan, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
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