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A woman's intense craving for sour fruits, such as tamarind, green mango or orange is usually interpreted
as a sign of pregnancy. The fruits that she eats provide clues to the child's appearance.
If the kajyanak (newborn) has physical defects, he is given a hair washing rite presided over by a folk
healer. If the defect is not healed, the family accepts the baby's condition and views it as a sign of good
Pubescence for the girl comes at age eleven when most girls begin to menstruate. Some of the taboos
which girls observe during menstruation include: eating sour fruit which may cause blood clotting and
menstrual cramps; taking a bath or carrying heavy objects which may cause matipdan (sudden stop of
menstrual flow) which may lead to insanity or death. Girl at this stage are also asked to sit on the 3rd step
of the stairs so that she will have only three days of menstruation.
Boys aged thirteen to twenty-one voluntarily submit themselves to kugit (circumcision) by the local
specialist. The rite usually takes place near a river, a creek or a stream. The materials used are a sharp
knife or blade, a wooden mold made from a stripped guava branch, guava brew and coconut palm
scrapings. Like the pubescent girl, the circumcised boy discards his childish games and pranks for more
adult pursuits.
Courtship begins with a series of casual conversations and visits to the girl's home where the boy gets to
know the girl and her family. Long courtships are expected to give both parties a chance to be sure about
their own feelings for each other. The boy sends love letters to the girl regularly as constant reminders
and declarations of a willingness to continue the amorous pursuit. The harana (serenade) is also one
way of expressing love. The boy asks a group of friends to join him, on a moonlit night, in waking up his
beloved maiden with love songs.
The relationship, once formalized, is carried out with utmost discretion. The girl is expected to remain
modest and chaste. Tradition strongly requires that the woman maintain her virginity until marriage.
Otherwise, she will have to face such grave consequences as being ostracized by the community or
disowned by her family. Sex education comes in the form of stories read and told by older folk.
PANAGASA WA or marriage to the Ilocano is but a reaffirmation of the man and woman's GASAT (fate).
It is considered a sacred partnership which lasts until the death of either partner.
On the sinadag (eve of the wedding), another ceremony, the saka, is held. In the saka, either at the boy's
house or at the convent, the couple are ritually introduced to their sponsors and prospective in-laws. The
highlight of the ceremony is the couple's public declaration of love for each other.
The last ritual for the day is the mangik-ikamen in which an old man and an old woman present the dal-
lot (wedding song). The theme of the dal-lot is the ups and downs as well as the do's and don’ts of
married life.
A day after the wedding, three rites are held. These are the atang, an offering given to the spirits of the
departed kinsmen and posing and mangatogangan whereby the groom turns over his personal belongings
to the bride.
To the Ilocanos, gasat (fate) detemines their life on earth. Death to them means the fulfillment of destiny,
the inevitable. It is because of this Ilocano view of death that they are better able to bear the passing away
of their loved ones with courage and fortitude.
The Ilocanos have traditionally believed that most of man's illnesses are caused by spirits. Even accidents
have often been attributed to the supernatural, to spirits that could either be the aswang (witch) or
the mannamay (sorcerer).
Before the funeral, the dead man's kin perform the mano (kissing of the hand). Each family member pays
his last respects by kissing the dead man's hand or by lifting the hand briefly to his forehead. After the
mano, the women cover their faces and heads with black veils.
Before the coffin is taken out of the house, a rooster or a hen, depending upon the sex of the decease, is
beheaded and thrown out into the yard opposite the stairs.
To show extreme grief of the bereaved family, the members wear black clothes and a manto ("lack veil)
which is worn by the female members of the family. Solemn music is played during the funeral
procession from the house of the dead to the church and then to the cemetery.
After the funeral, members of the family and relatives go through the diram-os; that is, they wash their
faces and upper limbs with a basin of basi in which some coins were immersed to ward off the spell of the
evil spirit. The following day, immediate relatives have the golgol (hair shampoo) in the river to wash
away any power of the spirit of the dead. This is followed by the offering of niniogan (a kind of rice
cake), basi, buyo, and tobacco.
Every night for nine nights, a lualo (prayer) is offered for the dead. On the ninth night, an umras is
prepared. On a table are placed 12 plates full of native cakes and delicacies like patupat, linapet; busi,
kaskaron, baduyca; and two fried chickens. These should stay the whole night to be distributed the
following morning to the leader of the novena prayer and to those who assisted in preparing
the umras. On the ninth day is the pamisa (feast). Before the pamisa, the leader of the group offers a
spoonful each of the cooked foods on the altar. The pamisa is again held to commemorate the one-month
and the one-year death anniversaries. On the first year anniversary of the dead is the waksi marking the
termination of the mourning as symbolized by the lifting of the black dress.
In spite of the influence of modernization, traditional beliefs still persist among the Ilocanos. These play
an important role in keeping family relationship as well as community relationship intact.