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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Pamaeaye in Aklan and its Role in Value Formation

Pamaeaye in Aklan and its Role in Value Formation
Melchor F. Cichon
Revised Nov 25, 2012

When it comes to love affairs, today’s teenagers and young adults no longer consult their parents. To them asking permission from their parents as to whom they should marry is old fashion. Many a time, young people would just inform their parents after they have gotten married , or when they already have a child. This shows that our young people want more freedom up to the point that their sense of values are changed.
Against this background, we would like to look into an old Filipino tradition which have been taken for granted. This tradition which is called pamaeaye in Aklan, pamalaye in Iloilo, mamaye in Cebu, pamanhikan in Tagalog, bulung-bulungan in Batangas, is a formal way of seeking the hand of the girl from her parents.
The objectives of this paper are to discuss the old tradition of courting a girl in Aklan, to point out how pamaeaye is done and its role in value formation.
Let us first look into the ways our gentlemen in Aklan court girls until they decide to get married.
Since marriage is a lifetime commitment and a serious matter, selecting a partner should be considered very carefully. Every pros and cons about one’s sweetheart should be evaluated with utmost care because it can bring happiness or sorrow not only to the wife but to the whole family as well. This is the main reason why parents, particularly the mother, meddle in selecting the right partner for their children.
What are the qualities preferred by parents for their daughter? Based on the interview conducted by this writer with some parents in Sta. Cruz, Lezo, Aklan on August 22-23, 1992, the right man should be educated, respectful, helpful, industrious, faithful, has a stable job enough to support a family, and if possible, handsome. He should not be too old for their daughter. His religious faith should be the same with that of the girl, otherwise many troubles will come between the husband and the wife. On the other hand, the right girls for a son should be respectful, knows how to cook, not lazy, owat mantsa or not a disgrasyada, not a flirt, not necessarily a beauty queen, but  must be charming. Her economic status should not be higher than that of the boy. It is sometimes the economic factor that encourages parents of rich families to force their daughters to marry their cousins to preserve their wealth. It is also sometimes the cause of many quarrels among husbands and wives when the girl is richer than the boy.
Ways to court a girl.
Several ways are employed by Aklanon men to court a girl. One is by sending love letters. If a man has no nerve to talk to the girl he loves, he writes her a love letter. If he cannot do it himself, especially in English, he requests his close friend to do it for him. If the girl answers him, one half of his objectives is solved even if the answer is an outright BIG NO. If he does not respond to him, he will still write her until he gets tired or loses interest in writing her. But that is not the end of his so-called hot pursuit operation. He has other means to lure his beloved. He can request a friend, a man, or a woman, who can serve as a go-between for him.  This way, he will not lose face if he is rejected. The only drawback of this technique is that sometimes the go-between becomes the lover of his loved one. The other technique employed by Aklanon men is by serenading the girl. During moonlight nights, the man, along with his friends, goes to the house of the girl and sings love songs in front of the window. Before, most of the houses were on stilts.  If the girl opens the window, he can start his courtship over the window while his friends stay a little farther away until he finishes his talk with the girl. If a good rapport takes place during this period, the man may continue serenading her even after he has been accepted by her. The fourth way is by visiting the girl in her house in the afternoon or early in the evening. If he is entertained, there is a possibility that the girl also likes him. If he is not entertained, it means that he is being rejected either by the mother of the girl or by the girl herself. But that is not all. The fifth way is the old tradition which is called the pangagad. This way the man goes to the house of the girl he loves and does whatever work he can do. The suitor, sometimes fetches water, gathers firewood, chops them if necessary, and brings them to the kitchen. But he must not just dump them in the kitchen. He should arrange them as well for easy use. If there is a fiesta, he must contribute something to the girl’s house for the visitors, and while the food is being prepared, he must be there in the kitchen in the preparation. He must not just sit in the sala waiting to be served, otherwise he will becalled tamad or lazy and that would be one major cause for rejection especially by the parents. If there is nothing else to do, then that could be the best time he would talk to the girl. But he must be very careful, because the eagle eyes of her mother are usually fixed on him. He must not show any harshness in dealing wih her daughter and the rest of her family and relative, otherwise it will be another cause for rejection. After six months or so of doing free services in the girl’s house, and the mother finds out that the man comes up to her expectation, little mistakes are forgotten. At this time, the man gained valuable support in winning the girl he loves. This does not mean however that the man will now live in the girl’s house while he is still rendering his free services to the girl’s parents. He goes home when it’s time to sleep. Trial marriage is not accepted among Aklanon folks. Although at times, the man may sleep in the girl’s house, but in a separate room, if not in the sala together with the girl’s brothers. If the suitor is allowed to sleep in the girl’s house, there is a great possibility than an untoward incident would take place. There were many instances when the suitor would crawl towards the girl’s room and they make love while the parents are sleeping.
Once accepted by the girls, and if the man is now ready to get married, he formally informs the mother of the girl that he wants to marry her daughter. The parents of the girl will now tell the man to inform his parents to come to their house to discuss plans for their wedding. Meanwhile, the girl’s parents will clean their house, and buy foods and drinks, and other things needed when the tigeaeake comes for the pamaeaye.
The Pamaeaye
The man now informs his parents of his intention to get married. If his parents will agree, then they will make necessary preparations for the occasion. If the parents of the boy can handle the pamaeaye themselves, then they will prepare foods and drinks to be brought to the girl’s house and act as spokesman of the man. If the father can not handle the discussion himself with the girl’s  parents, then they will look for somebody, a man or a woman, who can serve as the spokesman  of the tigeaeake. The spokesman is usually a respected person in the community who can best represent the man’s side. On the other hand if the girl’s father or mother can serve as spokeman of the tigbabaye, then she/he becomes the sokeman himself/herself. But if not, then they will look for somebody who can likewise best represent the girl’s side. Once the tigeaeake is ready for the pamaeaye, the parents of the man will now tell their son to inform the girl’s parents that a certain day he and his parents will come to the girl’s house for the formal asking of the girl’s hand.
On the designated day, rain or shine, the tigeaeake will go to the girl’s house. Upon arrival at the house of the girls, the spokesman will usually say: “Tagbaeay! Tagbaeay!” (Literaally means: We are calling the owner of the house or it could also mean there is a visitor at the door). Since the visitors have been anticipated by the house’s owner, the owner of the house will answer by saying:”Saylo! Saylo!” (Come in! Come in!).
The visitors will then enter the house. The future wife could be at the door to welcome the vistors or maybe somewhere in the douse doing something. Later the spokesmen would say: May kaibahan tana kami!” (We have some companions). The owner of the house would then say: “Saylo kamo tanan!” (Everybody, please come in!). By then the companions of the suitor will bring in the cooked food, the drinks, tuba especially, the maeam-an consisting of beetle nuts, lime, tobacco, and buyo for the old folks. With the assistance of the people in the house, the food will be set on the table. Once ready, the boy’s parents will invite the girl’s family members to eat the food they brought in. Meanwhile, the suitor, his parents, his spokesman (if there is any), and some close relatives of the man will talk casually with the parents of the girl, her chosen relatives, the spkeman, and the girl. At this stage, no serious matter is being  discussed up to the point  when a topic on marriage is touched.  And usually the  tigeaeake makes the first hint on the subject. At this juncture, a marriage proposal is presented by the tigeaeake. It is also here where the girl and the boy are formally asked by their respective parents whether they are really ready for marriage. And when they say so, the next thing to do is to discuss the conditions before the marriage is held. This includes the expenses for food, the wedding dress, the aras, the sponsors, the wedding rings, the place where the wedding should take place, the place of the reception, the doti, if there is any, and other things asked by the girl’s parents.
The Conditions
Since the wedding is a family affair and since each family has a large number of relatives and friends, the kind of wedding is thoroughly discussed during the pamaeaye. The discussion will concentrate on whether it should be a grand wedding or just an ordinary one. If it is a grand wedding, then it should be held in the Kalibo Cathedral, in the church or in the chapel during a fiesta. It could even be a civil marriage. But usually a church wedding is preferred by the Aklanon folks. It is then decided whether the reception would be held in a hotel, in a restaurant, at the beach, or in the house of the girl. If the reception is held at the hotel, only the chosen people will be invited. If it is done in the girl’s house, then everybody in the barrio or barangay can take part in the reception. Besides, the relatives will no longer spend much money to buy expensive gifts or hire jeepneys or tricycles in going to Kalibo and back to the barrio.  Morever, those relatives will have a chance to extend whatever help they can.
Other things are discussed during the pamaeaye. At times the parents of the girl would ask for a house where the newly weds could stay. Other parents would ask for some amount as doti, equivalent to a dowry. This doti is oftentimes required by the parents of the girl especially when they do not like the suitor. As usual the parents of the man would try to agree on whatever demands or request the tigbabaye would ask for. However, if the man’s parents could not afford such terms, the boy’s spokeman would bargain the cost of marriage. If the parents of the girl are firm with their demands and the boy’s parents cannot afford  them, then two things will happen. The suitor and his beloved will either elope or they would just call off their marriage. There was an incident involving my uncle who courted a rich girl in our town. The girl belonged to a family with large tracks of rice land, while our grandfather was only a carpenter. My uncle was accepted by this wealthy girl, hence, the sweethearts decided that a pamaeaye be held as the tradition required it. During the negotiation, the mother of the girl demanded P500.00 as doti. During the pre-war period, one hundred pesos would mean P10,000.00 or even more today. Since our grandfather could not raise the amount, he advised my uncle to just forget the marriage. So he informed his girlfriend about it and decided to go to Manila. On the day of his departure,  my uncle’s girlfriend went to my uncle’s house early morning bringing with her the needed amount. Unfortunately, my uncle had already left.  He later married someone else.
Another important thing that is discussed during the pamaeaye is the date of the wedding. The wedding should take place only in any of the following dates: the 10th, 18th, th 20th, or the 30th of the month, except February.  Why these dates and not this month? It is because these numbers have upward strokes.  It is believed that when the wedding takes place in any of these dates, the couple will prosper. The wedding should not take place in February because this month is incomplete unlike the other months. The other point to remember is that the wedding should not take place after the full moon. It should take place only on the third quarter so that the couple would have an abundant life. The wedding should not also take place on a Tuesday or on a Friday because those days bring bad luck. The other taboo is that the wedding should not take place within the year when either of the families is still mourning. Likewise, the future wife and her future husband are advised not to travel to avoid accidents.
So when everything is settled, the discussion will now switch to other topics and drinking of tuba will start, if it has not taken place yet. One of the most important parts of this talk is the revelation and the giving of advices to both the boy and the girl.  The parents and the relatives of both parties would reveal the good and the bad characteristics of their respective son and daughter. This is done to give the boy and the girl a true picture of their future partner. It is also during this time when parents of both parties give advices to the boy and the girl on how to deal with each other, how to help each other in all their undertakings, and to be faithful to each other no matter what will happen to them.
After this, the visitors will leave. Sometimes, the boy is left behind and goes home the following day. He comes back to the girl’s house to continue his pangagad.
In Aklan, a small party is held in the house of the tigbabaye on the evening of the wedding. In other parts of the Philippines, this practice is pronounced. In Tigbauan, Iloilo for example, a similar practice is usually held which is called disposado. The members of the kapisanan or association of a certain religious group, mostly Catholic, would serenade the girl on the eve of her wedding. After which the serenaders are asked yo partake in the food prepared by the girl’s family. The visitors are usually the girl’s close relatives. The groom-to-be is also invited to grace the occasion. Again, during this activity, the groom-to-be and the bride-to-be are served.
Most of the things mentioned above are practices prior to the 1960s. Today, some of the things are still observed like not travelling on the eve of the wedding day. But pangagad is no longer practiced. And harana is almost gone. In fact many couples do not inform their parents anymore that they are going to marry. They just go home and present their child or children to their parents.

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