The Courtship and Marriage Customs of the Waray

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J. Colima Bajado* The Philippines as a whole abounds in quaint marriage customs and traditions. Written literatures from Fr. Pedro Chirino (1590s), Blair and Robertson, to Gregorio Zaide describe the pre-Spanish marriage customs of the Philippines. More writers like Fay Cooper Cole, John Finley, C.R. Moss and John Garvan have written on the courtship and marriage rituals of the various tribes in the country. On the marriage customs of the Warays, some vernacular writers like Iluminado Lucente and Juan Ricacho have written plays portraying the marriage customs and practices of the region. Younger generations in the Samar-Leyte region may not even know how their great grandfathers won the
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While some were singing, others were stealing chickens, and other things. Serenading was then allowed from ten to twelve in the evening only. The "Balata" Courtship This type of courtship is one of the queer ways of wooing. This traditional practice is resorted to by the rich families. This is very common especially in the “capital” of the different provinces of the region such as Tacloban, Carigara, Palo, Biliran, Ormoc, Catarman, Calbayog, Catbalogan, Maasin and Borongan. In balata, the parents of the bride and the groom agree to have their children married in accordance with their arrangement. It is the custom of the upperclass families through their exclusive formed groups. They hold week-end parties among themselves by turns. In the midst of the merry making, especially when they are already a bit tipsy, the betrothal of their children takes place. Although often started as a joke, the balata eventually becomes a serious matter involving amor propio and palabra de honor. Usually, it is the parents of the male child who makes the proposal to the parents of the girl to have their children married when they reach the marriageable age. They mutually plan and finance the wedding of their children, give equal dowries of property such as land, livestock, jewelry, and cash with which their children will start their married life.

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