Culture & Traditions
Ilocanos are the ruling ethinicity in Region 1. They constitute the majority of the population in the Ilocos region particularly in Ilocos Norte (97%), Ilocos Sur (97%), La Union (92%), and Pangasinan (45%). Minority groups include Tingguan and Isneg communities who inhabit the foothills of the Cordillera Mountains.
Two ethnic groups still reside in Dingras: Isneg and Yapayao. These tribes were two of the first inhabitants of the region. They were forced to retreat to the mountains after they lost the battles against Spanish troops.
The Ilocanos are known for being hardworking, brave, cheerful and simple. They are independent and work hard.
They share the same basic values as other Filipinos. Bain is the Ilocano trait for hiya or amor propio (sense of shame). Ilocanos fear of gossip and would strongly avoid being envied by others.
It is essential to show panagdayaw (respect for the sensitivities of others). Ilocanos tend to speak about themselves in the humblest of terms.
The Ilocanos value the fruit of their labor and are wise in spending the money they earned.
The structure of the Ilocano family conforms to the general Filipino pattern. Most families compose of an average size (6-7 persons). The father is the head of the family. The mother is the Ilaw ng tahanan (light of the home) who disciplines the children and takes care of the house budget. The eldest child is responsible in dividing the chores equally among siblings.
Ilocanos are very meticulous when it comes to clothing. They dress up according to their age and perceived wealth. Everyday wear consists of short pants for boys, and dusters, loose skirts, shirts, and short pants for girls. Farmers wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and wide-brimmed hats.
During rainy season, Ilocanos wear a headdress of labig leaves, which extends well down the back.
It is important for children to ask the approval of their parents before marrying their partners. The man should ask the consent of his parents first. The groom’s parents will pay the dowry and finance the wedding.
The groom makes a panagpudno (formal announcement) to the soon-to-be bride’s parents about his intention of marrying their daughter. His parents will then visit the bride’s parents to set the wedding date. Usually, parents consult a planetario, which is like an almanac that identifies “lucky” days.
A feast follows the church ceremony. The bride and groom usually go through an entertainment ritual. The groom offers the bride a plate of mung beans, which symbolizes fertility. The bride refuses the dish several times before finally accepting it. Then the bride offers the beans to the groom whom, in return, refuses the dish until an old man calls an end to the ritual.
Another highlight of the feast is the bitor wherein guests contribute cash to the newlyweds either by dropping money onto the plates or by pinning bills to the couple’s clothes.
To announce a death of a family member, a piece of atong wood is lit in front of the deceased’s house. It is kept burning until after the burial. The fire is extinguished with white wine.
Before the funeral, relatives pay respect by kissing the deceased’s hands or raising it to his/her forehead (mano).
The corpse is kept inside the house. It is dressed in its best clothing and a kerchief is tied around the jaw. A basin of water mixed with vinegar is placed under the bed to remove the odor.
Money is placed in the coffin. This serves as a pay to the “ferry man” who takes the soul to the other world. Before the burial, relatives conduct a vigil around the body.
Those who attended the burial in the cemetery must return to the deceased’s home by taking a different route from the one they’ve taken to get there. Upon arrival, they must wash their faces and hands. It is said to remove the power of death.