Sagada Igorot - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage is the most important social event in Sagada and is the focus of a variety of ceremonies designed to unite individuals and invite prosperity. Most marriages are contracted through the olag (girls' dormitory), generally after a period of experimental mating; wealthy families, however, may betroth their children at birth to ensure the continuance of their wealth. Unions such as these are often within the family, although not with first cousins. These marriages link the two kindreds through a series of reciprocal associations, privileges, and responsibilities. Families of the newlyweds give land and other wealth; however, if they separate or divorce without having children, the gifts revert to their former owners. Children are essential to making the union of marriage permanent. If no children are born, a series of rituals is performed, and if these fail the marriage usually breaks up. If there are children, however, divorce or separation is difficult and rare. For Sagadans monogamy is the rule and adultery is a crime with serious repercussions involving the possible death of children, community and kin ostracism, and rituals of repentance.

Domestic Unit. The Sagada household is the smallest social unit that has a territorial base. Each residence is occupied by both parents and their offspring, together with perhaps a widowed parent or other relatives. The latter and the children over 6 years of age take meals with the family but normally spend their evenings in the dapay or ebgan. The average size of the household group in Sagada in 1952 was 4.4 persons.

Inheritance. Children usually receive their portions of inherited property when they marry. The parents then retain only a small amount of land to provide for themselves. Children have an obligation to care for their parents and to provide animals for sacrifice if they fall ill, and they have other obligations to fulfill when the parents die.

Socialization. Parents are primarily responsible for training their children in economic tasks. Girls receive much of their training from their mothers and other female relatives in the home and fields, as well as through participation in the ebgan activities. Young boys help their fathers in gathering wood, preparing fields, and caring for the carabao. Children are also usually responsible for gathering food for the pigs and chickens, which are kept in pens or cages near the house. A boy receives much of his education from the old men in the dapay. There he learns the traditional history of the village and the ward, the ceremonies and the prayers, and the songs and legends that are part of the annual round of work and ceremony. Moreover, boys are disciplined by their peers under the watchful eyes of the old men and develop patterns of loyalty to the village and ward, as well as to their kin. Parents seldom punish their children by whipping, and after the age of 6 they usually discipline them only by scolding.


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