Biyernes, Hulyo 1, 2011

Superstitions and Practices on Death of the Mindoreños

         The name Mindoro was coined from the Spanish term "Mina de Oro" which means "gold mine". This was how Spanish navigators, led by Juan de Salcedo, described the island after they found buried Chinese cargoes with gold threads, jars, silverware and porcelain. 

           Mindoro used to be a part of the Batangas Province after it became a separate province during the early part of the 17th century. The Port of Galleons (Puerto Galera) was then its capital.             Historical records and ancient artifacts excavated from the Province's rich soil proved that long before the Spaniards and other foreigners set foot on Philippine islands, Mindoro was already engaged in trading relations with China. It also had contact with Indonesian, Malayan, Arabian and Indian cultures. 


             Mindoro, formerly called Mait, was known to Chinese traders even before the coming of the Spanish. In 15 70, the Spanish began to explore the island and named it "Mina de Oro" (mineof gold) after finding some of the precious metal, though no major gold discoveries were ever made. Missionaries became  active around Ilin Island off the southern tip, Lubang Island off the northern tip,and Mamburao.  Moro  raids later forced them to abandon these places. In 1754, the Muslims established strongholds in Mamburao and Balete (near Sablayan). From there, they launched raids against nearby settlements. An expedition sent by Governor Simon de Anda put an end to these raids. 
In the early years, Mindoro was administered as part of Bonbon, now Batangas.Early in the 17th  century, the island was separated from Bonbon and orga- nized into a corregimiento. In 1902 the island of Lubang, which was formerly a part of Cavite, was annexed to Mindoro. In the same year Mindoro and Lubang were annexed to Marinduque when the latter became a regular province. Mindoro became a regular province in 1921. On June 13, 1950, under Republic Act No. 505, Mindoro was divided into two provinces, Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro. 

           Warm and friendly, the Mindoreños welcome its visitors with a smile and hospitality indicative of the Filipino culture. They enjoy a simple and pleasant life springing from the pastoral and idyllic atmosphere of the province. The province is largely rural, 70% of the population is engaged in agriculture and fishing with only 30% living in urban centers. Just as gentle and simple are the Mangyans of Mindoro, these Mindoreños comprise seven ethno-linguistic groups.Tagalog is widely spoken in the province. The people are equally conversant in English.


Largest Philippine Wild Animal
The largest Philippine wild animal, the tamaraw, is a species of water buffalo, similar to the carabao. The tamaraw is endangered and is found only on the island of Mindoro. It is known for its fierce temper when disturbed. The nearest airport to the realm of the tamaraw is San Jose airport, Oc. Mindoro.

The tamaraw is unique only to Mindoro and is the largest native land animal in the Philippines. The horn is triangular in cross section. 
The tamaraw was first documented by Western science in 1888. It has never been recorded from any area other than the island of Mindoro in the central southwestern part of the Philippines. Prior to about 1900, most people had avoided settling on Mindoro, since it harbored a particularly virulent strain of malaria. Thus human impact on the tamaraw had been slight. At one time the tamaraw lived throughout most of the island. With the advent of anti-malarial medicines near the turn of the century, Mindoro became more accessible to human settlement.
Since that time, the tamaraw’s population has been reduced from abundance to a critically low level. By 1966 its range had been reduced almost entirely to 3 principal areas: Mt. Iglit, Mt. Calavite, and the vicinity of the Sablayon Penal Settlement. By 2000, reports suggested that tamaraw were restricted to just 2 areas: the Iglit Ranges, in Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park, and Aruyan, with very few data about numbers in either site.


The Tik-balan

The belief in a monster called the tik-balan is quite widely disseminated in the Philippines, notably among Tagalogs andBisayans. It is not found among the primitive Mangyans of Mindoro, probably because living in the dense forests said to be his haunts, they know that no such thing is to be found there.
La Gironière speaks of one of his Tagalog companions on a hunting expedition having been afraid both to enter a cave, and to sleep under a balete tree. He defines the tik-balan as an evil spirit, and mentions the fact that in passing a baletetree, a Tagalog always says, "Tabi, po, Nono," as though requesting permission of a superior to pass. This custom is still kept up, though it is probable that the address is now directed to an anito rather than to the tik-balan.
The tik-balan is variously described, usually as being of superhuman stature, at least twelve feet, and that it has horse's hoofs on a manlike body. It is said by some to have great saucer-like eyes, and by others to have a long face like a horse. It has long streaming hair, and the best way to catch it is to drive heavy nails into a tree which it visits, and thus entangle its hair. The tik-balan lives in caves in the densest forest, whence it makes forays for the procuring of human flesh. It is malevolent, and is often said to be possessed of magical powers, but is apparently very stupid and easily outwitted. If captured it becomes a faithful and tractable servant for farm work, and never permits stray animals nor wild beasts to molest the crops.
The tik-balan has often been seen, according to their own accounts, by those who have related these stories.
Akin to the tik-balan is the oko. It is manlike in shape, but has an immensely long upper lip that may be made to cover the entire face. It associates with the tik-balan, but has no such supernatural powers. It is, however, fond of human flesh. The oko is called Maomao by Tagalogs, but as the only tale in the collection which refers to them is of Bisayan origin, the Bisayan name oko has been preferred.
Cognate to the oko superstition is the idea entertained by the Tagalog and Bisayan Christians of southern Mindoro, that their Mangyan neighbors rise the third day after death, and in a form like that of the oko haunt the scenes they have known in life. It is a revived body and not a spirit which walks, and if it can be led to the sea, it dies forever when it touches the water.
Another monster, but a benign one, is the kapre. It is gigantic in size, being even larger than the tik-balan, and is perfectly black. The name and description suggest an Arabic source (from Kafir), and it is possible that further investigation will show that this superstition is derived from the Moros, with whom the writer has no acquaintance. While several natives with whom the writer talked claimed to have seen the kapre, they were unable to give any details that would have thrown light on the subject of the origin of the myth, or accounts of things done by it, beyond the mere fact of its appearance.
Philippine beliefs and superstition have grown in number throughout the various regions and provinces in the country. These beliefs have come from the different saying and superstitions of our ancestors that aim to prevent danger from happening or to make a person refrain from doing something in particular. These beliefs are part of our culture, for one derives their beliefs from the influences of what their customs, traditions and culture have dictated to explain certain phenomena or to put a scare in people. Some are practiced primarily because Filipinos believe that there is nothing to lose if they will comply with these beliefs. The following are some of the different superstitions in the Philippines.

  • A lingering black butterfly is a sign that one of your relatives just died.
  • A falling spider that lands on you is an omen that someone close to you will die.
  • Do not form groups of three or thirteen, or one of you will die.
  • If a person dreams of having his teeth pulled out, this mean that family member will die.
  • Sometimes the soul temporarily leaves the body while in a deep sleep. Rousing a person at this time might kill him.
  • When a tree that was planted upon the birth of a child dies, the child will also die.
  • It is said that the soul of the deceased returns on the third, the fifth, and the seventh days after death.
  • A coffin should be built to fit the corpse; otherwise, a family member of the deceased will soon die.
  • Tears must not fall on the dead or on the coffin; this will make the dead person’s journey to the next world a difficult one.
  • If someone sneezes at a wake, pinch him lest he join the dead.
  • During a wake, never see your visitors off at the door of the chapel or funeral parlor.
  • A widow who caresses her dead husband’s face will surely remarry.
  • Do not sweep the house until after the burial.
  • Always carry the coffin out of the house, church or funeral parlor head first. This prevents the soul of the dead from coming back.
  • During the funeral march, a man whose wife is pregnant should not carry the casket. Before going home, he should light up a cigarette from a fire at the cemetery gate in order to shake off the spirits of the dead.
  • Digging a hole larger than the coffin will cause an immediate relative to join the deceased in the grave.
  • After the coffin has been lowered to the grave, all family members should take a handful of soil, spit on it and throw it in the grave. Doing so will not only bury any evil let behind by the deceased, but also lessen the burden of grief on the family as well.
  • After the funeral service, do not go home directly so that the spirit of the dead person will not follow you to your house.
  • Never let a child step over an open grave lest the spirit of the dead visit that child.
  • Give away your black dresses after one year of mourning to prevent another death in the family.

Additional Information

1. The convoy of vehicles (carrying the family, friends, and acquaintances of the dead) leading to the church/cemetery is a sacred thing. Thus, any onlooker or participant should not count the number of vehicles in the convoy, or something bad could happen. The act of counting could result in more deaths.
2. When the convoy returns to the house of the dead where the wake was held, the people should find the place clean. It is a way of saying goodbye to the dead. A dirty house would suggest unfinished business on the part of the one who had departed and those who had been left behind. Also, the garbage should be burned. The participants shoud step over the fire and feel in passing the smoke to cleanse themselves, so to speak.
3. Before the coffin is laid on the tomb, the youngest members of the clan must step over the coffin. Because they could not do so, their parents must assist them. This is a way of respecting the dead done by the youngest members of the clan.
4. Any acquaintance must be in the wake or he/she could be "visited" by the ghost of the dead. As a saying goes, "Mabuti nang tayo ang dumalaw kesa tayo naman ang dalawin."
5. The face of the dead would show if he is still waiting for people to visit him. For example, the mouth of the dead could remain open until the last member of his family arrives for his wake.


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