The Ilocos Region And The Ilocanos
About 1,453,000 hardworking estimated Ilocanos live in the provinces of Abra. Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and La Union in the northwestern coast of Luzon of its 11,447.5 sq. km. area. Only a narrow strip of plain is fertile and arable, with rice as its chief crop. Due to this limited area for agriculture, foofstuffs are often insufficient.
The physical environment of Ilocandia has effected the Ilocano way of life. Ilocanos are thrifty and used to difficulties and hardships. They work hard to earn a living; thus to an Ilocano every centavo counts. A long provinces makes agriculture in the area not profitable. As a result, the Ilocano families engage in other occupations. Men as well as women, spin and dye yarns. Women with their native crude hand looms weave blankets, towels, napkins, table cloths, bags, and jackets. Aside from weaving, bagoong and tuba making are two other industries of the Ilocanos. The Ilocanos are adventurous and the most hardworking people. They migrate to other provinces like Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija and Cagayan during harvest time, to find work. After the harvest they go back home with their earnings. Others go to faraway like Cotabato, Davao and Bukidnon and other parts of Mindanao as settlers. Many Ilocanos are also working in Okinawa, Guam, Hawaii, and Saudi Arabia, easily adapting themselves wherever they go.
The Ilokanos customs and traditions.....
Ilocanos strive hard to make a living, difficulty is never a hindrance to their success. To and Ilocano, hardships can easily be overcome. He believes in the value of study, industry and patience; thus, every Ilocano family encourages the children to go to school and learn skills to find better paying jobs and consequently, have a better life.Most customs and traditions of the Ilocanos are influence by their frugality. From the cradle to the grave, the Ilocano rituals reflect what they believe in.Death to the Ilocanos means great sorrow. If the father dies, the wife dresses the deceased alone so that her husband's spirit can tell her any messages or wish he was not able to convey when he was still alive.
The body is placed in a coffin in the middle of the house parallel to the slats of the floor. A big log is is then lighted in front of the houses so that the spirit of the dead will go to heaven with the smoke. As long as the dead body is in the house, the log is kept burning to keep the evil spirit away. During the wake, the members of the family keep vigil. The women wear black clothes and a black manto (handkerchief) to cover the head and the shoulders. Before the coffin is carried out of the house all windows must be closed; No part of the house must be touched by the coffin; otherwise the man's spirit will stay behind and bring trouble to the family.
Family members shampoo their hair with gogo as soon as the funeral is over to wash away the power of the dead man's spirit. Prayers are said every night for the next nine nights. After each night's prayer, rice cakes and basi are served to all guests. The period of mourning ends on the ninth day when relatives and friends spend the day feasting and praying. The first death anniversary will then be another occasion for feasting and praying. The above customs and traditions are purely Catholic rituals and practices. It does not includes the belief of some religion in the places.
About the art
The serious outlook of the Ilocano is reflected on his physical movement as well as in his writings. He is not lyrics types; he is the epic type. An Ilocano epic depicting this sobriety is Biag ni Lam-ang, a poetry piece that requires sustained effort. Among the well known Ilocano writers are Salvador Lopez, Loepoldo Yabes, Manuel Arguilla, and Consorcio Borje. The ancient literature of the Ilocano consisted of songs for different occasions. T
he Ilocano war song expressed the vigor and joys of the warriors coming from battle; the dal-ot, popular among the peasants was sung during a baptismal party, a wedding or a feast; the badeng or love song is a serenade. Pamulinawen, a popular Ilocano love song expresses longong for a loved one. Like most Filipinos, the Ilocanos possess musical instrumentals. Examples are the flute, kudyapi and kutibeng, which is a sort of guitar with fine strings.
The Ilocano are proud of their dances. One of their favorites is the kinnotan, or ants dance, in which a group of dances gesticulates toward a person being attacked by ants and then makes motions of scratching the man. The Kinnailongong is another Ilocano dance showing a man and a woman sings and dances towards him, and then dances with him.