The Spear on the Staircase


In the time of Urduja and Lakandula’s grandmother, it was customary among early Filipinos to marry within their class. Maharlikas married women belonging to the nobility; timaguas (freemen) married the daughters of their peers; and slaves married other slaves. There were no sanctions against classes intermarrying; nevertheless, such cases were rare. When a man intends to ask a girl’s hand in marriage, an emissary from the man’s family thrust a spear onto the staircase of a girl’s house. It was an announcement theatrically clear that she soon would be spoken for. Once set on marrying, the man will call on the village chief and the elders to announce his intention and to name his intended. The chief will then send some of his timaguas to negotiate the marriage.

Alvina, C. & Sta. Maria, F. 1987. Essays on Philippine Culture.