June 4, 2023

One’s culture is one’s identity, and without culture, the distinction of a community would not be determined. Traditions represent a critical piece of our culture. They help form the structure and foundation of our families and our society. They remind us that we are part of history; it shapes who we are today and who we are likely to become. Once we ignore the meaning of our traditions, we’re in danger of damaging the underpinning of our identity.
Technology has become a source and channel of communication, we become anxious of the concern that practices and beliefs might be soon forgotten. This was also my concern, although the rich cultural practices of some of the local areas of Bontoc is still being practiced until today.
One of the practices of pre-marriage in Mountain Province is the sukat di inuto, a practice observed before a man and woman get married. Other localities of the province call it in various ways, but in Dalican, Bontoc they call it sukat di inuto or in literal translation “exchange of foods.” The man, along with his parents or immediate relatives would bring food cooked at their home to the woman’s house to partake of the food. The woman does the same. This practice allows the couple to be engaged. It also serves as an opportunity for the immediate relatives of the couple to meet and know each other. For locals who take the tradition seriously, rituals are very important during the sinukat or exchange. According to the elders, if this pre-marriage tradition is not observed, the parents of the couples are not allowed to eat and drink or to enter the couple’s house.
As I was born and raised in Baguio City, my knowledge of the traditions and practices of Mountain Province is limited. When I met the man of my life who, happen to be from Dalican, I had the opportunity to witness and experience one of the wonderful practices of the province. I was skeptical at first when they told me about the tradition because I do not understand the significance of this to our future as a married couple. I did not pay attention to their many requests of summoning my parents to come for the event. I even consulted some of my co-workers who know about the tradition and they told me the importance of sukat, then I realized I need to abide with the tradition as a respect to the culture.
During the sukat, I saw the generosity of people who came and celebrated with us. Each brought some foods or drinks such as rice, meat, vegetables, fruits, or drinks. It was a touching moment to see these people sharing their blessings and according to my fiance this gesture is a long time practice to show their support to the engaged couple. With my experience, I realized that behind the influence of technology and the modern world, we cannot escape tradition and culture.
Modernization is one of the reasons young people in particular tend to forget their culture and traditions. Hence, cultural integration in the school curriculum is essential in the preservation of culture. (JENILYN TARIAGAO – ANAS-AS)