Sunday, August 29, 2004

A sketch of the pamanhikan and the dowry

The following was e-mailed to our respective speakers about a week ago in preparation of the pamanhikan. It is a very rough plan as to how the pamanhikan goes.

1. The lechon: A Filipino party would not be legitimate without a lechon. The lechon is a gift from the earth. Just as the earth supports the growth of the pig which fed us, The lechon symbolizes the efforts of Rhett to feed Michelle and their future children.
2. A photo of Philippine folk dancing: This represents an offering of fire. The fire of creativity inspires Rhett to create a future with Michelle.
3. A T'boli garment inlaid with mother of pearl: The gift of water created from oyster shells. This garment was only one of nine remaining garments from the T'bolis. This serves as Rhett's promise that he and Michelle will work together to save the Philippine cultural heritage.
4. The fourth gift is that of books. One of them is a journal kept by Rhett of his poetry. It symbolizes the promise that the lives that are being joined will be be entertained by new things and by laughter. The books symbolize the wind of thought.
5. The fifth gift is that of literal fire as represent by Rhett's chariot: Dahon. A 2004 Honda Acccord with the color of prosperity, Dahon is promised to drive Michelle around the world if need be.
6. The sixth gift is from earth: Textile which Rhett has bought over the last seven years. The textile represents the promise that Rhett will scour the world for the most beautiful and brightest cloth so that Michelle will always be clothed in garments which bring out her beauty.
7. The next gift is that of wood. This carving comes from the Philippines by the way of Texas and through eBay. It portrays the typical Filipino farming scene. Just as this wood was transformed into a piece of art through that hands of an artisan, Rhett promises to transform their two lives into a piece of art.
8. The next gift is from water. It has already been given to Michelle when Rhett proposed. It is a black pearl that sits on an oval platinum. It symbolizes how their two lives will be intertwined.
9. The next gift is that of metal. It consists of a sword from the Northern Philippines and bracelets from Afghanistan and a belt from the T'bolis of Southern Philippines. Over the last seven years, Rhett has thought about this dowry. He has bought these jewelry with the foreknowledge that he will be using them on the dowry. Just as these metals were obtained from the heat of fire, cooled from the the breeze of air and the cold of water and then laid on earth, Rhett's promise is that of a complete marriage with all the elements of the world.

Eileen and Tuhan,
These are the gifts which will be used in the dowry. There are a total of nine gifts. Four from the Greek idea of elements (fire, water, earth, wind) and five from the Chinese idea of elements (earth creates metal which makes water which feeds wood which makes fire).

The idea is to revive the pamanhikan. It is not traditional in that the gifts are symbolic. There are no pigs or goats or cows being given to the families. Rather, the pamanhikan represents the offering and promise of a life together.

As each gift is mentioned, the symbolic representation is presented. Eileen will describe something about the gift. Tuhan will agree to the beauty or the good intention, but can mention that while this gift is nice and good, it does not represent the completeness of the elements. For example, after presenting the gift of earth, where is the gift of wind?

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