Thursday, May 9, 2013

Isinay Folk Beliefs Related to Babies

WHILE LETTING the baby in the house have her early morning sunshine at our veranda the other day, dozens of images, sounds, and scents of long ago -- mostly folk beliefs in Isinay country related to newly born members of the human race -- danced in my mind.

Cowlicks
Foremost of those beliefs (which in fact made me inspect the head of the infant in my arms) was this matter of the cowlick (e^eyang in Isinay, alipuspos in Ilocano, puyo in Tagalog).

Babies with two or double e^eyang are believed to become either or both of the following characters when they mature: first, masulit iyunar (hardheaded) or timbo^ (don't listen to advice of elders), and second, duwa asawanar (have two husbands/wives).
 
Babies with an extra cowlick on the forehead are believed to become good in school as they are brainy or intelligent persons.

Babies whose single cowlicks are right at the tu^tu^ (center of the top of their heads) are said to become well-behaved people when they grow up. If a boy, the infant may someday mampari (become a priest).

And babies whose cowlick is positioned towards the side of the head are said to become either good or bad persons. If on the right, he will be man-angem podda (very good-mannered); if on the left, he will give his parents headache as he will be torpe (ill-mannered).

Birthmarks
The presence of birthmark, particularly mole (unaw in Isinay, siding in Ilocano, nunal in Tagalog), on a baby's face is believed to be either positive or negative depending on the location of such marks.

If located on the lips, the baby with such mole would become matalavet (articulate, good talker, talkative, tsismosa) when he/she grows up.

If on the forehead, the baby will become an intellectual and will get high grades in school.

If found on that depression beside the nose and below the eye where it would be touched by tears, the baby will be prone to becoming mabeyu (widowed) when he/she gets married.

If on the earlobes, the baby will become a good listener.

If the mole is on the eye (eyelids, eyelash, etc.), the baby will be able to see banih (ghost) or other supernatural beings that other people normally don't see.

Cleft Lip
If a baby is born with cleft lip (cheiloschisis) or cleft palate (palatoschisis), it is believed that the mother met an accident or did something wrong when she was conceiving (mansisipe in Isinay, agnginaw in Ilocano, naglilihi in Tagalog).

It might have been that the mother stumbled (nirumo^ in Isinay, naitublak in Ilocano, nadapa in Tagalog), or she might have urinated in the dark outdoors without giving a warning (such as tabi-tabi in Isinay, bari-bari in Ilocano, tabi-tabi in Tagalog) or asking permission from the unseen spirits.

It is also believed that the mother might have taken pleasure at despising or mocking others (maal-ali in Isinay, nauyaw in Ilocano, mapanghamak in Tagalog) when she was conceiving. Which means that such cleft lip/palate (navungis in Isinay, bungis in Ilocano) or other physical deformities of the baby are indications of karma.

Line on the Forearms
Particularly in the case of baby girls, one who has a line on the inner forearm should be careful or her parents or guardians should watch out.

It is believed that when the baby girl grows, she would be prone to becoming an unwed mother (namesang in Isinay, naganak a balasang in Ilocano, nabuntis na di kasal in Tagalog).

Dirty Scalp
A few babies, particularly those delivered by normal birth, sometimes have these brown particles (kulapot in Ilocano) clinging to their hair or scalp. It's nothing serious as the flaky material will soon vanish once the baby is repeatedly bathed.

However, the parents of an infant who has this ugly looking dirt in his scalp should prepare themselves for some teasing by friends who are in the know. The belief is that the baby's scalp dirt is a tell-tale sign of what we call in Isinay in-eya tay de^dee nar (in Ilocano inyala pay dagiti nagannak na).

Which means the parents made love a day or even a few hours immediately before their baby came out! 



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