Last Updated 29 Mar 2021

Wedding Dance

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Our third posting on a short story by an author from the Philippines will be on a writer from the Ilocos province, Amador Daguio. Dagui was born in 1912 in the Ilocos province. His father was an officer in the national police of the Philippines. He lived with his uncle in Manila while attending high school as there were no high schools in his home area. During this period he became very lonely and was driven to write poetry to express his feelings, one of which was published in a national publication while he was still in high school. In 1932 he graduated with honors from the University of the Philippines.

He returned to the area where he grew up and worked as a teacher and married a local woman. During WWII he joined the resistance and would eventually publish a well regarded collection of poems about his experiences during the war years. He is primarily known as a poet but also wrote some wonderful short stories. In 1953 he received a Fulbright grant to study at Stanford University in California where he studied the short story. For Twenty Six years after returning from the USA he taught at the University of the East and the University of the Philippines.

He passed away in 1966 and in 1973 he was awarded the National Cultural Award. "The Wedding Dance" was first published in 1953 by Stanford University in an annual publication of works by participants in their literary programs. It is a very moving and beautifully written story that lets us see a way of life most know little about and is set in a nearly forgotten culture, that of the tribal people of northern Luzon. Marriage in this culture was seen as more or less a contract between a man and a woman for the purposes of producing children.

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If after seven harvests, there is no child, either party is free to break the bond and seek another spouse. A childless couple was seen as a very sad matter and often the masculinity of the husband was considered suspect. As the story opens the man is telling his beloved wife he is sorry this has to happen, he is sorry he must take another wife as she has proved barren (leaving aside medical fact it might be him). He offers her part of their land but she refuses. He tells her she should go to the wedding dance for his new marriage to show she is accepting of what is happening.

She refuses all but some beads he gave her. She is still the most attractive woman in the community, the best homemaker and the best at growing crops. It is really a heartbreaking story as I could sense the man did not want to do this but community pressures and cultural norms were driving him to divorce a woman he truly loved for one he cares little about. The ending is beautifully done and leaves opens what will happen to the wife. She really seems like a "perfect wife" and one cannot help but feel the man is foolish and to make it worse, he knows it. The Wedding Dance by Amador T. Daguio is about Awiyao and Lumnay, a long married couple from the Mountain tribes. Awiyao is going to marry another woman, Madulimay, because Lumnay was not able to give him a child. Awiyao went back home to see Lumnay because he didn't find her among the dancers at his wedding. He wanted Lumnay to dance at his wedding for the last time but she cannot. On their moment, there are many flashbacks about how Lumnay did her best to have a child, through offering to the god, Kabunyan; and how Awiyao and Lumnay's love was as strong as the river; but "it is just that a man must have a child", and he had to leave her.

He promised her that if he fails to have a child, he will come back to her. She wanted to protest against the written rule that a man can marry another woman, so Lumnay went to the wedding dance. But while seeing her husband married to another woman, she could not take it anymore and just went to the mountain to clear away the beans she had thought about. And so Lumnay, waiting for Awiyao a long time, thought of Awiyao's promise as she cleared away the growing bean plants.

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