I visited Sitangkai for a book assignment and for the five days I was there, my host toured me around. Two days in a row, I attended a Tausug wedding and a Sama circumcision ritual. These community events are quite colorful with most women, other than the bride and groom dressed in multihued outfits. In both instances, we started at the groom’s house where the whole family and kin were busy preparing the food. At the bride’s abode, will be the ceremony.
When all was ready, the groom’s party started out. A gong borne on the shoulders of two men led the line followed by the imam. Men with several shallow but wide trays of food walk behind. Each tray laden with chicken piangang (blackened chicken) sitting on a mound of steamed rice at the center and surrounded with fried noodles, hard boiled eggs on sticks and plate sized cassava cakes. These are traditional wedding food that will be used during the ceremony.
The groom, in shiny outfit is followed by members of the family and friends with the ladies in very colorful wear. It’s a sight to behold. As the sound of gongs resonates around the community. This colorful procession snakes through the narrow and often wobbly wooden pathways atop the shallow water, meandering through the series of footbridges that crisscross the houses on stilts.
The bride is all made up inside her rather small room with the walls covered in colorful cloth. There she waits for her groom with her entourage. Once he arrives, the imam will start the first part of the wedding. The second part of the ceremony will continue once they are brought into the living room together where the rest are waiting.
These two Tausug weddings and that Sama Mag Islam, an interesting peak at celebratory life in Sitangkai.