Drinking is an old age tradition here in the Philippines. Whether to cap the night off or a grand celebration, we, Filipinos drink. There’s even an old practice of coming into a community settlement while drinking and it’s the tagayan ritual in Quezon province.
The tagayan ritual gathering is called “umpukan” where everyone is welcome, to talk about important community matters. Then led by a “tanggero,” which by custom is a reputable person. The tanggero has to pour the beloved local spirit called lambanog, in a glass for a round of drinking called “lipos.”
The making of this beloved local spirit is a tradition itself. Lambanog processing has been passed down through generations of coconut plantation farmers in Quezon. Workers called “mangangarit” climb the coconut trees every afternoon to prune the flowers so that their sap drips. The next morning, the mangagarit returns to collect the sap. The sap is then either cooked or fermented then distilled.
At the umpukan, the lipos starts when the tanggero pours the first shot of lambanog then throw it to the Earth to pay homage. Then pours the next one for himself and say “Na’ay po” and everybody’s reply should be “Pakikinabangan po.” Then the glass roams from one hand to another after pouring equal parts of lambanog and say the same toast.
If the next person happens to be a minor or a pregnant woman; someone at the umpukan has to take the shot and say, “Sasakupin ko.” Now, if a maiden doesn’t want to drink lambanog, she has to take the glass then, press her lips and say, “Timtiman ko la’ang.” Again, someone has to take the shot and say, “Sasakupin kita.” Then drink the lambanog opposite the lip mark. “Napakatamis ng tagay ninyo,” will be his reply after downing the lambanog. Yet he still has to take his intended shot. Oh yes, a subtle way of courtship. But if no one takes it, well, the tanggero has to drink it.
The number of lipos at the umpukan is determined by how soon or not, everyone agrees to a settlement or agreement. I wonder if everyone remembers the understanding the next day?!
Today, tagayan ritual is shared by the people of Quezon with tourists who visit the province. As a way of welcome drinks showcasing their beloved lambanog. “Na’ay po!”