A collection, translation, and analysis of Dung-aw from seven (7) selected towns of Ilocos Norte

Date of Publication


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Language and Literature Major in English


College of Liberal Arts


Literature, Department of

Thesis Adviser

Dr. Estrellita V. Gruenberg

Defense Panel Chair

Dr. Buenaventura S. Medina, Jr.

Defense Panel Member

Dr. Cirilo F. Bautisa
Dr. Florentino Timbreza


This study observes, records, transcribes, translates and analyzes the Ilocano death chant, dung-aw and shows how it reflects the philosophy of life and culture of Ilocanos. Fifty (50) dung-aws were collected in seven (7) towns of Ilocos Norte, using the ethnographic method. The dung-aw is chanted during wakes and in this day and age, rarely is it chanted at the pasiyam (9th day) and 40 days or death anniversaries of the deceased. The chanting of the dung-aw is mostly done by old women and does not restrict itself to qualifications as long as one wails and observes the functions of dung-aw. The following serve as functions of the dung-aw: announces death, making obituaries unnecessary, serves as an emotional outlet, acts as a coping mechanism for those who are in grief and pain, praises the dead, asks forgiveness, advises listeners, seeks help for problems the chanter asks, and seeks advice for major decisions. The audience is there not only to give moral support to the bereaved family but also to listen thereby getting to know the deceased better even if his/her time has gone. The chanter covers her face with a manto (black veil) and coils herself like a snake while chanting. Sometimes, it looks very funny and awkward but still the audience regards her with respect. Activities like bingo intended for children and old folks and cards and mah-jong for adults continue for the mourners to be awake even of dung-aw is going on.

Creating noise is definitely not allowed while chanting is going on. Talking is only allowed if necessary but it should not attract the attention of the chanter and the audience. Even children are warned to behave and show respect for the man-dung-aw (chanter) and the dead alike.Many taboos are observed among the family members during the wake which are done for various reasons. One has to do with the well-being of the remaining members of the family. For example, no sweeping or cleaning of the floor is done although wiping is allowed. Bathing is prohibited and is only permitted if it is done in another house. This forestalls back luck, early death of the remaining members of the family and ghosts haunting the premises. Other taboos which have to do with forestalling early death are lighting cigarettes with the wake candle, meeting visitors or seeing them off the floor. To show respect for the dead, working before the 9th day of the Novena is not allowed. To maintain bodily health, eating malunggay, gabi, or sour fruits, combing hair,

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

340 leaves


Philippine literature; Translations; Chants; Iloko literature; Folk literature -- Philippines -- Ilocos Norte; Literature -- Collections

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