Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Drawing by Romeo Tanghal Sr.
I bet not all Filipinos would recognize the words Tanan. Most of those who "were" familiar with the word might have forgotten it already because it hasn't been used for a very, very long time.

We've heard of stories from our parents and grandparents. Our old and wrinkled lola recalling lolo and her maiden days with "kilig" in her eyes. Chances are, they ran away with each other. Chances are, Lolo said to her "mag-tanan na tayo."

 Tanan or "to elope" may have been around since history began. To many, its romantic. Like a Romeo and Juliet thing only they live. What comes after, is trivial (on this article only!). In the past, strict parents add up to the defiance of Filipino children. Add "arranged marriages" to the equation, you got young lovers running away in the night.

You wouldn't want Tatay to use this
In the Filipino Culture, to tanan is when the girl leaves her home without her parents permission and live a life together with her man. This usually happens during the hours of deep sleep of the household. She is awaited by her lover nearby who then takes her away. The next morning, the distraught parents are clueless of the whereabouts of their daugther. Even if their daughter left a letter of endearment to her parents, she wouldn't really tell where she'd be going or her father will pay them a visit with an itak.

I believe mag-tanan is an exciting thing for Pinoys. The thrill of freedom, love, fear and uncertainty, all packaged in a day or week. Freedom from parents, freedom to love each other. The fear of being caught before going away, the fear of being found out where they are staying. The uncertainty of the future, what it will bring. I'd say its something that most of our generation may have been missing.

Tanan is rarely heard of nowadays from us Pinoys. I wouldn't go into the possible factors that caused its decline since there are many. I wouldn't even encourage it, but as a last resort...hmmmm...think about it many times over. Ask your parents or grandparents to tell you their love story. They might have a pagtatanan story to share. They may have been part of this secret tradition of the Filipino culture.