Philippines have a been a home of many extraordinary culture and traditions we gained from foreign countries that had invaded us. Some of the biggest influences that we got from Spanish period was our Catholic religion and family traditions. We even got their surnames, their way of addressing people and some of their mouthwatering cuisines. Yet above all these, Philippines has a unique way of handling relationships and romantic interests.
We Filipinos are hopeless romantics. We had a sacred value and consideration when it comes to love and romance. Traditionally, men are the ones who first make a way to start the courting process, taking it to a different level—simply reflecting that chivalry among men is not yet dead.
Here’s how a whole romantic relationship usually takes progress in our country.
It’s a kind of Filipino courtship tradition where the pursuer (Man) stands before the women’s house balcony at night and sing songs of love, serenading her. Usually, a man is accompanied by his fellow friends, and it’s just an initial part of the whole courtship process. The girl will listen to the man below the window, sometimes with her parents—and usually, after the song has reached its end, the man is obliged to come up the house and formally introduce himself to the girl’s family. A bunch of flowers is a must in these lovelorn scenarios.
I had been a part of this serenading tradition once, and believe it or not—I was the one playing the guitar. It’s a modern-day serenading, I helped my male friend along with our other friends to surprise the girl he like—right in her school. After we sang the song and gave her a flower, the girl was asked if it’s a yes or a no. We were somehow nervous for our friend at that time, hoping for a good reply.
And fortunately—she said Yes.
There are many courting gestures a Filipino man must do while still on the romantic progress. Some of these are chopping woods for the girl’s family, fetching water from the well, and offering his full servitude.
The longer the courtship, the better.
Filipina women usually take their time to consider each suitor and who amongst them captured her heart the most. If she hasn’t chosen any, then there will be indirect hints that she won’t return a man’s gestures. If, however, the girl chose one among many, the two will then proceed to date stages where Filipino women measure a man’s sincerity and faithfulness. It’s where the developing phase of courtship begins. This also reflects Filipino men’s consistency with his pure intention and romantic gestures.
Although I don’t experience to be courted by men before, I had observed its purity and fragility through my friends. The courting takes a lot of time, depending on a girl and a man’s compatibility. I had a friend who patiently waited for 6 months before winning the precious yes, while others took only three months. Others took years and longer—but in the traditional way, the longer the courtship, the better.
Pamamanhikan is a Tagalog word which means “to go up the stairs of the house” of the girlfriend and her parents. This is a period in a relationship where a Filipino man and a Filipina woman are about to tie the knot and are obliged to require each other families’ blessings. This Both supposed to be we couples’ parents are to meet up, and have the discussion about all things concerning the marriage. A dowry is also one of the essential things a Filipino man must have—upon asking a Filipina women’s hand for marriage.
It’s a sacred Filipino way of courtship that reflects our respect and love to elder members of the family. For us, marriage is a union of two families, not just two people.
After settling all matters regarding the marriage, the couple is now officially engaged.
Traditionally, men are always the ones who first initiate the courtship. Yet nowadays, with multiple Western influences—Filipinas also had found a way to do their own way of courting, like preparing a Filipino dishes for a man, following how the old saying goes “The best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”
Filipino women tend to be shy and modest during the entire courtship period, not revealing much of her true feelings to her suitor. If a Filipino man happened to be “Torpe” (Tagalog word for Shy Male, Tongue-Tied kind of lover), then he would need a “Tulay” (Bridge) to let the girl be acknowledged of his feelings and intention.
These are just the unique ways how courtship in the Philippines happens. This whole courtship takes a lot of patience, time and efforts, but like any goal of love out there in the world, the precious yes and whole heart of refined Filipino women is all worth the process.