Being a very Catholic country and steeped in a conservative history, the Philippines has a very respectful view of courtship. There are many versions throughout the country and here are some ways courtship is dealt with across the Philippines.
Early Filipino in Courtship
- Harana – The love of boy expressed through his songs accompanied by a guitar. If the parents favour the suitor then he is asked to come up and entertained by the girl.
- Panunuyo – If the girl accepts the gifts that the parents of the boy sends, then there is hope that the boy is being considered as a possible suitor.
- Pamanhikan – The acceptance of the offered marriage of the boy is formalized by having his parents and relatives formally asking for the hand of the girl in marriage. On this occasion, foods are brought to the house of the girl.
- Paninilbihan – To win the affection of the girl the boy does all the sorts of work in the girl’s house until such time that the girl accepts the proposal.
The almost-forgotten tradition of the Philippine Romance
Over the past centuries, courtship has been a mark of the Philippine Romance. Nothing has proved the grace and value of women more than the sight of men acting like servants to the family of the object of their affection.
Today, there is indeed a huge discrepancy between the old Philippine Romance ways and the Westernized “dating habits” of the Filipino youth today.
So much for the perseverance of their fathers and long-dresses-and-handkerchiefs of their mothers. Changes truly took place, but the question is, is this for the better? Are there still some who believe or some who practice this tradition?
What is Courtship?
Generally, courtship is the act of “paying attention” to somebody with a purpose of developing a more intimate relationship. It is where a man seeks the affections of a woman in various ways like giving her gifts, walking her home, or doing stuffs for her with hopes that he will eventually gain her love.
Courtship in the Philippines, though, is different. The man who is courting the woman must visit her at home, serve her family, keeping his distance from her, and the like. The courtship in the Philippines dates all the way back from the Spanish domination, and although it is still existent today, there had been various modifications brought about by time.
Distinction of the Courtship in the Philippines
Courtship or panliligaw under Filipino tradition gives big importance on the value of respecting a woman and her family. This tradition gives “pursuing a lady” a different meaning because it makes the man strictly follow the proper rules set by the society. Dating back to the Spanish era, this practice prohibits men to be very aggressive even when they want the lady very much.
In the Philippine culture, courtship is far more indirect and restrained if you compare it to some Western societies. A man who is interested in courting a woman must initially be discreet and friendly in order not to be seen as aggressive or arrogant. Also, visiting the woman’s family and introducing one’s self to them is a must, because when you court a Filipino woman, you have the court her family as well. It is always expected that a guy must show his face to the family of the girl.
Unlike the modern women, traditional Filipino women have to control their feelings and play hard-to-get because it was said to be an appropriate behavior in the practice of this tradition. Most girls are made to believe that men will value them more if they are made to work hard before letting them have what they want. By being pakipot (playing hard to get), the woman makes the man work hard for her love. It is also through this that she proves the sincerity of the man. Some courtships last for years before the woman finally accepts the man’s love.
Moreover, traditional Filipina women are supposed to be modest and shy, and she must not go out with several men.