For the many single Australian visitors coming to the Philippines, he will be struck dumb by the beautiful Filipina girls that will surround him. Assuming he is wanting love and not just fun, what does he have to do to make the Filipina fall for him.
How to Court a Traditional Filipina
During the time that the practice of traditional courtship is highly recognized among most Filipinos, one cannot just approach a lady and ask for her number or address. In some cases, a couple would have to go through the initial stage of some courtships which is tuksuhan or teasing. Since most people avoid losing face, this stage is a big help for a man to determine if he has chances with the girl he likes. Tuksuhan is a means of figuring out the feelings of a woman for a man. When the lady becomes cold to the guy, then the guy comes to an assumption that he is hopeless in getting the girl. On the other hand, if the girl becomes friendlier and closer to the guy, the guy would have the heart of venturing into proper courtship.
In cases where a young man sees a woman he likes, he cannot just talk to her and ask for information. He must seek the help of a go-between or locally known as tulay, usually someone close to the family of both parties, to ask the father of the girl if the man can visit the lady in their house. Unless the lady is a child, the father would most likely approve to this since it is such a gentlemanly thing to do.
Once the approval is obtained, the suitor can then visit the girl in their house with the tulay who will then introduce the man to the family. In turn, the suitor has to bring gifts or pasalubong for the woman’s family, and a special gift for the one he is courting. This he must do every time he visits the lady in the house. In this first visit though, the couple would not be allowed to be left alone yet. There would only be an informal chat, introduction, and getting to know stage between the suitor and the family, making clear of the intentions of the suitor.
After the first visit, the suitor would then be expected to impress the girl by showing up in their house more often and being close to her family. This would have to be the stage where he does the servitude or paninilbihan to which the fetching of the water and the chopping of the firewood occurs. By doing these deeds, the guy is able to prove that he has sincere intentions and he will do anything to prove his love for the woman.
Harana or serenade, which is basically a Spanish influence, has also been a trend among the traditional Filipinos. The difference is, the traditional men do it at night in front of the woman’s house, with his friends backing him up and giving moral support. They would play and sing love songs by the window of the house and wait until the woman opens the window and invite them inside. They will be served light snacks and have a little chat with the woman’s family. It is very important to remember that during the old times, unmarried couples are not allowed to be left alone because it was considered inappropriate.
After a long period of servitude and a series of haranas, the woman can finally accept the suitor’s love. This is the point when the couple can start dating in public, although always in the company of a chaperon. They would then be called “magkasintahan” or lovers. Despite moving up the ladder and becoming a couple, the man would still have to continue coming to the house and help out.
When the man feels that he is ready to get married, he and his parents will have to come to the woman’s house. The parents of the guy then have to formally ask for the hand of the girl in marriage to their son. This is what they call “Pamamanhikan”. In doing this, they will have to bring food, presents, as well as the dowry that they can present to the woman’s parents.
Under the Philippine tradition, dowry is given by the man’s family only. This is due to the high value of women in their society. Now once the two families have come to an agreement regarding the dowry, the wedding date is set and a ring is finally presented to the woman. A small feast (which could be very much associated to Engagement parties) would then be held with the food brought by the man’s family.
If, in case, a woman does not accept a man’s love, the man is called basted and sawi. If a man is too coward to express his affections for a woman who may also have feelings for him, he is called torpe. To call a man torpe means he does not know how to court a girl, is playing innocent, or does not know she also has an affection for him.
Modern and Liberalized Courtship
Over the years that have passed, the tradition of courtship and marriage in some ways have been preserved. Due to the open mind of the Filipinos today, there had been modifications or “evolutions”, influenced by other cultures that give courtship a modern version.
Modern Filipino Courtship revolves on the liberalism of the Filipino youth. If couples are not allowed to mingle in public without a chaperon in the old days, it is already acceptable today. This, together with the advanced technology today which allows people to communicate easily, made courtship easier to the Filipino youth. Meeting through a party or through a common friend is not only possible now, but has in fact become a very popular method of finding someone to court.
Most parents still prefer that their daughters be courted at home. In fact, some Filipinas, especially those in the provinces, still adheres to the traditional way of courtship.
“It is still very important that my daughter and her suitor do their talking inside the house. These days, it is very hard to trust men. It is very important that I know who my daughter is dealing with,” said Tina, a 43-year-old mother of an 18-year-old.
However, some modern and liberated Filipina women don’t follow this anymore. Instead, they choose to meet up elsewhere with the suitor and do without the step-by-step courtship process, as long as they know the person and they’re happy.
“It’s 2008, I don’t think courtship is still reliable these days. I mean, it is very easy for men to pretend. I think that we should seize every moment and do something if it makes us happy and yet be smart enough to know what’s right and wrong,” said 21-year-old Lara.
Unlike the traditional courtship, modern courtship does not have a pattern. It could start from anything, like meeting the person at a party or getting paired with him by common friends. With the influence of other cultures through the television, modern courtship today is going fast and is not as tedious as before.
Gone were the days of haranas and paninilbihan. Today, it’s enough that a man shows up at the woman’s house without fetching water or chopping firewood. Yet, somehow, he is expected to prove to the family of the woman that he is worthy of the woman’s love.
Perhaps, of all the customs and traditions, courtship and marriage are considered the two most important. Simply because it is through these that a culture secures its continuity. This is where ties are created and family clans are united. And through the traditional courtship, the individuals find a bond to generations past ancestors who have lived and loved and forged relationships in the same tedious manner. Part 2