Monday, May 02, 2011

Mikey Bustos: Traditional Filipino Courtship

Young women in the Philippines today are perhaps the most Westernized of the Asia-Pacific region. They are highly educated, and are as devoted to a career track as their American counterparts. It is in matters of the heart, however, that the resemblance ends, when they are as "old-school" as their mothers and grandmothers were before them. To some degree, this carries over to young Filipinas in the diaspora. Dating a non-Filipino can be a challenge, as her parents are unable to resort to the usual way of "vetting" the young man, determining whether he is of good character, and/or comes from a good family.

A gentleman may spend months, or even years, currying the favor of a lady (to the exclusion of others), who must exercise a certain reserve, at least until she is certain. Then the relationship changes from "tuksuhan" (the "teasing phase") to genuine courtship. When the time comes to announce their engagement, the young man and his parents must undertake the "pamamanhikan" -- literally, "to go up the stairs of the house" of her parents, to seek their approval. (In Cebu, the entourage will often bring musicians to serenade. Sounds like quite a distraction to me personally.)

It is an arguably more civilized arrangement, but one which flies in the face of the 21st century American sensibility.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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