Retrospect: The art of courtship

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Unexpectedly, while buying lunch with your buddy in Perico’s, you see her.  Her hair flowing with waves that look so effortlessly perfect, her smile as bright as the sun, and her eyes that twinkle like the stars. Luckily for you, your friend sees you in awe of her beauty and decided to introduce you to her. Turns out, they are classmates in three subjects and they’ve become good friends (Oh, why couldn’t it have been you?) Being the good wingman that he is, your buddy finds a way for you to get her number. Later on, you start texting each other and sparks fly everywhere.

 This is it, man. You are ready to court her. But wait, I can hear someone else’s voice down from your amygdala. You’re not insane, man. It’s just your grandpa and grandma’s voice! Looks like you’re torn between following your techy grandma’s tips and your grandpa’s traditional courtship advices, huh? Perhaps,  we can do an analysis of the two. 

Grandpa: Take it easy, iho.

 We were more in control of our raging hormones because of how your great grandparents instilled (and sometimes, imposed) a strong sense of dignity and shame. Unlike today, men were not that aggressive, and admirations are discreetly conveyed. 

Start with ligaw tingin. Its where you look into her eyes, and if she stares back, you know what’s up. Proceed then to ligaw-biruan, where you start teasing her until her cheeks turn hot red.  Finally, when you’re sure the feeling is mutual, proceed to panunuyo, where you send her hand written love letters and flowers on a daily basis. Try it, son. Your existence is the most valid proof that this worked with your grandma.


Modern-thinking Granny: Show your intentions, in a nice way

 In the present, panunuyo still does exist. But because the times turned the Maria Clara into a more sophisticated woman, going beyond flowers is a must; coffee, chocolate, food, even short post-it notes or handwritten letters. They don’t need to be extravagant, the girl will appreciate it nonetheless. Next, text her and show her that she’s on your mind. Do not be too “clingy,” as the youngsters call it, as this may scare off the girl. Remember, you are not official yet. Wag muna feeler, iho. 

Don’t worry if she doesn’t reply in the next two minutes, she has a life too, you know. Also, walk her to her classes, if this is her fancy. If you have a car, you may also go the extra mile (pun intended) by giving her a ride home. Just be creative. The possibilities are endless.

Grandpa: Meet the soon to be in-laws

Our definition of courting the lady means courting the whole family.  To prove your sincerity, you have to show up to her parents. When I was your age, I bring the not-so-obligatory pasalubongs when visiting the house to get closer not just with your grandma, but also with your great grandparents.

This phase is also where the proverbial needle’s eye rings true because this is where we perform the paninilbihan. This includes the chopping of the wood to be used for cooking, and fetching water from the fountain. Do it as a way of professing you will do everything for the girl of your dreams.


Modern-thinking Granny: Meet her friends (or BFF)

 A lot of girls have their group of friends (or a sister like bff) that they could count on for advice, laughs, and basically anything. Look at my amigas. Usually, she thinks the same as them as well. 

So, of course, you have to make a good impression when meeting her friends. Be cautious and friendly. But don’t forget to be yourself. Do not be a douche, and show that because you value her, you value her friends, as well (and their opinions, too). Impress them. Who knows, if they really like you, they might even help you with the girl of your dreams.


Grandpa:  Harana 

The practice was originally out of Spanish influence, but it certainly became one of our traditional ways of courtship.  Harana or Serenata is usually done during a moonlit evening outside the house of the girl being wooed. I remember wearing my best Barong Tagalog with the safest instrument to use, the guitar. Together with my friends, we would sing kundiman songs through the night, until your grandma who watched down through the window finally cast her most-awaited yes. 

Try this son, although I’m not certain it’s going to work for you. A handsome man during our time is a man who knows how to sing and play an instrument and not necessarily the good-looking one. But if you think I’m way too cool for you to imitate, I’ve heard though that there’s a site called where you can pay for their service and do the deed for you.

Modern-thinking Granny: The Big Move

You are doing well, iho, as you are nearing the last stage of this very challenging, but kilig-filled journey. By now, you should have already wooed your girl and known her better. The next thing you have to do is to ask her if she is ready to take your relationship to the next level and this means considering the two of you as an official couple. 

There are a lot of ways you could do this. You can do this through text, but, c’mon, you know you’re better than that! Ay, the kids these days! Again, be creative. You can do it simple and sweet, like giving her a cake with your own personalized message, or you could go ‘big time’ and do it with a lot of balloons and flowers, like the ones in the movies. Take cue from the telenovelas that I watch every night or even Sir Chief! You may also ask your friends and her friends to help out, and tailor your plan into something that would sweep her off her feet.


Grandpa: Pamamanhikan

 In our times, rare were what you call in the present, breakups and cool-offs. And so when everything is settled, we are ready for the final stage, the pamamanhikan. Pamamanhikan is where you bring your parents to the girl’s home so they can formally talk about your imminent wedding. 

Yes son, your wedding. With not much fortune, the decision will all be upon your parents and hers. This stage is where you figure out whether you passed all the previous stages or not. This is it. There’s no turning back here, son. Don’t just be a man, be the man.


Modern-thinking Granny: It’s official, kayo na!

Congratulations, apo! You are now at the last stage of this journey. Because of all your efforts, you have managed to hear the sweet “yes” of the girl of your dreams. Whether you followed your grandpa’s old fashioned courtship or just incorporated them with your style (I do assume that you followed all my tips, though), it all boils down to all the efforts you made, because after all, it’s your irrefutable love and the guts to prove it that matters. 

Although this is the last stage, remember that the effort shouldn’t stop here. You are now an official couple, so therefore you have to make an effort to keep your relationship happy and strong. However, this is a team effort. Don’t forget to keep the kilig alive! It’s the little things that would really make her smile. It’s one of the reasons why your Lolo and I are still staying strong! 

Lastly, be loyal. You may not be married yet, but try watching The Legal Wife, you don’t want to suffer the consequences of being unfaithful. Just always remember why you went through all this in the first place. Best of luck to the both of you!

Cirilo Cariga

By Cirilo Cariga

Michi Dimaano

By Michi Dimaano

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