Thought courtship was a thing of the past? A Filipino man will prove you wrong. In the past, the Filipino tradition of panliligaw (courtship) involved grand gestures like the harana (serenade), where the suitor takes a few of his friends along with him to the girl’s home, where she watches from the window as they sing to her from outside. Another act of panliligaw, especially in the countryside, was paninilbihan (service) where a man, to prove the sincerity of his love for the woman, would help her family with tasks around the house and in the fields. In modern-day Philippines, while these exact deeds are no longer conventional, a more contemporary kind of panliligaw takes its place. It is still customary for the man to spend time “winning the girl over” with sweet messages, small gifts, and devoted acts such as accompanying her to and from places. Filipino men are used to dedicating time to pursuing the women they like (sometimes, even if the gesture isn’t reciprocated) as testimony to the strength of their affections.
Paris is known as the city of love and Italian as the language of love. Perhaps lesser known is that Filipinos are the real romantics. Not only are they gentle souls – loving, generous, and truly devoted when they believe they’ve found “the one” – but they are also very fond of sweet gestures. When dating a Filipino, expect good morning messages to wake you every morning and sweet good nights to bid you off to bed. Expect small gestures, like a surprise visit or bringing you merienda (a snack), just because. And these gestures can escalate to much grander scales on special occasions like your birthday, anniversaries, or valentines day. Just remember, as much as they love giving them, they love receiving them too.
When it comes to dating a Filipino, you won’t have to worry much about small disagreements blowing out of proportion. Filipinos are generally very non-confrontational. That is, they try their hardest not to lose their temper and not to respond with anger. Instead of confronting you in fury, they will usually resort to a little act called tampo. Perhaps the closest thing that resembles tampo in Western culture is the “silent treatment”. If a Filipino begins an act of tampo in response to something you’ve done, you’ll notice them to be significantly less talkative, reactive, and enthusiastic. They might not address you directly and sulk in your presence. While this may be frustrating to someone who doesn’t know how to deal with tampo, its actually quite simple when you realize how it works. To address tampo, the person at fault will have to respond with lambing (a charming, apologetic, gentle cajoling). Persistent (but not annoying) and patient acts of lambing are usually enough to lift a person’s tampo.
While meeting the family is usually seen as intimidating (and is therefore delayed until the extremely serious phase of a relationship), in Filipino culture where families are generally close-knit and familial relationships are highly valued, introducing the person a Filipino is dating to the family is but natural. But there is nothing to fear. Filipino families are very warm, welcoming, and generous. Going above and beyond to make a guest feel like family is part of the Filipino make-up. They will very quickly make you feel like one of their own. After meeting a Filipino family, prepare to be invited to every family gathering that follows.
Once a member of a Filipino family, you will soon discover the extensiveness of the word “family” in the Philippines. The immediate family is only the tip of the iceberg. Get ready to meet second cousins, and third cousins from different provinces, and titos and titas whose relationship to the family might not even be traceable by blood. Their numbers will reach the hundreds, and whether you’ve actually been with them at several dinners or you’ve only met them once before, when you’re considered family, they will treat you as such. And it’s normal to have extended family scattered in provinces all over the country, so you can be sure you’ll have someone to take you in or take you around should you find yourself in a family member’s hometown.
In dating a Filipino, not only will you gain a Filipino family, but you’ll also gain Filipino friends. While Filipinos are generally very welcoming and hospitable, integrating yourself into a completely Filipino barkada (close group of friends) could prove quite difficult, especially if they’re a barkada who’ve known each other since childhood. But with a Filipino significant other, you basically get a VIP pass into the circle. And the trick to winning over Filipino friends is by being open, fun, easy-going, and by having a great sense of humor. Filipinos love to joke and tease. Know how to ride along and your SO’s friends will love you.
While the Philippines is also a largely English speaking nation, there are still some things a non-native might find difficult to understand. For one, there are many English words and phrases used differently in the country that may have even English-speaking foreigners scratching their heads in confusion. Or there are just certain things better said in Tagalog (some, for example are words with no direct English translations, or some are jokes that are hilarious in Tagalog but will make no sense in English). With a Filipino by your side, you not only have an instant translator, you’ll also have someone to explain the more intricate language barriers such as Pinoy humor.
Whether its eating with your hands, experiencing the several-month long Filipino Christmas, or celebrating local fiestas in the countryside, Filipino culture and tradition is an exciting thing to learn about and experience. The Philippines is an interesting and extremely diverse country. It is made up of over 7,000 islands, several provinces each with varying cultures and practices, and a long list of local languages and indigenous peoples. Dating a Filipino will introduce you to all this and allow you to really immerse yourself in the richness of the country.
If you’re one who appreciates food, that alone is a good enough reason to date a Filipino. Filipinos love food, and you can be sure they’ll be up for trying anything, from the new neighborhood restaurant everyone’s been raving about, to the obscure hole-in-the-wall that seems to serve authentic Moroccan food. What’s even better is that many Filipinos know their way around the kitchen. At the very least, they’ll know how to cook up a mean pansit or nanay’s good old adobo. So whether you’re heading out or dining in, date night will always involve a treat for the palate.
Dating a Filipino will very likely entail gaining a great karaoke buddy as well. Most Filipinos can carry a tune effortlessly (possibly because they’ve been well-trained since childhood from all the singing their nanay made them do in front of titos and titas at family parties). But even if your SO’s voice doesn’t happen to be all that good, that doesn’t mean they’ll love karaoke any less because even the most timid Pinoy won’t shy away from the microphone. So even if the notes aren’t reached, the confidence of a Filipino holding a karaoke mic is enough guarantee that the experience is going to be a whole lot of fun.
Not only are Filipinos great at cooking and karaoke, but they’re fantastic travel companions too. Filipinos are adventurous, especially when it comes to food. With the number of interesting eats in the Philippines, there are few things that will shock Filipinos when served on a plate. So they’ll likely be willing to try even the most bizarre delicacies in a foreign country. They’re also adaptable. They don’t like causing a fuss and they try to create the least amount of trouble for everyone, so they’re very easy-going. Another thing is that Pinoys love a good deal. So when you’re in a country where the shopping regularly calls for some haggling, your Filipino SO can bring down the price of your buy and will probably even take pleasure in the whole process. And finally, Filipinos love photos — taking them, and being in them. So if you enjoy walking away from your travels with Instagram-worthy pictures, you now know who you should be traveling with.