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Is 'Panliligaw' Still Relevant in the 21st Century?

by Women Team
31 Jul 2017 | 2:10 PM

Pinoys are inherently romantic. It's evident in the local culture and customs. From television shows to daily household activities, there's a palpable sense of that well-known Filipino way of showing affection.  It is perhaps this trait that makes Filipino men very endearing, and a force to be reckoned with when it comes to courting. For many years, panliligaw has been the testing grounds of sorts for most Filipinos. It has made men out of boys, and allowed the ladies to know who they really envision to be with for the rest of their lives.

But in these modern times, the art of showing affection takes on a whole new perspective. With the advent of groundbreaking technologies and a more Westernized way of living, Pinoys are left with one rather interesting question: is courtship still relevant in the 21st century?

Taking Cues from the Past

In the traditional sense, courting involves several stages. A man who wishes to profess undying affection for his beloved must do so by taking on the more strenuous of household chores for the woman's family. This can range from fetching water from the river or chopping wood for domestic use. A Filipina can test the sincerity of her suitor and gauge his skills in raising a family through this servitude method.

Modern times, however, have changed all that. Chopping firewood isn't too relevant now, as well as all the other traditional ways of panliligaw. Pinoys have to find other ways to prove their worth. So, when Western perspectives on courtship began to infiltrate Filipino psyche, many have taken down notes and applied it to their style. Some Pinoys, for instance, prefer to go on numerous dates rather than to court a lady properly within the confines of the home and under the supervision of her parents. This act would have been unimaginable back then and could easily create uproar. Today, though, courtship by dating has become the norm.

Messages of Love

The rising influence of technology contributes greatly to the changing definition of courtship. Back then, love letters were the most viable way of putting into words all the feelings a person has for another. As Filipinos tend to be indirect and subdued when pursuing their love, these letters have become a staple in courtship.

Now, Filipinos can do the same albeit in a different way. They turn to social media and text messaging platforms if they wish to let someone know their feelings. Facebook and Twitter, well-known social networking sites, are now the medium of choice for these sweet exchanges. A pair can easily have conversations with each other and leave thoughtful messages instantly whenever they want to. They can also send images or video clips that may well express their affection.  As communication is an important element in any relationship, these means have surely helped Filipinos pursue their beloved by leaps and bounds.

Remaining Strands

Traditionalists still have reasons to be happy, though, as some principles of the olden methods of courting are not lost. They say that when you court a woman, you're also courting her whole family. This means that apart from wooing the lady, men also have to get the approval of the other members of the family. From her parents to her siblings, all the way down to other close relatives, you have to establish good rapport to prove your worth. This shows that while many Pinoys subscribe to Western notions of dating, they still regard the family as part and parcel of panliligaw.

Being maginoo or a gentleman is also still important these days. In a patriarchal society, this sense of respect plays an important part in courting. After all, the very definition of panliligaw banks on a respectful consideration of another person's feelings. You don't want to force your affections. This is why you want her to know that she is special to you, and that you intend to feel that way for the rest of your life. That is the Filipino way of being a gentleman, so to speak.

Panliligaw is still relevant in the 21st century. Though it may have taken on a new definition, the essence is still there. Looking at how Filipinos put so much regard on mutual respect and love, it's easy to assume that it will stay this way for generations to come. Filipinos will continue to be romantic, regardless of the changes the times may bring.