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Modern Dating Trends of the Philippines

Calle Crisologo in Vigan A photo of people walking along Calle Crisologo in Vigan

The Philippines is a beautiful archipelago in the far east, just right on the Pacific Ocean. Its pristine beaches and untouched forests have been intriguing foreigners for centuries. The Philippines has been colonized by various western countries, thus, has a very unique cultural identity.

The majority of the cultural traits that can be observed in Filipino society stems from the Spanish Colonial era. This is evident in the Filipinos’ religious faith and how it has influenced their moral definition.

The United States has also left traces of its cultural identities in the Philippines. This led to the westernization of the Philippines, a trait that it retains to this day and is quite apparent in the adept usage of the English language by Filipinos.

The multicultural influences from Spain and the United States of America have given a unique dynamic that is very distinct when compared to other countries in southeast Asia.

Traditional Customs vs Modern Dating Culture

Traditional Filipino dating culture is based on conservatism. Women are to be seen as demure and to strictly adhere to stringent conservative cultures such as dating only under supervision.

Modern dating trends have been adapting to modernization and are currently westernizing. Conservatism is still practiced but is no longer as strictly adhered to as it was before.

  1. Courtship

    Courtship in the Philippines used to take a long time. For some it takes years. This lengthy courtship process is meant to test the commitment of the suitor.

    The Filipino courtship process, like dialects, differs across the different regions of the country. It usually starts with the man making the first move. The man is to show his interest in dating the woman and his intention to court. This is then followed by practices like Harana or serenading the lady at night in her home.

    Today, the modern courtship practices in the Philippines have been quite relaxed. The man is still expected to make the first move every time, but current trends show that more and more Filipinas are taking the reins. The length of the entire courtship process has also evolved from the conservative custom that took years to a more modernized series that is significantly shorter.

  2. Public Display of Affection

    Public displays of affection used to be taboo. Women who displayed such, especially during the courtship process, were thought to be promiscuous. Other forms of public displays of affection such as holding hands, hugs, etc. were acceptable but were still avoided.

    Nowadays, tolerance towards public displays of affection is a bit more lenient. PDAs are still conservative but more and more couples are doing it everyday. Holding hands, hugging, and even cuddling are widely accepted these days. Kissing is also okay, but anything more than kissing on the cheek might turn a few heads.

  3. Parents’ Permission

    During the Spanish colonial times, if you wanted to date or even to court a lady, you had to ask permission from the parents of the lady. Dating in the Philippines means dating her family too. This doesn’t mean that you are going to be required to give all of them gifts. This means that you need the approval of her family as much as the lady’s “yes”.

    Today, you will still be essentially dating her family, however, Filipino women these days are becoming more and more independent. Courtship no longer needs the permission of her family, although meeting them is still a requirement.

  4. Communication

    Traditionally, the only form of communication between the couple was whenever they were on dates. As technology for communication got better, couples had the option of calling each other.

    The tradition of the man sending love letters to the lady was a coveted romantic gesture. This custom is inspired by Dr. Jose Rizal, who was very fond of sending love letters and poems to the women he admired.

    Today, the advancement of technology has aided the communication process of couples. Text messages, emails, and video chats are just some of the communication dynamics that couples today enjoy. Even with the advancement of technology, the tradition of sending love letters and writing poems is still considered romantic in the Filipino dating culture.

    The advent of the internet has also opened the horizon to the dating dynamic. Online dating has been on the rise in the Philippines. A huge number of single women have admitted to have tried using dating apps.

  5. Race

    In the past, it was socially unacceptable to marry a person from a different race. Not only would the person become a social pariah but they would also be discriminated against by friends and acquaintances. They faced disapproval from their parents or even worse, be subjected to threats of violence by strangers for simply falling in love with the wrong person.

    Thankfully, modern-day thinking has eased the strict views on Filipino dating between interracial couples. While the Philippines still uphold many traditional views, most Filipino families aren’t so strict if their daughter decides to introduce their foreign boyfriend to them.

  6. The “Hard to Get” Game

    At times, Filipino women play hard to get at the beginning of courtship. They act as if they aren’t interested but in reality, they want to see how much you care about them and how hard you’ll try to win their heart.

    This is a test to make sure you’re truly serious in pursuing a relationship with them. Because some Filipino women view dating as long-term rather than a short fling and most of them usually prefer to date for a long time.

  7. The Man Should Ask The Girl Out First

    Philippines is very much a patriarchal society. That means men take the leading role in the relationship. They are expected to make the first move when asking a girl out for a date.

    Nowadays, the gender roles are much more relaxed. Some Filipino women might still expect you to ask them out first but you’ll also meet Filipino women who takes the initiative to approach you first.

This has widened the horizon of dating in the Philippines. International marriages are not only possible, but are on the rise.

Lasting Norms

No matter the liberalism of modern Filipino society, there will always be customs and traditions that will remain. These are what give Filipinos their cultural identities. These norms will change over time, they’ll adapt to the changing of society, but they will never be erased from the mores of the Filipinos.

The culture of the gentleman making the first move will always remain. In the Philippines, being a gentleman is essential. Back then this culture meant that the men had to be the one to pay during dates; Paninilbihan or servitude was a practice years ago wherein the man would render services to the woman like fetching water, or chopping firewood.

This is quite rare nowadays, but the philosophy of the man taking care of her woman will remain.

The culture of being familial is also a dynamic in the Filipino Culture. When dating a Filipina, you can be sure to meet her family, and quite early on. Back then this was a way for the lady to seek the approval of her parents’ to give the couple permission to date.

Today, this culture remains, but has adapted to the liberalism of the Filipinos. This culture is now more about meeting the family and getting to know them. An interaction, not an interrogation.

Dating a Filipina woman may be different compared to how dating in your home country is, but you can be sure that if you date a Filipina woman, you’re dating a beautiful and affectionate woman.

The culture of the Philippines is rich and vibrant. Filipina women embrace their own culture and aren’t embarrassed about the quirks. The beauty of a Filipina woman transcends her physical attributes. Her beauty stems from an all encompassing combination of her looks and her cultural identity.

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