The Pamamanhikan

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The Filipino suitor doesn’t just slip an engagement ring on his girl’s finger and then proceed with the wedding plans. If well brought up, he will go to her father and formally, manfully, declare his honorable intentions and ask for her hand in marriage.

That’s just for a starter. Hewing to a native custom among the old principalia, Filipino families to this day carry on the practice of pamamanhikan, whereby the parents of the boy call on the parents of the girl to formally, and with ceremony, ask for her hand in marriage. The courtliness of our Malay forebears seems particularly honed for the handling of delicate matters, as in forging of kinships. During the official call, the eldersuse metaphorical and indirect language; or once did. Whatever the language in current use, it is the form of the ritual that’s still adhered to. The courtliness of our Malay forebears seems particularly honed for the handling of delicate matters, as in forging of kinships.

Parents embarked on the mission for their son, particularly if it is a first wedding in the family, have found themselves at a loss for the proper words, or the proper way to go about it, even if the ritual often is a mere formality. Confronted with this new parental role, usually self-assured middle-agers tend to lose their cool.

“The children here seem to be planning something. I said, perhaps we ought to ask permission first, before anything.”

The prospective groom’s father may use an ice-breaking line. Something like, “The children here seem to be planning something. I said, perhaps we ought to ask permission first, before anything.” On his part the girl’s father may put on a formal mien. He may, quite properly, hedge. (It would hardly be proper to look eager or happy.) Tradition assigns the young pair no role other than to look properly and obediently filial.

The procedure is rendered simpler if the two sets of parents already know one another (which, given that young people tend to orbit in certain circles, is often the case). If not, the old Filipino networking is resorted to: find a mutual friend or relative to help ease the first meeting, usually at her house, or a private function room of a club, a hotel, or restaurant. The milestone of passage from one social stage to another is marked with food and drink.

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Source:

Ira, L.B. 1990. Guidebook to the Filipino Wedding. Manila: Vera-Reyes

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