All About The Evolution Of Courtship In The Philippines

The traditional courtship in the Philippines is known as Panliligaw or Pag-ibig. It is the sweetest and most romantic stage of every Filipino’s love life. In general, courtship is a period of progress towards a passionate relationship wherein a couple gets to know each other and decides whether there will be an engagement.

The evolution of courtship in the Philippines started with serenading or “Harana” where men introduce themselves by singing romantic songs for the women whom they have fancied. Then they proceed with the formal arrangement with family approval or a public affair. Filipinos developed symbolic, unique courtship, and customs, influenced by their culture, both colonial and indigenous. 

The traditional way of courting in the Philippines is extremely different from the western culture. Over the years, the Filipino dating culture has evolved due to Western influences, especially among our generations. It is much more indirect and submissive and involves phases or stages.

Customary Way Courtship Practices in the Philippines

Conveying Love By Sending Letter

Sending love letters was technically one of the most wished-for dating and courtship norms during the Hispanic time in the Philippines.

This gesture was inspired by Dr. Jose P. Rizal one of the National Hero of the Philippines. He was fond of writing novels, poems, and letters. In this dating gesture, the man asks the close friend or relative of his adored Filipino woman to hand in the letter for him.

No matter what the response, whether the woman rejects or accepts the man’s love, she will have to respond to that letter and ask their mediator again to carry it back to the man.

This had required an adequate amount of understanding and patience in the past. Sending letters through mediators takes a lot of time during that period.

Serenade or “Harana”

Harana is the most well-known courtship gesture in the Philippines. This is very emotional and romantically captivating for women.

Harana is a traditional way when courting a woman, where men introduce themselves and charm their admired woman by serenading underneath her window at night.

Given the sweet and unique combination of Spanish-influenced songs and of the beautiful Tagalog lyricism and poesy, serenading the woman of your dreams on a cold night is such an excellent and lovely courtship act you could ever perform.

While it was a great advantage for a colonial gentleman in the Philippines to possess specific musical abilities, it had not ever become a problem if he lacked the capability to play the guitar or sing. 

Servitude or Paninilbihan

As the courtship stage began during the Hispanic times in the Philippines, paninilbihan, an act of servitude at the woman’s house, was done by men to show their loyalty and authenticity toward the woman they love and adore. This act was also accompanied by providing special presents for the family and visiting the woman consistently.

This dating gesture was also purposely required for the woman’s parents to assess whether the suitor’s intentions were pure and meant for real or not. The wooing gentleman also had to perform some laborious work so that his level of hard work and patience be tested and truly revealed.

For instance, these include: chopping firewood for cooking purposes, beating rice grains, fetching water from the well to the woman’s house, and many more.

“Pasaguli” or Riddle Courtship

Riddle courtship or “Pasaguli” is a traditional courtship practiced way before the Spanish rule the country.

In this wooing form, both the parents of the suitor and the pursued lady are present in the event where love riddles are delivered for two major reasons: to show certain expressions of love and to appraise the attitude of the parents of both parties.

When “Pasaguli” is done, they will settle the price in a form of a dowry. This is most commonly done in the region of Palawan in the past.

Spoken Poetry or Balak

In some parts of Visaya, especially in Cebu, “balak” or spoken poetry was the most famous kind of courtship in the past.

This is done by reciting an exceedingly passionate and expressive delivery of love verses by the suitor to his adored woman.

The lines might be too symbolic and overly romantic, but the feelings were real. Nobody wants to fall deeply in love with someone who just gives not have enough sincerity and unsure commitment.

Modern Dating Practices in the Philippines

Online Courting

Aside from mobile courting, online dating is a new method that allows exclusive use of internet service to get a potential partner. Because of the very influential West on the Philippine culture didn’t take time for the Filipino women to adapt to matchmaking.

In the Philippines, online dating is actually a close concept of “women’s liberation,” which indicates freedom from traditional social behavior restrictions that have recently manifested in dating patterns.


Nowadays, courtship is more about flirting than showing how serious they are to the woman they adore. A Filipino man today is verbal and very vocal when they like a person.

They are intended to show affection immediately to know if the woman also likes them.

Video Calling or Text Messaging

Ever since Messenger and Facebook have clouded the popularity level of text messaging and phone-calling in the Philippines, numerous Filipinos have utilized the said platforms for communicating with the persons they are romantically connected with. 

It is very modern and cost-efficient for men to use while dropping hints toward the woman they wanna date.

A perfect example of an online dating application most Filipina women used in finding true love across the globe is Filipino Cupid.

Final Thoughts

Here in the Philippines, courtship is one way to show that you like women. And most Filipino people want the traditional way of courting their daughter.

They still believe that it is best to promote the traditional approach. Due to the liberalism of the Filipino people today, there have been changes in courtship. Modern technology is also part of today’s courting practices.

As I said, romantic conversations between the parties are now taking place via mobile phones, mainly text messages, and the internet. Overall, parents still prefer their daughters to be formally courted within their home, done to respect the woman’s parents.

Traditional courting can raise the worth of not only women but also all Filipino people. It means that even if they live in this modern world, they still preserve traditions and values. Having a good heart, doing good work, being patient, and respecting people is key to having a successful marriage and relationship in the future.

Regina and Joe

Hello! It's Regina and Joe here. Like many other couples, we met online and after a long-distance relationship, Joe decided to move to the Philippines, where we married and live together since 2017. In this blog, we will teach you how to enjoy the Philippines to the fullest and what to expect from Filipino culture. Who more than us can understand both the West and the East?

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