Friday, April 15, 2011

Filipino Courtship

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It starts with playful ribbing on the part of people around you. Like someone will start the ball rolling by mentioning that someone is available. Then another will catch on to it and mention that someone else is available. It wouldn’t take long to connect both together and someone else will wonder aloud about why both shouldn’t match up.

By way of these kinds of lunch hour talks, it will eventually move on to both knowing about it and when both are within earshot, a mutual friend or acquaintance will mention offhand that they are a good match. Someone will smile or blush which means something, I guess. It is not a no, definitely which may make it a qualified yes of sorts.

Eventually, once that comfort level is there, the duo in question are cast together in situations where they get a ‘feel’ of each other (pakiramdaman in the local vernacular – that’s the closest English translation I can manage, forgive me, hehe) and when they realize that there are no objections, they just become a couple and will soon graduate to being the real thing.

That’s the summary of the Filipino courtship ritual particularly when dealing with adult relationships (the exception is for the new generation of kids who have a different take on it). It removes the flowers and the long loveletters of olden days, or even old fashioned haranas during moonlit hours. It also removes theater dates off the table or candlelit dinners or other bonding moments considered ‘baduy’ or modernistic depending on who you ask. It’s just a ‘meeting of the minds stuff’, informal and usually unvoiced. You like each other and your friends decide it for you. And then the kids will come and dealing with the in-laws and each other’s personal space. The usual relationship stuff…

The problem of course, is when one party is not ready or has decided to take the path rarely travelled. It doesn’t take out anything from the other person except when there is a vested interest at the possible relationship it promises. Maybe this is why I never really liked this setup. On the get go, there is the unspoken expectation of something happening and chances are two souls will be drawn to it for all the wrong reasons, if there are.

The resulting situation is awkward. You have no desire to turn down what could be a great proposition (because you will never really know, don’t you?) but you are not really prepared to consider that same possibility. You simply have the desire to live life at your own pace and then an offhand comment about you being a match starts something which was never really planned at all. And the discomfort of being in the position of having to react catches one offguard. How does one deal with it?

Granted that you might be a good match, with respect to morals and all, even economics and you just might turnout to be soulmates or something close to that. The woman might be the perfect mom, without the baggages that accompany most modern women and that great wife (which is secondary to the former point); and the prospective groom might just be that great find who is responsible, without vices and who is a wall one can lean on. But are these enough to supercede one’s previous plans?

The risks are minimal, the upside great. But the doubts remains personal. Now that the ribbing part is over and the next stage is set, there is that awful divide that needs to be crossed.

It is just that one has never really considered crossing it, and now one is forced to do it.

And maybe avoid lunch hours.


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