this article is from the february edition of amb. just in time for the end of valentine’s day.
The above painting is called “Harana” by one Carlos V. Francisco (1957). It shows a musician in the process of wooing a Filipina woman. The tradition of harana was widely used during the Spanish colonial period; nowadays, the practice has died down a bit, but this tradition, as well as other province-specific courtship/marriage rites, still lives on.
Basically a harana is when a man attempts to woo a woman by singing underneath her window during nighttime. The man continues to sing until the woman (if she so chooses) decides to let the man (and whatever company he has) inside her house for refreshments etc. When this happens, it becomes a impromptu mini-soiree of sorts. According to the Zambales Forum web site:
“Once inside, pleasantries are exchanged, sweets are sometimes served, and the serenaders and the young lady take turns singing songs heavy with traditional Tagalog poetry worthy of a Balagtasan.. The nocturnal visit is concluded with the serenaders singing a farewell song called, pamamaalam.”
Granted, a man with a good voice and/or musical experience will naturally have an advantage when it comes to wooing a woman in this method. But for the young man whose singing voice is well, lacking, not all hope is lost. It was actually common back then for a man to enlist his friends to help him do the harana; he could also hire the best musicians in town if he wanted to.
Besides this tradition, in order for a man to successfully court a woman, he’ll have to gain the favor of her parents:
“In the Philippines, if a man wants to be taken seriously by a woman, he has to visit the latter’s family and introduce himself formally to the parents of the girl. It is rather inappropriate to court a woman and formalize the relationship without informing the parents of the girl. It is always expected that the guy must show his face to the girl’s family. And if a guy wants to be acceptable to the girl’s family, he has to give pasalubong (gifts) every time he drops by her family’s house. It is said that in the Philippines, courting a Filipina means courting her family as well.”
The Filipina woman is traditionally expected to be pakipot, or play hard to get. It’s one way to measure a man’s sincerity. If the man is successful at courting the woman and the two want to get married, he and his parents must do pamamanhikan, or go visit the woman’s family and ask for her parents’ blessings to marry their daughter. Only after this can the couple be engaged and the wedding date be set.
There are other Filipino courtship/marriage traditions out there, and many of them are province-specific. Here are a couple of examples:
- In the province of Leyte, a man who wants to wed into a traditional Filipino family must perform household service or Pangagad to the bride’s family in order to show his sincerity and fortitude. This usually lasts for about 1 year.
- In the province of Batangas, the groom’s parents, relatives, and anyone else involved in the wedding walk from the groom’s house to the bride’s house in an orderly procession the eve of the wedding day. This is called Bisperas, and this is done in order to bring all materials/food needed to the bride’s house to prepare for the wedding feast the next day. “Everything from the cows and chickens, to the vegetables and rice, down to the condiments and the cutlery are carried in the procession” (http://store.escalate.com/store/turoturo/article4.jsp).
In today’s world one wouldn’t see these traditions practiced by younger, more urban, more “Americanized” Filipinos as often as they were before. But perhaps your parents or grandparents went through these traditions in their younger years.