Filipino Wedding Traditions and Spanish Influence
Filipino wedding traditions are strongly influenced by Spanish traditions.
It is not only Filipino wedding customs but you can observe Spanish influence in all walks of life. It does not mean that the Philippines love Spain very much. In fact, they have been ruled by the Spanish for more than 350 years.
Filipino brides and grooms are free to choose their partners. The days of the Pikot (shotgun marriage) and Kasunduan (arranged marriage) have been dispensed with. Unfortunately, you will sadly find that the Harana (suitor’s serenade) and the Ligawan (courtship) have also disappeared. Courtship is, today, mere dating; love letters are emails and SMS.
Fortunately, Filipino wedding customs have not been diluted or compromised in any way and are often richly traditional.
The Filipino Wedding Traditions of Pagtatapat (marriage proposal)
You will be interested to know that Filipinos do not pop the question to the bride. They do not ask them “Will you marry me?” They prefer to say “Let’s get married!” and if the girl says “Yes” they go ahead with the marriage plans!
The Singsing/Paghingi ng Kamay or the Ring Offering
You know the gift of the ring has a deeper significance in Filipino wedding traditions. The ring signifies a deeper commitment and is a scaled down version of the ancient Filipino custom dote/ begay-kaya or dowry offering to the future wife. It is a symbolic request for the girl’s hand in marriage or the paghingi ng kamay.
The ring is often made up of diamonds. However, you will find that traditional Filipino families may gift the girl the family heirloom as the engagement ring—signifying the approval of the family to the marriage. This ring is often presented during the pamanhikan or the meeting of the families.
The Pamanhikan or Engagement
The highlight of the engagement ceremony is naturally, the presentation of the ring by the groom to the bride. Thereafter, you will note that most families get down to discussing the wedding arrangements; drawing up a list of guests and the budget over a meal.
Significantly, the groom’s family brings with them a home-cooked specialty to share with their hosts after the engagement. Non traditional families may hold the engagement ceremony and the meal at a neutral location such as a hotel or at the home of a mutual acquaintance.
The Filipino Wedding Tradition of Paninilbihan
An interesting fact about Filipino wedding traditions that you will note is the practice of Panninilbihan. This tradition requires the groom to serve the family of the bride and labor for their approval. In ancient days, the chores could involve chopping firewood, fetching water and so on. In modern days, it is observed as a ritual. The groom visits the girl’s home often and he may be requested to do small tasks for the family such as driving the family members to the supermarket. This is seen as a method of getting to know the groom and welcoming him into the family as a valued member.
Pa-alam or the Wedding Announcement
Before wedding, Pa-alam or wedding announcement to the elders is considered one of the most important Filipino wedding traditions. It is a sign of respect to the elders in the bride’s family.
You will find Filipino grooms visiting all the persons who matter in the bride’s family and informing them of his desire to marry the daughter of the house. The visits are very casual and the blessings of the family members are sought on such occasions. Sometimes this visit is combined with the process of distributing the wedding invitations. The bride and groom also visit their godparents/ principal sponsors with gifts such as baskets of fruit.