The Forgotten Cultures and Traditions of Filipinos

As lifestyle change, so does the norm. These days, it’s not hard to take notice that most Filipino values we’ve learned from our ancestors are shrugged off by Pinoys who base their values on what’s socially convenient rather than preserve the legacy provided. They’re also the ones who are spoiled by technological advancement, and who choose to embrace Western cultures rather than our own.

TAMPUHAN, a classic painting by Juan Luna, 1895.
This masterpiece depicts sweethearts having a lovers’ quarrel.

Let’s look back on some of the used-to-be-notable Filipino cultures and traditions that are slowly taken out of the picture are the following:

The Art of Courtship

When our grandparents and parents were still at their prime, the term dating was non-existent. During the old times if a man wants to woo the apple of his eyes, he cannot directly talk to his lady love. Instead, he will head to her house in the evening, be dressed in his most presentable outfit, and have a guitar and some trusty guy pals back him up.

This tradition is called the ‘harana’. In this way, male suitors express their admiration for a woman through ‘kundiman’ (a.k.a. love songs) singing. If he’s lucky, the woman can watch by the window and will soon entertain him inside the house for little chat. But if she refuses, or if her parents don’t like the guy, the father will face the guy and request him to leave.

The process of courtship moves on with another forgotten tradition, the ‘paninilbihan’. The term, in vernacular means ‘to serve’ so when a guy engages in the paninilbihan phase he is expected to work for the woman and her family. Work is mostly based on house chores like fetching water, wood cutting, doing the laundry, feeding the livestock, and many more. If the parents are satisfied, he will receive the approval of the female’s parents and can finally call the woman his ‘girlfriend’.

Paying Respects to Elders

Traditional Filipinos are very family oriented. They’re loving individuals who put great value to their kin, especially to the older members of the family. In the past, young ones greet and request blessings from the elders through ‘pagmamano’ (bowing to take the elder’s hand and putting it on their forehead), listening and considering their wisdom during decision making, retaining a polite tone even when arguments arise, and including words ‘po’ and ‘opo’. However, practices like these may seem foreign today as most of the younger generations develop beliefs that they’re more superior and smarter than the old ones because of Internet and technology.

Bayanihan and Pakikisama

Though this practice is not totally dead, ‘bayanihan’ or joining together to help people in need has deteriorated, especially in the urban areas of the Philippines. Since lifestyle is more competitive in these places, every little service has a corresponding cost. As for ‘pakikisama’ or team spirit, some Pinoys have outgrown this attitude and chose to be more individualistic and exclusive to smaller groups.

This is a guest post by Ciel. She loves listening to Asian music, and strongly believes that music is the universal language. She enjoys working from home as a writer. Her current writing task is for elektriker.

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