The Evolution of Courtship

I. Introduction
A. Definition

Courtship is the process or period of courting. Through the years, it is evident that there has been a significant change in the way courtship is done. Especially in the Philippines, where culture is dynamic and ever-changing, it has to the researcher’s attention that there has been great changes in the way courtship is done between Filipino males and females. With this, the researcher would like to interpret the evolution of courtship. The landscape of male and female interaction has changed over the past 100 years, revealing a very sharp contrast in shape and form.
One significant area where this is clearly seen is in the area of courtship and dating. In 1896, the word “dating” was known to be lower-class slang in reference to prostitution. Basically, going on a date was an understatement for paid sex. By the 1900s, the word “Calling” (or courtship) was introduced into households. Calling was the process of a man, the suitor, coming into the home of a young woman to meet her and get to know her and get to know her better and eventually end up marrying her.
This was highly preferred by parents since the meeting between the man and young woman was highly supervised – everything from the length of the meeting to what food they would eat (Discroll, 2009). Furthermore, it gave parents a sense of safety since it protected adolescents from any kind of danger like rape, and involved the maximum participation of family members. In this, however, the process of courtship was not always perfect. It was seen that it only placed itself in the households of the rich and not the lower-class (hence the lower class slang).
It would seem that courtship was too expensive activity for the lower-class. They simply could not affor the luxury of fine dining in a parlour and/or traveling to meet with their sweetheart (Discroll, 2009). In this, the progression and seeming perfect balance did not last long. As population, poverty, technology, economy, and innovation grew, change in the lower and higher classes rose. Because of this, they had to find more adaptive solutions as to how they would interact and meet with the opposite sex; a great change was seen throughout the years effectively changing the landscape of courtship.
Today, technology has made easy interaction even more possible. With the dawn of the internet, men and women no longer need to be with each other physically or in the woman’s home to interact; it can all be done with a simple click of a few buttons. Now taken into the context of the Philippine setting, changing trends and patterns are not so much different from their western counterparts. Over the past decades, Filipinos have taken a more practical approach towards the relationships involved in their lives due to the increased use and innovation of technology and change in social landscape (Ogena, 1999).
So like their western counterparts, no longer do men apply the idea of Chaperonage or Panliligaw (courtship) with the opposite sex. And as patterns have changed, the main influencers – parents – have found the style of dating more acceptable (Ogena, 1999). A study done by UPPL & DRPF called the YAFS (Young Adult Fertility and Sexual Study) for the Philippines showed that there was a significant number of adolescents going on dates.
Another significant YAFS data shows that from 1982 to 1994, a majority of the youth (40.4%) group dated but later split to single dates (39. 7%) which enabled more intimate encounters with each other, with Filipino teens engaging in sexual activities (9. 7% for males and 2. 9% for females). As dating became a more regular activity among the youth, intimacies heightened. This resulted in an increase in the corresponding proportions of the youth engaging in petting and sexual intercourse, 16. 3% and 8. 1%, respectively (De Guzman,1997).
B. Significance/ Relevance
It is clear that Filipinos have changed the way they see courtship. Especially that technology has affected lives of teenagers today that it is now easy to communicate with anyone. It is then the researcher’s privilege to show the evolution of courtship. The study will also be beneficial to the general public to make them aware of how courtship worked then and now. The study will serve as a reference on the processes, style, and evolution of courtship.
C. Research Objectives
This research paper aims to answer the question:
1. How has courtship evolved throughout the years?
To answer the question/ problem, the researcher will investigate the
following sub-questions: 1. What was the courtship process then?
2. What is the courtship process now?
3. How did courtship evolve throughout the years in terms of:
a. Process of Courting
b. Socialization
c. Communication
I. Review of Related Literature
A. Local Literature
Courtship is known in the local language as Panliligaw or Ligawan and is also synonymous to pandidiga or digahan from some of the Tagalog-speaking regions in the Philippines. It has rooted from the Spanish word ‘diga’ which means to ‘to say, express. ’ The term manliligaw refers to a man who tries to court a woman and pursue her for marriage. On the other hand, the term nililigawan refers to the woman who is being pursued, hence, the one being courted.
Courtship in the Philippines is known to be moderate and to ba taken under control unlike those of the western cultures. Traditionally, it has been done with the first step of the man visiting the woman’s house and presents himself to her parents in an official manner. It is generally unacceptable to most Filipino families to court the woman without knowledge of her family. The most usual trend to be acceptable to the woman’s family is from the saying “courting a Filipina means courting her family too” (Business World, 2002).
Courtship in the Philippines involves the suitor working hard for his love even if he has to go through a long time of courtship. Traditional courtship would entail men serenading (harana) the “women at night and sing songs of love and affection” (Business World, 2002). Others would give love notes to express their feelings. It would also entail going to the woman’s house to bring her flowers and other sorts of gifts. And in some cases, men are shown to be courting the woman’s parents to get their acceptance before he could actually court the woman.
Courtship allows women to enjoy the attention they get from men by being treated in a special way and receiving gifts from them. Because of this, some women even delay their marriage so that they have more time to experience what it’s like to be showered with attention and affection. (Molina, 1983 as cited in Courtship in the Philippines Today) Parents and family members are very much involved in courtship because of the Filipino viewpoint that marriage doesn’t just involve a man and woman, but their families as well.
It became important for a person to choose well to enhance his or her family’s image. Dating as an activity in courtship, has become very popular, as it was an influence from the western culture. But even before people were influenced and dating became popular, the Philippines already had come up with its own courting practices. These practices were passes on by their families to use when entering into courtship. (Medina, 2005 as cited in Courtship in the Philippines Today)
B. Local Studies
In a 2012 study entitled “E-Courtship: A Descriptive Study” by Pamela Concepcion Panganiban, she explained that when two human beings start developing emotional attachments to one another, the relationship often tirns from simple friendship to a romantic kind (Tucker, 2008) and once feelings are established between the two parties, the individual then pursues the person his or her interest (Tucker, 2008). It is therefore appropriate to say that when an individual, much like a male, pursues a female, it signifies the act of courtship (Akiteng, N. D. ).
Courtship often precedes itself as the stage where a male signifies his interest for an established romantic committed relationship with another person or before each can call themselves “official. ” The study of Brinas, Ramirez, and Ty on “Ang Proseso ng Pagliligawan” (1996) mentioned that there are many reasons why men court women. Aside from the usual reason of preparing for marriage, a man courts a woman because first, he could be physically attracted to her. Men are visual creatures; that is why the physical appearance of a woman may be a big deal for them.
Another reason is he wants to feel loved. A man courts a woman so that he could show love and at the same time, hopes that he receives that kind of love from the woman as well. The next reason is that a man wants to have someone to be with all the time because men treasure companionship. He wants to have someone to be with because this makes him happy, especially during special moments in his life. A man courts a woman also for his own satisfaction. For a man, a woman seems to be like a reward or a challenge to him. So courting a woman – and eventually getting her makes him satisfied.
These reasons vary, depending on the person. Looks and physical appearance may be a major factor for some men, but for others, this might just be a bonus. A common reason for a man to court a woman is because he is pressured by his friends and family to get a girlfriend. There are also some men who only want to court women who are attractive to show them off to the people around them. This is not an ideal reason to court a woman, but this happens especially when the man isn’t that mature yet as a person. The last reason is because a man simply has feelings for a woman.
(Continuado, Marcos, and Renton, 2007) A 2009 study entitles “Courtship Among Emerging Adults in the Philippines: Definition, Activities, Influences and Motivations (Fabic, Feliciano, & Nery, 2009),” focused on the difference of understanding of the middle and lower class Filipinos about courtship. They conducted surveys from middle class groups and lower class groups living in the slum areas. But according to the results of the study for both male and female, the difference is not that big among the two different groups with their ideas of courtship.
Most of them defined courtship as a process of knowing someone and “showing a girl how a guy feels towards her. ” Proving Social Cognitive Theory’s assumption of having different factors (personal and environmental factor) affect that way people behave, act or think towards courtship, the said study found out that the topmost factors in their idea of courtship are “friends, media, family, and culture. ” These factors are what motivates them and influences them if they will court someone or if they want to be courted.
There is no major difference with the activities done on courtship with those in the middle class and lower class group. Both classes agreed that “spending time with the other person, giving gifts, and basically just putting one’s best foot forward” are the most evident things to be done in the courtship stage. (pp. 78-78) The 2012 study entitled “Mix & Match: A Descriptive Study of Filipinos’ Ideals in Social Relationships (Olalia and Ylagan, 2012)” also proved how different factors influence a person’s behaviour or point of view towards courtship and marriage.
Although the study focused on “ideals,” they concluded that “a number of informants shared that they patterned their ideal boyfriends or girlfriends and husband or wives from their parents. ” One male respondent, 27, shared that because he grew up in an environment where his mother is more strong-willed than his father, he also wanted a girlfriend who is more strong-willed than him, which is true to his current girlfriend. Another informant (Ellaine, 22) shared that she wants someone who is like her brothers or her father.
C. Foreign Literature
In the book “Boy Meets Girl,” Joshua Harris defines courtship as “dating with a purpose” and a “relationship between a man and a woman that has a purpose of being actively and intentionally together to consider marriage. ” It is a process that has a direction and a purpose and involves knowing a person better to see if they are right for each other, and eventually, if they are, leads to marriage. A courtship can be considered successful when the man and woman find out if they are right for each other or not.
They pursue marriage when they find out that they are for each other, and they end the courtship if they see that they are not right for each other. When a man and a woman understand the purpose of courtship, it is much easier for both of them to move on when their relationship doesn’t work out. Courtship is like a new season of friendship. It is something that should be entered into when a man or woman is ready for marriage. According to Joshua Harris, courtship is a relationship guided by the principle that “the joy of intimacy is the reward of commitment.” (Harris, 2005)
Before courtship actually commences, a man and woman must have a deeper level of friendship than that of just an acquaintance. Normally, the second phase, or the actual courting stage will be initiated by the man asking permission from the woman’s father to begin courtship with his daughter, and the man’s obvious reason is to know if they both want to get married to each other in the future. The father usually acts as the initial “protective screening test. ” Both the man’s and the woman’s families must be involved.
“They ought to understand, through experience, each part of the other person’s life as much as possible. ” Instead of interrupting each one’s daily routines to make way for their alone time, couples in the courtship stage will most likely try to involve each one in their daily routines. It is important for a man and a woman who enter into courtship to have good communication to be able to know where they are in their relationship and how they feel towards each other. If everything is going well, they can spend more time alone together and take on activities like watching movies and concerts, going to the mall or having dinner alone.
When men court women, they are usually romantic, and they buy flowers or cards to make the women feel special. When the man gets the blessing of the woman’s father, he then proposes to her. When the woman accepts the proposal, they would get married and live together as husband and wife. (Gianforte, 2008) Back then, it involved the control of women because it’s the men who go to their homes to get to know them better.
But as courtship evolved into a more free and liberated type, it has now been occurring outside the home, which means it’s now more of the man’s control because he is the one paying for the date. Since women started working and had more time to spend with men outside the house, new rules of engagement were formed where the men were able to take women out on dates. “The entire romantic system moved out from under the parent’s supervision, and like an eloping couple, it never wanted to go back.” (Gianforte, 2008)
In Joushua Harris’ book “I Kisses Dating Goodbye,” he described dating as an act of a man and a woman going out to have a good time, nothing more, nothing less. He even added that people date because they want to be able to enjoy the physical and emotional benefits of being intimate without the need to be In a real commitment. This generation’s pursuit of fulfilment in relationships, especially in dating, is that they want intimacy without the responsibility, sex with no expectations, and love without hard work and sacrifice. (Harris, 2004)
Today, the intent of dating ranges from getting to know the person to wanting to marry the person. (Gianforte, 2008) But because of the western influence today, courtship has been delivered to be vanishing. Contrary to that, the said study by Fabic, Feliciano, and Nery (2009), also found out that courting is still manifested in the local society. Depending on the respondent’s point of view, the definition of courtship will vary but will still lead to a common idea “which is the process of a guy expressing how he feels towards a girl by pleasing her, so that in return, the girl will like him back.”
Prominent among the results is the idea that courtship is still initiated by the men. What varies now is the way men do their courtship especially because the use of technology is already inevitable today. This is what most people refer to now as “modern courtship” just as revealed in “an Asia-wide survey that was conducted during 2002, not only that the Filipinos say I love you through text messaging (Ellwood Clayton, 2006 as cited to court a woman through electronic devices. ” (pp. 69-70)
D. Foreign Studies
Even with the emergence of technology that makes it easier for young people to connect with other people, they still prefer the traditional style of courtship. Even if they use technology in communicating with their loves, they still prefer face to face communication and interaction rather than just texting or meeting online.
Internet video started with a little film called “The Spot” by a filmmaker Scott Zzakarin in 1995 (Letizia, 2011). “The spot” was a simple film and into a two-inch two-inch screen and attributed to it were lol quality images at the same time were not equipped to handle the flop of Zakarin’s project, it is considered today one o the first web or “webisodes” to hit the internet.

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