Filipino Courtship 101

Modern Filipinas may not be as traditional as the Filipinas of years past but guys would certainly earn “pogi points” for trying to win her heart the traditional Filipino way.


So how does one win the heart of a Filipina?


By courting her, of course.


Courting or “panliligaw” happens in several stages and it takes a longer time than what most Westerners are used to. Traditional Filipinas are told to be “mahinhin” (shy) and “pakipot” (hard to get) they are not allowed to show their feelings for the guy until it’s the right time. Back then, acting this way is being a “dalagang Filipina,” a virtue that is highly sought after.


Traditionally, if someone likes a Filipina, men are not expected to just come up and ask for her name and number. That is considered too upfront and aggressive and elders frown upon men who do this. That is the last thing you’ll need.


Related post: Dating in the Philippines: Then and Now


See, when you court a Filipina, you also try to get the approval of the family. Only then can you be allowed to move forward in your courtship.


What we need are go-betweeners. Go-betweeners are people who may be mutual friends who can help in the teasing part of the ligawan. Go-betweeners may also help during the other stages of the panliligaw.




Image Credit: BS STI


At this stage the man can subtly communicate to the woman about his feelings without being too aggressive. This stage allows time for the woman to sort out her feelings for the man. The woman can also subtly let the man know that she is interested.


If the woman is interested then the man would usually ask if he can court her. Any answer except for a straight “no” would usually mean yes.


Hot tip: go-betweeners may be hard to come by especially if you met in a non-traditional way.  But the teasing part may still happen with online interactions. Just make sure that if you are dealing with a dalagang Filipina, do not be too aggressive and forward. Be a little more casual and friendly (with a little flirting) first.


Of course, at this stage you have to make sure that she is genuinely interested in you. You can read more about tips on how to detect a love scam here.


You may read about other online scams to be wary of here


If everything goes smoothly and you proved that she is not going to scam you then go ahead and court her. You may have bouquet of flowers delivered to her to let her know you think of her as more of an online friend. Similar with other cultures, giving flowers is one of the best way to let a woman know of your interest or love for her.


House visit


Please illustrate a man visiting a woman at home in the presence of woman’s parents


After getting permission to court the woman, it is time to ask the permission of her family. Nothing is formal until a man properly asks the parents. So work up that courage and go ask them.


During a house visit, the man usually brings a go-betweener to facilitate the introduction. The go-betweener would be the one to introduce the man to the family and sometimes will go as far as letting the parents know of the man’s intention.


House visits usually happens in the woman’s living room with the parents and other members of the family around. This is because they are trying to see if they can entrust their daughter to the man in question. They are trying to see if the intentions are pure.


Bringing of gifts for the woman and the family is important as well. It does not need to be grand – just some things that would show respect and thoughtfulness.


Hot tip: Visiting the family home maybe a huge deal and it is. It can also be hard (and scary) for those whose relationship started online. Work on becoming friends with her on social media sites like facebook where you can check her friends list and maybe get friendly with her relatives and close friends as well. Make sure to communicate your good intentions so that they can put a good word about you to her parents.


It is possible to send a simple gift to surprise the Pinay family’s home. Have pastries or cakes delivered to them and make sure that there is a card so they would definitely know it is from you, with love, from Australia.






Visiting the woman’s house should be on a more regular basis and not just occasional. At this point, the relationship is more serious and the man needs to show the woman and the family that he is serious about his feelings.


The “paninilbihan” is part of the Filipino panliligaw where the men traditionally chop wood or fetch water from a well for the family of the Filipina. It may include a lot of labour but the main thing that men want to communicate to the woman’s family is that they would do anything to win her heart. That his love for her is that strong to endure hardships.


Of course chopping wood and fetching water are not common scenes now. Maybe in far-flung provinces these are still practiced but in the city, paninilbihan may take other forms.


Hot tip: Hopefully, if you are serious enough about the Pinay, then you’d already formally met her family if not physically then at least online. Keep in touch with them as well and keep a healthy relationship. Let them feel that you want to be part of the family as well. This will let them feel comforted knowing that you seriously want to be with their daughter.




Image Credit: Definitely Filipino


Harana is a romantic tradition Filipinos inherited from the Spanish people. It is done at night time by singing a love song in front of the Pinay’s house while she looks on out the window. Men usually invite some of their friends to play instruments, sing backup or as moral support.


Hopefully, the woman’s family will acknowledge the man’s presence and invite him in (the rest of the group goes home, except maybe for a go-betweener). It is inappropriate to be alone with the woman especially that it is night time already so the family will stay in the living room to supervise the chitchat and serve some snacks.


There may not be much that a man can say in the living room while the parents are watching but the harana itself speaks volumes. It is a bold and courageous act that lets the woman, her family and other people nearby know of your feelings.


Hot tip: Want to sing for your lady love? You can sing to her while skyping or if you are a very good singer you can record a song and post it on social media so everyone will know. To make the experience live, you can contact a singing telegram and let them sing a beautiful love song right at her doorstep harana style.


Going Out


Image Credit: Maynard Pono


Please make them look FIlipino


Finally, after winning the confidence of the parents, the man is now allowed to go out with the woman in public. Traditionally, you can only go out on broad daylight, no night time strolls and you always have to go with a chaperone.


The man may be able to convince the chaperone to give them alone time so they can talk in private and get to know each other better.


Hot tip: Going out may be nerve wracking especially if it is the first time you will physically meet. Ease some tension by making her feel secure. You may have some flowers or chocolates delivered to her every day for several days until your meeting. Make sure to add a note of assurance – and make sure it does not sound creepy.


Going Steady

Going Steady

Image Credit: Sentimental Freak


After a long courtship period, the woman can finally say yes to her “manliligaw.” Hopefully, this comes with the right feelings, proper discernment and for Filipinos, when the time is right.


When the woman says yes, then the couple is now “magkasintahan.” Traditionally, for most people reaching this point is already having a serious relationship leading to marriage.


Hot Tip: Gift your kasintahan with timeless jewelry to celebrate the occasion. If you were caught off guard you could still buy one while you are still with her on a date. If it happened spontaneously while chatting online, you can also easily order jewelry online and have it deliver it straight to her.


IF you are thinking about marriage too, this article might help you have an overview on how to plan a wedding in the Philippines or in Australia.




Image Credit: Andre Salvador


There will be times when you and your partner may have a lover’s quarrel. In the Philippines we call it “tampuhan.” If your Filipina partner is suddenly (and uncharacteristically) quiet, she may be “nagtatampo.”


There is no direct English translation for tampo. It is quite a complex combination of feeling hurt or anger and the Filipino social norm of not being allowed to fully express the feeling. This results to people who seem passively angry but at the same time boldly refusing affection from certain people.


The tampo feeling will go away after being cajoled or “aamuin.”


Hot Tip:  Tampuhan online may be a little more difficult because she may not want to talk with you online, be offline for hours or even days or chat with you but seem distant. Why not send her something like chocolates to melt her anger away?


In addition, remember that for women, Filipino or not, a little romance every now and then would be greatly appreciated. No matter if you have been together for one week or one decade, little surprises here and there will put the “kilig” feeling (romantic excitement) back.


If you happen to be in love with a traditional dalagang Filipina courting practices should not die in your relationship even until after marriage rites. Like they say, “happy wife, happy life.”


For more tips on keeping a long distance relationship, read this article.


To win the heart of a traditional Filipina is indeed a long and arduous task. For a quick and quirky summary watch this video:


Courting the modern or more liberated Filipina may not take as long and may not be as hard but the heart of a Filipina or any other woman in the planet still looks for that partner who promises forever.


Good luck!

Rica J

I am a mother, a wife and a technology loving Filipina who loves reading hi-fiction books (dragons!) , good stories, dancing, laughter, lying on the grass and eating balut. I am born and raised in the Philippines and now resides in Australia but finds myself in the Philippines for at least 3 months a year. I am part of the Filipino Australian Community and have been living between Australia and the Philippines since 2007.


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