We, Filipinos, have a lot of remarkable customs and apparently, most of our customs give importance to our innate and nurtured family values. Since we were kids, we were always asked to kiss the hand of our elders (pagmamano), to utterpo and opo when speaking to an elderly individual and to incorporate kuya or ate when communicating to people who are years or just even months older than us. At first, these customs never made any sense at all but as time passed by, we eventually came to know that the said traditions are significant to our seemingly conservative and reverence-demanding society since these exude undeniable respect. Also, as we continuously execute the mentioned quirks, all of these had eventually been deeply engraved in our systems that doing so became already second nature to us; no need for the elders to remind us what we need to do and no effort coming from us in carrying all these out.
It was a memorable day today since it was my first time to witness how a guy’s family do pamanhikan and how a girl’s family is bound to react to the proposition. One of my numerous second-degree cousins decided just yesterday that he will going to marry the girl of his dreams soon. Not only had he informed his parents about it but the heartwarming news had also reached his extended relatives and that apparently included us. I always thought that wedding talks are only exclusive to both the immediate family of the soon-to-be bride and groom and that is the reason why I was kind of adamant to go with my mom and lola. Anyway, it had dawned on me just today that it does not seem to be the case. Weddings, as early as the pamanhikan stage, already reflect the strong traditions of family; extended family included.
We arrived at the girl’s house at around 3:00 in the afternoon. Though we are numerous in number, all twelve of us were still openly welcomed by the girl and her parents. We sat uncomfortably in the plastic chairs circled around in their living room, solely prepared for our expected visit. Since it was the first time for the parents of both parties to meet each other, a long awkward silence from all of us inevitably followed after we try to find a comfortable seat and an ultra lovely view of the sweet and respectful gesture that will ensue. Furthermore, the nervousness coming from my cousin and his girlfriend made the awkwardness more pronounced than ever. After my tita felt that the silence is already creeping into everyone’s nerves and, not to mention, her son is still trying to build up enough amount of courage to do what he came to do, she took hold of the situation without further ado. Her taking control made all of us comfortable and eventually, one by one, opened up.
After much masking of the anxiousness that we all are feeling, my cousin, out of the blue, stepped up and tried to gain our attention by clearing his throat. All of us immediately responded with silence. Eventually, he knelt down in front of the girl and took out a small box containing the obvious. While the ladies in the room openly expressed their kilig through unending sighs and longing look, I would like to think that our macho relatives, on the other hand, were apparently trying to fight the kilig since they just gave off blank looks which is no doubt more manly than giving off a smile with teeth showing. Anyway, I could literally feel that the giddiness that we all are feeling towards the done gesture clouded up the atmosphere of the room and it heightened as he asked the most romantic question that any girl will be asked in their lifetime.
With just a simple yes from her, she immediately became a number of grams heavier and a notch higher close to being a loving wife and caring mother. Upon hearing the affirmative response, all of his nervousness with regards to the engagement evaporated but were immediately replaced by another set of nervousness acquired from the soon-to-come ironing out of the wedding plans and his future responsibility as a husband and father. Being miles out of the chaotic world of dating, finding the other person who they wanted to spend their lifetime with and finally looking forward to building a stable and amorous filled home, which will have a fair share of happy moments and predictable challenges to face, are all except daunting; unless of course you still do not have the maturity and stableness, from all aspects of your life, that all of these blissful things require.
I applaud my cousin’s courage to propose in front of the people who are most important to him and his girl’s life, as well as the guys who already did that before him and those who are thinking of doing the same thing. He could have opted to propose to his girlfriend without the intimidating audience, but he chose to do otherwise. It just shows how much he loves the girl and how much he puts worth to the blessing that he will get from the elderly; a very strong family values he got there which is truly admirable in whatever era you come from.
Social conditioning from the destructive media lured us to believe that these values are already outdated and that these are not necessary anymore. But however hard we try to shove off and dismiss the importance of these values, the fact that all of these could still produce a gutsy yet respectful, as well as an authoritative yet considerate individual still remains. How I wish for people who had lost their Filipino values to pick these all up once again and for the others to hold on to their innate and embedded values once and for all. It’s these little quirks that we have that makes us distinguishable from other nationalities, so let us try our very best to liven up what we had been known for and not be just a mere carbon copy of the other cultures in which most of today’s youth obtain their baseline of what the norm should be from.
December 5, 2009. Written by Lav Acacio.