The 21st century likes everything in an instant. Instant coffee, instant noodles, instant haircut, instant messaging, instant research, instant entertainment, instant income, and even instant relationships! Everything seems to be wanted in a snap of the finger. Everything runs after everything. Everyone wants everything really fast.
The 21st century Philippine courtship seemed to say no to courtship. The rich, vibrant, and at times intriguing culture of courtship seen three generations ago gives the impression that it is not handed down or passed on to today’s generation. The youth today says that it was so long ago and therefore not anymore applicable to today’s fast and changing times. The older people say that the old way of courtship should still be practiced as it is full of wisdom, virtues, and tradition.
Today’s courtship in the 21st century Philippines is very much at par with the Western culture. A lot of romantic relationships in the Philippines seem to skip the courtship phase. From being friends to sweet friends to being more than friends are the new equation. Courtship is an alien concept already. It is outdated, unnecessary, and simply a waste of time, effort, and money. Why prolong the agony of courtship when both the boy and the girl like each other?
The influence of the Western culture may be attributed to the colonial past and the neo-colonial mentality of the present. The Philippines was under the government of the United States of America for forty years until after World War II. This was the colonial stage, the early imprinting of the Western culture. The neo-colonial present would have to be the workings of media culture of the West embedded in the 21st century Philippine culture.
Movies in the West abound in the Philippines. Their story lines and plots thrive in the hearts of the Filipinos. Most young people today like the idea of liberation from the old culture of courtship and emancipation from the tradition that to them, they are not already part of. Courtship is not indispensable anymore. Young people like to emulate what they see on the big screen. Their eyes meet, they talk a little, snuggle a bit, cuddle more, and they now in a romantic relationship. If the boy and the girl like each other, they can immediately begin a relationship. Hollywood does it. The Academy award winners do it. The onscreen actors and actresses become the role models in the relationships.
However, this is not an absolute truth for everyone in the Philippines. Others, even though they are young and part of the modern culture, revere the richness of courtship. To them, courtship is not optional for a romantic relationship to begin. It is a requirement and a rule. Courtship is still the same term today as it was in the early 1900s. However, much has changed in terms of how people carry out courtship.
Courtship is no longer very conservative like before. Should both the boy and the girl agree to undergo this stage is now a mutual decision. The boy asks the girl responds. They both set the pace and the direction of courtship. There is a conscious demand for time, effort, and even material resources. Parents no longer have that same power and authority over the courtship stage. Parents can only give counsel and advice. The authority is now in the hands of the boy and the girl.
There are still traces of the old tradition of courtship in today’s time albeit modernized. For example, there is still the practice of giving gifts, but no longer because of the reason to show the ability to provide for the girl should they marry. The giving of gifts is a symbol to show the affection of the boy to the girl. The giving of gifts to the parents of the girl or to other family members is not a requirement but is an optional act in the part of the boy so that he can be closer to them.
Courtship today is also reinforced and perpetuated by technology. Gone are the days of primarily visits and exchanges of letters as means of courtship. Courtship in the 21st century Philippines now relies heavily in technology like the sending of e-mails, phone calls, text messages, and chat messaging. Spending time with each other no longer calls for the need to see each other in person. One can just use the available technology to do so.
The use of technology as a means for courtship became rampant in the advent of cheaper rates. Unlimited call and text, and unlimited surfing hours over the internet became the niche and the buzz words of most telecommunications company. And because of the competition, the prices go down, to the delight of courtship! More time to give, more words to say, more promises to make at the comfort of one’s own home at one’s hand held device!
There are also more radical views on courtship in today’s time. Girls can now make the first “move” and set the pace and direction for courtship. The boys no longer have the sole rights to initiate and impress the girls. Girls can now initiate for a phone call, give gifts, and even ask for hang-outs. Courtship today is a mutual effort for both parties.
On the other hand, the lost tradition of courtship has some remarkable effect to some young people in the Philippines. Some long for the sincerity and genuine courtship that the old tradition has as they hear real stories of courtship from their grand parents. A girl would long for a hand-written love letter from the boy or a visit with proper respect to her family. This proves to be very challenging nowadays because of the dictation of the prevailing culture. “Time is too precious too be wasted in composing a piece of poetry on your head,” the present culture says.
The 21st century courtship in the Philippines is undefined. It is a mix of old and new culture. However, at the end of the day, people do always long for genuine affection.
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