My Ate’s pamamanhikan was a huge party we held at home. I was only about eleven at that time and just knew that the party was about getting the permission of my Dad for my Ate’s hand in marriage. What was different then was the fact that my sister and Kuya Johnny were in the US and they just called in during the party to fix up stuff (too bad the internet wasn’t commercial as it is now during that time). After that all the wedding arrangements were done offshore.
We had to travel to Pangasinan for my brother’s pamamanhikan. I was about 13 then and we rented a huge coaster to fit in my immediate family and about 20 more relatives. We had to put in a show of force since Ate Joy’s family was huge. All I could remember was the food!
Another experience I had recently was for a British-Filipino wedding I did. I was tasked to accompany the bride’s brother to pick up the groom’s parents at their hotel. It was their first time in the Philippines and I had to act as the tourist/culture guide. It was a short ride from the hotel to the bride’s home, and I realized they had no idea that they had to go through ‘pamamanhikan’. So I explained it to them and they got through with it without any hitches. I’m glad I brought it up since the bride appreciated the gesture they made in adjusting to Filipino customs.
So what exactly happens during pamamanhikan? I’m not really sure if people who get married nowadays go through this. I personally went through this a few years ago when my fiancé asked for my Dad’s permission to marry me. There wasn’t so much fanfare. It was just like any other day that he was at home. I asked my parents to sit-down at the dining table because my boyfriend wanted to speak with them.
Of course, my BF then was very nervous. My Dad’s very traditional and normally that scares guys away (not so much now though, he’s about to sell me already!). Anyway, my BF then just took a deep breath and said we were already planning to get married. I guess my Dad was expecting it already and he just said that it was about time and that they were very much willing to help in any way.
I’ve heard of some pamamanhikan horror stories. There are some where the in-laws end up bickering about the wedding arrangements, usually financial matters. I had a friend who even went through the stage where her mother-in-law said, “there’s still time, my son can find another woman to marry”. Ouch, but things ended well when they had a baby.
Inasmuch as my wedding didn’t push through, I think I would want to go through the same thing again. Traditional as it may seem, I think it’s a very important step that shouldn’t be missed before the wedding. It may not be that your fiancé is actually asking for your hand in marriage from your father, but the gesture says a lot. Respect for your family is highlighted in this event. And besides, marriage is not just all about the two of you, but all the “merger” of two families.
So what exactly is the pamamanhikan program?
- Introduction of parties (if they haven’t met before)
- Formal offer by groom’s father to bride’s father
- Acceptance of bride’s father to the offer
- Discussion on wedding arrangements (budget, where and when)
- Discussion on the after-wedding arrangements
Of course, notwithstanding that everything goes well, both families should try to spend more time together by helping each other out in the wedding arrangements. I know this may be difficult to fathom since it’s usually the bride and groom and their friends (or wedding planner) who does the arrangements, but wouldn’t it be great if you guys try to reach out to your families?
Translations:Tita = Aunt
Lola = Grandmother
Ate = older sister
Kuya = older brother
*Photo: Tappy and Jolet, taken by Boggs