In Filipino culture, the man traditionally asks the parents of the woman for her hand in marriage. If the girl has brothers, ideally he should personally ask them too. This can happen either before or after he proposes to her.
In Filipino-Chinese culture, the parents of the man asks the parents of the girl in a semi-casual ceremony called the Kiu Hun. Of course, I don't refer to every Filipino-Chinese out there.
When my husband proposed to me in New York in 2013, I decided that he deserves the chance to "feel more like a man" by giving him the opportunity to ask my parents...
" Ma, Pa, I would like to ask your permission to marry your daughter?"
It was such a simple question, noh? It's was even awkward because my parents already knew. In fact, my husband's parents have already arrived in Iloilo because the Kiu Hun was set the following day.
Since it wasn't my first time to witness such scene, I really wasn't nervous. I was just smiling silly. My husband, on the other hand, was so nervous that his palms were sweating.
When he asked my parents the awkward and expected question, they kept quiet for a while. Then my dad said,
" Of course, we permit it and we welcome you into our family. I hope you are ready for marriage because marriage is hard. There will be ups and downs. And you need to help each other. You will fight but that is normal. But fight with respect."
He then added,
" I only request for a simple wedding. Let us not tempt fate. We will follow whatever your family decides on. Just let us know if there is anything you want us to pay for."
My mom, the barangay kenkoy, joined in and said,
"S, You know my daughter has topak. You need to have patience. She is very moody and strong willed. But she will make you happy. Our home was both happy and chaotic because of her. She is very smart so please don't be alarmed if she has strong opinions."
And typical mama, she gave praise to herself,
" I trained her well. She can cook. She can clean the house. She can do laundry. She is also very good with money because I trained her to be frugal."
Yes ma, bentang-benta na ako.. Then she ended with this,
"S, I really don't want you to live with your parents. L has a very strange attitude. She will never follow your parents. She never followed us. She was trained to be independent. She doesn't follow rules. In fact she was suspended from school for insubordination. We don't want your parents and L to fight. I am very sure that too much familiarity with her will breed contempt."
I just listened to my parents as they talked to my husband. It made me appreciate the tradition because it gave my parents the opportunity to be honest with him. They were able to say things that were too personal to be discussed in the Kiu Hun. At the same time, it allowed them to bond in a more serious way.
In some families, this discussion can get comical, tense or very welcoming.
In Pinoy movies, the first thing the dad asks, " O, kaya mo na ba buhayin ang anak ko?"
My parents never asked that because they knew I was already 31 then and I have my own place and savings. But the issue on provision is usually discussed because it usually becomes a problem!
The following day, we had the Kiu Hun in a Chinese restaurant in Iloilo. There were 8 people seated around a circular dining table. The parents of my husband and his 2 uncles arrived with fruits for my parents.
The discussion was rather straight forward. They discussed the dates of the Ting Hun, the Kan Chiu and other matters. Truth be told I was really taken off guard because it was also my first time to hear the dates.
Given the discussion of my parents with my husband the night before, they were very quiet and just said, "Whatever you decide on, we will just follow".
Admittedly, my in-laws may have found them uninterested in the details. But had my in-laws heard the discussion the night before, they would have understood why my parents really didn't care about what watch was needed for the Ting Hun or how many reception we should have.
For my parents, a marriage is a union between two people and a commitment to God that they will stand by each other for better or for worse. Nothing more.
So, my parents never volunteered to pay for anything during the Kiu Hun. In some families, the family of the girl announces that they will provide the the house or the car of the couple. My parents did no such thing. They already offered the night before and didn't feel the need to repeat it.
I really found the whole dinner funny. I felt as if the adults were discussing my future. I found it funny because I was certain that I would still do my own thing anyway. But that was the tradition and it was a good experience to witness it.
So for my wedding, I experienced both my husband and my in-laws asking for my hand in marriage. Both experiences were equally interesting. I've actually experienced it before but I tell you, it never gets boring!