The Tagalog word for ‘courtship’ is panliligaw.
A common statement by Filipino men said to Filipinas:
Gusto kitang ligawan.
I’d like to court you.
This is to ask for permission to woo the woman. If she says no, then she is definitely not interested. If she says anything that is not a no, you have the go-ahead to try your hand at winning her affection.
The traditional way of courting a Filipino woman is not to go out on a date. You have to visit her at home in the evening and talk to her in the sala (living room) with her parents watching nearby. You just chat for a few weeks. Don’t dare draw close to her or they will think you are manyakis (a sex maniac).
If her parents approve of your behavior, then maybe they’ll allow her to go out with you if you politely ask them for permission. But there has to be a chaperone — maybe the mother or her yaya (the paid help who raised her) or the most trusted maid of the household who will carry the umbrella to shield her ward from the sun. (You can only go out in broad daylight.)
You can walk in the park or some other public place. Your goal here is to endear yourself to the chaperone so that she’ll allow you some time alone with the woman of your dreams. Then maybe you could sneak a kiss on her cheek or she’ll let you hold her hand. Maybe you could talk about your plans to elope and escape her strict parents.
Due to the influence of Hollywood and Western culture in general, things are changing in Filipino cities. Going out on Western-style dates is now common. And a chaperone? Ay, that’s so old-fashioned!