Before tying the knot, Filipino couples practice “pamamanhikan”, where the groom formally asks the hand of the woman for marriage, to bring both the man and the woman’s families closer. Interestingly, a great number of Filipino – Chinese immigrants staying in the country also have a similar engagement tradition called Tinghun.
Tinghuns are commonly known for the unique and traditional rituals presented during the ceremony. One of the first rituals practiced is the walking of the bride backwards when entering the place where the event is held. This is to prevent the bride from seeing the groom immediately and to avoid negative energy.
The backward walk is followed by another ritual, where a married woman with a wealthy and healthy family, whom the bride should see as a role model, turns the bride three times until she is allowed to meet the groom.
After the entrance, the ceremonial serving of the drink happens. The drink, which symbolizes happiness and good luck, is served from the eldest to the youngest members of the family, while the soon-to-be married couple is served last. Sweet tea soup, which signifies harmony, is also served to the entourage.
Symbolic Exchange of Gifts
Aside from the rituals, Tinghuns are also renowned for their extravagant exchange of gifts from the groom and the bride’s respective families. It is common to exchange jewelries and expensive watches between families, but there is no exact list of items, as they depend on the financial capabilities of the wife or the groom, what is important is that the gifts come in pairs.
More than jewels that signify financial capacity, noodles (misua), eggs, rounded fruits, cakes, and sweets are also exchanged. Noodles in the Chinese culture have always signified longevity. The eggs, on the other hand, symbolize fertility in the hopes of building a family in the future. Fruits symbolize wealth, while the cake and sweets signify a sweet start for the couple.
The gifts are wrapped in containers with “喜喜” stickers on top. This is called the Sanghee, which expresses double happiness.
Planning a Tinghun
Presently, Tinghun is not as frequently observed in China anymore. However, traditional Filipino – Chinese families still practice the ceremony. Tinghuns are usually held at the house of the bride as it is the groom’s time to formally ask for the woman’s hand for marriage. Presently, the ceremony can now be held at hotels and restaurants for easier set-up and preparation.
Fortunately, Century Park Hotel, one of the leading hotels in Manila, offers engagement packages which can make planning your Tinghun easier which start at Php. 370,000. The package already includes two pairs of engagement cakes, cha mi sua, special tea, sweet boiled eggs and many more items in the Tinghun checklist.
To know more about the package and Century Park Hotel’s Chinese Lauriat menu, please call (+632) 528 – 8888 or 0917-528-5888, or email [email protected].
Booking a venue is one thing, preparing the event is another. In fact, there are even professional bridal consultants who can help in arranging the ceremony.
Tinghun is just one of the many of the many rituals done to preserve and celebrate the Filipino – Chinese culture and identity, but there are also other traditions woven into the daily lives of the Filipino-Chinese which are also worth discovering.