Indian Dating and Matchmaking in Philippines - Indian Matrimonials

Like many other Southeast Asian countries,  in Philippines too Indians have been arriving for trading and business purposes long before the Europeans colonized the region. Today Indian origin people are reasonably well integrated into the Philippine society even though the cultural influence of the motherland remains to some extent and is seen in social practices such as dating and matchmaking in the community.

Indian presence in Philippines goes back by around two centuries before the first  Europeans landed in Southeast Asia. Ever since the fifteenth century ships from the eastern coastal kingdoms of India carried on trade with various Southeast Asian kingdoms including present-day Philippines. However the major phase of Indian migration to Philiippines began with the establishment of colonies under European powers like the English, French and Dutch. men were required to exert administrative as well as economic control over the newly conquered Southeast Asian regions and many of them were brought from the Indian colonies of the Europeans. For instance, Between 1762 and 1764, Sepoys from Tamil Nadu arrived with the British expedition and occupation in Philippines. Even when the British withdrew after the Seven Years’ War, many of the Sepoys mutinied and refused to leave. Eventually they intermarried with local women and integrated into the host culture.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, most of the Indian migrants into Philippines were laborers seeking manual work or traders and clerks from Punjab and Sind eager to take advantage of a common British colonial structure. Interestingly unlike Indian migration to other Southeastern countries like Malaysia, there was never any movment of Indian indentured laborers to Philippines. Here the migrant workers could choose to live and work wherever they wanted.  In recent times Indian migrants have mainly consisted of businessmen and skilled professionals looking for employment in various parts of Philippine economic sector. The Indian diaspora in Philippines also includes a substantial number of bureaucrats who are employed with international organizations like the International Rice Research Institute, Food and Agricultural Organization, Asian Development Bank as well as UN agencies with their regional offices in Manila.

Today the Indian origin community in Philippines has a population of around 38000 which includes both Philippines of Indian origin as well as Indian national living and working in the country. Most of the Indians are concentrated in the Metro Manila area while a significant number also live in the Isabela province. Besides these two major centers,  some Indians are also to be found in Cainta, Cebu city and Davao. Many of the descendents of Tamil origin Sepoys who had accompanied the British forces during the Seven Years’ War are still to be found in and around the Cainta region.

Dating and matchmaking among Indians in Philippines is largely the product of the twin urges to maintain cultural ties with ancestral ways of living as well as the practical necessity to integrate in the host society. By and large, the Indian community has been able to continue with the tradition of arranged as well as intra-community marriages as is ingrained in the Indian cultural subconscious. Hinduism, Islam and Roman Catholicism are the main religions followed by the Indians in Phillipines while the two major linguistic groups are Punjabis and Sindhis. each of these religious and linguistic groups encourages its younger generation to adhere to the traditional practices and priorities when it comes to dating and marriage.

Indian associations in Philippines have an important role to play in the continuation of traditional ways of life. Cultural programs,  Indian festivals and religious celebrations organized by associations like the Bharati Club, the Hindu Society or the Khalsa Diwan are not important means of knowing and staying in touch with Indian roots but also useful venues for young Indian singles to meet each other. Indian Publications like the “Samachar”, a monthly magazine run by the Sindhi community, also provide valuable platform for greater social and cultural interaction among the Indians living in Philippines.

However because of their relatively small numerical strength, the Indian origin population in Philippines has increasingly come to terms with inter-community and even inter-ethnic marriages. It is now more common to find members of various Indian linguistic groups like Punjabis and Sindhis marrying into each other. While intermarriage with local populace has existed since the first male migrants decided to settle down in Philippines in the pre-colonial times, the practice was resisted among  the highly educated and skilled Indian migrants of twentieth century. Now once again with changing values, young Indian singles are looking for partners based on mutual compatibility rather than specific ethnic, linguistic and religious affiliations.

The internet has emerged as an important part of dating and matchmaking trends among Indians in the Philippines. Like the rest of the world, young Indian singles too are logging on to find potential dating as well as marriage partners in a land where they are an ethnic minority. Filipinaheart.com and ichatfilipina.com are some of the popular dating websites for Philippine singles which allow members to look for partners by messaging, photos and videos besides their online dating profile.

Philippines does not have a sizeable Indian origin population unlike other Southeast Asian countries like Singapore and Hong Kong. This has been one of the chief factors for determining dating and matchmaking trends among Indians in Philippines. Besides this, a two millennia old history of living in the country has also helped the process of integration of Indians in Phillipines. In fact, Ramon Bhagatsing who was the Mayor of Manila during the Presidency of Ferdinand Marcos was born of an Indian father and Philippine mother. Again Laticia Shahani, a Senator and sister of President Ramos is married to an Indian. These instances from national political scene and many others in Philippine society are an indication of the successful integration of the Indian population in the host country. Dating and matchmaking practices are just another reflection of the unique form of negotiation between indigenous cultural practices and practical compulsions which have informed the social practices of Indians living in Philippines.