How Iloilo Titas Dated Back Then

By joseph batcagan

If you’re anywhere under 30, the concept of celebrating Valentine’s Day might still be important to you (Well, you can still celebrate it even if you’re older. You do you.).

However, you do have to admit that all the dating rituals we take for granted during the occasion—flowers, chocolates, dinners, movies—can seem same-y. But then again, Iloilo is supposed to be conservative, isn’t it?

Regardless, it does make one wonder how young people a generation ago dated. Well, lucky you since we asked a couple of Ilongga tita how they exactly dated back then! Prepare yourself for a huge dose of romantic nostalgia courtesy of their romantic recollections below!

The Respondents:

­­­­Jorvelyn Jaruda-Espinosa (JE), Executive Director for Maya Playgarden and Daycare Center
Sheila Ann Palma Zarandin (SAZ), a nurse based in the United States

What where the most common dating spots back then?

JE: In my 20s, the usual dating hangouts would be restaurants or bars near the school. I also remember having frequented Marina Restaurant.

SAZ: For restaurants, there were Tavern, Iloilo Ice Cream and Pancake House, Try Me Restaurant, Shakey’s Pizza, Fort San Pedro (with their trademark barbeques), Pizza Fantastic, Marina’s, Uncle Tom’s, La Veranda, Payag-payag, and Quarter Mile. As for moviehouses, we had Regent, Cinema, Allegro, Rivera, and Golden. The mall we frequented to back then was SM Delgado.

What kinds of activities did you do when you were dating?

JE: We usually just dined out or drove around the city.

SAZ: We went to the movies, ate out, and gone malling. Tivoli and Treasure Hunt, which were discos that operated starting from the afternoon into the night, were something we also frequented.

How Iloilo Titas Dated Back Then | Project Iloilo
The Zarandin couple

Are there any differences on how you dated back then versus how Ilonggos date now?

JE: If I were to base it from my nephew’s dating scene, I’d say the dating scene has evolved a lot, especially with the advent of social media and technology. Kids can set up dates via Facebook Messenger with no parents or siblings to filter calls.

Before, we still needed to check with friends of friends of friends (!) to get information about a possible suitor. Now, all you need to is to search for him online and go through his Facebook profile. You can even just “date” online through long chats.

Back then, we had to set a time limit on phone usage because we had to share it with siblings and other members of the household. Even then, we just had to be content with hearing our significant other’s voice over the phone. Now, you have video calls, exchange photos and videos instantly, and send flowers, chocolates, and gifts remotely. Social media and technology have made it easier than ever to keep in touch.

During my time, we really had no idea whether we’d hit it off with our dates unless we meet and talk in person. In my opinion, I think men were braver back then because they would risk the possibility of being rejected right in their faces. Today, it’s very easy to choose who to date based on their replies or reactions to one’s messages. While that made it easier to flirt with multiple people simultaneously. it also spares people from putting their best feet forward. I think people would only go out on real dates if they have hit it off online with a prospect first.

How Iloilo Titas Dated Back Then - Project Iloilo
The Espinosa couple

I have nothing against this change. People evolve and things flow according to what the environment shapes one to think or do. I just feel, though, that we rely on social media and technology so much that we prefer hiding behind our accounts and typing our thoughts away when we should probably be out there sharing them personally with someone.

I think adults now should realize that technology is just a tool to further a relationship, and the relationship should be with a person and not a device.

SAZ: We didn’t have cellphones back then, so we really had to be on time for our dates. That, or our dates (usually the boyfriend) just picked us up from and brought us back home before the designated curfew. It’s also not unusual for boyfriends to visit the homes of their significant others to meet with the family even during the first date.

The rest of the time, we just make telebabad on the landline during night times.

So, there you have it. To the titos and titas reading this, does this also reflect your experience? To the millennials and Gen-Z people, do you wish you can also go back in time to when dating was like this? Share with us in the comments section below!

Note: Answers are lightly edited for clarity.

Joseph Batcagan is the editor and a writer for Project Iloilo.