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Feminism in the Philippines

Sexism is not actually present in the Philippines before the Spaniards came. In fact, our ancestors regarded the ladies as someone to honor. That's at least what my teacher told us and it was really convincing.

First point: in the NATIVE Philippine language, you can't find gender discrimination, except of course for inay(mother), itay(father), ate(older sister), kuya(older brother), lolo(grandpa), lola(grandma). But for terms like siya(he/she), kaniya(his/hers), asawa (husband/wife), kasintahan(boyfriend/girlfriend), tao(man,human<---both terms masculine as if they're the only human in this world), and many many more.

Observe also that in the Western culture, there are too much gender discrimination. In fact, the French have a gender for every inanimate objects. In Spain, where we got our own version of sexism, they have the Doktora, Doktor among others to discriminate women from men.

Second point: Malakas at Maganda came out of the bamboo simultaneously. Check your copy of this epic. It just signifies that our ancestors regard men and women as equal. It's very different from what the Western religion teaches. According to the bible, man was first created by God and then later, God found out that man was lonely. And he got a rib from Adam and turned it into a woman. It was as if women were only derived from men. While Filipino epic tells us that both men and women came from nature.

Third point: We call our country "inang bayan" or Motherland not "amang bayan" or Fatherland, which is what the Westerners call their country. Fatherland of Spain. Fatherland of US. Fatherland of Japan (which is not a Western country but is sexist anyway, in fact too sexist. Read Memoirs of A Geisha). Our Juan Dela Cruz was made after the Spaniards first came. It's not even a Filipino name.

Fourth point: Spaniards used Virgin Mary to conquer our land. The native Filipinos then are easy to get affectionate to women and resulted to the capture of their hearts by the Spaniards.

Fifth point: Early Filipino men court the women by singing at them during the night which we call "harana." And then do the water-fetching and doing hard things to get the sweet reply of their mahal.

Sixth point: Observe how Waray-Waray (it's not Waray, it's Waray-Waray) women behave. They are very much into fighting if they got irritated by someone. They'll really defend their rights and would not stop fighting until they get what they want. That's a pretty modern woman, don't you think? But the women in the Philippines were already like that long, long ago, before the Spaniards came.

Seventh point: Women were the first to hold protest against the Spaniards. Recall the Women of Malolos. Jose Rizal even wrote about it and became the first author of the book discussing feminism.

Eighth point: It's OK for us to have a woman President. Unlike in western countries which have not even seen a woman President or Prime Minister as their rulers except those who have Queens. Prime Minister Thatcher of England came out only when there's a new trend which they call "modern women."

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
redhondallac
Jan. 20th, 2004 05:20 am (UTC)
preach!!! preach!!! amen
jeiki
Jan. 20th, 2004 05:38 am (UTC)
hhmmm....
and your point is?
redhondallac
Jan. 20th, 2004 07:52 am (UTC)
Re: hhmmm....
well, my point is that ur right. i wasnt trying to be a smart ass if that's what u think. i have a lot of respect to Filipinas. the greatest among all the girls that i can think of.
jeiki
Jan. 20th, 2004 08:11 am (UTC)
Oh, that's good.
I admire Filipinas also. That's the point of my entry.
fernanb
Jan. 20th, 2004 08:31 am (UTC)
howdy
no wonder why my mother (a fullblooded filipina) wears the pants in the relationship over my father (half filipino half frenchman)...you make very valid and good points =)

fernan
cre8tive_mind
Jan. 20th, 2004 01:49 pm (UTC)
very informative...thank you!
lyntek
Jan. 20th, 2004 04:08 pm (UTC)
Nice points, though even after the Spaniards came, a lot of the Filipinos still retained their regard for women and treated them with respect. It's actually only recently that the more positive aspect of 'sexist behavior'--which, in this context, constitutes actually behaving chivalrous to women rather than disrespectful--is frowned upon by local modern women rather than condoned.

I once spoke to someone in college who presented some very interesting points on how the Philippine society is actually matriarchal rather than patriarchal (as is often suggested), citing references to local behavior such as the importance of the Virgin Mary to the religious public and, yes, female references to our land and country. We have very strong women figureheads in our history as well, the classic case being Gabriela Silang.

BTW, technically, 'sexism' can actually refer to both positive and negative gender discrimination, as long as one gender is treated significantly different by another.

Also, I've been told that 'Memoirs of a Geisha' isn't all that factual, but I have yet to read a copy of the book, so I wouldn't know for sure. Perhaps cite a more fact-related reference?

Our Juan Dela Cruz was made after the Spaniards first came. It's not even a Filipino name.
--> What exactly would you consider completely Filipino? The identity of the Filipino is still being highly debated today by local professors, the prevalent theory being that we, as a people, find our identity in our history and mixture of foreign influences. The modern Filipino have very strong Spanish roots, so we can't discount our Spanish influence as 'not-Filipino'--they are a very large part of us, and have helped shape us into the people we are today. So many of our traditions that we count as truly ours came from them. It took us several years to establish a national language--and even that is still being highly-contested by other language-speakers in the Philippines. Tagalog is not the only language we have.

Spaniards used Virgin Mary to conquer our land. The native Filipinos then are easy to get affectionate to women and resulted to the capture of their hearts by the Spaniards.
--> The Spaniards used religion, not necessarily the Virgin Mary. We didn't get conquered because they appealed to our respect for women.

Early Filipino men court the women by singing at them during the night which we call "harana." And then do the water-fetching and doing hard things to get the sweet reply of their mahal.
--> I like that you cited this, as it's really a very charming and fondly-regarded custom. It's still being done in some provinces today. Suitors even have to do the courting in front of the parents (ie 'namamanhikan'), and it's considered a rather formal event. Poor boys. If you ask just about any grandparent (and parent, for that matter), you'll find that they have a slew of entertaining courting memories/stories they've compiled over the years. But there's no historical proof that 'harana' existed before the Spaniards came, as it's also a Spanish custom, though dreamlessness tells me our ancestors often used awit during days of old.

Observe how Waray-Waray (it's not Waray, it's Waray-Waray) women behave. They are very much into fighting if they got irritated by someone.
--> ...and be careful of women from Batangas ;D They all know how to wield a 'balisong,' and often carry concealed weapons.

Anyway, interesting post, wish there were more responses to it ^_^
jeiki
Jan. 20th, 2004 08:08 pm (UTC)
Hi!!
I wanna learn more from you.. (",)
I'm actually just starting to put everything in place.. ideas, i mean..

can i add you as a friend?
lyntek
Jan. 20th, 2004 10:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Hi!!
Sure, of course you can ^_^, but I hope you're not under the impression that I sound anything remotely intelligent in my journal ^_^;; I just use that place to fangirl and leave the thinking outside the door :]
whowantscandy
Jan. 22nd, 2004 07:58 pm (UTC)
To add on to the term Filipino, it was used in referrence to the Spaniards that lived in the Philippines during Spanish occupation. Only recently when they got kicked out of the Philippines coz the U.S. paid them $20 million dollars to take the land, did Philippine society then enculturate the term "Filipino/Filipina" to mean a person from the Philippines.

One of my friends intelligently explains his disturbance of the application of the term Filipino. Click here.

Man. All this history stuff about the Philippines is making me miss the homeland more :(
lyntek
Jan. 22nd, 2004 11:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks for pointing this out, interesting article. The 'Halo-Halo' in particular reminds me of a similar joke back in college ^_^ There have been movies and books that problematize the term 'Filipino,' it was quite the fad back in the old days. A very famous one would be "Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon?" which I highly recommend.

No plans of going back? :D Catch the campaign fever, hehe.
whowantscandy
Jan. 22nd, 2004 11:35 pm (UTC)
Ooooh! I should look that up and tell my friends. If you had a chance to look at luksongdugo.org, me and my friends helped set it up. It's a space we created for Fil Ams and Fils to join in on the communication, since our study abroad program Tagalog On-site affected us greatly.

And actually, I might go back to the homeland this upcoming December coz one of my friends might be representing the Philippines in the Southeast Asian Olympics. I'm also thinking of being a dual citizen so I can vote for the Presidential Olympics since I'm a balikbayan.
selfaro
Jan. 20th, 2004 05:20 pm (UTC)
Definitely interesting! Thanks for sharing ^_^

Hmmm...can't really comment anything, I'm either not a woman and not a Filipino :P But there is one thing I can say: though there are not always in the front row, "western woman" are omnipresent in the "western society" and there is no denying of the great influences they had and are having in shaping most of today great empires.

leiza
Jan. 20th, 2004 05:42 pm (UTC)
Nice. I showed this to my mom, who is into Filipino culture and what not and this is what she had to say:

"this is true.... we were created equal with men.... and as such we had to fight wars like men, and men did not have any problem following leaders like Gabriela Silang and your lola from Iloilo who led armies during the revolt against Spain.

Also, notice that Filipinos always have problems using gender in their English. Nababaliktad ang use of "he" and "she", because we do not have feminine or masculine genders in our language."
jeiki
Jan. 20th, 2004 08:02 pm (UTC)
hey!
i'm also very much into Filipino culture...
visit my blogsite... it's loaded with filipino stuffs.. :D

can i add you? (",)
leiza
Jan. 20th, 2004 08:40 pm (UTC)
Re: hey!
Sure naman. :P
jeiki
Jan. 20th, 2004 08:44 pm (UTC)
Re: hey!
thanks!!!
jeiki
Jan. 20th, 2004 10:43 pm (UTC)
"Nababaliktad ang use of "he" and "she", because we do not have feminine or masculine genders in our language.""

oh yah.. that's why americans built restrooms labeled "HE" and "SHE" so that we'll learn how to use those pronouns.. hmm... interesting..
bloodinmyhand
Jan. 21st, 2004 03:03 pm (UTC)
Hey, that's really interesting. You're so knowledgable.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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