Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In Celebration of Filipino Women (Part I)

Tomorrow (March 8) is "International Women's Day" when the entire world celebrates women and their economic, political and social achievements. In the Philippines, Proclamation No. 224, signed on March 1, 1988, declared the 1st week of March of every year as "Women’s Week" and March 8, 1988 and every year thereafter as "Women’s Rights and International Peace Day”. In the same spirit, Proclamation No. 227, signed on March 17, 1988, provided for the observance of the month of March as "Women’s Role in History Month." Finally, the Philippines has Republic Act No. 6949, signed on April 10, 1990, which declares March 8 as a Working Special Holiday known as "National Women’s Day.”

On the occasion of this celebration, I would like to take a look at the women in the Philippine context by looking at the women mentioned in the song "Babae" written and composed in 1978 when the Philippines was under martial law. The women in the song came from different walks of life, lived in different times, and had different opinions and views on women, including themselves.

I view the song in three ways:

First, I consider it as a simple narration of the evolution of women's struggle in the Philippines;

Second, I view it as the writer's homage or tribute to the women mentioned in the song (including those who represented the women who were viewed either as weak or submissive because were it not for them and their stories, women around the world would not have awakened to realize that things should and could change -- that women were not weak (after all)and they need not be submissive all the time, that women also have strength, that women also have voices for you to listen to, that women can also push back and fight any form of oppression or abuse), and;

Finally, I consider the song as a challenge to everyone, to continue working towards fulfilling the hopes and dreams of women not only in the Philippines but also all over the world for a world free from oppression, discrimination, inequality, and injustice.

The lyrics of the song (including the English translation) copied from are as follows:

"BABAE" (1978)(Music and Lyrics: Ramon T. Ayco, Sr.)

I. Kayo ba ang mga Maria Clara [Are you women like Maria Clara]

Mga Hule at mga Sisa [Or women like Hule and Sisa]

Na di marunong na lumaban [Who are submissive and could fight]

Kaapiha'y bakit iniluluha [When you're battered, why you just cry]

Mga babae, kayo ba’y sadyang mahina [Oh women do you really have no might]

II. Kayo ba ang mga Cinderella [Are you women like Cinderella]

Na lalake ang tanging pag-asa [Who dream for Prince Charming to come]

Kayo nga ba ang mga Nena [Are you women like sexy Nena]

Na hanapbuhay ay pagpuputa [Whose profession is selling sex delight]

Mga babae, kayo ba’y sadyang pangkama [Oh women are you only for bed of love]

Refrain: Ang ating isip ay buksan [Women open up your mind]

At lipuna’y pag-aralan [Society needs to be analyzed]

Pa'no nahubog inyong mga isipan [How are you being molded and brainwashed]

At tanggaping kayo’y mga libangan [To admit you're just objects of fun]

Mga babae, ito nga ba’y kapalaran [Oh women is this really you destined life]

III. Bakit ba merong mga Gabriela [Why are there women like Gabriela]

Mga Theresa, at Tandang Sora [Like Theresa and Tandang Sora]

Na di umasa sa luha’t awa [Who didn't depend on mercy and cry]

Sila’y nagsipaghawak ng sandata [Every one of them took up arms]

Nakilaban, ang mithiin ay lumaya [They were women who struggled for our freedom]

IV. Bakit ba merong mga Lisa [Why are there women like Lisa]

Mga Liliosa at mga Lorena [Liliosa and like Lorena]

Na di natakot, makibaka [Who were not afraid to fight]

At ngayo’y marami ng kasama [And now there are so many comrades]

Mga babae, ang mithiin ay lumaya [They are women bravely fighting for freedom]

Mga babae, ang mithiin ay lumaya [They are women bravely fighting for freedom]

To be continued ...

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