Friday, March 9, 2012

In Celebration of Filipino Women (Part II)

The FIRST GROUP of women from the song "Babae" are women who appear to the author of the song as having no might (strength). These women are: Maria Clara, Hule and Sisa. All these women are fictional for they are characters in Dr. Jose Rizal’s novels “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo.

Maria Clara

Maria Clara was introduced as the sweetheart of the protagonist, Juan Crisostomo Ibarra, and the daughter of Kapitan Tiyago and Pia Alba. However, at a later part of the story, Maria Clara will discover that her true father is a priest, Padre Damaso. Despite her being in love with Ibarra, Maria Clara was announced to be engaged to a certain Linares. Thinking that Ibarra was shot to death, Maria Clara went to the convent for nuns. While there, Padre Salvi who lusted for her body all these time, made good his desires. Because of this, it was implied in the novel that Maria Clara plunged herself to death from the top of the convent.


Hule is the daughter of Kapitan Tales, a former barangay head who became a bandit because of abuses he suffered under the friars. Hule was forced to work as a maid to raise enough money to free her father. When her boyfriend (Basilio, the eldest son of Sisa) was arrested, she tried to get the help of Padre Camorra but the latter, instead, attempted to rape her. To escape Padre Camorra, Hule jumped to her death over a balcony.


Sisa is the beautiful and loving mother of Crispin (7 years old)- an altar boy who was wrongfully accused of theft and killed - and Basilio (10 years old)- an acolyte in charge of ringing the church bells for the Angelus. Sisa was married to Pedro who was a wife beater. Perhaps due to the tragedy of losing his youngest son and the daily beatings that she and her children got from her husband, Sisa became mentally deranged.

*** The common thread among the three characters, I think, is that they were all victims of abuse and they chose to escape from that abuse is various ways. Maria Clara was abused by Padre Salvi in the convent where she was staying. Her escape was to plunge herself from atop the convent to her death. Hule was almost the victim of rape by Padre Camorra and she escaped by jumping off a balcony to her death. Sisa was a battered wife who loved her children so much. She was able to tolerate the beatings but she could not accept the fate of her sons (one of which died because of friar abuse). This drove her crazy...this was her escape.

While their responses may be viewed by some as weak, notice should be taken of the fact that it takes guts to take one's own life...Maria Clara and Hule decided that they did not want to be a victim of abuse anymore. Admittedly, at that time, there wasn't much that they could do. Reporting to the authorities may have been viewed by them as futile (considering their own personal experiences with the authorities then). The same would have served no purpose other than to anger the church. There were also no women support groups to turn to. Thus, they decided: "Never again, over my dead body..."

The solution of death was not taken by Sisa. She was so consumed by love for her children, she had to continue to live for them. But where were they? This unanswered question plagued Sisa so much that it drove her to madness.

The three characters also show us that women abuse does not choose skin color (Maria Clara was mestiza, Hule and Sisa were of our native skin color). It does not choose class (Maria belonged to the upper class while Hule and Sisa, the lower).

The three characters also show us that women during the Spanish time were treated like goods and not persons with a voice of their own. Maria Clara was forced to be engaged to Linares. Hule was forced to work as a maid for Hermana Penchang to pay for her father's ransom. Sisa was battered like she did not have any feelings at all (as if she were a thing).

The SECOND GROUP of women from the song "Babae" are again fictional characters viewed as dependent on men for their salvation and survival.


Cinderella is a popular children's story character who waited for her Prince Charming to come and save her from the oppression and abuse of her stepmother and two stepsisters. Cinderella had to wait for the Prince to come and slip on her foot the famed glass slipper.


Nena represents women who are forced by poverty to engage in prostitution. The story of "Nena" is narrated in another song entitled "Nena" composed and sung by Heber Bartolome's Banyuhay. In the said song, Nena initially started out as a young student with working parents (her mother is a laundrywoman while her father works in a factory). Her father dies in an accident and Nena stops studying. She helps her mother with the laundry. Then her mother gets sick. Suddenly, Nena is put in a dilemma of where to get money. Hence, her decision to engage in prostitution.

*** Both Cinderella and Nena are stuck in a muck. Both use their beauty to get out of their deplorable state. Cinderella attracts a Prince Charming who, in the happy ending, takes her to be his wife. Nena, on the other hand, solicits clients who pay her money so that she and her sick mother could live (even if deep inside she is already dying because she does not want to engage in the activity of prostitution).

*** Both the FIRST and the SECOND GROUP of women in the song may appear to have responded in a way that is far from ideal. This differentiates them from the women in the THIRD and FOURTH GROUP.

To be continued again...

No comments:

Post a Comment