Saturday, March 17, 2012

In Celebration of Filipino Women (Part III)

You may call the THIRD and the FOURTH GROUP of women in the song "Babae" as fighters for freedom and democracy. Though living in different but significant times in Philippine history, these women have shown that a woman, like a man, can stand up and fight for what she knows is right.

Melchora Aquino or Tandang Sora is known as "Ina ng Katipunan" (mother of the Katipunan). Like a mother that cares for her children, she let her home be used as a safe refuge for Katipuneros who were then fighting the Spaniards.

Gabriela Silang, on the other hand, was the first Filipino to ever lead an uprising. She led the Filipino forces in Ilocos when they fought against the Spaniards after her husband, Diego Silang, died.

Theresa Magbanua fought similarly like Gabriela but during the Japanese-American war. It is even said that she sold her properties to financially support Filipino guerilla forces.

Lisa Balando is described by some writers as an icon of the union movement. She lived at a time when Marcos ruled the Philippines with an iron hand and she was one of those who died during a big rally on May 1, 1971.

Liliosa Hilao was a youth leader during Martial Law while Lorena Barros was with the women sector. They were both members of organizations outlawed (for the strong and radical positions that they take on issues against the government) during Martial Law. Liliosa Hilao was a member of the Kabataang Makabayan while Lorena Barros was the founding member of MAKIBAKA. They both died in pursuit of their beliefs during Martial Law.

While the Philippines is presently not at war with any particular country, the spirit of these women live on in the women who continue to fight for what is right today... the struggles and desires merely taking on a new form. They are the women who continue to fight for gender equality and justice.


Yes, there are women who, like Maria Clara, Hule and Sisa, are forced into silence and meekness. They choose not to speak a word or utter a complaint either out of fear or a feeling of helplessness or either because they simply feel that their opinion or words are not important ('why talk, when no one listens anyway?', they may ask). There are those who cannot say 'no' (who dare not say 'no') and those who do not fight back against abuses and oppression. They are the Maria Claras, Hules and Sisas of this world. For women like these, escape is inevitable or a necessity, even if escape means death or insanity.

Then there are also women who fancy themselves as damsels in distress to be swooped up by a horse-riding prince and taken away to safety. They feel that the men are their security. They depend on men for their survival. These are women totally dependent on men for support --- financially, emotionally, morally and psychologically. Instead of fending for themselves or saving themselves when danger comes, they opt to wait to their manly savior.

And then there are those who choose to speak. To fight back when necessary. To fight back even to their death. Because they are not afraid. Because they know that it is right.


This is not to say that one kind of woman is better. Or that one kind of response is more apt. The song simply shows the versatility of women. Her capacity to respond in soooo many ways to sooo many kinds of situation at different points in time.... That a woman is special. That she is good, not only in bed, but also in the field of battle. That what she says is equally important as what she thinks. That what she thinks is equally important as what the next man on the street is thinking. That a woman is also human.

Yes, let's celebrate the Filipino woman. Let's celebrate not only her achievements or what she has become through history. In addition, let us celebrate her potentials. The present and her possibility of being man's partner for progress. Let us celebrate what she can eventually become --- free and equal with man.

In celebrating, let us also be challenged. Let us be challenged to fill in gaps --- gaps in laws and ways of thinking...gaps in implementation of good laws.. Let us improve the NOW. Let us do what we can to take women all over the world to her FULL POTENTIAL.




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