Saturday, March 1, 2008

Revering the Filipina Image through the Keyboards

Entry to the WikiPilipinas Filipina Writing Contest

A statue of a young beautiful woman stands in the midst of our local park named Doña Leonila*. Placed at the center of a small pool, there’s so much to be observed from that attractive piece of art. She wears the Filipina costume, the famous baro’t saya and the timeless bakya on her feet. She holds on one hand a basket while the other one keeps a bilaoº steady on her head, objects commonly associated with the so-called ‘traditional’ Filipina.
I’ve witnessed most, if not all, of the changes made upon this figure beginning in my childhood days. It has undergone many repainting for reasons such as the weather and peeling of the paints. And so she would then be seen in a red saya, sometimes in a concoction of bright colors. Her baro would then be switched from white to yellow. Her skin would also be in white, sometimes in cream. Whether the pool is full or emptied, it has never diminished the attraction and curiosities that this Doña Leonila park character has mustered. Her story is essentially the same with our Filipina women.
Descending from the lines of those who experienced the fierce force of the Spanish conquistadors, they have been placed into a strict and definite class of those who are only fit to do menial domestic works, bear children for the continuance of their family name among other. Though given the privilege of education, the knowledge was limited and the areas only covered those which were deemed only necessary for themˆ.
The war years have included in their casualties the dignity, if not innocence, of our women. Japanese soldiers, despite the raging wars, did have the time to feast on our Filipinas, thus earning the scornful title of comfort women.
The present times has not been excused from such degrading events. Through the use of modern technologies, our women, voluntarily or not, are now being sold on the internet, either as a permanent partner or simply for other people’s pleasures. On a more saddening case is our Pinay OFWs‡ taking flights into foreign lands to earn money for their families in exchange for hard works, only to be subjected into maltreatments, sometimes into the hands of molesters, and worse meeting their death.
Taking these numerous actions that have been done to taint the character of our kababaihan† would give the outside world a very grotesque image of them: a teary-eyed Filipina, thrown in a corner dirty and full of stain; afraid; easily cowered; wholly fit for the jobs of rags and mops and easily taken for one’s own delight. The projection of such an icon is too much for me to bear and too pressing for me to allow it to mature into false meanings and connotations of a Filipina.
We, as fellow Filipinos, know the plight of our women, and would gladly pin down the progress of this degradation of our women that has surprisingly penetrated through modern times. Let then the identification of such a problem be followed by a definite action in return, however hard or long-termed the case may be. And we are in charge here, all of us.
It would then be vital in choosing the weapons that would be efficient and effective all at the same time; instruments that are capable of sending the missiles of truth to our targets in just a click of a mouse or a hit on the keyboard. Indeed the internet is a powerful tool for us to use and writers and bloggers alike are all entitled to take the front lines in this.
The rapid emergence of blog sites on the internet has moved pen users into keyboard users, typing those thoughts away and taking pleasure in seeing them published online. Topics vary, from personal to political to philosophical. And so every living Filipino maintaining such a site would be a hero in his or her own way if he or she could spare considerable amounts of time in writing about the real image of our Filipina, the Filipina of the modern times.
That would be an opportunity for us to give an account of our history, how Filipinas dominated most of its pages most notably in the revolution period. Who would not be proud that we have Teresa Magbanua who bravely fought the invaders in the Visayas, Gabriela Silang in Ilocos, and Trinidad Tecson in Biak-na-Bato? How about Tandang Sora, that brave woman who, despite her age, still rendered her service to the Katipunan? Beauty is a gift that can be used and a Filipina has shown just that. Gregoria de Jesus, the Lakambiniˇ of the Katipunan, went beyond just having a beautiful face; she became the principal custodian of the important documents of the underground movement. Marcela Agoncillo offered her talents to put into existence what is now considered as our first Philippine flag. Japanese occupation paved the way for Josefa Llanes Escoda to show her support for the fighting Filipino soldiers by nursing them, not to mention the other nurses who braved the treacherous times of war. Certainly there is much to offer to the blog readers out there, Filipinos or not Filipinos.
Contemporary times contain equally bright and laudable Filipinas: Honorata ‘Atang’ dela Rama in the performing arts, Jovita Fuentes in the promotion of Philippine music, Francisca-Reyes Aquino in Philippine folk dances, Lea Salonga for her stage acting, Corazon Aquino in politics, the list is quite literally endless. We can never run out of topics to deal with.
The ills of the country that has compelled or perhaps put our women into some regretful states is not a curse, we have just the right time to strip away those ugly news about them off the walls grazing the world. With the use of words, of blog entries published in our respective blogs, we could scrape off the dirt that has accumulated on the image of the Filipina over the years. It has to be constant writing and blogging in order for people to continue seeing the real image, as small stains and the like would tend to be easily observed. And we don’t want that to happen. We want the whole world to see just what a Filipina, a Pinay, really is - no more, no less. And from that, we owe to keep it brightly painted, clean and free from any harm.
The Filipina is an integral part of the Philippine society. Not just because it has been attested by the past generations but is also evident in these modern times. Baro’t saya, bakya, a basket, or bilao, may be ceaselessly associated with them, but they do not in any way render the Filipina image naïve and incompetent. The changing times has made them strong and resilient. The placement of their image in the rightful pedestal will not only be the triumph of the Filipinas, but also of the whole country as well.

* Doña Leonila Park, San Pablo City, Laguna
º bilao- a circular tool, usually made of bamboo, used in threshing palay
ˆ Even our national hero Jose Rizal lamented on the system of education that the Spaniards imposed in the country
‡ Overseas Filipino Workers
† a Filipino collective term for women
ˇ Lakambini literally means “muse”



Anonymous said...

I agree,

"It has to be constant writing and blogging in order for people to continue seeing the real image.."

This is our share in the campaign for a better image of Pinays in the net.

Keep blogging!

Anonymous said...

Really nice post =) Btw, are you from UPLB?

Edong said...

good point... good piece...

pransisem said...

yes ate vera,i'm from uplb.
(ah..kayo rin po ba?) =)

Anonymous said...

Yup, Class of 2005. Just deduced it from your posts and the way you write. I really like your writings. :)

pransisem said...

thanks po ate.
talaga po? anu po kayo?
devcomm?commarts? =)

Anonymous said...

Philosophy ako.. though I recon wala na yung program ngayon =(

pransisem said...

talaga po?wow naman!san po kayo nagwork ngayon?
ay opo,wala na nga po.. =\
i enjoyed my philo 1 class!
si sir pasamonte po ung teacher ko nun,hehe.
tas sikat na sikat si ma'am nuguid po ba un?(ung fave ung koala,tama po ba?)
saka si sir espiritu,hehe.
un lang po kilala ko dun eh,hehe.=) said...

thanks so much for sharing your story for the Wikipilipinas Filipina Stories.

Though the links are correct, please place the exact anchor text as shown in number 5 here

Anonymous said...

Kakamiss naman elbi.. Yeah naging teacher ko sila lahat ^_^ Saya nga ng Philo 1 talaga, na enjoy ko rin yun nung freshman ako... writer na ako ngayon.

Ano pala course mo sa elbi?

pransisem said...

talaga ate? san po kayo nagsusulat? medyo interesado po kasi ako dun kaya lang im trapped dito sa course ko, applied physics,hehe.