Ateneo De Naga University
Rizal on Filipino Women Identity Today
Mr. Ozzias Villaver
In partial fulfillment of the requirement of
HISSOO5- Life, Works and Writings of a
Section N4 – 7:30 – 9:00 TTH – AR112
1st Semester / SY 2009 – 2010
Rizal on Filipino Women Identity Today
During Rizal’s time, he showed us what a real character of a woman is on those times. He told in one of his letter that from his infancy woman are with agreeable manners, beautiful ways, and modest demeanor. But he also told us that there was in all an admixture of servitude and deference to the words or whims of their so-called “spiritual fathers”, due to excessive kindness, modesty, or perhaps ignorance. They seemed faded plants sown and reared in darkness.
The woman of Rizal’s time responded to the first appeal in the interest of the welfare of the people. Rizal said: now that you have set an example to those who, like you, long to have their eyes opened and be delivered from servitude, new hopes are awakened in us and we now even dare to face adversity, because we have you for our allies and are confident of victory.
This term paper will discuss what are the identity of Filipina from the past and the women identity today. The significance of woman from the past who followed Rizal’s bravery to fight for their right and their characters, will also try to see what kind of woman identity should a Filipino have, the Filipino women in Rizal’s novel or some of our woman leaders of todays.
What is a Filipina? Is she Asian or Western? Is she the reluctant leader Corazon Aquino, or is she the self-proclaimed "symbol of beauty for her people" Imelda Marcos? Is she the modern-day Gabriela Silang who envisions and works towards cross-sectoral changes, or is she one of the millions of faceless and nameless struggling multitude who does anything just to put rice on the table, the ordinary Juana de la Cruz?
The implication of an early paradigm of gender character and equality may have, to some extent, begun the process of identity formation. On the surface, the Philippine myth does not seem to introduce the notion of conflict. What is projected is compatibility and harmony. Just when and how, then, did the problems of identity conflict for the Philippine woman come about? The language of the colonizer is found to not only serve as a vehicle for literary expression, but also for setting forth the idealized image of a Filipina from a male perspective.
A brief glance at literature shows an evolution of sorts of the Filipina from the pre-colonial Maganda of indigenous folklore, to the early 1800s Laura who epitomizes beauty and faithful acceptance of her role as prescribed by culture, religion, and society; and to the fictional characterization of womanhood drawn from two works of historical fiction by José Rizal, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Although Rizal's central protagonists in both novels are men, the significance of the women characters lies in their symbolic portrayals of a people of many images, of a country torn apart by race, culture, and class. In Rizal's attempt to define a nation's identity by addressing the need for national reforms and by exposing the evils of colonialism, he may have also encouraged the need to demystify the Filipina.
The colonial Spanish period's desired image of a Filipina is embodied in the character of María Clara--beautiful, demure, modest, patient, devoutly religious, cultured, submissive, and virginal. The blood that runs through her veins is more European than native. Her ancestry is noted since it has a bearing on the idealized model of a Filipina, the Roman Catholic's Virgin Mary, and European and foreign. María Clara belongs to the elite; her kindness is not to be equated, however, with social awareness. She is a repressed woman and her weakness and despair over a lost love...
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