Pre-Colonial Filipinas

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Long time ago and even until today the women are treated with great respect in the society. Contrary to popular belief, Philippine society was not always patriarchal. There was a time when women were treated as equally as men. The early law already recognizes their rights with the same privilege equally as men have. They played key roles both in and outside. Before the coming of the Spaniards, women were already entitled to inherit and own a family property, engage in a trade, to work according to her favorable occupation. They could also exercise their right to name her child before anyone else and could divorce her husband.

When she was of marrying age, a dowry would be given to her family by the groom as compensation for her family's loss –- an amount agreed upon according to their means. The groom would give presents for the bride's family, and would even do some services (called paninilbihan) for a given period. The bride did not lose her name after marriage. Among the Tagalogs, if a woman was from a distinguished family, her husband usually took her name.

Virginity was of little value, and women were not overly protected. Filipino wives enjoyed freedom in making decisions for the family, and as such were not confined solely to domestic affairs like having a baby. Precolonial women, especially those settled along the shore, did not like to give birth many times; they perceived it as being like pigs giving birth to huge litters of young. Because of this, they practiced abortion whenever the couple reached their desired number of children, as there was no concept of birth control then.

In the family, husbands and wives were equal. Husbands treated their wives as companions and not as slaves or whores. The wife was also financially independent since she retained the property she owned before marriage. Both the husband and the wife had the right to file for divorce since this was practiced. The grounds for divorce were childlessness, infidelity, or...
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