WHAT MAKES A FILIPINO WOMAN?
Looking Back in Our History, As a Reminder to Our Society
According to an old emperor of China, “[t]he flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” This saying describes a particular woman who can persevere and triumph over the challenges she will encounter. This is a woman who will never allow any barrier to stop her and who will always come out of any problem a better person. This woman is none other than Hua Mu Lan. We all know how the story goes: an only daughter volunteers to take her father’s place in an all-male army to spare him from injury and, possibly, death. She somehow manages to save China despite being a woman, and brings honor to her family.
All this took place in ancient China during the 6th century. Until today, China is a very patriarchal nation, giving most importance and value to the men. Women were only second to men, and were often looked down upon. Despite being considered inferior, however, women like Mulan still continue to prove that they can play an important role in society. This statement holds true even in the Philippines. Even though we always think of Rizal, Bonifacio, and Aguinaldo when we hear the word ‘hero’, we must not forget about Teodora Alonzo, Melchora Aquino, Marcela Agoncillo, and the other women who have made an impact in Philippine history.
Women in the Films (Documentaries)
A. The Women of Ifugao
In the documentary Ifugao, the roles of the men and women in the culture and tradition of the Ifugaos were shown in detail. Compared to what we are familiar of, it would seem like the roles they play in their way of life are different, or rather, the opposite. The Ifugao men do what the women of the typical society are doing, and vice versa. Contrary to what we believe and practice today, majority of what we dub as ‘hard labor’ are done by the women of Ifugao. An example of which is cooking for their community. The only role of men in the cultivation of rice is the preparation of the field (payo). On the other hand, the rest of the chores such as cleaning, planting, and harvesting, are given to women. Ifugao women are expected to take part in the community’s welfare. They play an important, nay, a vital role in the growth of the community itself.
Zooming in the lives of Ifugao women, as expanded in the film, they are ultimately assumed to do domestic chores and child cares. As mentioned above, they take part in the boosting of the community’s welfare. The domestic and agricultural activities that they engaged in is one thing which marks their precedence in the Ifugao community, or at least what gives justice to their struggle to keep up with the pace of the economic demand for their very own survival. With the absence of these Ifugao women, as mentioned in the film, their continuing edification of the payo is not for the sole purpose of large economic profit, but rather to maintain sustainability for their own families as well as the eradication and preservation of their culture.
Given a further thought to what the film wanted to illustrate about the Ifugao women and the whole community itself, if they sold their payo and go along with the streaming flow of the economic globalization, there is a tendency that their life sustainability and culture preservation goal will be turned down. Instead, they will be one of those modern folks aiming for an upsized economic growth. One of the old Ifugao women in the film was interviewed why she is still the one tending their payo, where in fact, she is supposed to pass it down to her children to continue the nurturing of the land. She said that her children declined the land grant because they prefer to go down from the mountains and look for a non-land tending work, for they said, what they gained from their harvest in the payo is no longer enough to define sustainability of their livelihood.
On the contrary, there are still a lot of payo tenders at...
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