Feminism in the Philippines

BY: JUSEPH ELAS

In many classroom and historical books several decades ago, Filipinos were described as very reserved, full of self respect, would always regard their parents as superior and saw their words as law, and God and law fearing citizen. And this was perhaps the most admirable trait we have had that, sadly, we have lost as our society gears toward modernization. And one of the things we have lost as we roll the wheels of modernization is our morality.

Morality is a set of beliefs about what right behavior is and what wrong behavior is.

During the years where the Philippines was under the brutish hands of the Spaniards, Filipinas observed self respect. They were seen as conservatives and so they do not display too much flesh because the early Filipinos believe that if you do so, you are a being unworthy of respect and it will bring dishonor and disgrace to your family. Not only were they seen as conservatives, they were also seen as modest. We are not saying that Filipinas did not flirt, of course they did. But they flirt in a way that is socially acceptable (e.g. how to catch a man’s eyes by flapping your eyelids, the way you use a fan, flirting using your handkerchief). Many books would say that the morality of the Filipinos before is very high because there is the fear that their family would disown them and they are afraid of what their bad behavior would bring to their family.

But society is invariably changing; society, as what is taught in economics, is always craving for more. Thus, we keep the wheel of change and life moving towards that path that will satisfy those needs and wants of the people. In Philippine context, this want for change is tantamount to our attitude that is always governing our social judgment – colonial mentality.

In hindsight, the Philippines was under the Spanish rule for 333 years, Japanese rule for three years, and American rule for 48 years. During these years of colonization, the influence of these colonizers are so powerful, Filipinos have but no choice to accept the socio-cultural changes and adapt to how these colonizers move and think. Historians believe that this is how the colonial mentality in the Philippines started.

So when the country finally decided to modernize its pillars, the people have no choice but to adapt to these changes. And these new changes brought with it the winds that will not only change what to think, but how to think as well. With these, Filipinos (Filipinas in specific) evolved from the traditional Maria Clara image full of self-respect and conservatives, to a more liberated and free-thinking mammals often referred to as the Lady Gaga image.

Nowadays, pervasive are the images of women using skirts that would often strike the orgasm of men, shirts that would show the belly of women and their bosoms, and even more prevalent are the noisy and careless way women behave in public places. It’s really sad to know that as we gear towards better life though modernization, we disregarded our level of morality. We have lost the adjective that Filipinos could’ve been proud of to use as a description.

Try to flip the pages of books and you will rarely read Filipinos described as conservatives and full of self respect. Try to read online texts, and you will read how Filipinas are molested, how they are discriminated, and how they are disrespected. All because we have lost our morality.

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