Manifesto for the Liberated Filipina

Okay, my friends. This one will get dicey because yours truly, Joseph August America, is going to give the women of the Philippines some important advice.

It is dicey because you are likely to question my credentials, being that I am not a woman.
And I am not a Filipina.
But look, I’ve got the credentials. I’ve been a global student of women all my life. A recent girlfriend even declared me a “womanizer”, given that I have had romantic liaisons with doctors and lawyers and a judge and accountants and corporate executives and a rock musician and a radio personality and secretaries and a comedienne and stewardesses and a commie union organizer. I’ve dated or romanced Chinese women, and Japanese and Thai and African American and Mexican and Czech and German and Cuban and even Blondes. Jews and Catholics and protestants and atheists and a Buddhist. Upper class, lower class, middle class and no class. Doctors of Philosophy and high school dropouts.
Man, I’ve been around. I know women. They’ve hauled me to court and to therapy, to the beach and the rock amphitheater, and even a real opera, though damn if I know what all that warbling was about.
I’ve dated old women and young women, fat and thin, tall and short, and even one who was crippled and another who was an acrobat specializing on the vertical pole, if you catch my drift. Married, unmarried, on the rocks.
Also, I’ve been through several eras, starting with the bigoted one prior to the great gender enlightenment that followed the great American racial enlightenment of the 1970’s. About 80% of the women I’ve known are liberated. Half of them were making more money than I was, or had more prestigious jobs. And they were smarter, too, if you want to know the truth.
I know, because they kept telling me so.
I believe men and women are equal, and women are more equal than men in the verbal and perception arenas. Men have more muscle, but unfortunately it is negated by the obsession that hovers in the vicinity of their crotch.
I’ve had three daughters, so boy howdy, I understand women.
I’m married to a Filipina, so boy howdy, I understand Filipinas.
So here’s the deal.
I went to wikipedia to look up Philippine Women’s Activist Movement. If you link over there, you will see the section is blank. Zero. None listed. Empty.
What’s with that? You mean Filipinas don’t care? Or they can’t get organized? Or they are lousy at marketing themselves?
Here’s what I recommend. I recommend that some of you smart and influential women, the Riassas and Ellens and Noemis, gather up some of your more influential and creative acquaintances and draw up a Manifesto for the Liberated Filipina.
You’ll fine tune this, but here’s an idea of what it might say:
Manifesto for the Liberated Filipina
I am a liberated Filipina.
  • No man or institution shall have the power to deny me my rights and personal choices. No man or institution shall assume the right to speak for me. My thoughts belong to me and me alone.
  • The essential character of liberated woman is a willingness to accept responsibility for her choices. I do, and will. No man or institution is empowered to suggest otherwise, or to substitute his sense of responsibility for mine. I define my personal ethic. No man or institution does that for me. 
  • The laws of the land protect us all and I shall strive to live within those bounds. If a law is unreasonable, I shall seek to change it.
  • The failure of the Philippine State to provide for termination of a failed marriage contract is unreasonable. A personal contract without a termination provision is bondage. Bondage is uncivilized and cruel.
  • No man or institution is permitted to insert judgment over the decisions that I make for myself and my family. That is my realm, and mine alone.
  • No man or institution is permitted to overlay a standard of behavior or lifestyle on me.  Not on my religion or sexual preference or clothes or recreations. These are my choices, my freedoms.
  • My body belongs to me. It does not belong to any governmental agency, any church, or any man or institution. I make the choices for my body. Only me.
  • I have the right to decide if I wish to bear a child or not and I have the right to place my health and safety above that of an unborn child. No man or institution is empowered to interfere with my choices.
  • No man or institution shall deny me the right to employment in any field as long as I have the physical strength to accomplish the job. No man or institution shall have the right to evaluate my work performance on any basis but capability and result.
  • My choice of employment is mine to make and no man or institution is empowered to judge it as suitable or unsuitable. If I choose to be a housewife or a teacher, a street-sweeper or an attorney, a secretary or an executive, no other person is entitled to disparage this choice. Others are entitled to live their lives according to their standards, and I, as a liberated Filipina, am free to live mine.
After saying the oath, which might be something like “You damn right, I’m in!”, then organize and litigate into submission any crusty old dinosaur men and institutions that wish to see you held in bondage to outdated values and unkind laws.
  • “Women of the Philippines, unite! Throw off the heavy yoke of masculine suppression and oppression! Get thee unstuck from the mighty-bond of male imposition and limitation.”
Like, rise up, eh?
Toss off the macho dweebs, creeps and crustaceans who are holding you back and strive for the high road of physical and intellectual empowerment.
A quick glimpse into a Philippines that is deep and rich in history:
María Josefa Gabriela Cariño Silang (March 19, 1731 – September 20, 1763) was the wife of the Ilocano insurgent leader, Diego Silang. Following Diego’s assassination in 1763, she led the group for four months before she was captured and executed.
Born in Barangay Caniogan, Santa, Ilocos Sur, Silang was a mestiza, of Spanish and Ilocano descent. The people of Abra do claim she was born in what is now Pidigan, Abra (those two places are not far from each other, and Abra was not incorporated as a province until early in the 20th century). She was adopted by a very wealthy businessman Tomás Millan, who later married her at the age of 20, but died after three years. In 1757, she re-married, this time to 27-year-old Ilocano insurgent leader, Diego Silang. The groups’ goal was to ensure an independent Ilocos. She became one of his closest advisors, whenever the troops battle, Gabriela always went with them to give support and help with the battle, a major figure in her husband’s collaboration with the British and the brief expulsion of Spanish officials from Vigan, Ilocos Sur during the British occupation of the Philippines.
Together with Nicolas Cariño, Sebatian Andaya and Manuel Flores, there she regrouped her troops, and rallied the Tingguian community to fight. Gabriela’s troops of 2000 fighters attacked the Spanish in Vigan on September 10, 1763. With a larger number of the Spanish troops, the 6000 men strong Spanish garrison was ready, with amassing Spanish, Tagalog, and Kapampangan soldiers, and Ilocano collaborators recruited from other regions to ambush her and rout her forces. Many were killed. She escaped, alongside Cariño and seven others, but were caught on September 20, 1763. They were summarily hanged.
24 Responses to “Manifesto for the Liberated Filipina”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Nice touch, Joe. Bet you cried making this one as in Bob Marley's "No woman, no cry." I can think of one women's group in the islands-Gabriela, the namesake of the heroine you featured, which counts for its members the NPA Amazons at one time, Maita Gomez and Nelia Sancho. Women are gaining here. Look at Ombudsman Morales. Except for that island of the CBCP that has a different sovereignty altogether.DocB

  2. Ha, no woman, no cry. But you have an idea why I like "blues" music best.Yes, the Philippines is maybe even ahead of the U.S. in terms of gender equality in the work place. But it is way behind in social rights and freedoms. The heavy hand of the CBCP is everywhere, and that is the yoke women need to throw off.

  3. Edgar Lores says:

    You missed Gabriela. Better google "philippine women organization"

  4. Okay, Gabriela is a Philippine woman's political party with 2 representatives in Congress. Candidates attracted over 1 million votes in 2010 elections. The name comes from the lady featured at the end of my blog, Gabriela Silang. The party was formed in 1984 to protest Marcos bans on public protests. It is described by wiki as a "leftist" organization. Main causes are abuses against women: trafficking, rape, etc.The gabriellaphilippines web site features articles written in 2008 about an Okinawa rape of a Filipina, and describes itself as a "militant" organization. dunno, this does not seem to be exactly what I was looking for. I disagree with "militancy" as a strategy, and find "leftist" to be too extreme. Unless I am not finding the right resources, this organization won't do the job I think needs to be done.

  5. Edgar Lores says:

    Your credentials are, ah, impeccable.This is how I interpret your manifesto. The liberated Filipina must have the:1. Right to personal choice and thoughts2. Right to personal ethic and consequent acceptance of responsibility3. Right to repeal laws, in particular the non-granting of divorce4. Right to make own decisions for self and family5. Right to freedom of religion, sexual preference, clothes, recreations6. Right of choice in contraception and abortion7. Right of employmentI think items 1, 2 and 4 are of a general nature. I do not anticipate that anyone would have any quibbles with these.In the context of the State and the Church, I can see the high need to grant her items 3 and 6.I am a bit puzzled by item 7. You emphasize this item in the last two paragraphs. My puzzlement stems from my ignorance of any bar in a woman’s choice of employment. We may not have many lady CEO’s in business, but we have many ladies serving at every level of government, from mayors to senators. and as judges. In fact, we have had two lady presidents where America has had none.This leaves item 5. In the context of community standards, I think the need for this item would vary between rural and urban areas. For the most part, urban areas are more liberal and there may not be any great issue with respect to any of these rights. Some possible exceptions:• Muslim women have little or no freedom of religion and clothing.• Girls attending Catholic schools are not allowed to attend graduation ceremonies for wearing bikinis.• Lesbianism is practically unheard of in the rural areas.I am in total agreement with you on items 3 and 6. This is where the modern Filipina is held in bondage.But from the viewpoint of the Filipino macho male, I think they would say you have only half of it right. The general consensus would be that Filipinas have a lot of freedom and power. Far too much power. I would not be surprised if the dominant view of the female is that of the temptress Eve instead of the forlorn Maria. You know, they seem to be as attractive as colourful butterflies at first, but once secure in wedlock they become dragons. You must now be familiar with the phrase “under the saya”. Yes, the Filipino husband is henpecked. Hence the culture of queridas and corruption. As proof one need not look beyond presidential couples.This may be one reason why the President can walk down the Daan Matuwid – free and undeterred.

  6. I'm glad you accept the credentials whether or not you endorse them. Nice succinct recapitulation of my points, and an interesting debate of them that I think I will let rest for others to opine on. I may later after I give it some thought.But based on your wrap up, I think I may be better served by concentrating on a manifesto to free (the thinking, nay, acts) of macho Filipino guy guys.Your observation of the President is hilarious, causing me to bounce up to Doc's rendition: "no woman, no cry".

  7. Cha says:

    I guess it's really just Gabriela that's out there advocating women's issues in the Philippine setting at the moment. But like you said, they are probably perceived more as a leftist group (whose membership happen to be all women).So why isn't there an alternative women's group to Gabriela in our country, one that would push for women's rights without an ideological agenda? Is it because the women who are in a position to put forward a women's agenda in the public domain, do not feel "oppressed" by the Filipino male themselves? I refer here to the educated, articulate and financially-independent Filipino women who would look at your proposed manifesto and probably say, "But I believe I have those rights already anyway, except maybe for divorce and abortion. But that didn't stop me from throwing out my good for nothing husband. And as for abortion, it's not something I'm looking at anyway."Is it because these same women might see it as a social justice issue instead of a women's issue; that given the same opportunities they have had like education, good jobs etc., most other Filipino women would be also able to claim the same rights they themselves believe already belong to women?Or maybe they secretly see some wisdom of not isolating these issues as solely women's issues, that with the more evolved Filipino men actively engaged and fighting with them side by side, they have a better chance of defeating the misogynists from the other end?Maybe it's a little bit of all three. Nonetheless, I do see your point that a select group of Filipino men, who call themselves bishops, are trying to impose their will on Filipino women, aided by another select group of men, who call themselves senators and congressmen. So yes, it's high time we women give these men a piece of our mind. And thank you Joe for pointing that out.

  8. Is there something about Australian air that promotes insight? As I read your remarks, along with Edgar's, I rather filter through all this to come down to the narrow point you mention, the bishops, and I suppose the imams, too, and those who subscribe religiously (haha) to their tenants, like Senator Sotto.That is the outrage, I think, that the Church believes it can crawl into a woman's bedroom or even her body and instruct her on what to do.

  9. Anonymous says:

    From: Island jim-e (aka: The Cricket)1. Wow…what a "dust-up"! I am just breathless! My goodness you all have raised goose-bumps on my poor little brain! Seems like you could write awhole "saturday movie-serial" on this essaytopic-subject-prequil and sequil (PH-star-wars)!2. As for me, all I know is what I see is the "mini-messages delivered in the local bill-boards, television shows, see on the streets, read in the newsprint and local magazines(sex, more sex, and then more sex!) I have to lookat the results and hard facts. What I see troublesme considerable as regards the need for women toget off the bed and into the congress!3. From what my wife (the island princess) tells meone of the reasons she was motivated to leave theisland (she made her choice and goal) was becauseshe felt that most of the men around her were tooabuse-driven! I have no reason not to believe thatwas one great motivator, the other reason was to be able to work, travel, earn more than anyone else inher family group. Three sisters and one brother looked at her example and left the islands as well!Note: one brother died at birth due to lack of pre-birthcare of the mother, one sister stayed here and gavebirth to a mentally challenged child.4. Her father and uncles were dentists, fought inWWII and told her that if she was set on leaving theislands to be sure to find a nice "Italian" boy tomarry! As soon as she found me she proposed! Yesshe is more of a "motor mouth" than I, she is moreorganized, made more income, had better job titlespositions of prestige and although very religious wassmart enough (by choice and self-liberation) to electnot to have children. 5. My wife would make a good "poster child" and seta great example for the face of the modern "island lady"campaign! I would even vote for her if they let me! 6. Sidebar: I first met my wife to be when asked toscreen her for a job in health care and after seeing herwonderful "credentials" (I never saw a picture) I decidedto do the interview and six months later we were engaged!–Butterfly–temptress–dragon–mean right hook–yes!chirp!

  10. Edgar Lores says:

    I think Cha's first and second reasons are absolutely correct. If you analyze it one step down further, you realize that the issues are somewhat economic in nature.1. Item 3, divorce, would only be resorted to by women in the middle and upper strata – if ever. Most won't, however, because they are financially tied to their husbands. Thus they will forgive his philandering and consider it a small price to pay for their lifestyle. The minority who are financially independent will stick with their husbands because, as a matter of Church conditioning, it is more socially acceptable to be married.2. Item 6, contraception and abortion, would only apply to the lower economic stratum. The upper strata have access to and use contraception (even if they are Catholics) and therefore will almost never face the problem of abortion.So, as Cha says, both of these items are never personal "oppressive" issues for the women in leadership positions. The first issue of divorce has only been availed of by actresses to my knowledge, and the second is a social issue associated with poverty. The latter, therefore, is more pressing.The air in Australia is very clean and pure according to a study conducted by WHO. The city where I reside in has one of the lowest levels of pollution in the country. This, plus the ability to compare cultures, plus our distance to the beloved country gives us clarity of vision.A manifesto for the henpecked macho Filipino man might be in better order.

  11. Anonymous says:

    My recommendation to Filipinas is to raise more hell and fewer children!

  12. Seems to me you indeed found a princess. Ha, with a mean right hook.

  13. You know, that was basically what I was driving at, and I'm wondering why it took me so many words to get to the point, and you nailed it in 12.

  14. I think we need to add "oft abusive" in your concluding line, attach it to Anon's succinct statement below, and we've got a wrap. And I have a blog for next week, unless you beat me to it.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I fully agree to Edgar and Cha's analysis that economics is the main determinative factor to the whole consciousness of women's rights in the Philippines and that the influence of the Religious sector on wealthy women is marginal, even illusory, at the personal level, but substantive on poor women at the level of a group or policy.DocB

  16. Nicely said, Doc. And poor women don't really have the mechanisms needed to share ideas, organize and change things. Which is rather why I think it falls to wealthier women to take care of their sisters. As pro-RH Bill women are trying to do, through the deaf ears of old men and religiously bound women.

  17. chohalili says:

    Smart filipina prefer older men because they see a more mature, financially well, less promiscuous man and more romantic and knowledgeable.Filipina are good mothers, homemakers, honest, and loving. Since there is no divorce in the Philippines if the husband abuses her verbally or physically, she just keep quiet and resort to patch things up given the chance. Money only come second and sacrifice career to keep the family together.Filipina are meticulous with their figures and grooming, they keep their body petite and skin smooth and clean.Education are instilled at younger age and feel it is more of a duty than learned…there you go Mr. Joe, there are more but see it for yourself. BTW Women organization may come a long way in Asia.

  18. Cha says:

    Hey, how come no one picked up on my tribute to the "more evolved Filipino men" , the kind who do not feel threatened by women power and even actively encourage it? (just like this American blogger I know and this other guy from Australia)Next time you get called under the saya or a henpecked husband, just say no you're not, you are a man more evolved :))

  19. Edgar Lores says:

    Ah, Jim-e, I would commiserate but I know for a fact that dragon princesses are the best. I once had a close friendship with a real bai – without the mean right hook. So congratulations!

  20. Got it, Cha. "Evolved man" will be the aim of the "Manifesto for the Modern Filipino".Now kindly stop threatening us male kinds . . . ;>

  21. If this blog were a piece of paper, I'd wad it up and aim it for the trash can over there.I've concluded that Filipinas can indeed take care of themselves and the greater problem is the other gender. And a certain church.I appreciate the enlightenment readers have supplied, like a right cross from Jim-e's wife . . .

  22. Cha says:

    DocB,That the influence of the religious sector on wealthy women is marginal, even illusory… Now that's a straight right! :))

  23. joy says:

    i leave making profound comments to your erudite friends. only thing that i want to say is, with such manifesto: i like you before and now i love you more. keep on rockin, joe!

  24. Why thank you, joy! You made my day. My friends may be erudite, but they probably can't spell it. (I couldn't.) So you pass the test of being able to comment any time you wish. Besides, they are nice people, good to meet.

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