America vs Philippines: The Burdens of Women

What are the burdens unique to women, or considered traditional by social mores? Yes, these are generalizations, with lots of variations. The aim is to promote discussion, not prove anything.

The burdens and responsibilities of women:

  1. Children: Bear children and nurture them through youth in good health, with good values, and with good education.
  1. Kitchen: Cook and manage the kitchen. Keep the food stocks in good supply.

    1. Cleaning: Clean up after the slob husband or messy kids end their thoughtless marauding about the house.
    1. Clothing: Make sure the clothes are clean and in good order.
    1. Values: Make sure the family has high moral values, like those taught and preached at church.
    1. Recreation: Be fun in bed for the hubby and make sure social engagements, picnics, beach visits and other recreational activities bring entertainment and laughter to the family.

    1. Health: Keep medicines available, whether prescription or herbal, and make sure everyone gets needed love and encouragement when sick.  Haul sick or injured family members to the doctor whether they want to go or not.
    1. Presentment: Abide by the fashion standards of the time to represent the family as modern and stylish.
    Did I miss anything material?
    How do burdens in the Philippines differ from those in America ? I’ll use the American grading mechanism and assign grades as follows to try to draw a distinction, where a high grade means that overall “delivery” on the attribute is good based on what we see around us:
    • Excellent: A
    • Good: B
    • Fair or average: C
    • Substandard: D
    • Failing or really, really rotten: F
    1. Children: Health care in the Philippines in outlying provinces is very weak, so kids are more susceptible to diseases, loss of teeth, and injuries. Education is not free, so is harder for the poor to get a good education. American schools are free, rigorous and attendance is mandatory. A high school degree in the Philippines is is not equivalent to a high school degree in the US.  Philippine kids don’t compete well globally unless they get into private schools. Philippine values are conservative but laws are routinely ignored. Grades: America A, Philippines D

    1. Kitchen: American kitchen work is often outsourced to fast food outlets, and obesity is a problem. In the Philippines, fatty foods are a problem. America has many foodstocks available, with much of it in boxes or cans or frozen, and cleanliness is closely monitored. The Philippines relies more on fresh food products because refrigeration is not a given. I personally find that I eat healthier in the Philippines than I did in America, and the flavors are more elegant and robust in the Philippines. Grades: America C, Philippines B
    1. Cleaning: I discern little difference in the quality of cleaning, one nation to the other, except that waste disposal and sewerage is a problem in the Philippines. Bathrooms can be quite atrocious. Structures in the Philippines may be more rustic in outlying areas, but there is water water everywhere, so things get washed fine.  Grades: America A, Philippines C
    1. Clothing: Poor Filipinos wear hand-me-downs and cheap clothing until they grow so tattered they fall off, so the condition is sometimes poor.  But clothes are generally cleaned regularly. Indeed, there is a pride taken in wearing clean clothes after a freshening shower or bath in the morning. Americans are consuming addicts and clothes are a part of the addiction; washing and drying is usually done by machine. Grades: America A, Philippines B
    1. Values: The Philippines is anchored on Catholic, Christian or Muslim values with a strong cross-current of superstition. Americans believe in Christian values and hold to them with less widespread corruption and rule-breaking than is the case in the Philippines. A large cut of the American population is not engaged actively in church activities. Alas, it is deeds that count, not visits to church.  Grades: America B, Philippines C
    1. Recreation: Americans live for their games, watching in the stadiums or on TV and participating in the backyard or neighborhood park. Women participate, too. And they are mad about music.  Filipino men play basketball and follow boxing, but women aren’t into physical sports. Entertainment is their passion. Singers and actors rule. Karaoke is a sport in the Philippines, along with dancing. And of course, no matter where you are in the Philippines, the beach is right over there.  Grades: America A, Philippines A

    1. Presentment: American women got knocked a little off the fashion stride by the women’s movement of the late 20th century. It became uncool to watch beauty contests because they peddled women like packaged meat. Fashion lost its frills. Filipinas are very much into the starlet look, with the whitening creams and shampoos touted on television. Americans in public tend to dress sloppily. Filipinos are neat and tend toward a conservative look. Grades: America B, Philippines A.
    So if you look at the sum of the grades, you see that women in the Philippines carry particularly heavy burdens in the raising of children and development of values. The social infrastructure and educational platform work against their kids. Sanitation is also a challenge, particularly in poor areas. So health is troublesome.
    Face it, unless you are middle class or above, the Philippine infrastructure supporting the family is weak. The married woman’s job is much harder in the Philippines than in America. Heath care, weak. Public education with 45 kids to a classroom, weak. Social acceptance of subsistence crime and rule-breaking, high. Sanitary infrastructure, weak.
    As for single women, again the opportunities are limited unless you are connected, or can get a slot at an Americanized firm like a call center that has a career track. The horizon for the underclass woman is a lifetime of hard work for precious little pay. Making babies looks good in that light, married or not . . .
    Where am I going with this?
    I read a comment on a Rappler article that was very profound.  The article pertains to the level of foreign direct investment in the Philippines. Here’s the comment and a link to the article:
    • trevor.evans62
      The Current Constitution states that the Filipino family is the foundation of the Nation, so how does it justify breaking up the families of OFWs by sending the breadwinners abroad for jobs?
      ARTICLE XV THE FAMILY Section 1. The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development.
    It is a very good insight. And it applies as well to the INFRASTRUCTURE supporting families: health, education, good values, sanitation.

    Infrastructure is not just roads and trains and airports and docks.

    It is hospitals and doctors and schools and values (leading by example in the Philippines seems very weak to these Western-trained eyes) and utilities.
    RH is infrastructure for the family. Investment in schools, new ways of teaching (internet) and new curriculums is infrastructure for the family. Sanitation is infrastructure for the family. Upgrading medical care is infrastructure for the family. These elements provide the platform that make a woman’s burdens lighter, and achievement of good results more likely.
    The Constitution is fundamentally a good document.
    Implementing it is the challenge.
    I can only offer my admiration for Filipinas who work with determination to overcome the challenges set before them, those who tend to the many needs of the family in good cheer and raise kids who are healthy, happy, bright and well-directed. These women are clearly very determined, strong and iron-willed of heart.

    They are heroes in my book.

    22 Responses to “America vs Philippines: The Burdens of Women”
    1. Anonymous says:

      "Women" is the soul of the nation. In the Philippines, every values children learn revolve aroubd mothers to that I wish to honor in ths blog my Mom, recently celebrating her 93rd b'day.Having said that, on that comment " the Filipino family is the foundation of the nation"The commenter was interpreting it literally and obviously not a Filipino. One has to understand that Filipino family revolves around the concept that the man is the breadwinner. That the man will go great lenths including travel to far away places to seek or create opportunities to his family.Separation literally is misleading for a family is intact even if the father is far far away providing meals and education to the family. Factually, squatting in Manila evolved from this concept. Manila or big cities like Cebu in Visayas, Davao in Mindanao were the mecca for jobsin the olden times. The man would work in the bif cities during the week and go back to the provinces to his family on weekends. Later on en from far away provinces in the South sought occupational refuge in Manila. In the beginning rooming together until somone had the concept to bring his familyand put up shelter illegally in a vacant property. Longing for the family forced the men to take the illegal building of cardboard shelters. Idea caught fire resulting to mushrooming of squatter bringing not only the family together but extended family as well.Not unusual for JoeAm to be struck by the insightof the Rappler commenter for not being aware on the natural structure of a Filipino family. Thus OFW working abroad is part and partial of a Filipino family and tradition continues that whenever the first opprtunity exists, the man gathers his family together It would not be surprising that someday, squatting will also become common in the Middle East by the Filipino familyHe he heJohnny Lin

    2. I very much appreciate this perspective, Johnny. The man as breadwinner is what allows Filipinos to crew so many ships around the world, rather a precursor of the OFW tradition I suppose. For sure, Americans, who intentionally break the family up by pitching kids from the house when they reach about 18, are in no position to pronounce a greater wisdom on how to caretake a family.Happy birthday to your mama. I'm sure she is one of the main reasons for your grand wit and wisdom.

    3. Edgar Lores says:

      1. Addition to burden and responsibilities of women:1.1 Budgeting: Managing money for food, clothing and shelter.2. On the other hand, the burdens and responsibilities of men:2.1. Livelihood: Providing for family.2.2. Bedroom: Cuddling for reasons, and incidentally for procreation.2.3. Lounge/Media Room: Make sure the hi-fi and telly are of the highest standards, and the remote controls within reach.2.4. Recreation: Basketball, golf or gambling – all combined with or wholly substituted by drinking.2.5. Kitchen: Taking out the garbage.2.6. Yard: Mowing the lawn.2.7. Garage: Clean the car, change the oil, and air the tires.2.8. Values (verb): Time spent on self.3. Filipino and American grades would be the same in all categories, with items 2.1 – 22.4 all B’s and the rest all C’s.4. I recall my 2nd most upvoted comment in Rappler’s article on Enrile and the RH Bill ( Andrew's add-on comment mentions several associated costs such as “broken families”, which is echoed by trevor.evans62 above:“Enrile is proud to have Filipinas serving as abused maids in every foreign household. As long as he can sit in the lap of luxury and privilege attendant to his position as a senator of these poor maids. That is the standard of high-minded senatorial thinking that we have and must suffer.”5. Life riddle: If reincarnation were true and you had a choice, would you reincarnate as a man or a woman?

    4. Wonderful counterbalance by putting in the man's burdens. 2.4 cracked me up. When one's knees give out from too much basketball, go with the elbows and the hoisting of San Migs.I think financials are evenly split between man and woman. One manages income, the other expenditures. My answer to five, as I listen to Maude shrieking in the next room, is "man". Oh, please please please!

    5. andrew lim says:

      I think there are significantly more men now getting into cooking meals for the family, and these are not just the average meals so you wont die of hunger, but really good well-thought dishes. I think that's one positive devt of the foodie revolution.

    6. Cha says:

      "Not unusual for JoeAm to be struck by insight of the Rappler commenter for not being aware on the natural structure of the Filipino family."With all due respect; just because certain situations have become commonplace, doesn't mean they are therefore to be construed as natural.The fragmented OFW family phenomenon is an offshoot of parents choosing between financial insecurity if not outright poverty over family togetherness. A Filipino man and woman do not get married thinking, "Great! Now that we're husband and wife, one of us can finally go off to some other part of the world and become an OFW."The Rappler commenter, trevor.evans62 is trying to raise a valid and important point and so is JoeAm. Families, whether Filipino or not, ought to stay together. The Philippine government should be working toward keeping more families together by creating an economic environment that would provide more local employment opportunities for its citizens. That is not at all being literal in interpreting the Family Code, that is advocating for the Filipino family. That is in the best interest of the Filipino child. That is helping ease the burden on the Filipino woman who either stays behind to be both mother and father to her children or leaves to become the breadwinner herself.

    7. Anonymous says:

      Maude said I'm writing like Mariano englitzestch, his virus so infectious.Natural or common, fact is majority of Filipino familes many decades ago and currently have the breadwinner working away from home. Before, teachers and salesmen assigned in far away places in the forties, fifties and sixties. Farmers from Ilocos working in Hawaiian plantations, young professionals working in Manila. Salesladies in Otis, COD, Alemars, Goodwill, Ang Tibay, Elpo, Tanduay and Meralco workers, Manila govt offices mostly came from provinces filling up Victory Liner, La Mallorca, Pantranco, BLTB, Philippine Rabbit, Farinas buses and Tutuban train station on early Monday mornings to Manila and Friday nights back to their families. Nowadays, same pattern in working at distant places, crossing transpacific or trans Indian or Trans China sea makes the difference plus usual balikbayan travels on Easter and Christmas holidays. Throughout my lifetime, it was the same pattern; natural or common or majority Semantics it is. Johnny Lin

    8. And the gender equality revolution. Now if I can just get my wife to change the oil on the car . . .

    9. Well, I think both points are valid. The bold and/or needy go where they can provide . . . some thrive, some suffer. And it has been that way probably forever. Most OFW's I suspect go through a period of suffering, then thrive. Still, it is not easy leaving the family behind, and best to be able to gather around the fiesta pig, or Thanksgiving turkey, as a family.There are no rules I'd guess, and no need for judgments. Certainly not by me, far from my homebound family.

    10. JosephIvo says:

      Just based on feelings and realizing that “the” Filipina does not exist. A frequent role missing is “provider”. If seems that filipinos have less problem to live from the income of their spouse. In airports back to the Philippines I see many more Filipinas than Filipinos and I assume they not tourists. In this subdivision I estimate that more than half the lots belong to OFW’s, often with lola’s, yayas or family caring for the children, so often both parents work as OFW’s. In school we hear the same. Also in factories I meet often a majority of women, certainly on the shop floor. In sari-sari’s I’m always served by women. In SM I see mostly sales ladies… Living on one salary is just impossible in B, C, D and E class families.To Johnny Lin coming home weekly or several times a year is very different from coming home every 2 years. Reuniting the family not a priority anymore because of new relationships. In the comparison I miss the helpers brushing the soil early in the morning, common in all classes paid or just for food and shelter. Comparing values is difficult as the basic values differ so much. Individual success versus belonging.

    11. I think the guys are out manning the world's ships, building the buildings, climbing the trees, and doing police and military work, including security guards.Yes, missing the sweepers, a sublime touch . . . at first arrival I thought people were nuts to be so particular, but now I understand it is the way pride and respect are expressed. If you can't afford a big house, you can at least sweep the little one. Even little huts have the care of a tended garden.Your last line is a wrap for this thread. The Yin and Yang.

    12. Anonymous says:

      There is that thing where one has to go abroad to earn a living. That's been the driving force up till now. That's where that insight that cited the constitution came from. But today you also have to recognize that the profile of the OFW is changing. There are now a lot of OFWs who are OFWs simply because they want to work abroad. I talk to a lot of people, young graduates, older people etc. and ask them what they would do given a choice: For a set period, about the usual term of an OFW contract, they will earn the same amount of money here as they would abroad, would they still work abriad? The answer I get is yes they want to work abroad. See with all the globalization going on, many Filipinos want to see the world, visit places they have seen in photos, films etc,. experience how other people live, experience what others who have gone abroad experienced. It is a positive thing not a negative thing that drives them. Call it wanderlust if you want. What I'm saying is we cannot anymore talk of OFWs only in terms of breaking up families because of economics. I don't think you will see a huge drop in OFWs when the country's economy turns around. I think that for as long as the opportunity to travel with pay exists, pay commensurate or better than what they can get here, Filipinos will do the OFW thing. They may become more choosy about the work they will seek but work abroad if the opportunity is there they will. It used to be the mother or the father and that whole sad story. But now there's whole different mindset coming along. They know what it's like to come home from abroad, all the fussing over them, the status that comes with having seen the world, learned a new language etc. They know how self-enriching travel is.The world is a lot smaller now. It used to be that OFW meant leaving Biliran or Cebu to work as a maid in Manila. Not anymore. Flying to HK or Singapore is faster than sailing from Biliran to Manila. Bringing home tales from HK and Singapore is better than tales about life in Makati. Being exposed to the first world is not the same as going to Makati. Rich Filipinos go abroad as tourists or students, the lower classes go abroad as OFWs. Bottom line is both want to see the world. We have to see the OFW phenomenon not only as a negative brought about by survival needs but also as a positive effect of globalization. The OFW is not anymore only someone who is and will always be a victim of circumstances. I had a lot of interaction with OFWs in my old job – from KL to HK to Bangkok all the way to the Emirates and not everyone I met had a sob story. As a matter of fact most of those I met were loving it. We need to expand our appreciation of the OFW phenomenon. – MB

    13. Women in the Philippines are next to Carabao, BURDEN OF BEAST.They are the night entertainment to Filipino men, breed children, cook, clean, laundry, instill values and run the country. Yes, Philippines have the most women elected officials and managers than anywhere else in the world. Take that United States of America !!!!We have had Aling Cory, Ate Glo, Madam Imelda, Ombudswomen, Chief Justices, wherever, there are women running the country and running away from it. They come home, they cook for their goot for nothing husbands, check children’s schoolworks and so many others. THAT IS TRULY WHAT I LIKE ABOUT PHILIPPINES !!! Filipino women barks, their husbands quiver. That is what makes benign0 Aquino an effective President. NO FILIPINO WIFE BARKING HIM she needing private jet to Swiss Alps and bagful of pocketmoney to shop at via Montenapoleone. I am hoping the next president should be celibate and knows how to play Billiard.What I do not like about Philippine household is the toilet (ewwww !!!! Gross), kitchen (ack! Shebamethembas, cockroach everywhere). The Sala is always neat and tidy to cover up the stink in the Grade C Kitchen and toilet. Filipinos are proud their relative or their parent is OFWing. It is a badge of success like nurse to Filipinos in America. Filipinos are not aware OFWing breaks up the family. They are just happy they have OFW and abroad until someone explains to them their family is broken family.

    14. What I cannot understand in the Philippines why blame women if they get pregnant ? Women fully understand the burden of having another baby and mouth to feed . I've seen women at churches with her troops in Sunday finery behind her while cuddling "bundle of joy" the "fruit of love".It just tears my heart apart.

    15. I was searching for words and you said it right John, it is cultural for Filipinos to forage for every morsels of job available and they are found in Manila.In the U.S., a Marine surprising his daugher in school is really touching. I've seen it often that I am not touched anymopre but some cute U.S. government propaganda that family is still intact in the U.S. all the while next article below it is about 25-year-something-old still living with the parents is an issue. That I cannot fully digest.

    16. First time I went abroad, there were tears shed. I decided to return give up America. I worked at Monark Equipment formerly owned by Marcos crony, Disini(?), selling Caterpillar heavy equipment. My pay was just not enough. Wife grumbling. I had to go back. This time no more tears. More laughter. Happy faces. At last Tatay go to America and work and send dollars.Never crossed my mind about "broken family" "fragmented family" just missing them. When I was there, I'm just scared going to Hershey's Theme Park. I cannot stand seeing laughing families together eating Hershey chocolate together, smearing their lips with chocolate.Many Filipinos scratch their head, "Hersheys Theme Park?" Is this another story of Mariano? Yes, there is Hersheys Theme Park in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania. I cannot even believe that park exist. Because all I am aware of is Disneyland, Universal Studio and Hollywood.Today, whenever I see laughing families together, I see my family in the Philippines laughing, throwing the dollar bills up in the air and saying "Thank you, Papa, you are missed but we will miss the dollars and balikbayan more if you come back home"

    17. I appreciate the perspective. It makes sense. I'm not sure of the proportion of willing vs. unwilling travelers, but I admire the willing, for having the desire to explore, to take the risks. Thanks.

    18. Interesting comment. I don't know that I blame the woman, because I see the lack of alternatives, other than slogging in the rice field. Men often think with their sex organ, so I blame them more. As for the large families in church, I just shake my head in amazement, some good, some bad.

    19. Anonymous says:

      Is it a fair to compare America and the Philippines? The two countries, after all, are not in the same league in terms of wealth, power, and resources. Besides, the list of women's burdens and responsibilities you enumerated, except for bearing children, in my personal observation is now mostly considered belonging to another time in America, though it may not be the case in the Philippines. If you told my two daughters-in-law (who happen to be professionals outearning my two sons) that the list you you made applies to them, you might get a rap on the knuckles from them (especially the one with three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan under her belt).

    20. Superb point. The article is an exercise for me to try to comprehend generalized differences in education and social values and what I termed "infrastructure" shortcomings that make being a woman in the Philippines challenging in some respects. And yes, you raise a good point, women in America have their challenges, too, to develop a career and compete. It is not always easy. I was looking to readers to enlighten me further, which they . . . and you . . . have done. I appreciate it.And I particularly appreciate the service you kids have given to the U.S. Three combat tours is two more than I managed in Viet Nam. Heartfelt thanks to them.

    21. Anonymous says:

      I belong to the willing. I had a very decent career back home as a state university instructor for over a decade. One day a silly idea came up. What if I try making it in the USA? I did and I am still here 25 years later working in a highly respected technical field. To many Filipinos, you are truly a success if you can match or exceed the career you have established back home.

    22. Anon, that is a wonderful accomplishment. No longer seems like such a silly day, eh? That was bold to leave a career behind to find a new one in the US. Nice work, and thanks for the report.

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