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The Bicolana Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by pxi, United States Jul 23, 2003
Human Rights   Short Stories


“They talk about a woman’s sphere
as though it had a limit;
There’s not a place on earth or heaven
there’s not a task to mankind given,
there’s not a blessing or a woe,
there’s not a whisper, yes, or no,
there’s not a life, or death, or birth,
that has a feather’s weight of worth,
without a woman in it.”

Legend has it that the Omnipotent wanted to create something that would be most like Him. So he made the heavens adorned with stars and the earth and all its living things. He dressed up the planet with all the lovely wonders we now see. Each creation contained a likeness to Him. Each beauty a manifestation of His glory. But nothing seemed good enough. And so He created man. But man was rough and ungraceful. He needed a being that would come close to His divinity. A bearer of His compassion. A creature of meekness yet a spirit of steel. The woman.

It is needless to elaborate on the essence of the woman. Countless speeches have eloquently described her role in the destiny of mankind. For who cannot speak about the enormous influence of a mother to her child? From the moment of conception the womb plays a most vital function in the casting of the person’s being. A mother’s love or lack thereof molds the body as well as the spirit of the unborn. The woman is the portal from limbo to life. Who would dare counter this truth?

Is it not history that revealed the banality of chauvinism? That men are superior—no idea can ever be more foolish! But this discourse is not about pitting the sexes against each other for as time has taught us, it is but a futile exercise. The challenge, therefore, lies in strengthening the woman’s sense of self. For many of us have not yet come to realize the power that we hold in transforming the world that we live in. The problem is not so much in making men realize how they can never do without us but in making other women know and accept their worth.

Motherhood is not our sole option though. Nor is it the measure of our essence. Giving birth to another human being would need not only a fertile uterus but a ready heart and mind. Not all women fit the job description. Some are to be mothers to persons not affiliated to them by consanguinity. Some feel more blessed by the single life. Just as many as there are flowers in springtime are roles for us women to play.

The most deprived of this understanding is the Bicolana. Ironic it is that our people holds deep veneration for Our Lady but fails to give their women the respect they so deserve. The question for the reason leaves us wondering. Is it but a cruel mockery of tradition? I daresay it’s not a mere line of thinking but an error embedded in Bicol’s collective consciousness. Bicolanas are relegated to the home—where they belong—the backward may add. Maybe it’s a fruit of our colonial past—when women were expected to be Maria Claras whose fates were cursed to but two ends—the home or the convent. Any idea more progressive than this would be labeled as sheer madness… Is it then the reason why our region lags far behind the others? Why our men live like kings while we shrivel in our dusters, serving them hand and foot? There is nothing wrong in pleasing our husbands but, my fellow Bicolanas, becoming domestic helpers is not our ultimate end.

We must realize that we are more than our history books tell us. We must affirm our worth as persons. We must love ourselves first. We can’t share ourselves with others if we don’t believe in the power of being a woman.

To say that our culture dictates a pre-cast identity for the Bicolana would be to agree to the people in the past who made slaves of us. The home is not the only place for us. Everywhere is the place for the woman.



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