Wednesday, October 29, 2008

THE 19TH CENTURY FILIPINA MINUS MARIA CLARA


There were some people who came up to her and with whom she exchanged warm greetings with. And despite her understated black outfit, she exuded an alluring presence that prompted me to ask a bystander who she was. "Gloria Diaz," he said. Like a long-time fan, I approached her to ask if I could take a picture; she gladly obliged.

When she made the international news as a beauty queen,
I was barely on the threshold of young adulthood. From what I was to learn later on, she wasn't even in the short list of the judges' favorites, though in the end, 18-year-old Gloria Diaz won the 1969 Miss Universe title on account of her wit, intelligence and confident demeanor. Besides having brought much pride to the Filipinos at that time, she also ushered in another modern image of the Filipino woman. Gone for good was Maria Clara.

The fictitious, though legendary, Maria Clara, represented an image of a Filipino woman as demure, subservient, timid, meek, fearful, deeply religious, and a perennial homebody; characteristics which the friars and old folks promulgated for our young women to emulate. However, a critical observation of Rizal's novel will reveal the author's pity and contempt for such human foibles, including the masochism exemplified by Sisa. Hence, Rizal had both characters killed.

Regrettably, our local chauvinists may actually believe, or would like to believe, the typical Filipina during the Spanish times reflected Maria Clara's docile disposition. But nothing could be farther from the truth. The 19th-century Filipinas were already an emancipated lot. Our local women during the time of Noli Me Tangere, for the most part, were active participants in the economic and political arenas.

According to an essay by Prof. Ma. Luisa T. Camagay, we ought to remember the 89 teachers and teacher assistants who were removed from their posts for their alleged involvement in the 1889 Revolution; some were accused of having acted as couriers and informers of the Katipuneros.

Moreover,
cognizant of the power of collective action, the women workers of a tobacco factory staged a walkout in 1816 after having had enough of intolerable working conditions. One of their demands was for the tobacco leaves be given to them ready for rolling since, they claimed, they were not being paid for the added tasks of cleaning and stretching the leaves. In response, management acted immediately and favorably on all their complaints and demands.

The job of cigarrera ranked first as a career option for Filipino women in the 19th century Manila mainly because the tobacco monopoly, which was at the time a huge government business, aggressively recruited the women into the factory system.
As a result, the demand created a shortage of women labor force; thus, it was the men who got the jobs of housemaid, washer, or nurse.

There were also the enterprising Filipinas, from the upper and lower class, who engaged in lucrative commerce inside or outside the home. Many educated natives or mestizas operated stores that sold exquisite fabrics and materials of sinamay, jusi and piña wherein they employed embroiderers. Oftentimes, these store owners also became principal moneylenders in their town or barrio. On the other hand, for those in the lower class, being an entrepreneur meant peddling betel nuts or fruits in season. Others became milkmaids.

Besides the manual and semi-skilled jobs, there were also the licensed professions which many
Filipinas took prominent roles in, such as that of being a teacher or midwife.

There were also those who engaged in the world's oldest profession -- prostitution. They were called many names at that time: mujeres publicas, vagamundas, indocumentadas, prostitutas. Such line of work was frowned upon back then as now, but 19th century Manila society, including the almighty church, were surprisingly more forgiving: if caught, a prostitute could languish in jail or deported to far-flung Davao or Palawan; however, one could be saved from such wretched fate by an offer of marriage or by the parents' petitions certified by the friar-curate.

Without a doubt, Manila during the 19th century was neither an idle nor a dependent existence for the Filipinas. On the contrary, there were those who attribute the wealth of some prominent Filipino families as having been the direct result of the tireless enterprising energies of the Filipino woman.



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Source:
HISTORIC MANILA
Commemorative Lectures 1993-1996
Published by The Manila Historical Commission


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posted by Señor Enrique at 7:16 AM


22 Comments:

Anonymous bertN said...

The Filipinas abroad are more liberated from my personal observations and experience. I am thankful for that! Ganyan din sana sa Pinas ngayon.

October 29, 2008 12:04 PM  

Blogger joe said...

Eric,

Thanks for sharing your latest shot of Ms. Diaz. A beauty then...now...and tomorrow! Wonder what she's up to now. Any idea? Salamat.

October 29, 2008 12:25 PM  

Blogger luna miranda said...

i was surprised you had to ask a bystander who she was.:D and here i was thinking that gloria diaz is one of the most recognizable filipinas of our time. i believe that most filipinas today have retained the best traditions of the 19th century and have also taken on the best of new ways. and somehow, the present generation has transcended to the [veiled] belief that gender is a determining factor of superiority.

October 29, 2008 3:24 PM  

Blogger JayAshKal said...

To my mind, Ms Gloria Diaz is the quintessential Filipina: beautiful, morena, confident and intelligent.

Nothing has changed since the turn of the century, we are still a very martriarchal society. Our women constitutes the majority of those working and living overseas to sent back home that ever needed dollar.

I still remember women office mates and friends always having some side business to earn extra income, mostly selling something.

Thank God for the Filipina!

October 29, 2008 4:43 PM  

Anonymous bugsybee said...

Wow! The ageless Gloria Diaz. I was in grade 6 when she came home with the Miss Universe crown. She is, for me, the epitome of beauty and brains.

Thank you for the picture - how wonderful that you have chosen Gloria Diaz to grace this post of yours - and for the very enlightening facts about the Filipino women.

October 29, 2008 5:14 PM  

Blogger nutart said...

I hope you don't mind this observation I have about Filipinas (not that I am a Filipina AND a woman at that) but here where I live, you can count the men with both your hands who are as enterprising and responsible as their female counterparts. Of course, there are also those who I can aptly describe as bitches. No kidding...that's just the way it is. And they're not even the professional ones ;-)...but then so is the life here. But for the enterprising ones, hats off talaga ako. They are like wonder woman---taking care of household, children (their education), the cows, pigs, goats then tolerating their philandering and alchoholic husbands because as I often hear them say "kapag may simula, may katapusan." Then they go their way...no self-pitying nor stopping with their duties. Amazing, 'no?

With your post, Eric, the Filipina didn't need pala to declare Woemn's Lib here. Kasi it has been in the genes pala!

As to Ms Gloria Diaz, my mother had a bad experience with her attitude. That has been common with beauty queens yata---they really think that they are queens to be served hand and foot! I guess, the public image of a person has to be understood that it simply is an image. Sorry to burst your bubbles, guys!

October 29, 2008 6:47 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

The Filipinas abroad -- at least those I know of in NY -- may appear more liberated, bertN, simply because in most cases, they make more money than their husbands ... hehehe.

But more seriously, feminism has been alive and well in Manila from as far back as I can remember.

But as far as sexual mores are concerned, much has changed since I was a teenager, which makes the Filipinas even more liberated. Just the other day at a fast food eatery, a teenage girl with her group of girl friends came up to me to ask for my nephew's cell phone number (he had gone to the men's room at that moment). Gee, in my youth, that was unheard of ... hehehe.

October 30, 2008 8:22 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

My pleasure, Joe!

I've taken this photo last February and had been saving it for a meaningful post. Highlighting our women's achievements, as in this article, I thought a perfect match for her image.

From what I was told, Gloria Diaz has been busy, as usual, with her acting career, and that's about all I know.

October 30, 2008 8:25 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

In other cultures, Luna, the male gender is given much preference, but here in the Philippines, I think the women ranks equally with men, though I'm sure, there are instances as in the States when men somehow get paid a bit more.

The first and last images of Gloria Diaz I saw were when she bagged the title. I then left for the States; since then I've completely lost touch with many of our local icons; hence, to this day, I do not know or unable to recognize many of them even when seated near me at the airport lounge or restaurants :)

October 30, 2008 8:30 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Very sharp observations, Mario. Yes, I agree with you :)

As for Gloria Diaz, she exuded a "certain presence" on that day I ran into her, which made me very curious to find out more about her.

October 30, 2008 8:33 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Lol ... a fine observation as well, Bernadette!

Yes, we certainly have our share of bitches and 'helpless' drama queens who can drag you down and ruin your day. In fact, my sister Fraulein made us aware of such Pinay foibles and advised us to stay clear away from such types of women. "Malas sa buhay ang mga babae na ganyan ang mga ugali," she used to warn us.

But there are those, who never publicly whine and do whatever they can to better they lot. Many of them are the street vendors who end up making more money than the average office clerk in Makati's glitzy office buildings.

I guess, it's not all so wonderful to be a widely-known celebrity. As John Lennon said (ironically, only days before he was shot), if I had to do it over again, I'll take the money but give up the fame.

October 30, 2008 8:42 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

My pleasure, Bugsy!

Like Rizal, I have no sympathy for "emotionally needy" women (or men, for that matter), for I have seen many Filipinas, who, despite the hindrances and mounting challenges, achieved so much successes -- both at home and at work. I thought we ought to celebrate them now and then :)

October 30, 2008 8:47 AM  

Blogger mimi said...

isa sa mga hinahangaan kong artista.. . naiwan ata ung memories ko sa mga celebrity dati.. di ko na kilala un mga ngayon.. ^_^

October 31, 2008 3:11 AM  

OpenID juleste said...

Thanks for posting meaningful and thought provoking articles about us, Pinays/Filipinas.

You have written so many things about the female of the species but your last few posts are really something.

The first and last time I saw Ms Gloria Diaz in person was years ago, inside a bookstore quietly paying the cashier. She was alone. The crowd were all looking at her and one man couldn't help but utter 'ang pinakamagandang hayop..' obviously reffering to one of her unforgettable films. Wow talaga naman, flawless! She was also wearing plain black outfit.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, Senor!!

October 31, 2008 6:26 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

With so many new stars the local media churns out on a regular basis, talagang hirap na din akong matandaan ang mga bago nating mga celebrities, Mimi.

October 31, 2008 7:11 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you, too, Juleste!

Spotlighting the strengths of the Filipino women also honors the women within the circle of family and friends -- whose determination created much good not only for themselves but for their loved ones, too. I tip my hat off to all of them.

Happy Halloween to you, too :)

October 31, 2008 7:20 AM  

Blogger the donG said...

she is still very beautiful! she'll forever be.

i really believe that the filipinas are the most beautiful women. although every country has its own type of beauty.

October 31, 2008 2:14 PM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...

"The Filipinas abroad -- at least those I know of in NY -- may appear more liberated, bertN, simply because in most cases, they make more money than their husbands ... hehehe."

Hence, the organization by henpecked Pinoys here in the U.S.A. was born!
U.T.I.N a.k.a. Union ng mga Tatay na Ina-api ng mga Nanay.

October 31, 2008 11:28 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That's right, donG. Gloria Diaz remains very attractive to tis day.

The Filipinas are indeed one of the most beautiful and intelligent in the world.

November 01, 2008 12:14 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many of my kumpadres in NY should sign up, Pete ... hehehe. Their wives are hardworking and highly-paid nurses. But they don't mind being called "Underes Bonifacio" sometimes :)

November 01, 2008 12:18 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember her winning the crown. Proud moment for all of us. Then later I heard she had made movies which were close to soft porn. Is that true? Say it aint so!
Heidi

November 01, 2008 12:48 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Heidi,

I'm not so sure about Gloria Diaz' filmography; haven't seen a single one.

However, even if a couple may include "risqué scenes", I'm sure they're still within the acceptable bounds as in American and European films. Don't forget, our local censor is not as sophisticated, and my rate local films arbitrarily, if not altogether following a very conservative set of standards.

November 01, 2008 7:55 PM  

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