Apart from the “special” bunch of kids who wondered “bakit laging naka-upo si Apolinario Mabini?” the general consensus is that we, the typical Filipino population, have at least some knowledge of who our Filipino heroes are. However, if I asked right now “who is Teresa Magbanua, Marcela Marcelo, and Agueda Esteban?” I’d probably get several “uhm’s” and a few permissions to Google it. Don’t blame yourself though, I also didn’t know who they were before. Why? Let’s take a look at the history of history.
Rizal Portrait, Wikimedia Commons
As of today, nearly all of us know reformist writer Jose Rizal as the national hero of the Philippines. However, what not a lot of us know is that currently, the Philippines doesn’t have an official national hero. This is in spite of the initiatives carried out as far back as 1995 when the National Heroes Committee recommended nine historically significant persons for the title. This included Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat, Juan Luna, Melchora Aquino, and Gabriela Silang. On one hand, it’s great that these people are recognized by the general population as prime examples of courage and nationalism. On the other, however, we can note the fact that the only two women on the list, Melchora Aquino and Gabriela Silang, are probably also the only two women we can recall from colonial Philippine history. We can cite a lot of reasons, with fingers immediately pointing to our basic education curriculum. However, can we really put all of the blame on the DepEd? Not exactly.
Artist depiction, bibliodyssey.blogspot.com
Women’s rights movements have dated since the 1840‘s. It has had immense success especially in the areas of suffrage and labor. However, we must also acknowledge the overarching stigma in our society affecting females – degradation. We associated women with inferiority, ironically, because of the roles we gave them in the first place. Women during the colonial period were limited to being homemakers; and although we have given them right to be educated, we educated them as housewives. This cycle continued until it was inculcated. Many have accepted this limited role, simply because it had become the way of life. It is because of this association that we tended to overlook the roles women played in the revolution; “those are men’s jobs” we would assume. With the misplaced roles we have assigned them, even today’s educational curriculum fails to adequately represent just how big a role women played in the fight for our freedom. Not only did they keep supply lines and medical support running, some have even taken on a front line roles in combat. Yet, it simply is more convenient to remember them on the sidelines with their cooking and sewing. What a shame.
Like I said, not all the blame falls on our educational system, yet I also believe that it’s time to stop clinging to a mistake, even if it took us decades to make. We need to further recognize women in our historical records and our curriculum. All of which would trickle down for the better; for if we knew the reality of the potential women had historically, we will be able to progress well into a future of equity.
Who should we include? Come back next week for part two.