THE VIEW FROM RIZAL
By Dr. Jun Ynares
The world celebrates International Women’s Month in March of every year.
So, we will take a break from current issues to honor the Filipina.
In 1971, the world fell in love with a song and with the singer-composer who gifted the world with her musical masterpiece.
The hit song was “I am Woman.” When it aired, it almost immediately hit Number One in the Billboard charts. The singer-composer was the Australian artist Helen Reddy. Her composition thrust her into the international stage and made her a star.
Here are two of the most memorable lines from that song.
“I am woman, hear me roar in numbers too big to ignore.”
“You can bend but never break me ‘cause it only serves to make me more determined to achieve my final goal.”
The song became the anthem of the Women’s Liberation movement of the 70s. At that time, the world was in turmoil. There were social, religious, and political upheavals. At the forefront of many of them were emerging woman leaders. They were the roaring 70s and the loudest roar were from women.
When we heard the song and learned about the story behind it, we thought it was the perfect song for many women around the world.
But not necessarily for the Filipina.
Our history shows that the Filipina has long been roaring – loudly and subtly – long before the world came face to face with the Feminist Movement. It appears the Filipina has long been liberated. For centuries, she had roared and her roar had been heard and heeded in many important chapters of our history.
In every chapter of the history of our country’s bid for liberation, there was the roar of the Filipina. She roared as she commanded her soldiers and wielded her sword against colonial oppressors, or as she attended to the dead and wounded at the battlefront.
She went by the name of Princess Urduja. Princess Tarhata Kiram. Gabriela Silang. Teresa Magbanua. Melchora Aquino. Josefa Llanes Escoda.
Our country had already elected a Filipina to Congress while her counterpart in Europe was still fighting for the right to vote. She was Elisa Ochoa. We had already elected a Filipina to the Senate long before Indira Gandhi joined the Indian Parliament and Golda Meir got elected into the Israeli Knesset. Her name was Geronima Pecson.
We had already elected two Filipinas to the highest office of the land while the women political leaders of North America are still trying to break the proverbial “glass ceiling.”
For the Filipina, there has never been a glass ceiling.
When Helen Reddy wrote and sang the lyrics, “you can bend but never break me,” she must have had the Filipina in mind. There have been attempts to break the Filipina and they never succeeded.
And, if ever the Filipina bent, it was only to pick up the pieces and clean up the mess that her male counterpart made and left behind.
It took the first Filipina president to restore the democratic processes of our country. It took the Filipina president to exercise unprecedented political will and bring the country’s economy to unprecedented heights.
Today, the Filipina remains unbroken and still continues to bend. She bends her knees to talk to the youngster she teaches in our classrooms. To comfort a patient. To examine specimens in a science laboratory. To pore over documents for her approval in various business offices. To engage her constituents in national and local governments in productive dialogue.
She bends her knees to attend to her children and to nurture them.
She is woman. She is wife. She is mother. She is warrior. She is leader.
She is Filipina.
Today, Sunday, we join to kneel in a prayer of gratitude to God for giving the world that precious gift called The Filipina.
We pray for every Filipina: that her roar may continue to be heard, that her courage may remain unbroken, and her will continue to be unbent.
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