Dear Maria Clara,
Historians call you a caricature of your time.
You were defined as the paragon of what everyone thought the Filipina should be – never brash, never controversial, never loud. They said that you represented purity and innocence. You never asked to be the image of “traditional Filipina femininity”, but they took you and branded you as one anyway.
Over the centuries that followed, you’ve both been used as weapon to enforce tradition and silence women. Some of us have rejected you, while some continue to look at your history through different lenses. They asked: were you a victim of the system? Or were you a perpetrator?
Slowly and surely, the concept of the Filipina has transformed. Strong, trailblazing women questioned this singular definition of what a Filipina should be. Slowly and surely, Filipinas weren’t just homemakers and housewives. We became lawmakers. Businesswomen. Artists. Doctors. We fought outside of our boxes so much, they carved out new words in our language to describe us: abogada, doktora, senadora. We are in every field imaginable — from Science and Technology to the Liberal Arts — breaking through glass ceilings, blazing trails, and making our own choices.
Now, we are taking back what they took from you. Now, we are defining ourselves.
Today, the answer to “who is the Filipina?” is not simple to answer. We’re not just meek, shy, or timid. We’re no longer just housewives or homemakers. The Filipina is diverse. She is both strong and kind. She is both compassionate and empowered. She takes matter into her own hands.
As we enter a new era of femininity redefined, we remember you and the countless women of your time. We recognize that you didn’t have much choice back then, so now we continue to fight to make sure every woman has the choice to pursue what she wants, and to define herself in the way she chooses to be defined.
Today, we remember you, and we fight for you.
The Filipinas of Today