Images of Women: A woman’s pen, her word is her sword-A A +A
Yagubyob sa Bulkan
Sunday, September 1, 2013
GROWING up with two brothers preceding me, my role models where based on the pre-occupation of boys running around with banana trunk toy guns, climbing Santol trees to harvest its fruits in season. I did not envy girls with new Sunday dresses nor desired to look like them with flowery hair pony tails, lips outlined with red lipsticks or dragged themselves with excruciating high heeled shoes which favored the fashion scene of the season. I did not like being a woman as a teenager, and how they were portrayed by media from print to movies and films. I somehow admired the GI Jane/s and secretly admired female ninja assassin movies. To look pretty was too shallow and insignificant for me that young age. I became one of the ‘boys’ that later got into the hard core mountaineering that I thought being one of the ‘boys’ made me different from the rest of the girls. I tried to prove to myself that I was as tough if I can accomplish ‘boy’s’ job.
Sooner or later, It was a humbling experience to see another landscape meeting other powerful women who have fought dictatorship, wars and survived human rights violations but remained as gentle and fragile. I found inner strength in their work, burning passion, fearlessness and strong leadership.
In Mindanao, I met the most powerful women in their field who ripped through the capitalist repressive economic policies, women who made their pens their weapons for self-determination and artistic expressions, women who made music their language of protest and self identity and women artists who used their art as their personal assertion to Mindanaoan issues. I thought, we are no longer singled-out as women living in a mans’ world, for we have a world of our own shared by men. This is not a dichotomy but a contradiction that gives us the balance of both worlds.
With her pen, Fe Remotigue, a celebrated Mindanaoan woman playwright, conquered the boat heroes and brought them to life in her remarkable turn of the century play Lawig Balanghay where words are her weapon of cultural survival and historical narrative. A very educated woman from the grassroots work, elevated the work of women to an organic sophistication we can call our own unblemished by any western influence. Theater was given a new name of its own which became a monumental historical event in the history of Mindnaoan theater. One woman can change the world.
A woman of her own caliber who painted poetry in the streets of Davao when diapers were not yet invented, the likes of Tita Lacambra Ayala we fondly call “Tala”, is truly a gem in the literary community who mothered artists, enthusiasts, neophytes and published their work in her celebrated Road Map Series. Tala was a strong critique and supporter of new works who nurtured the poetics into an orgasmic outburst among her peers of equally powerful women artists. She was not only known for her published works, but Tala became a legend of her own of being the source of a strong artistic lineage that exploded into powerful compositions of her famous children with musical genius in the likes of our revered, love and admired Kuya Joey Ayala and Cynthia Alexander.
Woman and religion
In theater, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz is one of my favorite playwright who negotiated with the restrictive Catholic upbringing took this to her advantage as she manage to educate her own self in the confines of nunnery. However, it is ironic that her own wit and prose will imprison her and will end her literary career. Although a religious, de la Cruz wrote fascinating play such as House of Desires that captures with audience with so much humor and contradictions in the confusion of events in the household of lovers. De la Cruz displayed a level of comfort in her discourse about sexuality which is not at all expected from a nun. It is admirable for her to even speak of love which reflects the freedom she enjoys of being a desirable woman in her characters beneath the covers of a nun. In her time, for a woman to be able to write, get published and staged in a play must be as accomplished as the radical and non-conformist intellectual. In her time, a woman like her became so sensational that threatened the clerics and the male dominated congregation that used the male ego to shut de la Cruz from the world till she perished with her words unspoken. It seems charity for men to protect women from overexposing themselves by simply being intellectual and vicious with words and letters.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 01, 2013.