What is your image and idea of the Filipina? A submissive, religious, passive Maria Clara? What is your usual thinking of “womenly” activities? Cooking, laundry, all domestic chores? If your mental picture of the Filipina still runs along these lines, baka naman natutulog ka sa kangkungan during your social studies class.
Women have always been made invisible by the forces of economy, politics, and society. Their outstanding achievements are shelved, hidden, veiled by a patriarchal society. And so it is our task to fight back and let people know that women hold half of the sky.
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Here are Five Filipina Freedom Fighters who showed grit with blood and iron for the independence that we enjoy today:
A Henerala of caliber, Teresa’s revolutionary grit spanned across the Philippines’ three wars of independence—against Spain, America, and Japan. She is an equestrian, leading countless battle charges against the Spaniards, and an expert marksman. Known as “Nay Isa”, she graduated a teacher from the University of Santo Tomas before joining the revolutionary forces in the Visayas, for which she is known as the “Joan of Arc of the Visayas”.
Age does not matter in the struggle for freedom. At 47, Trinidad fought alongside the Katipuneros, leading direct attacks and setting up ambushes to secure weapons and ammunition. She has been dubbed as the “Mother of Biak-na-Bato” for nursing the wounded revolutionaries.
Capitan Nieves Fernandez
Another Visayan freedom fighter, Kapitan Nieves actively fought against the Japanese during World War 2. Like Teresa Magbanua, she was also a teacher prior to wielding bolos and paltiks (homemade guns). For her audacity and skill, a 10,000-peso bounty was placed on her head.
Kumander Liwayway: Remedios Paraiso-Gomez
Who says the kikay can’t fight fiercely? Tell that to Kumander Liwayway if you have the gall. Kumander Liwayway is perhaps one of the most iconic figures of the Hukbalahap (Hukbong Laban sa Hapon). She would always don her dress and red lipstick before going to battle. Her record spanned three years of leading guerilla attacks in Northern Luzon.
A headstrong woman with a fiery heart for the Filipino people, Lorena was a student leader of the University of the Philippines who established the Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (Free Movement of New Women) or MAKIBAKA. When Martial Law was declared, she shifted to the underground New Peoples Army. She was killed in action. Her last words to her would-be killer: “You are lucky to be alive, my gun jammed.”
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So the next time you hear people say, “Babae kasi” in a derogatory manner, start the conversation and tell them of our Fighting Filipinas.
Dom writes for pay by day and writes for passion by night. He is a Japan major at the University of the Philippines. He’s fond of ramen and anime but not of nice people.