Second prize/Teachers category By Roland P. del Rosario
of Judge Feliciano Belmonte Sr. High School
There was a bleak era in Philippine history when Filipino women were regarded as second-class citizens and the Filipino men look down on them. Thus, the traditional reference to the timorous and servile Maria Clara to depict the Filipina. However, significant events in the Philippines have remarkably infused changes to that image of a Filipina, giving rise to an independent and empowered modern one. Such is epitomized by Tere Madlansacay, the female protagonist in the movie English Only, Please.
Tere (played by Jennylyn Mercado) mirrors the present-day Filipina different from the women of the past. Socially, she represents the millions of Filipinas across all ages who act as the bread winner in lieu of an incapacitated or the lack thereof of a patriarchal figure in the family. She belongs to the escalating statistics of Filipinas who sacrifice their own happiness just to put food on the family’s dinner table out of carrying the burden of any job conceivable.
Culturally, she embodies a woman who can assert her feelings and express her emotions even if it is not the norm. Way before, we were introduced to the notion of a man wooing a woman, but never the other way around. But Tere braved the challenge of unconditionally loving a man, Enzo (played by Kean Cipriano), and finally taking the bitter pill of dumping him after realizing what a “leech” he was. In her next love affair with Julian Parker (played by Derek Ramsay), she boldly tells him, “Kung magiging tanga ako sa pag-ibig okey lang na maging tanga ako sa’yo”, as if to say that “I am a strong woman who can handle pains and frustrations.”
Economically, she made a huge impact in redefining and emphasizing the role of the Filipino women in the development of a nation. The economic undertone of the movie should never be ignored as she personified the country’s female workforce, battling the day-to-day hurly-burly of fulfilling a decent job—a role typical of the male.
Indeed, one can never miss the gender implications of this movie that Filipinos should be wary about. Gone are the days when Filipinas are typified as fragile domestic figures. Time has turned the tide, and the writings on the wall clearly state that woman play a crucial role in nation-building. Vicki S. Hegelson (The Psychology of Gender, 2002) is emphatic on this and talks about egalitarian gender ideology, where “power is distributed equally between men and women and that each group identifies equally with the same spheres. “Fortunately, the Philippine government had long since embraced this ideology with the Gender and Development (GAD) project at its helm, envisioning that more Tere Madlansacay will eventually take the plunge and liberate themselves from the fetters of the traditional sex-related norms in order to claim their rightful meaning and essence in the societal niche. For the empowerment of our women would surely help alleviate this nation’s plight!
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