Feminism


Byline: Hern. P. Zenarosa

FEMINISM is the theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes - both an intellectual commitment and a political movement -- that seeks justice for women and the end of sexism in all its form.

It is a concept boosted by movements worldwide, including those in the Philippines, advancing the belief that gender should not be the main influence shaping a personal social identity or socio-political or economic right.

But did you know that before feminism there had been what was called "babaylanism" a form of women's collective consciousness indigenous to the Philippines?

***

The term was taken from "babaylan," ancient women priest, healers and visionaries, said to be Filipina's foremother: A form of women's consciousness that came before the feminists of the suffragist era in our country.

This claim, according to an email we received from a reader the other day, is powerfully presented by a collection of articles in "Centennial Crossings: Readings on Babaylan Feminism in the Philippines," a recently-launched book edited by Fe B. Mangahas and Jenny R. Llaguno with a foreword by Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani (C& E Publishing 2006, R250).

Sadly, the editors lament, little is known of the babaylan and her place in Philippine history.

This is due, they said, not only to the scarcity of historical data on the Philippine prehistoric past but also to the invisibility of women in historic accounts.

***

The rest of the accounts follows:

Women, even when they are present and active agents of history, are largely reduced to mere spectators and passive objects of events.

In this collection of women's writings, babaylanism as the primal source of the Filipina's inner strength and dynamism across centuries, is reexamined from the internal lens of Philippine culture and history.

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