Wide Awake

One morning, I woke up and decided I wanted to pursue women’s studies. On that same morning, I browsed through the university’s website and grabbed the phone for inquiry. I was not expecting the college would still welcome my application for graduate studies. It was already on the mid of April, the deadline for application and evaluation of most colleges. Coincidentally UP changed its academic calendar which led to postponing the department’s deadline.I took it as a sign from heaven that it was meant for me.

Yes, it was impulsive. It did not take me days to decide whether I should spend four years of my life in grad school. A conversation with my cousin last Christmas just popped on my head. He gave me the idea: “Why not study about women?”

I don’t know how it began. I grew up in a loving household. My childhood was not memorable but it wasn’t traumatic as well. I have had a pretty normal life but I have always been interested on women issues. I bleed everytime I hear stories of women who are undervalued and mistreated in their social context. I  get inspired when I hear powerful message for women.  Sometimes my blog talks lightly about women empowerment. I have written essays online about women. I am much pleased that I echo sentiments of other women.IMG_20131008_191427 Even before I knew the word feminism, I have always had feminist inclination. When I was a young girl, I asked men why they did not allow their wives to work or continue their studies . I felt uncomfortable when people around me discussed how a woman’s clothing could invite disrespect and rape. I had been gender-sensitive. I could not enjoy my lunch while having a conversation filled with sexist remarks and victim-blaming mentality. IMG_20140430_182418 When I started studying women and development, I was able to validate my feelings and convictions towards the stereotype given to women. Sadly, at this day of age, gender ideology to be exact, breeds oppression. My professor said: ” There’s nothing wrong with gender ideology. It is our reality. But if you are going to use it to alienate, to discriminate,to eliminate, it becomes a problem.” Gender inequality is not a small problem but it is a global problem. It affects labor force, economy, commerce, health, and personal relationships. It affects the entire human race. We are losing a lot of human potential by excluding women in the marketplace, in policymaking, and in services.

As I continue with the course, I have read a lot of negative impressions about feminism. It seems that the western world has painted an unfavorable image of feminism. But closely examining theoretical frameworks and development approaches, feminism works best not only for women but also for men; not only for individuals but for the society as whole. It posts questions that our government, our society should have answered ages ago. There is discomfort in finding answers to these questions. People who are pessimistic about feminism fail to see that those who need this movement most are the marginalized women from the lower class and from the third world countries. Watch Emma Watson’s speech

I am now on my second semester. I am not sure where my studies will take me but I must say, I am enjoying the process. I study primarily to feed my brain which my routinary lifestyle cannot provide. And I study to find a place where my ideals are met or challenged. I just want an egalitarian world where we can all use our talents and make choices for ourselves. Free~2

Save a Damsel in Distress

“Why does every princess need to have a prince? It’s the same old story but I’m just not convinced. Why keep on assuming men will save the day? I can be the hero and do it in my own way”

I got these lines from a parody of Disney’s Frozen. It speaks so much on how I feel towards the stereotype given to female protagonists in film, TV, music, cartoons and other forms of entertainment. What bothers me is that most of the time these platforms target young girls. I am a big fan of  arts and entertainment but wouldn’t it be nice if  ‘entertainment value’  speak for both entertainment and value? Pop songs are most of the time love songs and hyper-sexualized. Disney history has been creating female protagonists who have passive roles. I believe in Cinderella’s song: “No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true.” My problem is that Cinderella did not have a big ambition. To marry a prince is a dream but not a real goal that can be cultivated by talent and hard work. I just want to hear stories  that empower girls to make use of their own ability without giving up who they are. Though I do not disregard that finding the right man and following your dreams have some value in life, message of celebrating individuality, independence, and family should be given of greater emphasis. These themes reflect what we need in our society.

Frozen

Disney Frozen Elsa
photo source: http://www.hdwallpapers.in/walls/frozen_elsa-wide.jpg

I’m glad that we now have female characters in fiction and entertainment who represent real girls. Disney reinvents  their female characters that fit to our generation. And I’ll never get tired of using Frozen as an example. I love this animated film not only for the songs, and the feel-good Disney vibes, but also of its practical values.

In a world where fashion models are being looked up by most young girls, we need female characters who have flaws. Isn’t it frustrating to observe lot of fashion models trying to perfect their posture, and struggling refinement and glamour? Good thing, Anna of Frozen is clumsy, bubbly, playful. In comparison with classic Disney princesses whose happiness depend on a prince, Elsa strives to be on her own and be herself. Neither Elsa nor Anna is demure or soft-spoken.  Hence, (I appeal), let the girls be themselves, and blossom in their own pace and in their own way.

Also, how many animated films tell a story about sisters? This theme resonates to most of us, and that true love is nothing fancy or out of reach. True love is a hard concept to teach if it is defined by what most movies tell us. As corny as this may sound, but true love should be basic. I have a lot of sisters and we most probably have siblings or members of the family who have been with us since birth. Frozen has made the concept of true love more accessible to everyone.

elphaba
Photo Source: Broadway.com

Wicked
Another good example of a female fictional character is Elphaba from the musical play and novel, Wicked. When I was a small girl, I dreamed of becoming a princess. But lately I wanted to be a witch. I am a fan of Wicked. I have their songs in my play list, read the novel, watch the play on web and on real life. I like Wicked because it celebrates individuality. In reality, sometimes we are defined by our color, and other exterior features. Elphaba, the wicked witch of the West is not a typical protagonist of the story. From the title itself, she is  known wicked. She represents the minority. She goes for the unpopular belief of fighting the rights of the Animals. Alas, a female character has emerged from the male-dominated world, witchcraft. ( There seems to be a bias towards wizards and bias against witch. Major characters as witches are villains while the boy with a broomstick is adorable and not necessarily wicked). Like Frozen, the set of characters in the play are female-dominated.

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I am hoping for more films, plays, cartoons and stories  that feature women as heroes. Just like Frozen and Wicked, I hope they reach mainstream success so that more girls will receive the message of empowerment.

The best way to save a damsel in distress is  not to call for a prince but the best way is to teach her to save herself from distress. Show her true colors and be her own happiness machine. Let the storm range on and let her defy gravity. Let it go!

Mama

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“My mother is the best mother in the whole world.”

How many of you have said that?

We all do.

I can’t remember if I said that when I was kid. I probably did because that was a default way to describe a mother. But now that I’m an ‘adult,’ I know what I mean by “my mother is the best mother in the whole world.” When I was a kid, I probably loved my mother because she fed me, clothed me, sheltered me. As I age, I love my mother more for small reasons, for deep reasons, and for no reason at all. It’s when you are a grownup, you gain deep appreciation the kind of life your parents have given to you.

Minimalist Lifestyle

When I was in Grade I, my mother only gave me two pesos for my baon along with sandwich or crackers she bought in the grocery store. Though we were not really poor, I felt a little deprived. I was studying in a private school where almost all the kids had yayas, drivers, and tutors. I stared at them with envy as I saw them buying soft-drinks and chips in the canteen. My brother and I learned to save when we were kids. It was not because our mother told us to do so, because we knew there was nothing much we could do in spending our allowance in a day, compared to saving it for the things we wanted to own. When I look back, I’m glad my mother did not give me too much of everything. I don’t buy designer clothes and I am not in a hurry to buy the latest gadgets. I also go for the basics first and save for my luxuries.

No “Don’ts”

My mom was always present in my class presentations, parades, and all the school activities that required parents to come. But she wasn’t a typical stage mom. She did not tell me to be like this, like that, to join here and there. She wasn’t like other mothers who would push their children to be honor students, to study in a prestigious university, to finish on time, to take up nursing, to be lawyers or doctors, to work abroad. She was happy if I achieved something. When I didn’t, it did not matter to her. And I am happy that my mom is like that. She gives me enough freedom to be what I am and to discover my own interests.

Mothers usually tell their daughters during their teenage years:  “Books first before boys. Studies first before love” but my mom said nothing like that. Deep inside, I wanted to say, “Ma, don’t you think I’m pretty enough to have precautions or warnings about boys? ” (haha) I’m glad that even if my parents have never given me lengthy anti-boyfriend sermon, it turn out well. I don’t have you-and-me-against-the-world love story. And I haven’t brought a male specimen in the house for my parents to be afraid of. Maybe that’s a simple lesson of parenthood. The more you say, “don’t”, the more they will do it.

I did not make an attempt to be rebellious because there was no reason to be. When I was staying with my parents, I never had a curfew. She did not have to tell me to come home on time because most of the time I was at home by choice. Yah, I pretty had a boring life. When I told my mom, I had to  finish a group project overnight, it was easy to believe. There was no need for me to make white lies.

Unconditional Love

If there’s one thing I learn from my mother, it is unconditional love. It’s a kind of love that you don’t ask anything in return and that you accept people as they are. My mom does not require anything from me.

Some people will love us for what we have. Some people will love us because we are funny, nice, and charming. Some people will love us because of what we can do. Some people will love us because of what we have achieved. Nobody can just love anybody that freely. I know that even if I travel across the universe and meet as many people as I can, I know no one can give me that kind of unconditional love.

I love my mom, not only for giving me life but for the kind of life I had, and the life I made out of it.

Mama, Happy Birthday!

If you want to get to know my mother, read this… hehe