We go through life mostly in a trance, we pass by our day-to-day lives in a series of moments, some we remember, some we forget, because they all become so mundane and so ordinary.
My life as a Filipina in a country were Filipinos are a minority has not been an easy path to thread on. I am a Filipina, raised like one, for I spent 21 years of my life in the Philippines, in a little city, where life seemed to be in a stand still. Where everything had a slow pace, and where deep values and beliefs are still practiced. Where a young Filipina woman is supposed to be at home before night comes, or that “Pamanhikan” or “Courtship” should be practiced and to present one’s beau to the family before they can even go out in public.
I have lived in a society where one tiny incident with a guy, like an innocent hug or holding a guy’s hand, had a ripple effect on everyone, it became the fodder for society’s hungry ears.
I have always had a liberal mind set, yet I kept it in closed doors, afraid that the people around me, might ostracize me and consider me a harlot for harboring such thoughts. But I believe that the double standard of society and by portraying a Filipina woman in such a way, limits her independence, and caging her in a stereotype in which she could not discover her sexuality fully. She is brought up as shy and timid, and non aggressive, and making her dependent on a man.
A woman brought up in that kind of fashion would not survive the fast paced world, she would only have her heart and spirit broken by the harshness of a society which does not care whether you’re a woman or a man.
It was never easy for me. At age 22, I was pulled out from a cage of security, and placed in a country where freedom is vast and limitless. Where everyone explored their sexuality as if it’s as common as taking a shower. Where I have to earn and enjoy life like how a man does, as his equal. And not become the timid and shy Filipina woman who I used to be, in which I was brought up to be.
Yet there comes a time in my life, after tasting that kind of freedom, after relishing and basking in the glories of attaining something, that my culture and the people around me, I start questioning what have I become. Have I lost all my dignity, all the propriety that was taught to me back home? I looked at them, and I could not give a straight answer. At times I feel ashamed, but during other times, I felt proud because I knew I have survived the diversity of culture in this country where I’m living now.
And that Filipina Woman has not changed, I am still that person, just different in some ways, because now I am independent. I see myself with greater values, because I have incorporated both the values and the essence of a true Pinay, but have also adapted to the western ways of thinking.