Read the speech to be inspired by just how enormous the gains would be if we all put a premium to the value and contribution of Filipino women!
The Influence of the Filipina Women
By Miss Pilar Hidalgo, Manila High School
“At this time when the influence of the Filipino woman is being felt in public life, when she is beginning to take her place in the world of activity, and to realize the important part she holds, I thought it a most fitting opportunity to speak about the extent of her influence.
“It is true history records no Filipina name such as that of Julia Ward Howe whose influence has been felt along so many lines of humanity that it is difficult to dwell on any one specially, but who stands out among modern women as a beacon-light guiding her sex to higher and nobler lives; nor have we a Florence Nightingale whose devotion to suffering mankind is recognized throughout the whole Christian world, and who because of her noble work during the Crimean War stands as the very personification of self-sacrifice; nor do the pages of our literature record a George Eliot whose stories have left their beautiful influence on countless lives of English-speaking people; neither do we find gracing our walls productions from the artistic brush of a Rosa Bonheur whose paintings have a place among the masterpieces of the world. But each Filipina is a queen in her own home whose gentle sway the tendency for good will ever thrive.
“There is no nobler work than that of a gentle wife and a good mother. For hundreds of years the Filipina’s energy and soul have been devoted to the home. There her influence has been strongly felt and immensely appreciated. Rizal’s poems, tender and sad dedicated to her mother, give full utterance to that appreciation which other less gifted than he have kept within their heart. What an affection must he have felt for his mother when in the solitude of a country far from home he wrote,
‘Sweet in one’s country it is to die,
Where e’en the sun greets from on high;
Dead are these tokens from above
To him without Mother, Country and Love’
“Times have changed; new fields of activity have been opened to women; the home life no longer suffices; ambition for a broader life has awakened in the bosoms of the Filipinas.
“I say it has awakened, because it has always been there though in a dormant state, pressed down by social conventions and hemmed in by mental bar[riers]; there are proofs of its existence in women who in spite of restrictions have given it an outlet.
“With pleasure I refer to the name of Margarita Roxas who donated the land and building so that the Concordia College might be established for the education of girls. For two generations hundreds and hundreds of girls have entered that college and have gone out fitted to perform their duties. Librada Avelino and Rosa Sevilla in their wish to uplift the minds of girls, founded the flourishing schools of Centro Escolar de Niñas and Instituto de Mujeres. Petronila Sequia, seeing the pressing need of a hospital for cholera-striken people, willingly gave away her home just for the establishment of the Santiago Hospital from where men almost dead, have gone out, with hope and life renewed.
“And when some years ago the mortality of children in this city rose to alarming numbers, some thinking women saw that something had to be done to stop the merciless hand of Death. They organized entertainments and raised subscriptions to found an institution having for its noble purpose the care of infants. The people of Manila responded liberally to their call and the Proteccion de la Infancia came into existence. At present, how many mothers owe the lives of their children to the able women in charge of this beneficent institution? Its founders may well be satisfied with their work. Nor have women been entirely wanting in the business world.
“The jewelry trade of the district of Sta. Cruz and the sinamay cloth industry whose market is principally in Binondo, have been entirely managed by women.
“Are these not convincing proofs of the ambition and ability of Filipina women? Are they not true testimonies that there is something great in them, considering the limited sphere in which they were permitted to work? May we not hope from them greater accomplishments now that the most favourable circumstances surround them? Yes, we may hope, and I am confident that there will be no disappointment.
“The barriers that were formerly raised against the education of women have been entirely removed; and instructions in all branches of learning has [sic] been extended to all ranks of female society. The Filipinas are taking advantage of every opportunity offered to them to acquire knowledge. Now that their minds are permitted to develop in the precincts and purposes are budding in their hearts. [sic]
“At present, many girls are attending school, working and reciting with boys. Their ability in the classroom compares well with the boys. By perseverance, they make up for the possible lack of mental quickness characteristic of the boy’s mind, the only one permitted to develop for centuries. They are preparing themselves carefully to be teachers, nurses, pharmacists, doctors, lawyers and good mothers.
“When the present generation of girls goes out into the world their influence will be felt far and wide not suddenly, perhaps, but by degrees.
“The teacher within the walls of her classroom will not only inculcate in her pupils the knowledge contained in the books but will also instill in their minds that love for work and punctuality in duty so necessary for wordly [sic] success.
“To-day we see hundreds and hundreds of poor families living in filthy low houses where the sunshine, that purifier of nature, hardly penetrates, where the damp, stifling air remains from day to day finding no escape through the closed windows, where one child after another dies for lack of good care. This is the great field of work for women nurses, pharmacists and doctors.
“Filipina girls, a voice is calling us to the assistance of the poor, to the mission of spreading among the destitutes of fortune the doctrine of good honorable living. Let us respond to it and we shall find a noble life-work to do.
“The coming generation greatly depends upon the youth of the present one. A great part of this responsibility weigh upon the girls. Do you realize the weight of this responsibility? Do you realize that weak mothers can not have strong intelligent children? The importance of physical culture has never been rightly estimated by the women of this country. If we want a strong race of Filipinos, if we want wise and intelligent citizens to make and obey better law, if we want vigorous and energetic men to cultivate and improve our material resources we must recognize the importance of physical exercise and l]]ay stress upon its fulfilment, because without health there can be neither happiness nor success. Let us develop our bodies as well as our minds to as great a degree as possible so that if ever the cares of a home devolve upon us we shall be a source of help, comfort and happiness.
“Since our happy youth opens in an age which offers us all the opportunities of learning and renders ]accessible every field of activity hitherto closed to us, let us enter into the world with noble aims, let us strive and work with zeal and interest so that our influence will be felt not in the home alone but in the outside world as well; that history may not say that we remain sleeping in the midst of the general awakening; that its pages may record the names of some of us for having contributed to the welfare of our country in particular and of humanity in general.
“Teachers: To you we owe the joy that we now feel; to you we are indebted for the ability we now possess to pursue any course in life whether of study or of work; under your able guidance we have acquired learning which will be of great and permanent value to us. We are about to separate; we will travel on different highways, each of us where ambition points the way. But before leaving you we wish to express to you our sincere appreciation and deep gratitude for your untiring interest and hard labours Farewell teachers, farewell to you.
“To you under graduates [sic] who are to remain we bid adieu with the wish that you will work to keep up that school spirit which has won for the Manila High School cups, laurels and fame, and with the hope that some day each of you will receive with joy a diploma of your own.
“Classmates: to-day for the last time we meet as a group of students. Our duties to families and our country demand this separation and oblige us to face the responsibilities of life. This is a crucial time in our lives. When after our minds and bodies have rested from toil, we select the courses we shall pursue, let the selection be ruled by a purpose noble and pure; and the selection is made let us begin the journey with our class motto “Excelsior” engraved on our hearts.
“And now after wishing one another success and happiness after giving our alma mater our oath of loyalty, we say good bye to our dear school and farewell to each other.”
Adapted from http://naquem.blogspot.com/search/label/Asociacion%20Feminista%20Filipina; accessed December 9, 2016