Historical Markers on Filipino Women’s Sexuality During Spanish Colonial Times

By Gloria Esguerra Melencio

The intention of this research paper is to compile data about the Filipino women’s activities, rituals and customs related to sexuality and mark its historical markers along the way from the 16th up to 17th centuries.

The paper asks the following questions: What did the Spanish colonizers find out when they first saw the women? How did the Spanish colonizers view the Filipino women through time? What were the Filipino women’s activities, rituals and customs that pertain to sexuality? How did they express their sexual desires? Why were polygamy, concubinage and abortion practiced ? How did the Spanish colonizers wield the Christian Doctrine to conquer the so-called Evils that plague the Filipino women? What was the perception of the Filipino women of the Spanish colonizers?

Why sexuality? Why Historical Markers?

First, the researcher chooses the sexuality aspect of women as a topic because most of the materials gathered about womanhod focus on chastity, modesty, virginity, relationship with men and everything related to her being a woman that involves conception, childbearing, giving birth or failing to give birth. Sexuality here as the Webster’s Dictionary defines is the “possession of the structural and functional differentia of sex.”

Second, the researcher sees putting historical markers on the important events related to women’s sexuality using the historical process of Spanish colonization as a backdrop while putting forth forward the social issues that have arisen as past and present-day problems.

Third, the researcher categorizes the historical markers as nodal points in the meeting of two different peoples and cultures – the paganistic native Filipinos and the Christian Hispanics – and discovers along the way a metamorphosed culture where can be threshed out specific issues of Filipino women related to sexuality. The periodization, as the researcher discerns, is fluid. It means the event or symbolical object had begun or surfaced when the Spanish colonizers set foot on the islands in the 16th century and continued until the 17th century. Or may have been continuing up until the present time.

Further study on the periods that are marked as nodal points in women’s sexuality is a must in the future because it will provide explanations and clarifications as to what had transpired in the past that led the way to where the women are now in history.

Full Link posted 17 September 2009 on Philippine History and provided to the Babaylan Files by Letecia Layson

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