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The Essence of Filipina Women

Updated on April 17, 2013

Maria Clara Image of Filipinas

In the Philippines, Maria Clara is a symbol of woman of natural beauty. She is religious and an epitome of good virtue. Filipina women are expected to show the image of Maria Clara who is shy, demure, modest, self-effacing, and loyal to the end. Cultural norms favor this trait of a woman in personal, social, and business interaction with men.

Modern day Filipina women are not exempted. They are still subject to the society's judgment if they do not conform with the norms.

To understand a Filipina, one must look at the different roles she portrays in society. As she goes through life, she may take the role of a daughter, sister, young woman, wife, mother, employee, or professional.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Being "Ate" or Older Daughter

The importance of family in Filipino culture is impressed early in life. Obedience to parents and older siblings is taught and enforced until adulthood and that becomes an obligation.

Children are expected to serve their old parents until their death. If parents are brought to nursing homes or home for the aged, it gives so much shame to the children- probably the greatest sin in the eyes of Philippine society. At this juncture, it is always the daughters who assume responsibility to take care of their old or sick parents.

Older daughters are called "Ate" by siblings. She is also responsible for younger children by bathing, dressing, and feeding them. Her role as deputy mother commands respect of her younger siblings. In the event of parents' death, it is her responsibility to keep the family together.

Being a "Dalaga" or Young Woman

Society expects a young woman to conduct herself with decorum and to appear modest and shy, especially among men. Perhaps the most complicated aspect of her role is during courtship where she is supposed to play "hard to get". Some even pretend total disinterest until they see that the young man is trustworthy enough.

A girl does not say "yes" to the first invitation from a suitor. He may have to ask her several times before she agrees to go out with him, but with the consent of the parents.

On "Panliligaw" or Courtship and Dating

Despite the Western influence, courtship and dating in the Philippines is considered conservative. The man will have to court the woman and prove his love for her before he can win her heart. Sometimes the courtship period would last for years. Parents prefer their daughter to be courted in their home, so they can have a chance to know the man. It is during the courtship period that the man would put his best foot forward to create a good impression on the woman and her family. Generally, the man is being measured on his being a gentleman, ability to respect the woman's family, and servitude - the extent of what he was willing to do to prove his love for the woman.

In urban areas, single Filipinas have become liberal due to western influences. Although it is still culturally unacceptable for a single Filipino woman to ask a man on a date or to show interest in a man. Filipinas have learned to use body language to show their interest and openness to a relationship.

In rural communities, Filipinas are still not allowed to be liberal. They are required to stifle their personality and sexuality, and should show a total lack of interest in intimacy with men to maintain reputation and self-respect.

How it's Like to be an "Asawa" or Wife

Sad to say, a wife is a victim of double standard imposed by the society. The responsibility of keeping the marriage together is usually placed on her. She does not get much sympathy if she complains of her husband's transgressions. She often is subjected to gossips saying "she does not fix herself properly or she does not take care of her husband's needs that is why her husband fools around". The best way to win him back is by being attentive and by looking her best for him. Once she does this, the battle is half won.

There are no restrictions about wife working as long as she does not neglect her husband and children. Despite her seemingly second status in marriage, she has more sphere of influence than her husband. She is closer emotionally to the children and she is intimately involved in their growth and development.

Modern-day Philippine women play a decisive role in Filipino families. They handle the money and act as religious mentors to her children. Most women are also engaged in different kinds of work to help support the family. Compared to other parts of Southeast Asia, women in Philippine society have always enjoyed a greater share of legal equality.

The Roles of "Ina" or Mother

Perhaps the most respected role in Philippine society is that of a Mother. She is the biddable housewife. She is the general of an army of rebelling patriots. She is as courageous as Joan of Arc. Perhaps, the one true common denominator is that Filipino women have an indomitable spirit and she can love so purely and so powerfully.

What is the most striking is her source of strength. She has an inherently strong faith. When things go bad, she will say to herself "bahala na ang Diyos." (God will provide.) For the sake of her loved ones she will pray on bent knees.

Children are important in family-oriented Filipino culture. The role of a mother is the most important role a Filipina will assume in her whole life. She is in the position of power- a power that comes from the sense of obligation to parents instilled in children. The loyalty and allegiance is stronger with her than with the father. The greater attachment to the mother is inevitable not only because of biological circumstance but also because of intense emotional nurturing received from her.

Most mother still want to keep their children within their bound even at their adulthood. It is their inherent trait to always look after their needs, to check if everything goes fine with their jobs, finances, and relationships.

Filipino women takes pleasure in ensuring that her husband and children are well taken care of, not because they are obligated to do so, but because of their selfless love and devotion to their family.

Mabuhay! You are welcome to share your opinion about Filipina women. Maraming salamat for stopping by!

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    • profile image

      miles 2 years ago

      Am proud to be Pinay

    • profile image

      deborahjane-cometa 3 years ago

      very good

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: These folks can be exceptionally superstitious. Find out if somehow they think you are to blame (somehow). In any case - Didn't you ask your husband (or other Filipino family members why?) What did they say? Let me know (

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: These folks can be exceptionally superstitious. Find out if somehow they think you are to blame (somehow). In any case - Didn't you ask your husband (or other Filipino family members why?) What did they say? Let me know (

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      Hi! you are great! Thanks for sharing all these. I just learned something new from your lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Good day! I would like to ask if I can add this article in my term paper? Currently, I am writing a term paper with regards to "Social Expectations towards Japanese women and Filipinas".

      Please reply in my yahoo account, or gmail,

      Waiting for your response.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i miss my nanay....

    • LornsA178 profile image

      LornsA178 4 years ago

      Well written, very good representation of our culture and values. Thanks!

    • mary lighthouse15 profile image

      mary lighthouse15 4 years ago

      Thanks everyone for the visit and for the nice comments. I warmly appreciate you all!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Glad that I came across this article. Will send it to someone to get him informed about our Filipino values particularly in courtship and ways of winning the love and trust of a Filipina. I hope this will guide him well. Thanks for all the information

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I know a lot of Filipina women through church in Arizona. They are mostly wonderful ladies. My friend is living in the Philippines married to a younger Filipina and he has never been happier. I don't want to marry again but when I retire in the Philippines I intend to date some of these nice ladies. Many of them are quite stunning. I know that people are just people everywhere as I have been to many countries, but I have never personally met a mean spirited Filipina woman.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      Very interesting lens! I love hearing about other cultures. I really like the Filipina view on taking care of their parents. I agree 100% that we should care for our parents the same way they cared for us. My Dad recently moved in with us and he'll be living with us forevermore!

    • profile image

      coolmon2009 lm 5 years ago

      Very nice lens, enjoyed reading this informative writing.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hello, I have met my sister in law and after her child has passed away I have been forbiden to see or talk to her since and it has been six months now. My husband and his family are Filipino and he goes to see her about once a month but I am never allowed or even given a choice to see her or not. This is very hurtful to me. Can anyone tell me what is going on?

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 5 years ago from California

      Interesting article, my sister-in-law was Filipina although I don't see a lot of the traits you mention here. I do see them in her mother though.

    • angelsigh profile image

      angelsigh 5 years ago

      Wow, beautiful lens. It is nice to know how close the Filipino family is. You tell it so well. :D

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      Beautifully written article. I enjoyed reading this. Wish you the best.

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 5 years ago

      Enjjoyed this immensely

    • profile image

      iamtreehugger 5 years ago

      Im proud to be one

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Actually its not hard to get game, even you like him, you still want to be sure by weighing out things as you see in him in all the things he said and done, if you'll be in a good relationship, hurrying is always discouraged, every woman wants to have and everlasting love, so its not pakipot for me if i was there .