Song, Philippine Feminist Movement

This song, entitled Maria and sung in Tagalog (a Philippine language), challenges cultural constructions of women as passive, as sex objects or domestic cooks. “Maria” is used as a generic term for woman. The song identifies heroines such as Lorena Barros, Gabriela Silang, and Tandang Sora. Barros founded MAKIBAKA in 1971, the first second-wave feminist organization. The organization was forced underground during the martial law regime of President Marcos (1972-1986) and Barros was killed by the military. Gabriela Silang led the revolt against Spanish colonizers in the 18th century and Tandang Sora helped the Filipino revolutionaries against Spain in 1896-1898.

Maria is performed by Sining Lila, a performing group of GABRIELA (General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership, and Action), an umbrella organization of about 200 grass roots women’s organizations in the Philippines. Sining Lila performs songs during the demonstrations, workshops, and other public events where GABRIELA is a participant or organizer.

GABRIELA was formed in 1984 and adhered to the national-democratic brand of feminism. There are now roughly 200 organizations under its umbrella from all over the country. They represent second-wave feminism in the Philippines and epitomize the new militant nature of feminist activism. Many women who join GABRIELA (like the Filipino “comfort women”) have not been given the opportunities for higher education, but the songs, demonstrations, and workshops introduce them to ideas and history. This group of feminists challenges cultural constructions of the feminine as wife and mother. Their workshops directed at women from all classes succeeded in developing a feminist consciousness.

Source: Sining Lila. Maria. © 2002 by GABRIELA. Compact Disc. Translated by Mina Roces.

Listen to the song:

I. Mula ng isilang ka, Maria
Dinanas mo na
Ang mga pang-aaping
‘Di mo makaya

II. Ika’y nalilito,
Ika’y nagtatanong
Bakit ba ganito ang papel
ng mga Maria

III. Ika’y hindi pangkusina
Hindi pangkama
Ika’y di bagay tingnan
Sa pagnanasa
Ika’y hindi laruan
Pag nagasawa’y iiwan
Ika’y babaeng may karapatan

IV. Maria, Maria iyong pag-aralan
Maria, Maria ang iyong kasaysayan

V. Si Lorena, Gabriela at Tandang Sora
Naaalala niyo pa ba sila
Sila ang huwaran
Nang bagong Pilipina
Sila ay ikaw at ikaw ay sila

VI. Maria, Maria iyong ipaglaban
Maria, Maria ang iyong karapatan

I. When you were born, Maria
You already experienced
Oppression you could no longer

II. You are confused
You’re asking questions
Why is it that this is the role of all

III. You do not exist only to be in the
Or a sex object
You are not an object to be gazed at
You are not a toy
That is abandoned when one tires of
playing with it
You are a woman with rights.

IV. Maria, Maria you need to learn
Maria, Maria your own history

V. Lorena, Gabriela, and Tandang Sora
Do you remember them?
They are examples
Of the new Filipina
They are who you are and you are they

IV. Maria, Maria go and fight
Maria, Maria for your rights.