“Whydid you think kasambahays are all female?” I asked my tita.
They have a kasambahayat home. She mostly takes care of my cousins when tita and her husband leavesfor work. She also does all-around work.”Causewomen are industrious, responsible, trustworthy, they know how to take care ofthe house” She said, emphasizing each word.
“Can’tmen do that to?”Atthis point, she didn’t reply. Even for a female she was clueless about whywomen were like slaves in their own home. Philippines was ranked 7thas the most gender-equal nation in Asia, yet there are still some areas wherewomen are at a disadvantage. Even before the Spanish came, the Philippinesalready hadan existing slavery system. According to Craig (2011), during Pre-Hispanictimes, Filipinos can be divided into different classes by their means ofliving. Filipinosbefore lived in a community called barangays before the colonization ofthe Spaniards. There were 4 classes of people in the society back then. Firstis the “noble class” or called as Maginoo.
They can be likened to the politicians of our modern-daysociety.This is the class where the Datu, somehow similar to President or King, would come from. Next is the second class, which is called the Maharlika, the warrior class. They are almostsimilar to the Timawa, the only difference is that they do not pay taxes. They prepare weapons and provide security for the community. The third class is the freeman or Timawa, the citizens of a community.This is the only classrequired to pay and give taxes whichservesas their significance in the community.
They have freedom and they can also own lands, properties, and Alipins,thelowest class among the four. Alipins are owned by the upper classes.They fetch water from the lake, prepare food, bathe and dress their masters, doother household chores, and do whatever their masters wish. Alipinscan also be classified into two: the Aliping Namamahay or servant who lives on a littlehouse that their master owns, and the other one is the Aliping Sagigilidwhich is a servant that lives around the house of their masters.Whenthe Spanish invaded our land, the Native Philippine Slavery dissolved.
Datuswere forced to free their slaves and the exchange of slaves in wedding were notallowed after most Filipinos were converted to Christians. But, this is not theend of it. Native Philippine Slavery said its goodbye, and Spanish Slavery sayshello. This is even worse than the previous one. Indios (this is whatthey called Filipinos at the time) worked solely for their masters andeverything the slaves earned were given to their master.
They can be used aspayment for debt and can be jailed in place of their master. Indios weretreated like property, almost as if they do not have lives. It is hard tobelieve but Philippines still have an underclass consisting of modern-dayslaves.
According to Walk Free Foundation, the Philippines have anembarrassingly large number of people ranges from 140,000 to 160, 000 toilingaway in slavery. Domestic workers are likely to be from the Visayas regions,Bicol, Southern Tagalog and Northern Mindanao (Rappler, 2012). They areprimarily recruited through informal methods, including word-of-mouth andreferrals. In fact, my mother only relied on referrals when she was finding ananny to care of my baby brother. She found our first nanny in Mindoro (mymother’s parents were locals). Even the nannies in our neighborhood are fromprovinces.
With poverty forcing them to work, almost all of them only finishedelementary and highschool. This lack of educational attainment makes themunqualified for a job that gives decent income. The only thing that they can beskilled at is doing household chores and babysitting children. For a woman,almost no educational attainment, this would be likely the most obvious choicethat they can consider, being a kasambahay. Women are more likely to getoffered this job because people believe are at doing chores. This makes nosense to me. I don’t know why women are naturally expected to do householdchores and taking care of babies. Is this because women are less powerfulphysically than men so that when they wash the dishes they’re less likely tobreak it? Where did this mindset came from?Pre-colonialsocial structures gave women equal importance alongside men.
Women had theright to own properties, engage in trades, and divorce their husbands. Theycould rule a community if, by chance, there is no male heir. They can also havepowerful roles in the communal like, medicine women, Babaylans orhigh-priestesses, and astrologers, even warriors (Mallari, 2014)When the Spanishcame, we adapted their local customs. Women were expected to nurture and carefor their children. Household chores were also expected to be taken care of bywomen. American colonization was very much the same. Apparently for westerncountries, it was commonly regarded that the women’s rightful place is at home,raising children and doing chores. This belief stuck in the minds of Filipinosdue to the length of practice during the colonization.
Now, Filipinowomen, specifically women from the provinces, and women deficient of propereducation are forced to put up with these jobs. And, with our economy risingslowly, Filipino women leave their own family homes to serve another familyabroad with the belief that there is more money abroad. And because mostFilipinos desire to get rich, there are about two million Filipino domesticworkers abroad. in fact, we are the second highest supplier of domestic workersall over the world, usually Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate, and Singapore.According to the Philippine Commission on Women, 55% of the 1.072 millionfemale Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW’s) are laborer or unskilled workers.These include factory workers and domestic helpers.
According to Golangco (2013),Devina DeDiva, a Facebook user from England, goes on racist comments about howshe could not accept that Miss Philippines candidate, Megan Young, won the MissWorld 2013 pageant. According to her post in Facebook, all Filipinos are dirty,poor, smelly maids who clean their toilets and who should not be looked up to. In her own words from Facebook post ofDevina DeDiva: “Miss Philippines is Miss World? What a joke! I did not knowthose maids have anything else in them Ha Ha Ha”Sheis clearly a racist basedfrom herpostsand comments as she insulted, not only Miss World 2013 Megan Young, but thewhole nation of the Philippines.But, the thing is, this is what she sees. It’s not that I’m saying she’s rightbut, she has basis. She has her own maid that is a Filipina, as she personallysaid, “They’reless privilege everywhere. I’m surprised one can win. What a joke, those peoplecleaning our toilets won Miss World.
” she added. Because of the large number of Filipinas working as domestic helpersabroad, foreigners are generalizing Filipinas as maids. Woman around the world and especially in thePhilippines, has always been treated like they do not belong anywhere but inhouse doing household chores. And although it is in our culture that women arelabeled as “ilaw ng tahanan” which means, they are the ones who is responsiblefor everything inside the house, from raising the child, to providing everyonein the house in whatever they need, we need to be reminded sometimes that whatanything a man can do, a woman can do better. Women have always been morepowerful than men, that’s why men throughout history have done what they can tokeep women down.
Men know. Women are magic. Men ever since, were expected tocome off strong and masculinity were very much important to them to the pointthat they looked upon women as slaves or somewhat that needs to serve herfamily endlessly until the sun goes down.
Women have equal rights with men,don’t they? So, what’s with everyone treating women as slaves or to a certaindegree, a property? Simply, because we let them. And this is not in any way todisdain the hardship of men slaves but best believe that whatever a man enduredin the past as slaves, women slaves endured it more in countless times over thehistory than they did. And until then, our mother still knows best, don’t they?