did you think kasambahays are all female?” I asked my tita. They have a kasambahay
at home. She mostly takes care of my cousins when tita and her husband leaves
for work. She also does all-around work.
women are industrious, responsible, trustworthy, they know how to take care of
the house” She said, emphasizing each word.
men do that to?”
this point, she didn’t reply. Even for a female she was clueless about why
women were like slaves in their own home. Philippines was ranked 7th
as the most gender-equal nation in Asia, yet there are still some areas where
women are at a disadvantage.
Even before the Spanish came, the Philippines
an existing slavery system. According to Craig (2011), during Pre-Hispanic
times, Filipinos can be divided into different classes by their means of
before lived in a community called barangays before the colonization of
the Spaniards. There were 4 classes of people in the society back then. First
is the “noble class” or called as Maginoo. They can be likened to the politicians of our modern-day
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 almost
similar 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 class
required to pay and give taxes which
as their significance in the community. They have freedom and they can also own lands, properties, and Alipins,
lowest class among the four. Alipins are owned by the upper classes.
They fetch water from the lake, prepare food, bathe and dress their masters, do
other household chores, and do whatever their masters wish. Alipins
can also be classified into two: the Aliping Namamahay or servant who lives on a little
house that their master owns, and the other one is the Aliping Sagigilid
which is a servant that lives around the house of their masters.
the Spanish invaded our land, the Native Philippine Slavery dissolved. Datus
were forced to free their slaves and the exchange of slaves in wedding were not
allowed after most Filipinos were converted to Christians. But, this is not the
end of it. Native Philippine Slavery said its goodbye, and Spanish Slavery says
hello. This is even worse than the previous one. Indios (this is what
they called Filipinos at the time) worked solely for their masters and
everything the slaves earned were given to their master. They can be used as
payment for debt and can be jailed in place of their master. Indios were
treated like property, almost as if they do not have lives.
It is hard to
believe but Philippines still have an underclass consisting of modern-day
slaves. According to Walk Free Foundation, the Philippines have an
embarrassingly large number of people ranges from 140,000 to 160, 000 toiling
away in slavery. Domestic workers are likely to be from the Visayas regions,
Bicol, Southern Tagalog and Northern Mindanao (Rappler, 2012). They are
primarily recruited through informal methods, including word-of-mouth and
referrals. In fact, my mother only relied on referrals when she was finding a
nanny to care of my baby brother. She found our first nanny in Mindoro (my
mother’s parents were locals). Even the nannies in our neighborhood are from
provinces. With poverty forcing them to work, almost all of them only finished
elementary and highschool. This lack of educational attainment makes them
unqualified for a job that gives decent income. The only thing that they can be
skilled at is doing household chores and babysitting children. For a woman,
almost no educational attainment, this would be likely the most obvious choice
that they can consider, being a kasambahay. Women are more likely to get
offered this job because people believe are at doing chores. This makes no
sense to me. I don’t know why women are naturally expected to do household
chores and taking care of babies. Is this because women are less powerful
physically than men so that when they wash the dishes they’re less likely to
break it? Where did this mindset came from?
social structures gave women equal importance alongside men. Women had the
right to own properties, engage in trades, and divorce their husbands. They
could rule a community if, by chance, there is no male heir. They can also have
powerful roles in the communal like, medicine women, Babaylans or
high-priestesses, and astrologers, even warriors (Mallari, 2014)
When the Spanish
came, we adapted their local customs. Women were expected to nurture and care
for their children. Household chores were also expected to be taken care of by
women. American colonization was very much the same. Apparently for western
countries, 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 Filipinos
due to the length of practice during the colonization.
women, specifically women from the provinces, and women deficient of proper
education are forced to put up with these jobs. And, with our economy rising
slowly, Filipino women leave their own family homes to serve another family
abroad with the belief that there is more money abroad. And because most
Filipinos desire to get rich, there are about two million Filipino domestic
workers abroad. in fact, we are the second highest supplier of domestic workers
all over the world, usually Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate, and Singapore.
According to the Philippine Commission on Women, 55% of the 1.072 million
female 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 how
she could not accept that Miss Philippines candidate, Megan Young, won the Miss
World 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 of
Devina DeDiva: “Miss Philippines is Miss World? What a joke! I did not know
those maids have anything else in them Ha Ha Ha”
is clearly a racist based
and comments as she insulted, not only Miss World 2013 Megan Young, but the
whole nation of the Philippines.
But, the thing is, this is what she sees. It’s not that I’m saying she’s right
but, she has basis. She has her own maid that is a Filipina, as she personally
less privilege everywhere. I’m surprised one can win. What a joke, those people
cleaning our toilets won Miss World.” she added. Because of the large number of Filipinas working as domestic helpers
abroad, foreigners are generalizing Filipinas as maids.
Woman around the world and especially in the
Philippines, has always been treated like they do not belong anywhere but in
house doing household chores. And although it is in our culture that women are
labeled as “ilaw ng tahanan” which means, they are the ones who is responsible
for everything inside the house, from raising the child, to providing everyone
in the house in whatever they need, we need to be reminded sometimes that what
anything a man can do, a woman can do better. Women have always been more
powerful than men, that’s why men throughout history have done what they can to
keep women down. Men know. Women are magic. Men ever since, were expected to
come off strong and masculinity were very much important to them to the point
that they looked upon women as slaves or somewhat that needs to serve her
family 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 certain
degree, a property? Simply, because we let them. And this is not in any way to
disdain the hardship of men slaves but best believe that whatever a man endured
in the past as slaves, women slaves endured it more in countless times over the
history than they did. And until then, our mother still knows best, don’t they?