What makes a woman? More specifically, what makes a Filipina? To this day, the struggle for gender equality continues, not just in the Philippines, but also around the world. It is true that at present, the women of the Philippines enjoy more equality than women of some other countries in Southeast Asia, but the growth, transformation, and evolution of the Filipina are still very important and worth reckoning.
Songs About Eve by Marielle Valenzuela expounds on this: on the evolution of the Filipina. The Philippines has come a long way from depicting its women as sexual symbols, otherworldly creatures, symbols of religious extremism, and objects subservient to men. The Filipina is strong. She is independent. She is a leader. She is capable of creating her own identity. She is a unique individual, and she should be proud of that.
I was lucky enough to watch Songs About Eve because my best friend Cheska Reyes had a role in the production. She was Juliet in the piece “Ligaw.” Being best friends with a serious dancer and having been a ballerina myself when I was younger, one realizes just how much blood, sweat, and tears are spilled in the studio to make a performance perfect. Ballet is an art. It is a sport. It is also a way of life. Same goes for every other sport out there.
Cheska and I met at the skating rink, and back then, figure skating was life. We would eat, sleep, and breath skating. But as years passed, though it may have been hard to accept, we understood that there was more waiting for us outside the rink. I wanted to get into media. Cheska wanted to continue ballet. I aspire to become a prominent broadcaster. Cheska is on her way to accomplishing her dream of dancing for Tulsa Ballet. We may have left the rink behind, but no matter what, we are still figure skaters, now and forever.
ANYWAY!!! My point is, Cheska and I were fortunate enough to follow our dreams and be the people we want to be. The evolution of the Filipina is great, and we are proud that the Filipina is being regarded as strong and independent.
Bravo, Songs About Eve!
Here are some photos taken by Jaydee Jasa and The Redeemed Photography. The descriptions of each piece were written by Cheska Reyes.
This piece shows how women are breaking free of the metaphorical box they have been trapped in.
Babaylan is the second piece. It portrays how revered women were as mystics in ancient times when animism was practiced.
This dance shows the forbidden love between a Filipino laborer and the Spanish daughter of a wealthy haciendero, and how women were seen as symbols of perfection.
The piece shows how women were mistreated, especially during the Japanese occupation when they were forced to become comfort women.
This aims to show the stereotypical Filipino woman in the 20th century: quiet, religious, and submissive.
AT 6 O’CLOCK
This piece was made to show the role of mothers as pillars of the family.
The piece portrays women from the 50’s to the 90’s who are seen as sexual symbols.
WHO KNOWS ONE?
The last piece aims to show how women of the 21st century have evolved to become strong and independent women we know of today.
Marielle Valenzuela is a senior dance major who has trained at ACTS Manila Dance Studio by Chelo Gemina. She was formerly a scholar of Ballet Philippines, and is currently under the Benilde Romancion Dance Troupe.
Thesis production of Marielle Valenzuela.
Photos by Jaydee Jasa and The Redeemed Photography.
Piece descriptions by Cheska Reyes.