For centuries now, many Filipinos have borrowed the characteristics of the ideal woman from Maria Clara, the meek love interest of Crisostomo Ibarra in Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere. The character has conditioned Filipinos to think that women have to live up to a certain standard in order to be accepted—that they need to constantly be made up and well-groomed, to sit pretty (and properly), to stay quiet instead of voicing out their opinions.
We hear it all the time from our parents, titos and titas, lolos and lolas — “Hindi ganyan ang babae!” They tell us that women aren’t supposed to go out at night, or even to walk down the street alone. They tell us it’s for our own good.
But times have changed. It’s 2016—in the last few years, we’ve seen women elected to public office. We’ve seen women fight for their rights. We’ve seen women make the first move and pay for their dinner dates.
A strong, independent woman doesn’t have to live up to anyone’s standards. At the end of the day, all she has to do is be herself.