Women in the Shelves on the Shadows

Most women with foreign boyfriends here in the Philippines, I noticed, submit themselves to certain requisites: that they should be wearing skimpy outfits, that they should be covered in heavy make-ups, that they should be weak, simple-minded and predictable and that they should be passive and agreeable all the time.

As if only by satisfying these requirements could they be loved — if love is what they’re after.

In an isawan a while ago, a couple arrived — a local and, based on his accent, I guess an American. She was wearing some leggings and rubber shoes; he was topless, sweaty and tattooed. Both of them looked sporty and the way they presented themselves suggests that they’ve been exercising. Jogging, in particular.

Well, since I’m addicted to people-watching I looked at the girl and studied her features. Hair in pigtails. Sando. Dangling earrings. Make-ups. I looked again. Danging earrings. Leaves hanging on the stem. Make-ups. Some bluish eye-shadows and linings.

By the time I was engrossed wondering about the impossible relationship of her make-ups and jogging in this tropical environment, he left her in the clouds of smoke and went to the other side of the street. The task of waiting for their BBQ order fell unto her.

To have a better view of them, I adjusted my position and went behind her. Her head kept moving, restlessly, following his trail as if he’d get lost though his movement was full of certainty.

It went on like that — I, watching them; her, watching him — for some time, until the vendor handed her the BBQ. He came back, then they left together. Him in tattoo. Her in melting make-ups and eye-liners. Both of them quite young, early to mid twenties, and I wonder if they have sex.

I wonder if after the present conditions and requisites have successfully commodified her, he would still take her entirely. Or if in the end, he would be like the other passing foreigners in this country — say, the GIs in Olongapo, Subic or Clark — snatching only the meaty portions of the market and forgetting the rest. Including their babies.

Until now, actually, I am still wondering how we could arrive at this point when human lives are being reduced to products for sale — labour, women, even happiness and love. And when we would finally break these shelves and liberate ourselves from these shadows of conformity and expectations.

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8 thoughts on “Women in the Shelves on the Shadows

  1. You insult me. My only sister happened to be married to an American. They became boyfriend-girlfriend first of course. Let me tell you that my sister is also a UP Diliman alumna and a former marketing and communications manager of a 5-star hotel in Manila. She dresses impeccably but knows that Manila heat will really reduce one to tanks and short shorts. She speaks English fluently. Oh and she wears MAKE-UP a lot. Addicted to people watching huh? That, and generalizing are, I guess, favorite pasttimes of a judgmental person like you.

    1. Hi. I think you have missed the entire point — the article wasn’t attacking the couple, or the women wearing make-ups for that matter. Rather, it is attacking the system that commodifies these women and reduced them into products displayed on the shelves of the market. If any, the article is taking the sides of the women here.

      But it is interesting to note that most of the reactions the article gathered were concluding that the writer was attacking the Filipina and not the intricate operations of the structure and the centuries and centuries of scientific applications and reinforcements of the feudal system and patriarchy that placed these women (even up until this point) below the ranks of the men.

      Indeed it is very interesting how most reactions were accusing the writer of casting a judgment whereas, subconsciously, it is them who are deriding my subjects.

  2. So, she was wearing make-up and exercise attire at the same time– I don’t see how this shows submission at all? For all you know, they could be a very normal couple and she just likes dressing that way. I don’t think it’s too odd to make your partner wait for your food and honestly, I just don’t see where you pulled out your assumptions from. Do you simply assume that every Filipina who is with a foreigner is “weak, simple-minded and predictable”? I also don’t get why you put “I wonder if they have sex”– I don’t see anything that has to do with. It’s their business if they do. Are you going to judge her or them if they do?

    The whole thing (conclusion, especially) seems off, based on very hasty generalizations that don’t even seem well-founded. Maybe you should have provided better examples because all I see here is you judging a couple that you literally know nothing about who could very well be in a healthy relationship.

    *There is also no such thing as make-ups. Stick to make-up.

    1. And I don’t see how you ended up getting the conclusion that the make-up and the exercise attire shows the very act of submission. But, above all, I find it interesting to note that most people who have read this article shared a common reaction: they all accused the article that it is judging the couple and all the Filipina women with foreign boyfriends, whereas, subconsciously, it’s them (you folks) who are deriding my subjects. Your perspectives are oozing and green.

  3. napaka iresponsable ng unang parapgraph. MOST women? san mo nahugot yan? may reference ka ba jan? kahit anong ganda ng intensyon mo sa blog na to kung ganito ka magsulat aba eh madami ka talagang negative reactions na makukuha! irresponsible journalism!

    rycabar014, and you are wondering why ganito reactions ng nakabasa? MOST WOMEN = harsh generalization, “and i wonder if they have sex” = judgemental. so what if they had sex? anong masama kung nag sex sila? kaninong perspective ang oozing at green ngayon? eh kung may nakita akong dalawang lalake ng holding hands sa daan, pede ko bang isipin agad if nag sex kaya sila?

    kung halos lahat ng nakabasa ng blog eh negative ang reactions bat d mag isip isip na baka may mali nga sa way ng pagsulat? may tinatawag po na constructive criticism.

    1. Ironically, Men, your very reaction mirrors your subconscious prejudices.

      Also, I have noticed another interesting point: only the Pinoys think this way — and those who commented, interestingly enough, shared the same reactions.

      This article was also posted in an international groups din pala. So far, none of them reacted violently and accusingly — hasty generalizations, judgmentalism, Pinay after the money et al. And it made me wonder, actually, why you fellas ended up thinking similarly. I guess that’s the next thing I’ll find out. While reveling in all your reactions and prejudices from afar. Hahaha!

      1. the absence of negative reactions from intl community does not and will still not make your claim right. provide me a reference to your first parapgraph and i’ll rest my case.

      2. I didn’t say it will make my claim right. What I said is it’s interesting how people here shared a common reaction. Did you see your thoughts? How you perceived what I’m trying to convey because you yourself have been clouded by your very own prejudice and subjectivism from the beginning. And how you missed the context of the article. That it isn’t attacking the Filipinas but the operating factors, requisites and conditions that reduced and commodified our women.

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