Manning Up? Apolinario Mabini on the rights of women (Final)

Hindi lamang kawalan ng abs ang tatak ng pagiging tunay na lalaki?


This two-part series is published here in commemoration of Apolinario Mabini's 150th birth anniversary (1864-2014).


I have watched last October 18 Ang Huling Lagda ni Apolinario Mabini, a production of Dulaang UP for the man's 150th birth anniversary, which is this year. This inspired me to create a series on the man Mabini, the one long dubbed as the "Brains of the Philippine Revolution".
See the first part of the Manning Up series by clicking here.

Apolinario Maranan Mabini
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia,
the free encyclopedia
   A woman voter and a woman representative are radical enough for the Malolos Congress not to accept Mabini’s proposed Constitution. Still, I raise another issue: Had Mabini ever thought of a woman president? The idea itself could have been similar to heresy for a male-dominated society. However, let us consider the first part of Article 17:
   Ang mga babaying taga Pilipinas ay di macahahauac ng ano mang catungculang may capangyarihang maca pag parusa sa tauong bayan; nguni't.macahahauac ng mga di nagtataglay ng capangyarihang ito, cun nacacapit sa canilang catayuan at cailan ma’t sila’y di namumuhay ng halaghag at mag taglay ng mga casangcapang hinihingi nang cautusan.
Corazon Aquino, first Filipina President of the country
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
My own translation of the provision: The women of the Philippines cannot hold any position that has the power to punish the nation’s people; but they can hold positions that do not possess such power, if they have maintained their status and has never been living a nomadic life and meets the qualifications stipulated in the law.

As stated in Article 81, concerning the limits of presidential powers, he cannot oppress or punish any part of the country. Therefore, if it is said that a Filipina can attain any position, provided she meets the stipulated requirements for the said position, which is not a position of power to oppress the people, Mabini has foresaw the possibility of a woman president of the Republic. With this, what he envisioned in 1898 is clear: the Filipino woman that can elect and be elected. Again, a Filipina would be elected far from Mabini's time. That is, in the person of Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino.

Truly dedicated to this pursuit, Mabini once wrote: 
   The traditional nobility of the old nations assigns the respect to women as the principal virtue of the fearless and stainless knight, because the habit of protecting the honor and life of the weak and defenseless denotes certainly greatness of heart and nobleness of soul. And be it known that this virtue is not a simple necessity of the legendary epoch of romanticism, but one of the great necessities of the life of nations, because, if woman within the circle wherein she habitually moves always meets respect and consideration, she soon acquires the sentiment of dignity which saves her from many weaknesses; dignity that, transferred to her sons, infuses them with courage and fortitude for great undertakings, and for heroic deeds. 
For Mabini, free and respected women will produce free and respected sons.

On other rights of the Filipina 

   The third part of Article 17 already gave the women right to study any course they please. At that time though, schools for men and women are separate. Mabini, however, made another provision that can also be deemed radical: students of both sexes would be taught together. This provision was part of Article 125, which states that:
   Sa bauat baya'y magcacaroon ng isang aralan ng bayan, at dito'y nacapapasoc ng ualang upa ang mga batang lalaqui at babayi na ibig macataroc ng simulang aral, at ito'y pangangasiuaan ng Sanguniang bayan na siya ring magpapalagay ng mga Maestrong catulong sa baua't nayon.
The translation of Adriano Reyno was: In every town there would be a public school where the children of both sexes would be taught the instruccion elemental [elementary education] under the immediate inspection of the Popular Council of the town, which would take charge of placing auxiliary teachers for all barrios composing the town.

It is easy today to understand the rationale of Mabini for co-education. However, he is a man advanced of his age. Even by 1898, it is unthinkable for parents to send their children to a school applying co-education. There might be a population boom in the offing. Still, this shows how Mabini wanted both men and women to be educated together under the auspices of one Republic.

   Another advocacy of Mabini was to uphold the honor of women. Thus, in listing crimes against honor, abuse of any woman is included. A look at the roster of crimes Mabini listed reveals that abusing a woman is in league with betraying the nation. That is how high Mabini regarded a woman’s honor. Mabini’s dedication to see this matter through is again evidenced in his letter to Luisita Blanchard: 
   I shall not finish these observations to my countrymen, without remarking the immense disappointment I felt, whenever I heard of the acts of violence committed by Philippine soldiers on the persons of the Philippine women. I confess that they were isolated cases, too difficult to be avoided at the time of general turmoil and free overflowing of the passions; but I am sure that the first case would not have been repeated, should the competent chiefs have repressed such outrages with energy and without compliance. How can we have the strangers to respect our women, if we ourselves give them example by insulting them? Why, can we the Philippine men aspire to be respected, if our women are not respected?
Considering Mabini’s statement, it can be derived that both sides, Filipino and American soldiers, committed such women abuses during the course of the Filipino-American War.

However, this is not to say Mabini had been isolated in preserving the woman’s honor. It must be noted that he held honor, that of the male or the female, in the same level as God, which can be noted in the first commandment of his True Decalogue:
   You shall love God and your honor above all things: God as the fountain of all truth, of all justice, and of all activity; and your honor, the only power which will oblige you to be truthful, just, and industrious. 
Therefore, he held the honor of both men and women as equal in, and it required mutual respect.

One more thing to note was that Mabini’s concern for women’s rights was not confined only to women of the Philippines, but also to foreign women. In one of his letters, he applauded the American woman in particular:
   I appreciate the American women in their culture and independent habits which render them utterly helpful workers to the aggrandizement of womankind.
As Cesar Adib Majul has put it, “Yet, though he insistently argued the existence of a national community, Mabini had a sense of universality and could have an appeal to other peoples struggling for a position of equality among other nations.” In this case, the struggle of the woman for equality.


Written above was only an introductory series tackling Mabini’s advocacy for the rights of women, limited to his short period of service in the government of the First Philippine Republic. Still, how brief it may have been, Mabini’s workings on this matter served as pioneer to later female movements in the Philippines. Considering that none of his contemporary women revolutionaries pushed for such rights, including suffrage, it has also shown how a man, in such a social atmosphere as Mabini had, respected and fought for the Filipina. Indeed, it is of significance to note that one Filipino in a male-dominated government stood up not only for Filipinas, but for women in general, and what a phenomenon for a country to produce such a person in such a time.

Mabini last appears alone in Philippine paper money in the Bagong Lipunan series.
Since 1993, Mabini appears in Philippine money with Bonifacio.

Have you enjoyed or been annoyed by the series? Comment, and share. Kindly answer the year-long survey.

See the references by clicking here.


[Disclaimer: While some content may offend or cause disagreement with some readers, it must first be taken to mind that the author does not have access to the entire Mabini fountain of sources. Therefore, whatever analyses and conclusions made here are made as adequate as possible and are only built from the available evidences, sources and theories the author has access. Also, since only few editing, mainly grammatical, was made since this series was first written in 2014, then it is yet to be subjected to change. Any correction is welcome, but copying without permission is being frowned upon, since this blog is not under any Creative Commons Attribution. Thank you for reading the Young Filipino Historian.]
Manning Up? Apolinario Mabini on the rights of women (Final) Manning Up? Apolinario Mabini on the rights of women (Final) Reviewed by Al Raposas on Monday, October 20, 2014 Rating: 5

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