The New Age for Women
March 18, 1917 — First prize-winning oration, First Annual Oratorical Contest, The Philippine Law School, Manila, the Philippines
As a daughter of the Philippines, as a part of the Filipino people, a Filipino woman can never be justified in being a mere spectator to the drama of life that is played within the four corners of her country. What affects her country, affects her own self. Therefore, let her come out on the stage of Philippine affairs and let her play the part of a heroine for it is only in doing so that she can be considered as bringing her best gifts to the altar of the land she loves.
In this age of such enlightenment, I presume, no Filipino man or woman who is endowed with good mental perception, can ever conceive the idea of such a thing as “standing still”, or stagnation, for a country. Our highly adored Philippines must either go forward or slide backward, or it must rise triumphantly upward or fall ignominiously downward and be once more under the sway of some cruel hand. Of course, we all wish to see her lifted up into the atmosphere of progress and dignity. But how can this be done? How can our wishing be transformed into having? Unless there is an equal force of interest, courage and patriotism from both our men and women to push the Philippines upward, unless the women, too, of our country are willing to set their hands upon the plow which would dig up the weeds of ignorance, laziness, selfishness and superstition from the minds of the majority of our people, in short, unless the Filipino women are willing to condescend and make themselves “pillars instead of pinnacles, aids instead of idols” of these Islands, the Philippines will never thrive nor climb the heights for which her patriotic sons have struggled for years.
One of the best gifts that a Filipino woman can give her country, is her untiring and unremitting effort to help mitigate the deplorable condition of her less fortunate countrymen and to rear up from the cradle in her home children who are to be the bright prospects of the coming generation.
Source: Gems of Philippine Oratory: Selections Representing Fourteen Centuries of Philippine Thought, Carefully Compiled From Credible Sources in Substitution for the Pre-Spanish Writing Destroyed by Missionary Zeal, to Supplement the Later Literature Stunted by Intolerant Religious and Political Censorship, and as Specimens of the Untrammeled Present-Day Utterances, ed. Austin Craig, (Manila: Fajardo Press) 1924, p. 92-93.