The Filipino Woman
in War and in Peace
February 11, 1922 — Inauguration of the Liga Nacional de Damas, Manila, the Philippines
But when her home and her children are threatened by some peril you will see this same woman, so feminine, aiding and saving the defenders of the fatherland. iSo did the welknown Matandang ‘Sora in the revolution of 1898. Or, like General Agueda Kahabagan Ruisenor, others fought on the battlefields. Of those who took the field, some aided our heroes, others shared the vicissitudes and perils of the struggle for liberty.
I saw with my own eyes, during the war with the United States in the year 1899, women who fought beside their fathers or their husbands in the advance on Lolomboy. Upon the invitation of Mrs. Aguinaldo, the General’s wife, some of us went into the trenches, the first women to form the Filipino Red Cross, to administer relief if needed and to encourage our soldiers with our presence. Pardon me for saying that there was a decided influence on their morale by our sharing their perils. . . .
Likewise I must refer to another incident . . . I t was in February of 1899, on the eve of the death of the brave Torres Bugallon. There had been a concentration of troops in Malolos at the summons of President Aguinaldo. The war-panic was spreading everywhere then. None the less, the defenders of liberty were unhesitating, resolute and spirited. They were not counting on victory but they were determined to die in defence of the rights of the fatherland. . . .
At nightfall came the soldiers’ mothers and the wives, bearing their babes in their arms. These weepingly implored, beseeched and in every way tried to dissuade the men from their venturesome unequal combat. . . .
And there were many desertions that night.
The attack that had been planned was disastrous for our forces, and after that came disaster after disaster. . .
Then was when I realized the great ascendency of woman and the decisive influence of her counsels, decisions of men, and the depressing result of this influence when the woman was not animated by generous and noble ideals. . .
Peace came. The disparity of forces was too great and, as I have said, the soldiers were, dispirited, and there was such scarcity of war materials that it was necessary for our armies to capitulate. Still there were some intractable spirits whom neither the defeats suffered nor the superiority of the enemy’s force could cast down. But their superhuman strength and desperation was suicide rather than heroism. Men and machines of war kept pouring in from across the ocean while in our camps were hunger, lack of munitions, and no reinforcements. To continue the struggle was criminal recklessness, and to no purpose would have annihilated our race. So realized many who acclaimed the armistice because they deemed it more prudent to begin on the work of re-organization and continue their labors in the shadow of peace for liberty and the recognition of our rights. But such an effort could not be productive of results till there was stable peace throughout the archipelago
Woman accomplished what armed force could not do. Composed of women, the “Peace League” in August of 1900, initiated by Miss Constancia Pobleteand other women who were armed only with faith and good will, succeeded in establishing peace where the machinery of war and superiority in numbers had not enabled the enemy to enforce it.
Once the men had begun on the work of re-organization, our women took up the task of reconstruction, not only in the retirement of the home but also openly in society.
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. 69-71.