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“Ang Pagiging Babae ay Pamumuhay sa Digma”

More often than not, the society sees men as the primary provider of families. As a matter of
fact, we Filipinos tag family men as the haligi-ng-tahanan or house pillar in English. In a male-
dominated society like ours, it is not a surprise that the female gender is viewed as the weaker

This mentality can be traced back in our country’s history. During the Spanish occupation,
women were deprived of certain rights like the right to vote, right to be educated, and right to
earn a living. This continued until the Japanese occupation where women were harassed and
turned into comfort women. During the present day, women are given equal rights and
opportunities as that of men, but gender discrimination still occurs in one way or another.

“Ang Pagiging Babae ay Pamumuhay sa Panahon ng Digma” is a poem by Joi Barrios that
was published in 1990. The author is famous for writing works that promote gender equality and
awareness. This piece revolves around the same matter. The life of a woman is compared to
living in a state of war.

“I grew up/ with fear beside me,/ uncertain of a future,/ hinged to the men of my life” This
line tells us how women grow up with inferiority. Women are afraid to be alone without a man
beside them. Hence, the line “father, brother,/ husband, son.” Women tend to hold on to men for
the feeling of security and strength. “Kinatatakutan ko ang pag-iisa/ Sa pagiging ina.”

According to Joi, being a mother is to look at poverty at its face. In this poem, it is said that
war is not just by bloodshed. To look at your family suffering from poverty and hunger is also a
state of war. When men go to work and try to provide for their families, it is the women who are
left at home. Most likely, it is the woman who will see what lacks in their house. She is the one
who sees the struggle of their family. As much as women would want to also provide for the
family, there are still responsibilities they have to attend to. This was explained in the line
“paano magpapasuso ng bunso/ habang naghahanap ng maisusubo sa panganay?”

In this poem, Joi also illustrates the relationship of a husband and a wife. In the Phillipines a
lot of families follow the patriarchal setup. “Sa sariling tahanan,/ ang pagsagot at pagsuway/ ay
pag-aanyaya ng karahasan.” This line tells us that even within the walls of their own home,
women are not given the chance to speak up. Women are still inferior to men even in their own
families. The decision of women to speak or disobey their husbands may lead to violence such as
physical abuse or verbal abuse.

“Sa lansangan,/ ang palalakad sa gabi’y/ pagtukso sa karahasan.” This line is about the
culture of rape in our society. Over the years, many feminist organizations tried to fight rape, but
even up to this date, women are still harassed. Men often sees women as sexual objects.

“Sa huli’y nauunawaan ko/ ang pagiging babae/ ay walang katapusang pakikibaka/ para
mabuhay at maging malaya.” Joi illustrates in this line that no matter how many times women
defend their rights, discrimination will still occur one way or another. There will always be times
that men will prevail over women because “they are just women.”
This poem by Joi Barrios doesn’t use much of figures of speech. It is quite literal and frank.
This helps in raising awareness because sometimes we don’t need fancy words to open the eyes
of our readers. Sometimes, straight-to-the-point statements leave more shock to the readers. It is
a poem that shows why it is a struggle for women to live in a male-dominated society. It is a
poem, written by a woman, not just for women, but also for men to be open towards gender
equality and sensitivity.