Jose Rizal’s legacy to Filipino women is embodied in his famous essay entitled, “To the Young Women of Malolos,” where he addresses all kinds of women – mothers, wives, the unmarried, etc. and expresses everything that he wishes them to keep in mind.
“To the Women of Malolos” was originally written in Tagalog. Rizal penned this writing when he was in London, in response to the request of Marcelo H. del Pilar. The salient points contained in this letter are as follows:
- The rejection of the spiritual authority of the friars – not all of the priests in the country that time embodied the true spirit of Christ and His Church. Most of them were corrupted by worldly desires and used worldly methods to effect change and force discipline among the people.
- The defense of private judgment
- Qualities Filipino mothers need to possess – as evidenced by this portion of his letter, Rizal is greatly concerned of the welfare of the Filipino children and the homes they grow up in.
- Duties and responsibilities of Filipino mothers to their children
- Duties and responsibilities of a wife to her husband – Filipino women are known to be submissive, tender, and loving. Rizal states in this portion of his letter how Filipino women ought to be as wives, in order to preserve the identity of the race.
- Counsel to young women on their choice of a lifetime partner
Rizal’s Message to Filipino Women
Jose Rizal was greatly impressed by the fighting spirit that the young women of Malolos had shown. In his letter, he expresses great joy and satisfaction over the battle they had fought. In this portion of Rizal’s letter, it is obvious that his ultimate desire was for women to be offered the same opportunities as those received by men in terms of education. During those days young girls were not sent to school because of the universal notion that they would soon only be taken as wives and stay at home with the children. Rizal, however, emphasizes on freedom of thought and the right to education, which must be granted to both boys and girls alike.
The Responsibilities of Filipino Mothers to Their Children
Rizal stipulates a number of important points in this portion of his letter to the young women of Malolos. The central idea here, however, is that whatever a mother shows to her children is what the children will become also. If the mother is always kissing the hand of the friars in submission, then her children will grow up to be sycophants and mindless fools who do nothing but do as they are told, even if the very nature of the task would violate their rights as individuals.
Qualities Mothers have to Possess
Rizal enumerates the qualities Filipino mothers have to possess:
- Be a noble wife.
- Rear her children in the service of the state – here Rizal gives reference to the women of Sparta who embody this quality
- Set standards of behavior for men around her.
Rizal’s Advice to Unmarried Men and Women
Jose Rizal points out to unmarried women that they should not be easily taken by appearances and looks, because these can be very deceiving. Instead, they should take heed of men’s firmness of character and lofty ideas. Rizal further adds that there are three things that a young woman must look for a man she intends to be her husband:
- A noble and honored name
- A manly heart
- A high spirit incapable of being satisfied with engendering slaves.
“To the Women of Malolos” centers around five salient points (Zaide &Zaide, 1999):
- Filipino mothers should teach their children love of God, country and fellowmen.
- Filipino mothers should be glad and honored, like Spartan mothers, to offer their sons in defense of their country.
- Filipino women should know how to protect their dignity and honor.
- Filipino women should educate themselves aside from retaining their good racial values.
- Faith is not merely reciting prayers and wearing religious pictures. It is living the real Christian way with good morals and manners.