Monday, March 12, 2012

Ander da Saya

Photo from Okinawa Soba
I don't get to hear this phrase often nowadays. Perhaps it is something that is no longer relevant or it has turned into a different form but of the same context. Some use takusa (takot sa asawa) and other terms I didn't bother to search for or try to remember. It all boils down to one point, a man "cowering" to a woman.

Personally, that doesn't seem like an issue. If one can look at it at a perspective we Filipinos used to see, it shouldn't be embarrassing. But apparently, to the people who invented the term, it seems very unacceptable. "Ander da Saya" is the Filipinized term for "under the Saya" or under a woman's dress. Now you see who made a big deal out of this Pinoy attitude?

Hundreds of years ago, before the Americans and the Spanish arrived, we look at women differently. We treat women with equality. They had a voice in the society and most especially in the family. It was a cooperation between man and woman, with her voice heeded and opinions heard. Pre-colonial Filipino men didn't recognize any shamefulness or embarrassment on this setup and that mentality came about a bit during the Spanish Era, but widespread during the American times.

According to F. Landa Jocano, our societies in the past was built on the equality of man and woman. The legend of Malakas and Maganda coming out of a bamboo gives us clues why. They were "created" at the same time. The timing of creation is crucial, comparing to Adam and Eve, where woman was made from the rib of man which situated Eve as a "subordinate" to Adam. Malakas and Maganda on the other hand was partnership and equality right from the start. Pulling common sense from this reasoning, it is NEVER shameful to heed your partner.

Culturally speaking, we have every right to be "under da saya." To us, it literally means love, respect and understanding Filipinas. This is the reason why many Pinoys obey their wives and are very comfortable with it. We are hardwired to be like that and this has nothing to do with pride on our manhood. Nobody really has to be on top. 

Image by Kamalayan
Sadly, there is confusion. The modern Pinoy is a confused individual. We are genetically and culturally developed to live with the "under the Saya" thinking, yet with all the bombardment of media, Hollywood ideals, and the psychological imbalances of influential people, we become victimized and forced to act like foreign men. Now we have Filipino men running around on big egos with a distorted view of the Filipino culture and the country. Somewhere along the line, we've lost our identity. We've been pushed to a way of thinking that is out of line from who we are. I bet its time to reclaim it and bring balance to our way of loving and our way of life. 

I assure you, the rewards are going to be astounding.