FilLit Series: Three Filipino Women



The month of March is dedicated to all women, we just celebrated International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, so I decided to write a book review focusing on Filipino women.

‘Three Filipino Women’ by F. Sionil Jose is composed of three novelas capturing the lives of three Filipino women and on how they are depicted during the changing and turbulent times of the 1960s towards the 1980s and especially during the Martial Law. Is starts with Narita a mestiza who hails from Bacolod who dreams of being part of the Filipino social elite, she sees politics as an avenue for her to realise her goal, her story is a filled with drama. Then there is Ermi’s story which is on the opposite spectrum. A sex worker in Manila who wants to change her life but Martial Law challenges her will to change her future. Lastly, Malu who is a brilliant activist who opposed the Martial Law and the Marcos regime and desperately campaigns for Filipino social and political change. ‘Three Filipino Women’ is an interesting read because it shows the strength and resilience of Filipino women from all walks of life. The stories have their own twists, turns and tragedies (which reminded me of daily Filipino soap operas), the novellas gives a glimpse on how Filipino women are defined by Filipino society during a particular time in Filipino history.

Personally, I am ambivalent about the book. I struggled sometimes because Jose fixed all Filipino women in the novellas on a particular social construction of being alluring, seductive and sometimes manipulative. Perhaps this might be a good reason to read the book, so that we can further understand how Filipinos themselves define Filipino women at a particular time. Perhaps this book could be an avenue as well to encourage Filipino women authors to write, define and articulate their own unique stories in this time of change. A critical book to read but still a good read.  

Until the next book review.