The arrival of the Spanish in the Philippines marked a significant turning point for the country, resulting in huge changes in the lives of those already inhabiting the island. From culture and religion to social politics and rights.
Records show that the pre-colonial population of the Philippines commonly revered women, offering both genders the same rights and privileges. Additionally, women were not expected to take their husband’s name upon marriage, with some men even taking the name of their wife if she held particularly high standing. This attitude spread into the area of marriage, with unwed men and women treated the same as those who reproduced with a committed partner. Divorce was also a common occurrence in pre-colonial times, ben accepted by all from common peasants to nobles.
The respect given to women also saw them dominate many of the more important roles in society. For example, women and feminised men were often given high distinctions such as being awarded the role of shamans (such as babaylans who specialised in communicating with and appeasing the dead. These shamans would also often temporarily take the place of the head of each domain if the datu or rajah had to travel.
Furthermore, single-sex relationships were also accepted in pre-colonial society, with feminised men allowed to marry men and women allowed to marry other women.
The Spanish arrived in the Philippines in 1565, following their initial failure to successfully establish themselves on the island in 1525. This arrival marked a change in society on the archipelago, significantly altering the religious beliefs and culture across the islands within just a few centuries.
According to records, the Spanish were shocked by the beliefs held by the indigenous people on marriage and sexuality, with many seeing these views as superior to theirs. However, they still sought to alter the locals’ ideologies and rapidly imposed new views on equality. This soon led to a change in behaviour across the society, which led to hate crimes, discrimination and gender inequality where none had previously been witnessed.
"Spanish persecution and the downfall of the pre-colonial people". HistoryLearning.com. 2023. Web.