Rizal and the women of Malolos, Bulacan
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, one of the feisty female senators in the Philippines today, could probably relate to the struggle and the courage displayed by the twenty exceptional women in Malolos, Bulacan way back in 1888.
Although these women were from middle class families in Malolos, they still chose to defy stereotypes during that period. On December 12, 1888, they petitioned Governor General Valeriano Weyler to allow them to open a ‘night school’ so that they will learn the Spanish language. It was not granted at first, but on February 1889, they were finally given permission provided that Señora Guadalupe Reyes would be their teacher and that the classes would be held during the day.
The nature and audacity of their request came as a surprise even outside the Philippines. Jose Rizal, who was in Madrid during that time, wrote an encouraging letter to these brave women who demonstrated initiative and stong desire for education.
Rizal praised them for challenging what the predominantly patriarchal society expects of them at that time. Through learning the language of the friars and the Spanish government authorities, they can now have a more active role in shaping the future of their children and that of the country in the long run.
The school however only opened for three months as it was closed after intense pressure from local authorities. Even so, most of the women supported the revolution in whatever capacity possible just a few years later. Some also joined and founded various socio-civic organizations. They may have not fully realized the far reaching implications of their request back in 1888. Many considered this now as one of the events in Philippine history which paved the way for more and more women to be heard and to be empowered, not only in their own homes but in the society as a whole.
How to get there
The stamp site for this leg of the Lakbay Jose Rizal @150 is at the Casa Real building in Malolos, Bulacan. It is just a few meters away from the Malolos City Hall and the Barosoain Church. The author, together with a good friend, lumped the Malolos and Pampanga sites in a single day. They took a van bound for Malolos at SM San Fernando and alighted by the intersection of the MacArthur Highway and Paseo del Congreso St. From there they took a trike to the site. Other options in getting there are provided here.