Woman: A classic of Survival*

Skimmers’ Oratorical Piece delivered during Prima Facie 2008 at Pidlaoan Hall, University of the Philippines Visayas Miagao, Iloilo, September 9

After finishing a class in my Philippine History subject, I admiringly stared at my professor in awe of the breadth of her knowledge and the depth of her insights on Philippine affairs. She’s a motherly figure that can inspire both terror and love, both power and wisdom – a woman of tireless energy that will make one appreciate the past and see its implication on the present and the times to come. A woman of indomitable spirit. A cancer survivor.

She survived the disease and proved once more that not even the dreaded breast cancer will keep her from becoming the best in her field. She, like all other women I know, has proven her worth as a survivor. They do it with grace, beauty, and confidence-something only a woman can do. A classic, if you allow me to say.

Women in this hall, who constantly and successfully prove to the world that nature has made them the wonders of survival; the men as well, who are witnesses to what these daring women can do; board of judges; friends; ladies and gentlemen: a pleasant afternoon.

Behold a classic of survival.

As we all struggle for existence and for survival, to put it, the precondition is not for an individual to be big, to be strong; neither is brute force a prerequisite. Cunning and adaptation are the rules of the game. Two characteristics generously endowed by nature on the female of the species.

Survival is the ability to adapt and to embrace the curves and falls of the meandering idiosyncrasies of life. It is for the same reason why the brainy tiny mouse inherited the world and the dim-witted mighty T-rex failed.

Women are the masters of survival for instead of using violence, force, and overt showcase and spectacle of power they preferred the less obvious means – love, beauty, intelligence, and grace.

Cloaked by the meek and innocent look is a woman of seething power poised to rule the world.

Hidden behind the sweet smile is an intelligent woman that will make your heart beat furiously, shake it; but love in a manner only she can do.

Camouflaged by the seemingly weak and fragile body is a woman of strength that can hold the world on her finger tips.

Mimicking silence and an unassuming character are intelligence and erudition that allow us to see the world in a different light, giving us perspective that the otherwise male-biased science is utterly unsuccessful in doing.

Such and so much more celebrate women’s mastery of the evolutionary track humankind has trod and will continue to do, so long as it remains the most dominant species in the face of the world.

My Philippine History professor is defined by her intelligence, her job as a member of the academe, and yes, by the disease she fought and successfully won, but more than all these, she is defined by her womanhood, an identity that made her a classic of survival.

As a woman, I eschew society’s definition of my person; I refuse to be measured against biased yard stick that is concerned with nothing but delegating me to a secondary status. I demand to be viewed equal because I see myself as an intelligent, sensitive, virtuous, and beautiful survivor who will not only survive this life but will eventually conquer it.

Millennia of humanity’s existence have proven once and again that women have mastered survival, its complexities, intricacies, its arts and sciences. From enduring the pangs of child birth to recovering from all hardships, but still being able to afford to look almost unscathed from the challenges faced, women have given this world an enduring legacy of survival and taught a very simple lesson of existence: that surviving is not fighting against the conditions posed by nature but to use these conditions to one’s advantage, something that women learned by heart and made use of in myriad of ways.

I myself would also want to leave something as my legacy to humanity, something that will inspire mankind and other women like me to not just experience this life but to survive it, transcend it, and go beyond what is expected of me as a woman.

Surviving it with intelligence, passion, grace, and of course, beauty.

Behold before you a classic of survival.

A woman.

*An oratorical piece inspired by Prof. Tita Torio, a teacher, mentor, second mother, and friend of the author.
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