The Filipina on Top: Deconstructing Maria Clara

Getting to the heart of the Pinay’s Madonna-Whore Syndrome. Is the modern Filipina well-informed enough not to fall into bad situations? Or are we unknowingly contributing to our own problems?


New Mini Documentary Discusses
Filipina Sexual Empowerment Issues

  • New mini-documentary film directed by award-winning director Kamil Roxas is one of the highlights of this year’s edition of Illustrado Magazine’s annual event Women of Substance
  • The film titled “Filipina on Top” – revolving around empowering Filipinas in overcoming prevalent concerns such as sexual harassment, sexual abuse and unwanted pregnancies – is a follow-up to last year’s successful release of “The Empowered Filipina”

26TH APRIL 2011, DUBAI, UAE – Following last year’s successful release of the specially produced mini-documentary film “The Empowered Filipina,” Dubai-based Filipino lifestyle publication, Illustrado Magazine, announced yesterday the online release of the film’s follow-up “Filipina on Top,” which was premiered during its annual Women of Substance event to be held last 1st April 1st at the Godolphin Ballroom in Jumeirah Emirates Towers.

“Filipina on Top” is also directed by Kamil Roxas, winner of the Hayah Film Competition at the Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF) in 2008. It talks about the sensitive yet significant issues concerning Filipinas, hoping to create awareness on the harsh realities Filipinas face and, at the same time, provide relevant information and worthwhile advice.

The film discusses the various attitudes towards pre-marital sex and the complex conservative-modern value system of Filipinas. Also tackled in the film is the lack of sex education in the country, contrasted with the omnipresent influence of the highly sexualized Philippine media and how all these shape cultural attitudes, behaviors and the choices Filipinas make for themselves.

Other prevalent concerns among the Filipinas tackled by the film are unwanted pregnancies and sexual harassment – the latter, furthered by Illustrado Magazine’s random survey of around 100 Filipinas in the ages of 20 to 50 years old based in the Middle East, where 75% said that they have experienced sexual harassment of some form, whether mild or serious (where sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual advances, request for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that tends to create a hostile or offensive environment).

According to Illustrado Magazine’s Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Lalaine Chu-Benitez – “While the debate continues on the decaying moral values in Philippine media, especially after the Willie Revillame TV5 fiasco; while the RH bill remains a bone of contention; and more conservative villages follow Alabang’s footsteps seeking to ban the sale of condoms, and artificial birth control without prescription, Filipinas in the Middle East are already on ‘stage three.’ They are experiencing the repercussions of our contradictory value system – suffering sexual harassment of various forms, while some have been jailed due to unwanted pregnancies and illicit relationships (sex without marriage). Clearly, something’s wrong here and we need to wake up and do something.”

Speaking on Illustrado’s Women of Substance advocacy, she says, “Last year, with the showing of the mini-documentary ‘The Empowered Filipina’, we were able to call on our fellow Pinays around the world to uplift themselves despite prevalent negative stereotypes. This year, we would like to encourage them to take charge of all aspects of their life, to protect themselves and to safeguard their situation, as well as future.”

Dubai-based award winning director Kamil Roxas comments, “I think a documentary has always been a beautiful medium and a vitally necessary form of information. Filming ‘The Empowered Filipina’ and ‘Filipina on Top’ with Illustrado’s Women of Substance team is indeed a privilege. I’m pleased that they use this medium of communication to aim for significant awareness campaigns.”

“Because of the cultural sensitivity of the topic, we ensured that we were careful on how we presented the issues, the differing opinions on the matter and as always, the film ends with a call to action and that is for Filipinas to take charge,” Kamil concludes.

The film, which is slated to be screened in various community events, in the UAE, Gulf and other parts of the globe through voluntary and charity groups, will also facilitate the launch of the spin-off “Pinays Take Charge” campaign where Filipinas are invited to pledge on a specific 10-point guideline hoping to inform, educate and alert them on how to handle compromising situations.

Illustrado’s Women of Substance 2011 is a project done in cooperation with Dove and Nikon, and supported by London Dairy, SM Development Corporation and Anlene.

For more information, please contact Illustrado at +9714-3654547 / +9714-3654543.

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