A Journey in Time

I have been  travelling back in time in search of evidence  that  electricity helped women  get education. Today I went back to visit the women of  Malolos, the twenty women who brought a letter requesting a night school for women. I texted  CorCor Santos whose  great grandmother  was one of the leaders of the Malolos women , Alberta Santos Uitangcoy. I wanted to find out if the appliances in their ancestral house had electricity but she was busy in their family hospital and asked for more time to help in my research. I read some pages of  Nick Tiongson’s  Women of Malolos. His narratives did not explicitly touched on electricity and its impact on women’s education . But  I was more convinced that  the  Malolos women who lived up to the 1930s had witnessed the coming of electricity. They became more active and organized Cruz Roja or Red Cross , joined the Asociacion Feminista de Filipinas (AFF) and became suffragettes. Corcor’s great grandlola lived up to 1953 and was a very articulate woman.

In the process of re-reading many articles in the web, I also found what La Gota de Leche did for women in 1906. It was  not just a place for providing milk for the poor . It was a hospital and promoted breastfeeding to help reduce infant mortality. Many poor women had tuberculosis and they did not want to breastfeed their babies. La Gota de Leche  founder, Dr. Fernando Calderon, taught women what to do with their breast milk and how to insure safe  cow’s milk. Many of the suffragettes  did not just ask for the right to vote but was keen on educating women on nutrition.

As I traced the involvement of the Malolos women, from  1865 to the 1950s, I saw that they prepared the road to women’s empowerment. I even found that Alberta’s  house  was  in a street called Electricidad street, in Malolos’ Pariancillo.

I googled all the websites that would lead me to several articles  where I could find women and electricity.  One book I found was Florence Kimball Russel 1900 ” A Woman’s Journey through the Philippines.”  She wrote in her journal all her impressions of the Philippines as she rode the cableship Burnside, a ship on a cable laying expedition from the US to the Philippines. Her stories were colourful and gave me  visually arresting pictures of  Manila, Dumaguete and Sulu. She found the women in Dumaguete more interested in Parisian clothes than the electric attraction of the ship : electric lights, fans, piano, cold storage and hot water in the bathrooms.  I wanted to read all her accounts but I had access only to reviewer’s pages .

As I went further to study how undersea cables could be powered in the 19th century, I saw that telegraphs were already in the Philippines by 1899. If the women of Malolos and the Asociacion Feminista de Filipinas (AFF) were from  families with resources, they must have access to the telegraph. From 1905 to 1937, the suffragettes must have been busy using  telegraphs and telephones  to get 447,725 women to register and vote because   women from all over the islands campaigned for suffrage. In 1937 when local elections were held, 24 women were elected and Carmen Planas became the first woman councilor of Manila.

There are so many things I am discovering about women and electricity. As of this juncture, I am electrified and will  continue to blog about women, not just as consumers but as  electric prosumers – blurring the lines between production and consumption.

Explore posts in the same categories: History, Lifelong learning

2 Comments on “A Journey in Time”

  1. supanee Says:

    Excellent site,Thanks for this great post – I will be sure to check out your blog more often.Just subscriped to your RSS feed….

  2. Tetch Says:

    You’re right. There was electricity during the Malolos Congress. It was set up by Fernando Canon who earned his diploma in electrical engineering in Barcelona. However, the electric plant is gone but the street that was formerly called Electricidad gives evidence to its existence.

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