Welcome to Urbana.ph

Urbana by Sarah Tan

Urbana.ph is a portal and community for women’s rights and issues in the Philippine context.

Urbana takes its name from Urbana at Felisa, a mid-nineteenth century book on feminine comportment written by Fr. Modesto de Castro, a Tagalog priest. The book contains a series of letters between Urbana, a young woman studying in Manila, and her younger sister Felisa, who remains in the province. The letters cover a wide range of life experiences and dispense advice on the ideal conduct and behavior expected of women from a middle-class Catholic family. The book is a product of a traditional, conservative society where laws and social norms were determined and enforced by men, and where women were generally perceived as followers, not leaders. Many of the patriarchal ideas in the book endure to this day, and continue to influence Philippine society and culture.

Culture is a contested process of meaning-making, and we want to contribute to a more gender-equal society by contesting the patriarchal ideas that narrow the definition of what women and girls can and should do, and how they should behave. We want to talk about how these ideas relate to contemporary issues like gender-based violence and rape culture, sexual and reproductive health and rights, factors that constrain women’s political and economic participation, among others. As feminists, we are critical of social norms that enforce oppressively rigid gender roles and stereotypes, and have founded a community that seeks discuss manners and morals for the modern Filipina.

There’s a broad spectrum of people who identify as feminists, and they don’t necessarily believe in the same things or behave in the same way. Women (and men) with different experiences and opinions can all be feminists. We don’t agree on everything, and that’s ok.

The founding members of Urbana.ph identify as feminists because we believe in social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. We may diverge on many different issues, but  we agree that men and women should have equal rights and equal opportunities.

Because of feminism’s bad rap, some advocates of equality prefer to take up the mantle of humanism. We identify as both feminists and humanists. While we want equal rights and opportunities for all, by being outspoken about feminism we are drawing attention to the fact that females are the underprivileged gender. We believe that to achieve gender equality, we need to advocate for the rights of women and girls.

We’re not experts on feminism or women’s issues, and we don’t claim to be. The members of this community are at different stages of our lives, and at different points in our feminist journey. We are all still figuring out where we stand on certain issues.  We’ve created this community so that we can discuss these issues in a safe environment that encourages respectful exchange of ideas, and where we can learn from each other’s experiences.

We hope you’ll join us. If you’ve got an idea for a topic on Urbana.ph, please email us at urbanablog[dot]ph[at]gmail[com] or send us a message on our Facebook page.