In the story, Villanueva presents the Filipina as a woman blessed with the inner strength and the tenacity to weather through the storms of life. These enduring qualities are embedded in the Filipinas’ genetic code. How it got into the genes of every Filipina was not explained in the book. Filipinas are made that way, and that is enough explanation. It is a natural phenomenon. Villanueva enumerates the Filipina heroes in our culture and history to amplify this.
But, before all these gallant Filipina heroes walked on Philippine terrain, there lived Lola. She was every Filipino’s grandmother. For those living by the river, in the lowlands and the mountains, she was the grand matriarch whose resolve to face dangers and life challenges is unyielding. With her extremely long, strong, beautiful hair, she saved them from disaster. She never lost hope. She was relentless. She was larger than life.
This doesn’t mean that she was a pure amazon though. Lola was also gentle and, “kikay”. She took precious care of her long hair as any woman does. Her hair was her crowning glory.
The child reader can definitely relate to this image of the Filipina. For one, every child has a wise grandmother who has seen past the foolishness of youth. A grandmother who tells the most fascinating of stories; who cooks the best sinigang or pinakbet; who keeps her promises and fulfills her word. Second, this image is very familiar. It is an image that is a part of every Filipino child’s life. It is not a distant character culled out from some foreign TV show or western pop culture. It is real and close to home.
The story celebrates the formidable Filipina as characterized through the Lolas we have in our families. Our children, particularly our girls, need to see them as magnified through these kinds of stories. The Filipina can assert her identity in the global arena with a cognizance of their heritage and a bold claim of their legacy.