BOOK REVIEW: BATA, BATA…. PA’NO KA GINAWA?
There’s a forceful and commanding voice to dare women to be independent, dynamic, assertive and strong-willed in their career as well as advocacy which the book stands for. The book is indeed a feminist literary writing for these reasons: Lualhati Bautista aspires for equal rights and opportunities for women to be heard and listened to. It transcends women’s rights in an organized, influential and assertive manner. It introduces new feminism that supports the idea that men and women have different strengths, perspectives and roles, while advocating for the equal worth and dignity of both sexes.
Background of the Book
Ang Bata, Bata… Pa’no Ka Ginawa? (also known as Lea’s Story is a novel written in Tagalog by the Filipino female writer, Lualhati Bautista. Bautista uses “Taglish” – a mixture of Tagalog and English, instead of pure Tagalog – as a stylistic device for her works. The novel is about the role of a woman, like its author, with Filipino society wherein the males were, in the past, assuming more dominant roles in society. The translation of the title is literally, “Child, Child… How were you made?” although figuratively it actually surpasses its allusion – or reference – to the process of reproduction through the revelation of its true, symbolic question-message: “Child, Child… How were you molded to become a mature, grown-up person?”
There are handful of learning and wisdom that I gained from the book. Here they follow:
1. Each character has been constructed to be different, non-typical and unconventional woman of new generation. They are extra-ordinary (especially Lea, the main character in the story) because they go beyond the common characteristics of a woman—- at home, economically-dependent, inferior, submissive and faithful to their husbands.
2. In the case of Maya and Ojie who experience storm and stress of growing up, we need to understand what a person is going through. It means taking a genuine interest in the other person and see things from that person’s point of view without offering advice, judging or probing. Conversations aren’t competitions where one’s point of view wins.
Since two people are coming from two different points of view, they can be both right. Understanding another means stepping into that person’s history and background and working room for the other’s needs. This will involve giving and receiving on the part. It is well worth the effort it takes for it will deepen family relationship.
3. In the case of Lea, Ding and Johnny, I learned that the deepest need of the human heart is to be understood and the greatest gift I can give other is to respect and value them as they are—- (that each and everyone of us has something unique to say). The problem is that many of us don’t know how to listen. We are often so busy preparing a response, judging, advising, paying attention to what interests us and putting our own spin on things that we completely miss the point.
To listen well, listen not just to the word a person says, but also to the feelings reflected in one’s body language. We have two ears and one mouth so we need to speak less and listen more.
4. The point of view on life, love, relationship, sex and career as well as behavior and attitude of each female and male character is influenced predominantly by patriarchal oppression. However, the main character challenges the society to consider the psychology of women and tries to reconcile the role of men and women.
5. It is me or something in me, which tells me that all female writers are a feminist or there’s a bit of their stream-of-consciousness writing style that embraces feminism. As I read her book, Lualhati Bautista really advocates feminism and asserts women to have equal footing on men.
6. The book speaks for itself the pitfalls and strengths of a woman. It speaks the uncensored and unabashed thoughts of women into artistic and creative manner. It brings out the psychology of women to society and calls forth deep understanding of both sexes. To add, it addresses the storm and stress of the transformation of a teen-ager to a young man which is reflected by the role of Ojie.
All of us are interdependent and interconnected with one another and the world develops according to natural law. With this in mind, I believe that we need to believe in the rhythm of life and natural flow of life. The symbolical “Child, Child, how were you molded to be grown-up and mature individual?” reconfirms me to understand first what a person is coming from before I judge one’s motive and attitude.
As a teacher, I am encouraged to discover and know where my students are coming from as well as their mental abilities and psychological make-up. I should create activities and teaching strategies that both cater to female and male. Those activities should recombine, redefine, reconcile and reinforce the capacity, inclination and maturity of students to lead them into real world when they go out in the four corners of the classroom.
If the home is the basic foundation of a child, then I should also be a contributor or part in the creation of a grown-up and mature individual in the school.
Lualhati Bautista, “Bata, Bata, Pa’no Ka Ginawa?”, Carmelo Publishing House: Manila, Philippines, 1993.