What does it mean to be a woman?
Does it have something to do with age and maturity? Does it involve with success and glory? Is it having beauty and finesse?
More often than not, our society still defines womanhood through gender roles.
Even if recent years have seen more and more headstrong women defy gender roles and thrive in male-dominant fields such as politics, business, and even showbiz, a chunk of society still expects the Filipina to also be homemakers, wives, and mothers to be considered a "full-fledged woman."
And once women have gone past their 20s and their 30s, age becomes a huge factor in successfully filling out these roles.
But take it from the perspectives of Agot Isidro, Rachel Alejandro, and Alice Dixson: women shouldn’t be bound by gender roles, timelines, and societal pressures.
SINGLE VS MARRIED LIFE. At 51 years old, Agot Isidro has lived both the life of a single and a married woman.
Agot was married for 10 years to her ex-husband Manu Sandejas before they separated in 2011.
Does she miss the married life?
“I did enjoy the married life. I like waking up with someone, I like that idea. But I don’t know if I want to get tied down again.” The Kapamilya actress told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) when she dropped by to promote her film, Changing Partners, last January.
As a single woman, Agot appreciates that women nowadays are more open to the thought that it is okay not to have marriage in mind.
“Depends on what your ambitions are or what you want in your life…
“It’s nice to see that women are more empowered, emboldened because nga—I don’t think it’s because we have something to prove.
“It’s just the way we are built.
“We multi-task, we do a lot of things, and we succeed in doing that.
“I’m proud that a lot of women, even young women, are thinking that way.
“On the downside, parang, they don’t wanna have families yet and want to focus on careers.
“Pero, yun nga, depends really on what you want in life, e.
“No one can say it’s good or it’s bad.
“It’s really up to you.
“It’s your life.”
MARRIAGE WITHOUT A CHILD. In some cases when a woman does marry, the next expected step will be to bear a child.
But for Rachel Alejandro, this wasn't an option for her and her Spanish husband, Carlos Santamaria.
Seven years into their marriage, the couple are without child and they choose to have it that way.
“It was incredulous. Talagang—'What! Why would you not wanna have kids?'” the 44-year-old actress/singer told PEP.ph, recalling how her family reacted to it.
“If you’ve seen my husband, he’s a very good-looking man.
"So, parang lahat, 'Sayang naman! Ang gwapo sana ng naging anak niyo.'”
But Rachel and her husband have a practical reason behind their decision, “This is going to sound, parang, really unromantic, but in our case kasi, at the time, [my husband and I] were moving to the US, so we thought it was more practical [not to have a baby].
“I know, it sounds really bad!
“Then, eventually, he wants to live in Spain someday, but I’m not ready to do that any time soon.
“So, the married state just really makes these little legality things…
"It’s not about 'you’ll be together forever' because we know that once you decide na ayaw niyo na, it’s like the piece of paper is gonna keep you, right?
“So, it’s really more making things neat.”
At the same time, Rachel knows that she may not be able to be the kind of mom she wants to be for her child, “I don’t know what time I would have to give. I mean, I have so many things going on all at the same time that sometimes I really feel overwhelmed.”
But it appears that her nieces and nephews are filling in that space for Rachel.
Rachel’s sister, Chef Barni Alejandro, pointed out, “My daughter looks like her. She doesn’t look like me! If [Rachel] had a daughter…”
Rachel added, “[My niece] wants to be a singer, and then our other niece naman, she wants to be a singer also!
“So, parang, I’ve passed on na rin the torch to the two…”
MOTHERHOOD AFTER 40. Alice Dixson may already be 48 years old, but the actress still hopes to have a child of her own.
“I’ve always wanted.” She tells PEP.ph. “I tried three years ago now in vitro, but it didn’t work.
“And now that my age is getting up there, supposedly the pregnancy would be more high-risk.
“So, I agreed with my partner na we get a surrogate na lang.”
Alice and her partner are currently in the process of finding the right surrogate.
But if Alice has her way, she wants to carry the baby on her own.
“I feel fine! I would like to carry, but my partner wouldn’t let me. Takot siya.”
If Agot, Rachel, and Alice can teach us something, it's that women have the power to choose, and should not have to apologize for the choices they make.
Happy International Women's Day, PEPsters!