Pearls: Reconceiving colonial perceptions of womanhood

·2 min read

The Filipiniana garb has always been a symbol of the monolithic image of a woman in the Colonial period in the Philippines. The image of Maria Clara—feminine, docile and demure— a woman who is defined by the patriarchy that ruled her world is what we have been conditioned to perceive as the definitive delineation of femininity.

In Archie Geotina’s photo series, “Pearls,” he is able to capture women expressing the joys of freedom in surfing while wearing the traditional Filipiniana wear. When asked what the inspiration behind his photographs was, Geotina shared: “I’ve been surfing for six years in Siargao. I’ve been inspired by the way women from the island surfed. I found it beautiful. I found it sublime. I wanted to make that sort of like, the filter of my work.”

The photo series depicting native Siargao women surfing in the traditional garb showcases the juxtaposition of the act of surfing from the constrained symbolism of the FIlipiniana attire. It shows freedom despite being caged in.

The instrument our colonizers used to control women is nullified in the process. Geotina’s photo series is a symbol of resistance to colonialism. He disclosed: “The overarching idea of this series really just popped into my head. I just thought it would be something beautiful to see. Knowing how oppressive colonialism was and how restrictive it was for women. All in all, it was just a trail of thought.”

Among the photos, Geotina also featured a transgender woman named Colleen who is an active leader of the LGBTQIA+ community in Siargao Island. Geotina revealed that his photo series also touches on the representation of queer people.

“I consider myself a feminist. When I say that, I’m not just for women alone. Feminism is about equality; it is all-encompassing, which includes queer people.”

Geotina’s exhibition breaks typical representations of women and inspires the ongoing movement of resisting the monolithic image of women. Women aren’t defined by being one thing. They aren’t just made to be mothers or wives. They are made to battle the waves of the ocean and the lives they choose to lead. They are made to be free.

The exhibit in Qube Contemporary, located on A.S. Fortuna St. in Mandaue City, Cebu, will be up until June 26.

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