She is the chairperson of the Department of History, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP) of the University of the Philippines. She obtained her doctorate de troisieme cycle at the Ecoledes Haustes Etudes on Science Sociales in Paris, France and has written numerous articles exploring various issues Philippine social history.
Her earlier publication, Kasaysayang Panlipunan ng Manila (1765-1898) won the 1993 National Book Awards in the category of History. She is also the Director of the University of the Philippines (UP) Press.
This particular article talks about the Late Spanish period of Philippine History – approximately in the 19th century. It mentioned several documents dated on year 1849.
Venereal diseases of 19th century Philippines › Syphilis - A common venereal disease caused by the treponema pallidum spirochete; symptoms change through progressive stages; can be congenital (transmitted through the placenta)
Public awareness › Advertisements of drugs for gonorrhea and syphilis › Medicines are available in drugstores (made in France)Arrests of Prostitutes › Go far back as 1849 and even before. › Deportation to Nueva Quipuzcua (Davao) and later to Isla de Balabac in Palawan.
Comisaria de Vigilancia and Carcel de Bilibid › Runs thorough background check on alleged prostitutes. › Runs health checks. If the alleged is infected with syphilis (and other venereal diseases), she is confined at Hospital de San Juan de Dios instead of Carcel de Bilibid. › Punishments run from 10, 15, and 30 days, and/or deportation. › Most of the arrested (prostitutes) had previous apprehensions for estafa, illegal gambling, public disorder, and prostitution. › Inside prison, they are subjected to hard labor.
Deportation › Either Davao or Balabac › Families petitions to the Governor General to spare family members accused of prostitution from punishment of deportation. › Mid 19th century, deportation was only for habitual offenders
Marriage › Served to circumvent or avert deportation › Means of reforming prostitutes.Social Profile of Prostitutes › Most are in late teens or early twenties. › Older prostitutes were married or widowed. › Most have legitimate occupations (author suspects that the little income they have from these jobs drove them to prostitution)
› Four categories:a) Under a prostitution houseb) Posted themselves in certain streetsc) Going to the homes of the clientsd) Renders services their own homes(author has questions on whether they wereseen obviously as prostitutes with theirappearances)
Popular Perception of Prostitutes › Various names of prostitutes: prostituta, mujer publica, vagamunda, and indocumentada. › Vagamunda – reflected the roving lifestyle. › Indocumentada – because of inability to register in a particular locality.
Conclusions of the Author › Colonial authorities regulated prostitution to check the spread of venereal diseases and respect public morals. › Prostitution was viewed as livelihood by natives.
Venereal diseases are rampant in areas of prostitution (densely populated areas) Reaction of family members about the punishment of deportation shows the Filipino value of having close family ties. Low income drives women to prostitution. Southern regions of Philippines, which are of lesser population are ideal deportation sites for prostitution.
It is important to have a historical knowledge of how and why one of the social ills of Philippines (prostitution) have existed in the past and possibly postulate why it still continues to exist today.