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The Woman and the Right to Vote   By: (1874-1939)

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Philippine Senate Fifth Philippine Legislature First Session The Woman and the Right to Vote

Address Delivered By

Hon. Rafael Palma Senator for the Fourth District

In support of Bill No. 23 of the Senate in the sessions held by said body on the 22d and 25th of November, 1919

Manila Bureau of Printing 1919


Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Senate:

I have seldom felt so proud of being a representative of the people as now, when it gives me an opportunity to advocate a cause which can not be represented or defended in this chamber by those directly and particularly affected by it, owing to the leven of prejudice that the beliefs and ideas of the past have left in the mind of modern man. The cause of female suffrage is one sure to strike a sympathetic chord in every unprejudiced man, because it represents the cause of the weak who, deprived of the means to defend themselves, are compelled to throw themselves upon the mercy of the strong.

But it is not on this account alone that this cause has my sympathy and appeals to me. It has, besides, the irresistible attraction of truth and justice, which no open and liberal mind can deny. If our action as legislators must be inspired by the eternal sources of right, if the laws passed here must comply with the divine precept to give everybody his due, then we can not deny woman the right to vote, because to do otherwise would be to prove false to all the precepts and achievements of democracy and liberty which have made this century what may be properly called the century of vindication.

Female suffrage is a reform demanded by the social conditions of our times, by the high culture of woman, and by the aspiration of all classes of society to organize and work for the interests they have in common. We can not detain the celestial bodies in their course; neither can we check any of those moral movements that gravitate with irresistible force towards their center of attraction: Justice. The moral world is governed by the same laws as the physical world, and all the power of man being impotent to suppress a single molecule of the spaces required for the gravitation of the universe, it is still less able to prevent the generation of the ideas that take shape in the mind and strive to attain to fruition in the field of life and reality.

It is an interesting phenomenon that whenever an attempt is made to introduce a social reform, in accordance with modern ideas and tendencies and in contradiction with old beliefs and prejudices, there is never a lack of opposition, based on the maintenance of the statu quo , which it is desired to preserve at any cost. As was to be expected, the eternal calamity howlers and false prophets of evil raise their fatidical voices on this present occasion, in protest against female suffrage, invoking the sanctity of the home and the necessity of perpetuating customs that have been observed for many years.

Frankly speaking, I have no patience with people who voice such objections. If this country had not been one of the few privileged places on our planet where the experiment of a sudden change of institutions and ideals has been carried on most successfully, without paralyzation or retrogression, disorganization or destruction, I would say that the apprehension and fears of those who oppose this innovation might be justified.

However, in less than a generation our country, shaken to its very foundations by the great social upheavals known as revolutions, has seen its old institutions crumble to pieces and other, entirely new institutions rise in their place; it has seen theories, beliefs, and codes of ethics, theretofore looked upon as immovable, give way to different principles and methods based upon democracy and liberty, and despite all those upheavals and changes which have brought about a radical modification in its social and political structure, or rather in consequence of the same, our people has become a people with modern thoughts and modern ideals, with a constitution sufficiently robust and strong to withstand the ravages of the struggle for existence, instead of remaining a sickly and atrophied organism, afraid of everything new and opposed to material struggles from fear of the wrath of Heaven and from a passive desire to live in an ideal state of peace and well being... Continue reading book >>

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