Very early in life, Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil learnt “…the most obvious kind of feminism by being the youngest and only girl in a family of dominant, lordly males.” Her father, described as “a gallant of the old school,” treated her with unabashed partiality simply because girls were not expected to get better grades than boys, or keep their word and their temper. Her pampered upbringing did not prepare her for the Battle of Manila (February 1945) during which she lost the love of her life, Ismael Cruz, my father, as well as her childhood friends and all her material possessions.
Both her parents and two elder brothers survived, but they were all destitute. She was a war widow at 22, with no income and two babies to feed. But, like the proverbial Phoenix, she rose intrepidly from the ashes of war, that was probably why she wrote “Woman Enough” (December 1951), her first essay on the Filipino woman.
Unwittingly, “Woman Enough” became a salvo for feminism. The Philippine Quarterly, one of the first glossies, asked Mrs Nakpil to contribute to its March 1952 issue, women’s month. She wrote “The Filipino Woman,” a more serious piece which delved into the historical roots of why Filipinas are women enough. “She has a long, unburied past,” said Mrs Nakpil intriguingly. “There have been three men in her life—her Asiatic ancestor, the Spanish friar, and the Americano. Like Chekhov’s ‘The Darling,’ she echoes all the men she has known in her person...” That made the Filipino woman heterogeneous and unpredictable.