HomeManilavol. 4 no. 1 (2008)

Shaping Femininity in Spanish Manila: A Preliminary Study on the Colegio De Santa Potenciana

Marya Svetlana T. Camacho

Discipline: History



Early on in the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, a government supported institution for the shelter and education of Spanish women was established in Manila. While from the outset the Colegio was intended to preserve the colonial elite by catering exclusively to women of Spanish blood, nevertheless it became the model for subsequent educational institutions for women in hispanized Philippines whose legacy is still felt at present. Since much of the existing literature on Santa Potenciana consists only of a brief institutional history, this paper seeks to delineate its institutional configuration and practice as well as the principles underlying these; hence, the commonalities and distinction of the Colegio from similar institutions in the Hispanic world of that period. A spectrum of textual sources, mostly from the 19th century, are used: the statutes of the Colegio, applications for admission and leaves of absence, and disciplinary cases. As further illustration of Santa Potenciana's nature and culture, the changes in the background of the women sheltered in the Colegio and glimpses of a few women who occupied administrative posts there are included in this study. Attention will be given to women's voices whenever they are expressed