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Ang Baybay, Ang Babaye, Ang Mga Binalaybay:


An Ecofeminist Reading of Kristine Buenavista’s Dagat Poems
by

Al Jeffrey L. Gonzales

Abstract

Ecofeminist criticism as a literary theory analyzes male dominance both over nature and
women. As the interconnectedness of women and nature identities is a recognized
phenomenon, ecofeminist investigates the place of male power over nature and women in
literary works. In this study, the works of Kristine Buenavista, particularly her dagat Series
published in her poetry anthology, and the sea was saltier, was interrogated utilizing the
ecofeminist questioning. The analysis reveals the interconnected domination of nature and
women who are both seen as fragile and feminine by male ideologies. Meanwhile, men are put
in a place of power as they are typically linked with images that connote culture, civilization,
crime, and catastrophe. Buenavista’s poems, moreover, raise consciousness on issues such as
chauvinism and speciesism and advocate for a world that is more socially aware of issues
concerning gender and the environment.

Keywords: ecofeminism, Kristine Buenavista, feminism, ecology

Introduction

The turn of the nineteenth century has witnessed the birth and breeding of a new
generation of literary theories. Primarily originating from deviant and activist social movements,
these literary theories were an attempt to deconstruct already existing and established
structures from the earlier eras [ CITATION Ari17 \l 13321 ]. The emergence of these sub-
branches resulted into the multi-dimensional deconstruction of metanarratives and began to
doubt and destabilize the binary oppositions fashioned in favor of a particular group of people,
such as the patriarchy in feminism, the capitalist in Marxism, the heterosexist in the queer
theory, and the hierarchy in ecocriticism. These philosophical notions and societal motions
liberated the oppressed voices by rethinking earlier established dichotomies.

One of the critical theories that rose to oppose these earlier dualisms is ecofeminism.
Being a marriage of two earlier established movements, ecofeminism is a theory that merges
the fundamental features of feminism and the essential elements of ecology [CITATION Che08 \l
13321 ]. Feminism is a movement that aims to dismantle the domination of patriarchy over
women whereas ecology, or deep ecology, aims to end the exploitation and abuse of natural
resources. The convergence of these two disciplines aims to create a society that does not
promote men’s domination over women as well as the destruction of nature.

Ang Baybay, Ang Babaye, Ang Mga Binalaybay:


An Ecofeminist Reading of Kristine Buenavista’s Dagat Poems
WEST VISAYAS STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
GRADUATE SCHOOL

The introduction and origin of ecofeminism can be traced back to the 1970s when
Francoise D’ Eaubonne claimed that the domination of nature is tantamount to the domination
of women and vice versa [ CITATION Che08 \l 13321 ]. Her claim was immensely triggered by the
rapid movements of industrialization and modernization of the world. Such developments were
realized to be detrimental both towards the environment and women, thus the birth of
ecofeminism. Ecofeminism is a political movement that believes that oppression and
exploitation of women are predominant in a patriarchal realm in the same manner that the
domination and corruption of nature are in a hierarchical dimension where a male figure still
dominates.

As a literary lens, ecofeminism used in literary studies remains unexplored despite


having been around for almost five decades. The lack of ecofeminist scholarships in the country
is mainly because ecofeminism remains a novelty to many. The researcher decided to use this
lens to possibly jumpstart a mainstream utilization of the lens to advocate for a more critically
gender and ecologically aware readership in the region.

Ecofeminism in Literary Criticism

As a literary theory, ecofeminism explores the interconnectedness among the


subjugation of women, nature, and indigenous people as evidenced in literary texts [ CITATION
Dia17 \l 13321 ]. Moreover, it provides a specific literary lens to investigate texts, providing a
novel notion at how literary works reflect the place of women in society and how they are
linked to nature.

As suggested by Gaard (2010), ecofeminist critics do the following:

1. illuminate relationships among the humans across a variety of social, cultural, economic
and political differences, and between humans and the rest of nature;
2. critique the forms of alienation, hierarchy, and dominations, and advocate the centrality
of social diversity and biodiversity as necessary foundations to our survival on this
planet; and,
3. emphasize the urgency of political action aimed at the ecosocial transformation.

Moreover, an ecofeminist critique is typically concerned at identifying the hierarchical


and patriarchal constructions found in literary works in terms of their nature and female
oppressions and deciphering them by identifying dichotomies in behalf of the oppressed from
both the ecological and feminist perspectives [ CITATION Ari17 \l 13321 ].

For instance, analyses by Bazregarzadeh (2019) Shehab (2010) and Wood (n.d) of the
works of several female authors namely Mary Oliver, Maya Angelou, Terry Williams Tempest
reveals an invariable interconnectedness and interaction between women and nature. Their
works manifest ideas of interdependency between man and nature and emphasize embracing
the ancient connection between women and nature without subjecting themselves to
oppressive and obsolete gender roles. These authors, moreover, advocate for forming

Ang Baybay, Ang Babaye, Ang Mga Binalaybay:


An Ecofeminist Reading of Kristine Buenavista’s Dagat Poems
WEST VISAYAS STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
GRADUATE SCHOOL

harmonious relationships with the environment all the while standing up against oppressive
structures.

On the other hand, Arikan (2017) reviews the canonical works of William Shakespeare
using the ecofeminist questioning to reflect the oppression experienced by women and nature
in the era in which they were written. Arikan also analyzes these works to question and to
deconstruct dichotomies such as reason-unreason, civilized-primitive, domestic—wild, etc. that
favor the patriarchal regimes of such periods and only attribute inferior characteristics to
women and the environment. Arikan further believes that ecofeminist resistance will halt the
eradication of nature and so all of the otherized creatures that reside within it – women
included.

Furthermore, in a literary investigation conducted by Niyathi and Jha (2014) which


analyzed several novels of Sarah Joseph and Anita Nair, themes of female and environmental
connections surfaced as well as themes of gender and nature empowerment. The study
prescribes a major revamp in the relationships mankind has with the ecological system to
sustain and preserve it.

Meanwhile, the ecofeminist analysis of Shober (2017) of the works of Sindiwe Magona
highlights Magona’s attempt to reflect the realistic depictions of hegemonic forces that place
women and the environment into inferior social and political positions in South African context.
Shober also emphasizes Magona’s attempt to charge her readers with the duty to engage
themselves in retrieving their liberties as they also attempt to secure ecological replenishment.
Furthermore, she recommends that scholars and environmentalists consider the power of
literature in effecting environmental security and crushing gender-based injustice.

Research Questions

This paper aimed to investigate through textual analysis grounded on the ecofeminist
questioning the selected works of Kristine Buenavista’s dagat Poems published in her poem
anthology, and the sea was saltier. Patterned from Gaard’s (2010) guidelines and other
literatures reviewed, this paper is guided by the following questions:

1. How are men, women, and nature represented in the texts and how do these
representations relate with one another?
2. What ecofeminist issues are highlighted in the respective representations and
relationships of these representations of men, women, and nature?
3. What political action is advocated by the author in her works?

Research Design

This study explores ecofeminist issues generated from studying the representations and
relationships of men, women, and nature in the selected literary works of Kristine Buenavista as
viewed in the ecofeminist lens. Utilizing textual analysis grounded on the ecofeminist

Ang Baybay, Ang Babaye, Ang Mga Binalaybay:


An Ecofeminist Reading of Kristine Buenavista’s Dagat Poems
WEST VISAYAS STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
GRADUATE SCHOOL

questioning, this study is centered on how the author’s literary productions are reflective of the
real oppression and domination experienced by women and nature.

Kristine Buenavista whose poems served as the materials scrutinized in this literary
investigation is a writer and poet whose works are usually inspired by the coasts of Barotac
Viejo, a province situated in Northern Iloilo, Philippines. While maintaining a presence in the
local literary scene, Buenavista is also a volunteer for and a founder of several non-government
organizations.

The poems analyzed in this study are from her first book of poems, and the sea was
saltier, which was locally published in 2015. The book is the author’s first poetry anthology
although she had already written for literary collections and had been published in major
circulations and online publications.

A standout in this poetry collection is her dagat poems which have been purposively
chosen as the subjects for the literary inquiry. An exchange with the author revealed that there
are several poems in the series but only four were personally decided to be published. These
four poems namely, dagat II, dagat III, dagat IV, and dagat VI were utilized for the
investigation.

Guided by the ecofeminist questioning, the researcher highlighted, analyzed, and


recorded recurring patterns from these data sources through coding.

Results and Discussion

1. Men and their might: culture, civilization, catastrophe, and crime

Men assume varying roles and representations in these select works of Kristine
Buenavista. Despite the diversity in these representations, there are apparent and recurring
patterns as to how men are depicted in these works. For instance, men are usually associated
with images relating to culture and civilization. Also, these objects men are attached to are
objects that connote damage and destruction. Notably, though, men are sometimes portrayed
as willfully destroying women and nature even without the aid of these tools. The results of this
literary inquiry are further discussed in detail below:

1.1 Carriers of Culture and Civilization

This literary investigation revealed that men are seemingly associated with culture and
civilization. In fact, in all the poems scrutinized, men are depicted as purveyors of objects
originating from technology. For instance, in dagat II, men are implicitly characterized as
fishermen utilizing cigarettes and dynamites in the conduct of fishing. The specific part of the
poem reads:

7 and why I look like those men with cigarettes


8 throwing dynamites.

Ang Baybay, Ang Babaye, Ang Mga Binalaybay:


An Ecofeminist Reading of Kristine Buenavista’s Dagat Poems
WEST VISAYAS STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
GRADUATE SCHOOL

- dagat II, Kristine Buenavista

If the context is taken into account, this portrayal of men as users of cigarettes is not far
from reality. In fact, in a study conducted by the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2015), it was
revealed that 23.8% of adults in the Philippines claimed to be currently using tobacco in any
form. This figure is moreover comprised of 41.9% male users and only 5.8% female users.
These statistics suggest that while women are not surprisingly alien to the act of smoking, it is
men who are commonly associated with such practice.

Throughout the series, the images that men are linked with include a ship, gas, and an
oil lamp. In the excerpt above, as well as in the other poems in the series, men are manifestly
observed to be operating and functioning around technology – a fruit of scientific pursuits.
These objects men are associated with in these poems are indicative of the technological
presence in this literary realm. Notably, this particular presence usually, if not always, connotes
a masculine presence as well. Hence, it can be constituted that the patriarchy and the hierarchy
in these literary productions are represented by a common vessel characterized by male figures
who operate around technology.

1.2 Catalysts of Catastrophe

As previously elucidated, men have been presented to be frequently associated with


images relating to technology in the poems being studied. However, men being linked with
these images do not only constitute them as masters of such tools. Upon close analysis of the
materials, it can be gleaned that these objects they are depicted with serve not only to construe
their being cultured and civilized individuals but also to propose their being catalysts for
catastrophe or ‘manmade disasters’.

In dagat II, specifically, the objects - cigarettes and dynamites - fishermen have in
possession are undeniably weapons of destruction. The World Health Organization (2017)
reports that cigarettes or tobacco products in general extend their detrimental effects beyond
health complications and air pollution. They propose that the consumption and production of
these products can have environmental consequences to the extent of climate change. This
only goes to show that whether or not men are conscious as regards the extent of the effects of
their actions towards themselves or their surroundings, the habit of smoking is a volitional
behavior.

Meanwhile, Fabinyi (2012) proposes that fishing in the Philippines has become an
avenue for men’s demonstration of their masculinity and prowess. This display of masculinity
has led to the indulgence of men in prohibited practices such as the various forms of illegal
fishing. In dagat II, there is an inference of blast fishing using dynamites being practiced by
fishermen. Dynamites, which are illicit explosives, are detrimental and lethal to marine life. Such
practice is a glaring manifestation of a men’s disregard for nature in exchange for economic
benefits.

Ang Baybay, Ang Babaye, Ang Mga Binalaybay:


An Ecofeminist Reading of Kristine Buenavista’s Dagat Poems
WEST VISAYAS STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
GRADUATE SCHOOL

It is also worth mentioning that both these aforementioned devices discussed are
incendiary inventions of men.

While the motivations behind the disaster in dagat II are patriarchal and hierarchical,
how men are conceived to be disastrous in the next poem can only be inferential. Nevertheless,
when dagat III is scrutinized more carefully, it can be construed that the patriarchy may be at
fault in this tragedy. Like cigarettes and dynamites, ships being a creation of men is common
knowledge. Furthermore, in context, the field of maritime and navigation is a male-dominated
industry. In fact, according to the International Transport Workers’ Federation, women only
comprise 2% of the world’s maritime workforce. These statistics lead us to the presumption
that the ship’s captain and crew in the poem are mostly, if not entirely, made up of men. The
tragedy mentioned in this poem may be indicative of the failure at the end of the patriarchal
figures.

Meanwhile, manmade disasters however do not only account for damages created by
men towards nature. In dagat III, while not as physically detrimental as they had been
portrayed in the other poems, men are still presented as destructive towards nature, although
to a much lesser extent. Dagat III implies men as having engaged themselves in romantic
relationships with mermaids, fictional creatures that are representational of nature. These
relationships, however, end in heartbreaks. The following is excerpted from dagat III:

1 Behind the rocks, they hid


2 as the salt on their cheeks mimicked
3 the taste of their eyes.
- dagat III, Kristine Buenavista

While the nature of catastrophe instigated by men here is emotional, this still
demonstrates how detrimental the impacts are of the patriarchy and the hierarchy on both
nature and women.

1.3. Committers of Crime

As much as men are portrayed to be creatures of culture and civilization, their depictions
in the poems do not easily conform to the standards of what is moral and legal in a civilized
world.

Therefore, it is not wrong to assume that male characters in these poems may be
criminally inclined. For example, in dagat II, men are characterized as fishermen who utilize
dynamites in catching fish. In the Philippine and other contexts, the use of these illicit devices is
prohibited by law to preserve marine life. Meanwhile, if the presumptions in theme 1.2
regarding men being at fault in the tragedy of the shipwreck are true, then, it will count for
another criminal offense.

Moreover, in dagat VI, the representation of men can be interpreted in ways more than
one. The following is an excerpt from dagat VI:

Ang Baybay, Ang Babaye, Ang Mga Binalaybay:


An Ecofeminist Reading of Kristine Buenavista’s Dagat Poems
WEST VISAYAS STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
GRADUATE SCHOOL

1 Sunday,
2 a hand will pull me up from the ocean
3 a wounded palm that smelt gas,
4 broken oil lamps
5 and years of waiting.
- dagat VI, Kristine Buenavista

Although the truth behind the motivations of the male figure is concealed in ambiguity,
there are possibilities of looking at the angle of abduction in the poem, which is evidently
expressed in the second line. This line attributes strength to the male figure. In many contexts
including the Philippines, abduction is very much a criminal offense and is punishable by law.

On the contrary, this can be interpreted as a competing narrative as regards the


depiction of men. Instead of abduction, this poem can also be understood as salvation and as
humankind’s triumph over technology and reconnection with nature. Regardless of whether the
poem constitutes abduction or otherwise, there is one apparent message being communicated:
might resides within the male figures.

2. The Female: Friendly and Frail

On many occasions in the series, women and nature representations tend to overlap
with each other. Often, women are presented to be interacting closely with nature and vice
versa. This only communicates how women are typically identified with nature as much are men
are identified with culture. Furthermore, these women representations also serve as one-half of
men’s avenue for a display of power. In many accounts, women are rendered powerless in the
narratives and often serve as men’s victims.

2.1 Friendly to the Fish Folks

There is an undeniable connection that is shared by the female and nature


representations in the works of Kristine Buenavista. This particular link is also indicative of the
intertwining experiences and parallel plights women and nature both undergo. Evidently, in
several of the poems in the series, women are portrayed to have intimate interactions with
beings of nature. In dagat II, for instance, a friendly exchange takes place between a ‘woman’
and a ‘school of fish’ which is symbolic of nature. In this poem, the woman exposes her private
body parts to the character representing nature. This specific part of the poem reads:

1 Wednesday,
2 a school of fish will run around me
3 in circles.

4 ask me about my legs,


5 my breasts, my thighs, my pubic hair,
- dagat II, Kristine Buenavista

With the woman being able to bare herself in front of these sea creatures, the excerpt
above exudes an atmosphere that manifests of mutual honesty and safety between nature and

Ang Baybay, Ang Babaye, Ang Mga Binalaybay:


An Ecofeminist Reading of Kristine Buenavista’s Dagat Poems
WEST VISAYAS STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
GRADUATE SCHOOL

women. This same atmosphere is moreover mirrored in another poem in the series, dagat III,
where nature is characterized as mermaids - mythical female creatures with half-fish and half-
human anatomies. The following lines are excerpted from dagat III:

1 Friday,
2 the mermaids will comb my hair
3 and tell me
4 stories about humans they have
5 fallen in-love with
6 but have
7 all chosen to forget.
- dagat III, Kristine Buenavista

Similarly, in this poem, women and what connotes nature are pictured to have intimate
interactions. These include narrating their love tales and combing hair which may be regarded
as feminine acts in the human world where patriarchal constructions of reality are prevalent.

These observations only prove to show how women are identified as belonging to or
even as beings of nature.

2.2. Frail and Feminine

Frailty and powerlessness are common attributes appropriated to women characters and
representations in the majority of these select works of Kristine Buenavista. This literary inquiry
often reveals how women are frequently depicted as the objects of oppression of powerful
patriarchal figures. Often, too, they are characterized as without the capacity for defending
themselves or retaliating against these oppressive forces.

For example, the mermaids in dagat II have been the objects of men’s penchant for
oppression. Originating from the old English words ‘ mere’ and ‘maybe’, meaning sea and maid,
respectively, the word mermaid is not only symbolic of nature but of also of women. In the
poem, these mermaids are said to have been narrating their tales of failed romances and
relationships with humans and are inferred to have been hurt and heartbroken over them. This
is elucidated by the following excerpt:

1 Behind the rocks, they hid


2 as the salt on their cheeks mimicked
3 the taste of their eyes.
- dagat III, Kristine Buenavista

Similarly, in dagat IV, the ‘woman’ is rendered powerless by the patriarchal figure.
Despite the possibility of multiple interpretations, there is an apparent association of force to
men and frailty or feebleness to women.

As evidenced in these literary texts, women are subdued by and are secondary to a
patriarchal force that regards them powerless in many circumstances.

3. Nature: Feminized and Fragile

Ang Baybay, Ang Babaye, Ang Mga Binalaybay:


An Ecofeminist Reading of Kristine Buenavista’s Dagat Poems
WEST VISAYAS STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
GRADUATE SCHOOL

Probing into these poems by Kristine Buenavista reveals a strong inclination for nature
representations to associate themselves with female characters. In the majority of these
materials, the symbols that signify nature are portrayed to be involved in close interactions with
symbols which signify femaleness. Dagat I, for example, depicts nature as a ‘school of fish’
interacting with a female character. Furthermore, in dagat II where nature is characterized by
mermaids, nature is also depicted to be in close encounters with a female whom they tell their
love stories to and whose hair they comb. While obvious, it is worth pointing out that mermaids
are characters that are entirely women strengthens the idea of nature being feminized.
Besides, nature does not only share the sex of women. As it is gendered and feminized in
the texts, nature also has its share of plights parallel to those of the women. This literary
inquiry revealed obvious oppression of nature orchestrated by an anthropocentric culture.
Moreover, evident in these materials is the apparent reduction of nature as an avenue for men’s
display of authority and their proclivity for destruction. For example, dagat I is suggestive of the
fishermen’s employment of explosives in the routine of fishing. The very use of dynamite does
not only demonstrate men’s disregard for natural resources but also divulges the desperate
lengths and extent men would cover to satiate their economic interests even at the expense of
the marine and natural resources.

Similarly, in the other poems, entities that emblematize nature are also portrayed as
fragile figures often serving as victims of the abusive tendencies of hierarchical forces. These
representations may include mystical creatures that are left hurt and heartbroken over failed
romances with humans or passive nature symbols at the mercy of an anthropocentric and
androcentric culture.

Ecofeminist Issues in the Works of Kristine Buenavista

Like ecocriticism and feminism, ecofeminist literary criticism focuses on and highlights
the representations of certain elements as well as how these elements relate to one another in
a literary work. While feminism foregrounds male and female representations and relationships
to dismantle patriarchal constructions of truth, ecocriticism emphasizes nature and human
representations to raise environmental awareness. Being the offspring of these aforementioned
critical theories, ecofeminism underscores how gender and environmental issues have
originated from anthropocentric and androcentric constructions of culture. Thus, to raise
consciousness on pressing issues concerning the environment and gender and give voice to
these marginalized and oppressed sectors, it is of utmost importance that these representations
and relations be brought to the fore.

Certain dichotomies and dualisms are generated in the analysis of these poems. In these
identified patterns of representations of the essential elements, there is a pervading proclivity
for power and position to be associated with patriarchal figures whilst nature and women are
reduced to mere objects of oppression and victimization.

Ang Baybay, Ang Babaye, Ang Mga Binalaybay:


An Ecofeminist Reading of Kristine Buenavista’s Dagat Poems
WEST VISAYAS STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
GRADUATE SCHOOL

1. Violators VS. Victims: Male Chauvinism and the Subjugation of Women

The portrayal of men as the supreme and superior sex as well as the author’s
presentation of their proclivity to subject women to suppression and subjugation is no longer a
strange phenomenon in literature. In fact, chauvinism, as it is called, or the ideology that
regards women as the weaker sex while men as the superior sex can be traced back to the
earliest and most ancient of literatures and cultures. Although this patriarchal philosophy has
continually manifested throughout history, the practice and perpetuation of such a hegemonic
belief system are practically unjust and oppressive to women.

Evidenced in the texts analyzed is a manifestation of chauvinism in context and in the


cultural dynamics of gender in the Philippines – where women are typically placed in a caste
lower to men. As such is the case, women have been subject to violence and oppression. As
already pointed out in the previous sections, women have served as an avenue for men to
demonstrate their strength and authority.

While the works of Buenavista are usually anchored on the female experience, the
analysis revealed that her poems also project a political playground that positions men in a
place of power and portrays the plights of women as objects of oppression in a patriarchal
realm. Also, despite the incorporation of fictional elements, Buenavista’s works reflect universal
realities in which women are rendered weak and often at the mercy of men.

2. Culture VS. Nature: Speciesism and the Exploitation of Natural Resources

To underscore the parallel plights of women and nature is a fundamental feature of


ecofeminism. Like women, nature and what represents it are subjected to many types of abuse
as exposed in the probing of these poems.

The analysis of the poems revealed a portrayal of men and their tendency to regard
themselves as higher species to other creatures, fictional and otherwise. In the poems
analyzed, male figures tend to put themselves in higher regard as compared to other creatures,
fictional and otherwise. This ideology more specifically referred to as speciesism is of the
assumption that men are superior to other creatures, thus leading to the exploitation of animal
resources. Put simply, it is a form of discrimination animals experience at the hands of men
which is vividly exemplified in one of the poems where a school of fish is suspicious as to why
women share similar physical attributes with men. The heartbreaks of the mermaids in another
poem in the series may also be representational of the idea that the marine life is merely at the
mercy of men.

The presentation of men as figures in position and power is a prevailing pattern that
manifests throughout the poems series. This apparent attribution of supremacy and strength to
mankind is sourced from their connection with objects that are connotative of culture and
civilization. But while these objects depict them as men of the modern era, they also display
what seems to be an inherent inclination for destruction, danger, and violence.

Ang Baybay, Ang Babaye, Ang Mga Binalaybay:


An Ecofeminist Reading of Kristine Buenavista’s Dagat Poems
WEST VISAYAS STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
GRADUATE SCHOOL

Certainly, the use of these images linked to the male sex produces mental images of
fire, subtly alluding to the Greek mythological tale of Prometheus stealing fire from Olympus.
While the fire has always been the Promethean tool that has for ages been used as an icon to
symbolize, wisdom, creativity, ingenuity, power, and culture, it is as well worth noting that this
very symbol in several works of literature also suggests of ruin, violence, and destruction.

Awareness is Advocacy

This ecofeminist investigation of these literary texts has brought into fore of our
consciousness particular power struggles between the male and the female sex and a certain
environmental concern which were clandestinely kept in the text. Through her poems, Kristine
Buenavista sheds light on certain matters such as patriarchal and hierarchical oppressions and
the uncanny connection between nature and women's experience under these structures.

As it can only be assumed that the recurring respective representations of men, women,
and nature in the poems may only perhaps be a reflection of the cultural realities the author
has personally witnessed or merely a product of the author’s observations of and/or
experiences in her environment, it is also safe to say that these realities are also existing
elsewhere in the world. Thus, the body of literature analyzed as well as this literary inquiry is at
an aim to raise awareness on issues that will be highly detrimental in the long run.

While there is no imperative literary voice that calls for an immediate action to
discontinue these patriarchal and hierarchical operations, the awareness relative to the current
natural conditions brought about by the revelations in the examination of the poems is
sufficient to rethink our human actions and respond to the urgent environmental concerns at
hand.

In this regard, dagat VI may be read in a more positive light and where the pulling up of
the hand from the ocean would mean salvation and the reconnection of human beings with
nature.

1 Sunday,
2 a hand will pull me up from the ocean
3 a wounded palm that smelt gas,
4 broken oil lamps
5 and years of waiting.
- dagat VI, Kristine Buenavista

Summary and Conclusion

In its most general sense, an ecofeminist approach in literature aims to deconstruct


the concept of oppression of both women and nature by an anthropocentric and androcentric
gaze. In this sense, literature as an important device of ideological domination should be

Ang Baybay, Ang Babaye, Ang Mga Binalaybay:


An Ecofeminist Reading of Kristine Buenavista’s Dagat Poems
WEST VISAYAS STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
GRADUATE SCHOOL

rethought using an ecofeminist perspective. Thus, ecofeminist consciousness is critical for


women and nature identities.

The ecofeminist literary criticism employed in the textual analysis of Kristine


Buenavista’s Dagat poems in her book and the sea was saltier, interrogated the literary
constructions of the environment, and how they relate to issues in power in gender and nature.
Moreover, the utilization of the ecofeminist lens to examine the four poems, dagat II, dagat III,
dagat IV, and dagat VI, took into consideration the patriarchal and hierarchical operations that
are bound to subjugate women and nature.

The analysis of the poems reveals a political playground among the essential
elements considered in ecofeminism. Put simply, men are put in place of power while women
and nature are rendered weak and powerless.

The men in the poems create a mental image of might, all thanks to their being
linked with images suggestive of manmade constructs. Specifically, however, men are
presented as carriers of culture, catalysts of catastrophe, and committers of crime. Although
represented as many things, a common denominator unites all these depictions to derive one
particular conclusion about how men are towards nature and women: harmful and damaging,
at least in the poems.

Meanwhile, nature and women seem to share an invariable connection in most of the
poems. Feminized and portrayed frail, nature does not only share similar qualities as the female
but also suffer the same fate as they are both subdued by an oppressive stratum in the society.

It is this treatment of nature and women that brings into awareness several
ecofeminist issues hinted at in the poems. First, the ideologies of male chauvinism and the
subjugation of women surface in the analysis of the text. It is the ideology that thinks that male
is the superior sex and that female is only secondary. It is, too, the belief system that allows
women to be subjected to suppression and subjugation. Also, speciesism or the belief that
human beings are the supreme beings and therefore entitles themselves to do whatever they
want at their disposal all at the expense of the environment and all its elements.

An uncanny connection between female oppression and ecological exploitation by an


anthropocentric and an androcentric society and how these abuses may be representational a
reflection of actual conditions observed in reality is also revealed in the literary tapestry weaved
by the author.

This paper further acknowledges that while women and nature are dominated over
by patriarchal and hierarchical agenda as revealed in the investigation, there should be a
collective action from all sectors for a revolutionary movement to change the current conditions
and cultural traditions expressed in the poems.

Ang Baybay, Ang Babaye, Ang Mga Binalaybay:


An Ecofeminist Reading of Kristine Buenavista’s Dagat Poems
WEST VISAYAS STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
GRADUATE SCHOOL

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Ang Baybay, Ang Babaye, Ang Mga Binalaybay:
An Ecofeminist Reading of Kristine Buenavista’s Dagat Poems
WEST VISAYAS STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
GRADUATE SCHOOL

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Ang Baybay, Ang Babaye, Ang Mga Binalaybay:


An Ecofeminist Reading of Kristine Buenavista’s Dagat Poems

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