Roles of women in three films by Marilou Diaz-Abaya: Brutal (1980), Moral (1982), and Karnal (Of the flesh, 1983)

Date of Publication


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Major in Applied Media Studies


College of Liberal Arts



Thesis Adviser

Jazmin B. Llana


Women in Filipino films come across as weak-willed, passionate, emotional, and easily swayed by sexuality. Their characters often mirror the traditional roles of women in the Philippines. Despite the leading presence of women in the film industry, very little changes have been made towards altering the deceptive and exploitative image of women in films.

The roles and images of women are ever-changing as seen in the development and evolution of women in history from the influence of Spain and Christianity, the American occupation, and the Western concepts of feminism. With this comes a need for continuous assessment of the representation of women as well as in films to guide viewers and to prevent a retrogressive view of women in Filipino movies.

The research focuses on the lead characters in three films directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya: Brutal (1980), Moral (1982), and Karnal (Of the Flesh, 1983). Branded as a feminist Filipina filmmaker, Diaz- Abaya was expected to create films that express the sentiments of women despite not being a part of nor supported by non-government organizations or feminist groups. She also did not have a background on women's literature or feminist politics in the '70s despite living and studying abroad (Sotto 256). However, the three films remain to reflect womens sentiments and strong feminist themes by people in the industry like Ishmael Bernal and Jose Javier Reyes.

Following the processes of textual analysis with the focus on the roles and experiences of women and supported by existing literature about women in the Philippines, the research aims to point out reasons why the trilogy was considered feminist and to attempt to define what constitutes feminist film in the context of the three films by Diaz-Abaya.

As part of the production component, the research is supported by a website that is home to information about Marilou Diaz-Abaya and her personal, education, and career backgrounds. The website will also contain her filmography, a copy of this research, and a list of references. To maintain the website, the researcher will have to update the website content and respond to messages sent through the Contact form.

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

1 computer disc ; 4 3/4 in.


Women in motion pictures; Motion pictures--Philippines

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