Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Romance Studies
Leona Florentino (1849-1884) is a foundational poet and dramatist from the port city of Vigan, located on the northern Philippine island of Luzón, then part of the Spanish Empire. Florentino’s literary production blurs and challenges established gender boundaries and regulations. Writing from the doubly marginalized perspective of a woman and of a colonial subject, Florentino utilizes the imagery of the garden to mobilize a verdant critique against the established gender roles, structures of desire, and domestic and public spaces. Many of Florentino’s known poems were written for public celebrations. However, the private poems she composed conjure erotic themes in a more conspicuous fashion. This study analyzes the ways in which Florentino utilizes garden imagery in two celebratory poems and one erotic composition to harness the tensions between the public and private spheres, and illuminates her representations of gender roles and female sexuality in nineteenth century Vigan.