(M)othering Pacquiao: The Passion(s) of Mommy Dionisia Inside and Outside the Boxing Ring


Ronquillo, F. L. M. (2016). (M)othering Pacquiao: The passion(s) of Mommy Dionisia inside and outside the boxing ring, Unpublished Undergraduate Dissertation, University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication.

This study examines the struggles women face in light of society’s expectations of them. Specifically, I look into how Mommy Dionisia subverts these expectations both inside and outside the boxing ring and how doing so places her as an other in her representation in media.

Using a materialist feminist lens, I scrutinize the images of Mommy Dioinisia projected in both conventional media (e.g., television commercials, guest appearances) and new media (e.g., internet memes, Dubsmash videos). A semiotic analysis applying Barthes’ concept of signs then dissects these images to uncover the connotative or latent meanings lurking behind the denotative or surface meanings of the images. Lastly, a political economic lens situates the ideologies in these images to the larger structures that maintain them.

I first distinguish the roles and images Mommy Dionisia plays in her representation in media (e.g., mother, religious fanatic, Imeldific lifestyle). Then, I categorize into specific dimensions by which Mommy Dionisia is othered (e.g., gender, age, ethnicity) and consider how she may be empowered in spite of it. I critique the ideologies (e.g., motherhood, femininity, domesticity) embedded in these roles and images, as well as the structures (e.g., family, church, state) that maintain them. Lastly, I analyze the mechanisms (e.g., stereotypes, co-optation, invisibility) by which media links these ideologies to the greater macrostructures.

Through this study, I correlate the societal pressures put on Mommy Dionisia to the experiences of Filipino women everywhere who are made to conform to preconceived images of what women can be and how they should act. I want to contribute to building a space where women can challenge these expectations and reject a totality of ‘woman.’

Keywords: Mommy Dionisia, Filipino women, boxing, othering, empowerment, semiotics, materialist feminism, political economy, new media

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