This study privileges women’s views of health to determine the categories and beliefs through which they create meanings in their lives, particularly in assessing the influence of health problems on their well-being, and whether they have implicit ideas of how it might be possible for them to live a healthy life. To determine what constitutes the domain of women’s health problems and how they view these given the limitations of socioeconomic, political and environmental conditions of the community in which they live, interviews were conducted with 40 mothers in Paradise Island, Barangay Looc, Mandaue City, Philippines, between 2002-2004 as part of a larger study on women’s health. Various ethnographic field methods and interviewing techniques used in cultural domain analysis were employed to ensure that the domain was defined by women, in their language and within their social and cultural context. The study show that responses are interrelated enough to establish the existence of a single cultural domain. Health challenges are connected to and cross-cut every domain of concerns the women faced. They experience well-being only if they are not confronted with problems that affect their children, family and environment. They all have, at least implicitly and albeit simple life plans and these grow out of the current situations and problems that confront them. Because this work is problem-based and driven by policy implications, some form of intervention will be necessary to address women’s most felt health needs, particularly in communities where resources and access to appropriate health care are limited.

Note on the Author

Fiscalina Amadora-Nolasco is Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of San Carlos, and Coordinator of the Social Science Research Center, Cebu City, Philippines. She completed this work as part of the US State Department Anthropology Program Affiliation between University of San Carlos and New Mexico State University, from 2001-2005.