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Saturday, October 16, 2004

Remembering Helen...
I am asked if I am sad that another dear friend has died of cancer. I tell them, yes. I sobbed last night when I heard the news. But after the tears, there's the peace and calm. Because death is as natural as birth. Because death is not to be feared. Helen is one of those rare individuals whose Spirit is so alive, so large and uplifting that to be around her even in her frail physical condition is a reminder that the best of us are always capable of transcending the body's limitations.

A month ago while visiting Helen, I told her that I've been thinking about babaylans a lot and that I've also been telling people that I am animist...and that I can say it unapologetically and without embarrassment now. She said she was glad to hear this because she, too, has made her own reconnection with earth spirituality/animism. We promised we would talk about it more...perhaps even plan another Kapihan. We reminisced about the Kapihan days in the 90s at my home when scholars and artists like NVM Gonzalez, Ver Enriquez, Jimmy Veneracion, Johnny Francisco, Jun de Leon, and others always challenged us how to articulate what Filipino American identity and culture might be based on what we glean from Filipino scholars' input on the topic. Helen was one of the core people who kept those Kapihans going. We both lamented the passing of another era.

It seems only fitting that the Nov. 13 symposium at PUSOD on the "Intersection of Faith and Spirituality, Culture and Social Justice" be dedicated to Helen's memory.

I will miss you, dear Helen!



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