Monday, November 15, 2004

IN PROGRESS: Personal Reflections/Report:

Symposium: Honoring and Preserving Filipino Identity in a Multicultural Globalized World
PUSOD, Center for Ecology, Culture and Bayan
Berkeley, CA
November 13, 2004

I didn’t know what to expect. All the planning for the event happened via email. As people responded with rsvp’s I didn’t recognize many of the names. But I sensed that this was going to be a good group of folks.

The morning began with a dedication of the altar to Helen Toribio. Evelie Posch led us with the lighting of candles and a chant invoking Mother Earth to bless the day ahead.

The morning’s talk by Dr. Melba P. Maggay was on Filipino Indigenous Religious Consciousness: These are the main points she made about Filipino Culture:

Dr. Maggay emphasized that the perceived dysfunction of Filipinos is due to poor governance (formal systems imposed on a culture) and not because of the culture. Formal systems are not indigenous to the Philippines; they are imposed by colonizers and perpetuated by the elite of the cultural divide. Informal systems of social distribution dominate the social relations of the majority of Filipinos in the lower half of the cultural divide.

Ofelia Villero talked about her current research on "babaylan," "loob," "kapwa." It seems that western bias against shamanism is slowly evolving thus creating more spaces for students like her who would like to explore Filipino babaylan traditions in the theological field.

Janet Stickmon talked about the process of inculturation – how the Catholic Church transforms people and the people transforms the Church. However, historically, the church has always resisted being transformed by Filipinos. Filipinos, on the other hand, have continued to imbue the images of Christ (Sto Nino and Sto Entierro) with indigenous meanings.

Christina Leano talked about the notion of Covenant; its demands (to respect the worth of ourselves; to live in solidarity; to develop the virtue of fidelity). Using her work with FACES as example, she showed how a secular movement (FACES) has religious significance. FACES as a prophetic voice in the community. To be a Christian is to do something about real problems. The search for one’s Filipino identity is a sacred journey.

Jay Gonzalez discussed the hegemony of the Church and the counterhegemonic movements within the Church constituting a form of social capital for Filipino Americans. 100,000 Filipino Catholics in San Francisco have tremendous influence in the Church and must translate this into opportunities to address social justice issues within the church – in partnership with government and corporate agencies as well.

Evelie Posch "performed" her spirituality as a musician, teacher, babaylan, ritualist, activist. She talked about her relationship with her biological mother and Mother Earth as the source of her spiritual grounding and empowerment.

The Q and A allowed the panelists, Dr. Maggay, Tito Cruz, and myself to answer a few questions.
During the lunch break, everyone was talking about the palpable energy, the good uplifting experience in the morning session. Tito, who was going to leave after lunch, decided to change his appointment and stay for the afternoon. He told me later, "after this morning, I can’t afford not to be here for the afternoon."

In the afternoon session, Dr. Maggay was able to explore in depth the "tools for analysis" in looking at Filipino culture.

to be continued...

i'm very much interested on other notes/reflections/proceedings from the gathering this weekend. i am a supporter and fan of your writing. i read coming full circle awhiles back and an article in a buddhist online journal entitled (if i can still remember) tip-toeing towards...

anyways, every now and then i visit your site here to see what's up and i'm glad to hear about your symposium this weekend.

san diego, ca
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