Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sis and I are supposed to be working for the next two weeks on the babaylan book we are co-editing...and we will... as soon as we get our spa date out of the way and exhausted ourselves with laughter and stories.

In the meantime, an email from my publisher asking me to verify bookkeeping details sent me to the filing cabinet to look for very old records. Among the files, I find all the papers I saved from this book's booklaunch in March 2001 and among them is Sis' "response" that was read during the booklaunch.

Leny has, in many ways and in passionate and grace-full prose, courageously made possible through this book, the speaking of a repressed, denied, and much-maligned cultural and historical legacy. In this work, Leny symbolizes for me what it means to live with courage, to keep doing what one feels called to do even when immediate affirmation seems not forthcoming, or when one simply feels that one's thoughts and ideas are still so incomplete, always still just "works in progress." "I'm just fishing," I used to hear her say self-deprecatingly when she and I would wanter into heavy theoretical discussion. But out of that potent metaphor I found her weaving a framework for a different kind of knowing, a different way of constructing knowledge that made room for creativity, passion, insight, and intuition. The metaphor holds, for indeed, when you fish, you don't always know what you'd be getting at the end of the line, thus, there is always that element of surprise known to accompany all truly creative endeavors.

Here, what I want to affirm and celebrate with you today is the creation, through that liberating narrative, of a space that is "para sa atin" - a space for us. Through, Coming Full Circle, Leny has succeeded in creating that space for us -- a space where, as a community of belonging, we can reclaim the prerogative to control the very terms of our own self-definition, a space where we can begin to mark out our own boundaries no longer based on an assimilationist ideology, but on confident self-knowledge separate from the colonizer's gaze. Finally, it is a space where we walk, no longer afraid to set the terms on which to live our lives, but being able to relate to the world around us apart from the dictates of our internalized dominant Other/s.

This is what Coming Full Circle has done/can do for us. In opening the door to an honest conversation about the violence of colonial domination and the indigenous ways of being of an entire people that it has sought historically to deny, marginalize, if not erase altogether, it makes possible a new beginning, the constitution of a new Filipino subjectivity premised no longer on an inferiorized self-image naturalized by colonial representations but on a transformed, decolonized consciousness. How that process is facilitated, what kinds of knowledge makes it possible, and what are its resulting consequences - that, for me, is the book's unique contribution to the literature.

This was in 2001. She has since published her own book and I've published another creative non fiction work. With our next project, we are venturing out into the little known territory of the Filipina babaylan - a territory that feels familiar deep in our bones and soul, an intuition that feels true/authentic, a powerful Energy that dares us to name it...name Her.

Can we do it? I ask her. I do not know for sure. But we know there are sisters and brothers with us. This Summer's gathering of wisdom, erotic energy, and community support may just be the kind of "baon" we need for this book's journey. Say a prayer. Light a candle. Be with us. Send us an encouraging email. We would love to hear from you.

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