Sunday, March 30, 2008

On a different but related topic: Pinay Power

FANHS Sonoma County's Oral History Project: Yesterday was a big day of sorts. The documentary crew filmed a re-enactment of a gambling scene, conducted interviews, viewed historical photos, introduced new members, and shared a sumptous potluck lunch. What is great about this group is that after the day was over, as soon as Delia, the president, got home, she thanked everyone in an email, for the work they accomplished that day. Alicia, the project team leader also thanked everyone and is preparing to send handwritten notes to all who participated.

The reason I highlight these gestures of affirmation/thank yous, kindness, and generosity is because they invoke the "spirit of the manongs" as their inspiration. Our FANHS chapter is led by the children of the Manongs who are now at a time in their lives when they can devote time to recovering the legacy of the Manongs and Manangs via this historical documentation project. Those of us who came later share this legacy as well and join in this effort to honor them.

I had to leave FANHS early because two young Pinay graduate students came up from San Francisco to interview me. Ellen came prepared with three pages of questions. What is pagtatanung-tanong if it doesn't also include story-telling, eating, laughing, and sober intellectual talk.

Elsewhere in this blog I've talked about these young powerful Pinays who are drawn to the intellectual vocation that is rooted in their passion for social justice. More importantly, they are drawn to something deeper. This deeper that is hard to name and categorize so we call it babaylan, loob, kapwa, indigeous/lumad, cosmic, animist. At one point, as Ellen tried to use Foucouldian language, we started laughing as we noted how English limits what we want to say.

As we talked about fragmentation/decentered subjectivities under patriarchy and capitalism, decolonization, postcolonial trauma, war and militarization, sexual trauma, cross-cultural alliances, non-hierarchical and nondualistic modes of being and knowing, it seemed much more facile to just say (as Fr Alejo* does): Create Energy out of the depths of your Loob.

Indeed, yesterday was a "Create Energy" day! And what makes the difference is that all the folks above have reclaimed their Filipinoness and the power that comes from knowing what that means. So they relate to others from a place of security, self-worth, and empowerment that is not individualistic but rather from a sensitive sense of kapwa caring for each other.

These are my kind of folks.

*More on Fr. Alejo

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