Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rituals of early summer in a small suburban garden

-- the first raspberries of the season
-- mache for salad and borage flowers
-- lavender and sage for the altar
-- parley and chives for tabouleh

crafting: lavender sachets

waiting: apricots and kalamansi ripening, sampaguita budding

-- earthworms creating compost
-- snails mating when they're not eating strawberries
-- bluejays sunbathing
-- hummingbirds and butterflies fly-bys

-- doves cooing
-- birds rustling leaves in the underbrush
-- songbirds

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bec's essay in WritingItReal -- a layered, colorful weave of her life as mother, daughter, Filipina, wife...and more.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Great post on Linda Hogan's talk at Stanford by Barb and Oscar re privileging the indigenous in the modern world. So much to say about this theme but not now. But notice the serendipity of this Hogan event with our very own Grace Nono events in the Bay Area --she who brings the sacred chants of our indigenous babaylans to us (in the diaspora) with permission from her teachers. The chants carry with them a sacred world view in much the same way that Hogan's works bring this world back to us for re-claiming and re-membering.

When Grace asked me to "moderate" her performance at Kularts (and in Vallejo this weekend), I knew what she meant: to create a context, a tone of reverence, a sacred container for these chants, to bracket this space for several hours and invite the spirits to be with us. Indeed that is what happened. The initial silence afterwards was holy and then one by one, and timidly at first, the audience spoke:

I've been feeling so lost and I came here tonite to feel my community. Thank you for being here.

I sometimes attend Orthodox liturgy and tonite this feels like liturgy to me...it is beautiful and holy.

I am not Filipino and I don't understand the language of the chants, but my body responded to these chants.

And then someone offered a dance; another - a challenging question: what is our community's relationship to the native peoples of this land?

Another: how do we begin to reclaim our indigeneity given the thick layer of our colonized/modernized consciousness and history? and so on...

To all these questions, Grace gently offered: there is a way. but when it comes whispering to you, you must obey.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Kapihan Tradition

Ver Enriquez, NVM Gonzalez, Juan Francisco, Jimmy Veneracion, Joey Ayala, Eileen Tabios, Helen Toribio, Reme Grefalda, Michelle Bautista, Fr. Albert Alejo, Jean Vengua, Melba Maggay, Perla Daly, Bullet MArasigan, Jun De Leon -- what do they all have in common? They were our special guests at our Kapihans -- informal conversations about shared interests: Filipino and Filipino American history, cultural productions, indigenous psychology, poetry and literature, etc.

Yesterday was Kapihan with Grace Nono.

At this Kapihan with Grace, we were joined by Alleluia Panis, Venus Herbito and Teresa MacColl, both graduates of MA in Indigenous Mind, Jodie Olympia, Lizae Reyes - healing harpist, dance artist/teacher, Vedel (Venus' sister), Miriam (my Fulbright co-director), Noemi, Delia, Lee, Bob, Don -- local FANHS folks. We talked about our work and interests (decolonization, babaylan, ecological spirituality, reclaiming, indigenizing, music, spirit, healing, etc) and the challenges and joys of doing it within the Fil Am community and the need to go beyond community. It was productive and joyful!!

Grace brought cds and hand-made jackets, and jewelry all made by indigenous folks in Mindanao (she is from Agusan)-- after all, the marketplace is also part of Kapihans. More importantly, she talked about her work as an artist who is called to reclaim the sacred chants of indigenous babaylans...and the hard work of trying to convince Filipinos that they have these beautiful and holy chants and prayers that if only they understood the worldview behind these would make us love ourselves more and not always looking for affirmation from other cultures (my paraphrase). But she said the lack of funding makes it difficult to spread the word.

Alleluia, director of Kularts, is the only Fil Am choreographer who presents contemporary and tribal Filipino arts. We always look forward to her new offerings. Two months ago, the Ifugao dance ensemble was able to come to my university and we made a weekend of it, placing the dancers in homestays then coming together for a Kapihan in the morning...and ending with dancing in the streets with gongs!

There is always good energy around these kapihans. Our young friend, Jodie, who recently appeared in Vagina Monologues, said she is a babaylan-stalker (after I told the story of how I used to stalk Ver E while he was in the Bay Area). She read a line from her journal during a low period in her undergrad years: I am breaking. Last night she revised that line: I am breaking...free! Her next project is to work with kundimans and give them a strong Pinay woman flair!:-)

Venus said she feels like my house is her second home considering how often she has come to see me in the past year. She and her sister, Venedel, are newcomers to the Bay Area and they're already plugged in and doing all kinds of volunteer work with Kularts and other cultural productions.

Teresa, who is of Celtic ancestry, talked about the hard work for white people to reclaim their indigenous ancestry because their disconnection from the source is deep. Bob, jazz musician, half-white and half-Pinoy, talked about his Lolo who was an arbularyo...he seems to be drawn to these types of discussions though he's never really been in this kind of group.

Lee, who has been in the US for 42 years, is a single mom and has the can-do attitude of an assimilated Pinay and who now wants to reclaim her Filipina community. She and Noemi (Bob's wife) are moving the local community in new directions, and trying to be graceful under duress. Together with Delia, president of local FANHS chapter, they demonstrate alliance-building across Fil Am organizations.

Lizae - I met for the first time although I've seen her perform with a kulintang ensemble. She is a Buddhist and is a harpist and she gets invited to hospitals to play the harp for the dying (in transition). She is a dance teacher in Oakland.

I wish you were here to share the spirit and energy of this small beloved community. Maybe we will see you at the future Babaylan conference -- this group will work on making it happen!

Grace has a final Bay Area performance on May 31st, 5pm, at Reena's Garden Restaurant in Vallejo. $25 at the door; food included. See you there!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

taking a break from food prep for tomorrow's Kapihan with Grace Nono...

so i entertain moi domestic self with this:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Adding gandadiyosa....and this poignant piece from her blog:

Grandma was sitting in the living room today, surrounded by old photographs, editing her life. A pile of photos good enough for posterity and another pile to be cut into pieces where the faces would be indistinguishable, to be thrown out with the paper shredder waste....(read more)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Finals Week!! As I'm reading through some of the final reflections from students, I can't help but post a couple of feedback written by two tough guys:

1) Signing up for the class,... I checked out Strobel on rate my professor. Two white males, by their own declaration, said that white guys are hated in this class. They have no voice, they can’t refute any ideas, and they felt very upset and angry after each session. I freaked out a little, but figured “Why not?”. I am pretty understanding and open, and not afraid of other groups. I knew white people have done bad things. I have read a lot of history and knew about many of the atrocities we spoke of this semester. (Those guys on Rate My Professor could not have been any more wrong, Thank You Professor Strobel!)

It is not every day that one can say they were truly moved and changed by a class. It can almost seem cliché to say that here at SSU. For me, my college career is coming to an end in four days. Of all the classes that were not part of my major, I would have to say that this class was the best. I took a film study class, an upper division history class, a very interesting Anthro class, and a challenging physics class. Out of all of them, I learned the most about relevant, real life stuff here. I didn’t think that was gonna be possible.

2) I spent the whole semester trying to figure out why people were so upset but I understand that I will never understand. I do not know what it is like to be of another race than white. Hell, I don’t even think I am white but rather the result of a bunch of Europeans humping. But still, I am white. So why am I upset? It is because this course taught me to be responsible. I now know that I have to take responsibility for things that I may have not done directly to someone. I know now I have to set an example for myself.

I'm always a little sad saying goodbye to students.
They do not know this.
Our partings are not sentimental.
Heck, some of them can't wait for the semester to be over.
But there are always a few that I will remember
For what we have taught each other.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

This is what I plan to say when I introduce Grace Nono at her San Francisco event tonite:

Welcome and thank you for being here.
Perhaps you are here because you’ve heard of Grace Nono before and know of her great work and you weren’t going to miss this SF event.
Perhaps you are a devoted fan of Kularts.
Perhaps you are a Filipino or Fil Am who attends events like this to feel a connection to the homeland and to a community.
Perhaps you are not a Fil Am but who has an interest in Filipino culture, specially in indigenous Filipino cultures.

If all of the above are correct, we thank you for coming.

But I also want to suggest that perhaps you are here because you heard a call, a tug, an intimation, a gut instinct; you feel drawn to something that you don’t quite know how to say in words. And this call is perhaps coming from deep within your soul, your Filipino soul, your indigenous soul. You came here because you sense that this might be a place to meet that which is calling you.

According to a Mayan indigenous story, the Gods want to fall in love with humans who know how to make music, make art, make crafts, make poetry, make beautiful language and weave beautiful stories. The gods communicate their love and pleasure through the shaman who then shares it with his/her community. Thus, the circle of life is maintained and sustained.

In Filipino indigenous cultures, we also have our shamans who are called babaylan, mumbaki, ma-aram, balyan and many other names, whose function is similar -- to connect the seen and unseen worlds. Primary babaylans are still practicing in their indigenous communities in many parts of the Philippines.

Our Filipino indigenous communities join the fourth world (other IP communities) in the work of recovering the Sacred. Sacred meaning the wholeness that was always there, before we were fractured by the march of civilization that began 10,000years ago and sort of went into hyperspeed in the era of modernity starting 500 yrs ago.

Although fractured, there still remains within us, a memory of that Sacred Wholeness. A Memory that we try to work with through our process of decolonization; through the work of re-connecting and re-membering what our own lumads still know of this Wholeness.

This is not to romantice or exoticize IPS (we know a lot of this goes on), I merely want to acknowledge the debt we owe to the ancient ones and our ancestors. There are traumatic consequences to this nonpayment of debts and we see it all around us (war, misery, depression, shame, guilt, etc)…and still in the midst of this, there has been continous creative energy going up to the gods to pay our debts, to make the gods fall in love with us again…and one of those of who works to create beauty, healing, and a path to sacred wholeness is Grace Nono.

I met Grace Nono at a babaylan conference in Manila three years ago. At her presentation, she said she is not a babaylan but an artist informed by babaylans. From a very early age, she felt drawn to this figure - the priestess of prehistoric lore. Her literary encounters with them led to a life long desire to follow the call and to embody the forms in which the call of the babaylan manifested itself. Her body of work has been called alternative music, world music, roots music, a fusion of the indigenous and contemporary, interdisciplinary, original, etc. She is multiawarded and has performed in many places around the Philippines and the world. But in her own words, she says:
“I have been drawn to the study of sacred chants from our elders. More than the search for intellectual understanding of my heritage as a Filipino, I see it as a signifying point in my journey as an artist, where there is nothing more meaningful, nothing more satisfying, than to use my voice to allow me, and hopefully those around me, to enter such state of connectedness, humility, and grace.”

I wouldn’t list all of Grace achievements here. You can google her and read about the Tao Music Foundation and other materials that have been written about her and her multidimensional body of work.

Indeed, this is what resonates deeply with my own work as well. At the heart and core of what we commonly believe is that Filipinos have a gift to give to the cultures we live in….as long as our memory of our indigeneity is intact, as long as the work that we do is embodied, as long as we persist in creating babaylan energy – against all odds – we will be whole and we will experience the everyday as sacred, as interconnected and interdependent.

I am looking forward to her new book, the Shared Voice: Oralist Narratives from the Philippines, where she documents the interface of music, spirit, and healing among Philippine shamans and other ritual specialists.

Tonite, I am looking forward to the manifest form of this interface in this space. At the end of her chants, there will be a participatory moment of about 25min. At that time, we will invite you to offer your own prayer, or insight, or question. Offer it in the spirit of indigeneity
or that which calls you Home,
calls you and I to a Sacred wholeness.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thinking Aloud:
Editorials opine that Obama is appealing to the nobler side, the good side, of Americans.
Of an America undivided by race, class, sex and gender.
Of an America that will restore democracy from the ground up.
His supporters/voters are mostly the young, urban, and highly educated.
Many are whites and/or multiracial.
They want the audacity to hope.
Will Hope be enough to get their man elected?

If Clinton argues that her supporters do not like elitist language; are hard-working, working class white Americans, what is she saying? really saying?
Is she deploying the coded language of race?
Does she not believe that America has transcended race?
Or is she alluding that one needs to be young, urban, and highly educated to transcend racial politics?
Is this logic believable? Or is she saying this just to get elected?
Are working class white Americans not capable of an educated view of racial politics? Why undermine the wisdom or intelligence of white folks?
Why stir up their insecurities and encourage them to deploy their sense of racial entitlements just to hold on to an illusion that they are still better than folks who are not white?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Walked 10k in 2hrs and 16min with brief pit stops and slow downs to ease leg cramps. In today's paper, it said that there were 1000 walkers and runners who raised over $1M at The Human Race...and glad to say that I and my small group of friends were among them, raising money for the Filipino American National Historical Society chapter of Sonoma County.

As the months of May and June are fiesta months, it seems that there are fundraisers at every turn: a Flores de Mayo, raffle tickets for sale, auction items solicitied, garage sales, beauty contests, dinner-dances, etc.

Not to be missed: Grace Nono in San Francisco next Sunday. See you there!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

today: things i heard and saw while walking... without my old walkman cd:

blue jays shrieking. a two inch caterpillar with orange dots on its back. a windchime in the distance. a sculptor pounding on metal. a door slamming. frogs in the creek. doves cooing. my denim short flapping against my thighs. bikers yakking about their ride. huge houses with for sale signs. pale haze in the sky. a toddler arguing with mom. wild mustard. bearded iris in all colors. old garden roses. meyer lemons. lavender bloom about to burst. arugula. calendula.

it is all sacred.

Friday, May 02, 2008

decolonization for white folks: healing whiteness and the european indigenous soul...explore!

Rev. Jeremiah Wright is a shaman...reminding Westerners of the spiritual debt that must be paid if we are to know what "sacred" means on this continent.

Jensen: What is a shaman?

Prechtel: Shamans are sometimes considered healers or doctors, but really they are people who deal with the tears and holes we create in the net of life, the damage that we all cause in our search for survival. In a sense, all of us — even the most untechnological, spiritual, and benign peoples —are constantly wrecking the world. The question is: how do we respond to that destruction? If we respond as we do in modern culture, by ignoring the spiritual debt that we create just by living, then that debt will come back to bite us, hard. But there are other ways to respond. One is to try to repay that debt by giving gifts of beauty and praise to the sacred, to the invisible world that gives us life. Shamans deal with the problems that arise when we forget the relationship that exists between us and the other world that feeds us, or when, for whatever reason, we don’t feed the other world in return.

All of this may sound strange to modern, industrialized people, but for the majority of human history, shamans have simply been a part of ordinary life. They exist all over the world. It seems strange to Westerners now because they have systematically devalued the other world and no longer deal with it as part of their everyday lives.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?