Saturday, September 05, 2009

In re-reading Carolyn Brewer's Holy Confrontations, I take notes of the names of the Babaylan/catalonans mentioned in the Spanish documents that Brewer is deconstructing in order to tease out the stories behind the colonizer's narratives. I write these Babaylans' names down in my notebook - Fulangan, Cabacungan, Caquenga, Bonga, Cablingan, Bolindauan -- to remind myself that these were women who resisted the negation of their Animist beliefs and practices.

The chapter on the Bolinao manuscript narrates details about how the Spanish, over a period of 100 years of linguistic erosion and negation, erased the Babaylans from history or how they were rewritten only in negative ways by the Catholic perspective. Over this period, the friars kept lists of their strategies: the people they interviewed and/or forced to extract confessions against the babaylans, the instruments of ritual that were seized from babaylans, the list of Anitos (Apolaqui, Ganciam, Ambing, Poon) that the babaylans made offerings to, the young men who were lured to live with the friars in the convent and were told to spy and snitch on the babaylans -- all these strategies were recorded.

I love the story of Bolindauan, who was born of a Spanish friar and a catalonan, and how she resisted Catholicism and continued to follow her animist beliefs even though, as a mestiza and privileged daughter of a priest, she could have lived a life of privilege.

***And here we are today, getting to know the history of the babaylan to remind us that we are descended from these women. We are also reminded that what is lost is not lost forever, that the fantasy story on which these women's lives were written into can be unmasked. As women who recognize how we were constituted by erasure and negation in historical narratives that pass for transcendent truth rather than the fantasy story that they truly are, we can, today, choose to tell a different story.

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