Saturday, October 31, 2009

Babaylans in America

Thursday, October 29, 2009

This blogpost is for the Fil Am students at UCBerkeley and to Joi Barrios, their mentor on campus. Thank you for inviting me and Eileen Tabios to celebrate
"Day of the Filipino Womyn" with you. this is what I wrote to someone about my day with you.

dear one -
i was at UC Berkeley last night and gave a talk to Fil Am students.
themes: decolonization, revolutionary spirit and wisdom of the Filipina woman.

i made a case for the relevance of the indigenous world view and the
the importance of lengthening historical perspectives from 500 yrs of modernity to 10,000 years and beyond. decolonization as a spiritual path and practice. to develop a revolutionary spirit and wisdom -- respond to the call of the babaylan.

this is all imagined and symbolic work i know. but the work we create out of this energy is what is needed.

earlier in the day, He'ne'zi' Makes Noise, Lakota, talked to my students about being a traditional Indian. he touched all of our hearts. what shall we do in the face of what we remember? in the face of staggering and unrecoverable losses? we grieve. that is what we do.

out of grief, a release and surrender. to be able to think of the sadness of history within the larger story of human folly on earth. and that this larger story is just a small story within the larger story of the cosmos.

there is no word for 'death' in the Lakota language. to them, it's "home: to go back to the stars"...

i am made of stardust. and so are you.

love to you.

Friday, October 16, 2009

This blogpost is for my friends, Muki and Grace, who have recently returned from their long sojourns in the homeland and processing the return to this place that is also home.

My Buddhist friend, Gail, used to remind me to slow down and take my time after returning from my trips to Pampanga. She saw my weepiness, my homesickness, my blank stares, my struggle to return to my life. Sometimes this processing would last longer than the two-week jet lag. I often expressed my fear to her that I might not emerge from this fog and that I would be sad forever. I needed Gail as a witness and she was a very good witness. She held me gently and honored what I was going through. No attempt to rush or analyze. Just a gentle presence.

I think of her now and I wish to be that kind of witness for my friends. But we are not in the same city. Would facebook chat do? Would email suffice? Would a phone call be enough?

I am reading "The Woman Who Watches Over the World" again. And this time, I noticed passages that escaped me the last time. Linda writes that, in retrospect, her days of falling down to the earth when she was too drunk to walk upright, was her body's attempt to fall to the earth. Literally. Her body's need to reconnect and hear the calling of the earth. The earth calling her back, inviting her to rest and be healed in the earth's bosom.

This is a very poignant passage to me. As I think about how the body carries history and how this history has been a wound for indigenous peoples, it is comforting to think that we can fall to the earth and be healed.

This is such a difficult concept to think about when I think of the devastation from the recent typhoons in the Philippines and the people, animals, trees, rocks that were all displaced. My first sympathies always lie in human suffering. This is my conditioning. But I am also learning how to enlarge my sympathies to the rest of creation. Where does it lead but to the feeling of awe and respect for processes that my mind cannot contain or that language cannot articulate?Time stretches and space expands until the contours of a cosmology begin to manifest and becomes a source of calm and peace. Yet the suffering is real, the losses are real. My body feels this.
Dear Muki and Grace, I imagine the struggle to be present in the body even as the mind pulls us away to our beloved archipelago. The body longs for the comfort and the feeling of knowing that it belongs to the land and kapwa over there. The body longs for the humidity that saturates the skin. It longs for the sounds - both natural and man made. It longs for the smells, taste, sights. It longs for the familiar. It is October and our ears ring with carols as we know that Christmas starts in the 'Ber' months over there. We long for the fluidity of life over there that makes people open and available to each other's hospitality and generosity. We long for the sense of kapwa. We long to belong to the earth and over there it feels a little easier to do so.

We long for these feelings and wish to recreate them here. But how? It is even hard to find people to talk to who would know what this struggle is about. Even our loved ones are impatient and they want to see us move on already. They want answers from us. Our ambiguity is unsettling to them. What are we mirroring? And can we create those conversations?

I think of you as I write this. I am thinking that I could have picked up the phone and called you instead. I am thinking that you might not be available. I am thinking that I think too much.

But I will talk to you and commune with you soon. Love to you.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

connecting the dots continued...with thanks to Thomas Berry

mythic power of the industrial vision
technological entrancement
resulting in deep cultural pathology
because it is anthropocentric.
anthropocentrism resents any demands imposed upon it
so that the natural world is transformed into total subservience
since then so much energy has gone into redemptive rather than creative energy.

why the Babaylan is needed for these times:

"In a country such as the Philippines, which is being devastated, where the rain forests are being eliminated, the soil eroded, the mangrove swamps destroyed, the coral reefs blasted, the streams polluted, there is a primary need to strengthen the mystique of the land. If a mystique of the land existed in some instinctive manner in the past, it is no longer sufficient. Beyond the country's political and economic needs, and possible a prior condition for any sustainable political structure of functional economy, is the need for a mystique of the land such as is supplied by the nature poets, essayists, and artists; for educators and religious teachers with a sense of the islands as revelation of the divine; for lawyers with a sense of the inherent rights of natural beings. The mythic dimension, the sacred aspect of the Philippines, is needed if anything significant is to be done to remedy the devastation already present and to activate a program of renewal. Only in a viable natural world can there be a viable human world." (33, The Dream of the Earth).

Thomas Berry wrote this book in 1988. I am reading it twenty years later and a part of me is angered by this lateness and by the fact that I am not in the Philippines as I read this. And yet by the very paradox of my absence, I am drawn to this calling to return the evocation of a mystique of the Land.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Plutonomy, global climate change, global recession, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, religion...
connect the dots.
and while we are it factor in:
mismanaged healthcare
unemployment and underemployment
agro-industrial foods = obesity pandemic
oil depletion
manic capitalism
spectacle of punditry passing for knowledge
growing illiteracy rates in the US
900 cable channels

to be updated...

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