Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I accepted an invitation to lecture in another professor's course on US Imperialism. He said that most students haven't thought of the US as an empire/imperialist nation. The class will be watching "Savage Acts," reading about "white love", and other key essays on US colonization of the Philippines.

Part of the course is to look at the responses to US imperialism from the point of view of Filipinos: ouir strategies of resistance, the counterstories, the social and political responses.

In my lecture, I will talk about my work on decolonization but I will also expand and delve further into the theme of indigenization. The indigenization discourse allows me to expand the historical framework of modernity (500 years) and it allows me to move the boundaries of decolonization discourse into a wider timeframe.

It is in this context that I will introduce the Babaylan tradition as practiced by land-based indigenous communities in the Philippines and the Babaylan-inspired movement among Filiipinos in the diaspora -- as an example of an evolution of an indigenization project.

I am aware that a lot of Filipinos in the diaspora and in the homeland have not had the opportunity to take a closer look at our indigenous practices as a form of human, cultural, and spiritual capital. (I do not like the word "capital" but I borrow it here in order to temporarily locate our capital within the current discourse on globalization and capitalism).

I feel that there is an imperative for me to try to articulate how the indigenous world view can be a critique/response to the ravages of global capitalism -- in fact,it points to alternative perspective that is so much more sustainable, integral...and one that is aligned with other global movements seeking to address the imperiled future of the planet.

The Babaylan tradition also brings back the Sacred into the discourse. For too long, the sacred has been exiled as an "other realm" that is separate from our economic and political lives. This hasn't worked very well and there is no need to belabor this point for it should be obvious that the empire is fraying at the edges and bleeding from the inside because it has exiled this Sacred and disenchanted Nature as a result.

When I've done this lecture to Fil Am college student groups, the response has always been "we need to hear this kind of integration in all our courses". So now I'm doing the lecture to non-Fil Am students. How different would their response be?

Well, the Babaylan Conference is a container for all kinds of conversations that we want to have as related to these themes. I hope you will join us.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dear Leny, 
I embrace your Babaylan book with warmth and reverence deep into my loob! Your kababaylans have gifted me with a sensuous spirituality that is drawn from struggle, scholarship, and silence. As in a meditative walk, I pick up precious nuggets. Desire is sacred. Our planet’s skin is sensitive. Even cities teem with spirits. Texts are alive, as a matter of fact, metaphors bleed. Colonization hurts. Decolonization heals. Loob is kapwa. Tenderness is global. We can cease to be angry. We can choose to come home or refind it elsewhere. See, the land has absorbed bombs, blood, and dead bodies. Call the babaylans! Let them chant with confidence! Let them lull us to sleep and then dream of the past possible future. Now, I am ready to preach the call of your Babaylan---The past is at hand. The future is indigenous! 
Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ, Poet, Priest, Activist

Thursday, February 11, 2010

writing the senses
(instructions to students in my morning class)

On your way to this classroom this morning (walking, driving, or biking), 
think of something you saw from the corner of your eye that, for a moment, 
caught your attention. What did you see? What is its name? color? location? 
size? texture? smell? How did it make you feel?  
If everything is alive and interconnected,imagine that this object you saw 
is trying to communicate with you, wants to say something to engage you 
further but you were rushing and had no time.  If you had stopped to pay attention, 
how would the conversation look like?  Transcribe the conversation. 

Sunday, February 07, 2010

by the 13th century, caravan routes connecting India (hence indigo), and the Middle East to the ports of Venice and Genoa, Amalfi and Pisa, were carrying what today no less than back then seems quite magical: dyes and colored velvet, silk, damask (from Damascus), muslin (from Mosul), baudekin (from Baghdad), cotton (from the Arabic qutn), taffeta (Persian, tafta, meaning silken cloth, to shine), satin (zaytuni), and mohair (from the Arabic mukhayyar, meaning choice or select).

names such as damask or muslin carry with them a tremor. exotic yet familiar, they stress the English-speaking tongue in unusual ways. stripped of their history no less than of their place-reference, such as Damascus in Syria or Mosul in Iraq, they have become naught but names, less than names, really just sounds, we might say, yet for all of that, and indeed because of that, something else hovers in the aura that the sounds can, on occasion, provoke.

the tongue remembers but you do not. life moves on while all around you lay traces of lost eras, active in the present, hanging on the wall, covering the windows, not to mention the couch on which you sit or the dress that you will wear tonight....

what would happen if one tries to redeem both name and constellation? the name opens like a flower. this is something more than relating facts about the past, something more than reading off meanings in a dictionary.

...what then happens to our sense of the senses when they are blended the one with the other, let alone with such history? how can such a mix be reduced to physiology or a body out of history, a taste to taste-bud reaction, color to a retinal bleep? Does not world history enter into the innermost physiological essence of such buds and bleeps -- just as world history is itself made out of the passion for such sensations?

to slip into the blue of your blue jeans is to slip into a surprising and unexpected encounter with the past -- old Cairo in your jean's bottom - but without your having the faintest idea of what you are slipping into. where might such affinities reside? how might they be awakened and in that sense redeemed?

(what color is the sacred? p.145, 155, 157)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Thank you to Baylan Megino, Felicia Perez, and Jay Malvar for a wonderful interview on "Apex Express" (KPFA 94.1 FM). Listen to the archive just past the 22 minute mark athttp://www.facebook.com/l/f1846;www.kpfa.org/archive/id/58378 -- We're rolling!!!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

it just occured to me that i didn't blog about the retreat last month with the volunteers of the babaylan conference. for four days, we told stories, laughed, played, danced, meditated, sang, ate well, created rituals, shared dreams, cried ...

i really don't know how to describe the weekend -- it was more than magical. it was energizing. powerful. healing. everything has expanded (and not just our girths). i banked this energy and i know i can count on it for the rest of the days leading up to the conference.

already we have been receiving many gifts: several primary babaylans from the Philippines want to come and join us.

at work, several profs are teaching segments on the American empire with a focus on the Philippines. i've said 'yes' to invites to talk to their classes.

this semester is going to be full to overflowing.

it is awesome. it is humbling.

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