Friday, April 02, 2010

working draft:


On behalf of the women and men volunteers of the Center for Babaylan Studies,  I thank you for hearing the call to come to this conference/gathering.  This present gathering is a small link in the very long unbroken chain of Filipino indigenous spiritual and cultural practices that transcend time and space.

When we began to unearth and rediscover the Filipino indigenous knowledge and practices during our process of decolonizing, the story of the Babaylan called out to us. One by one, story by story, book by book, from listserves to blogs, we listened to one another’s yearning to get to know this tradition. Who are the past and present Babaylans? What is a Babaylan in indigenous communities and what is a Babaylan in the diaspora? All of our questions and yearnings brought us to this moment of gathering with you.

“Please, allow us to express our Beauty!”  this is the voice of an indigenous woman leader from Mindanao during a dialogue at Ateneo de Davao University two years ago.  Her voice has never left me and I have, since then, repeated her plea  and all its pregnant meanings to others. We want to express our Beauty.

If you have been to the smaller CFBS events this past year, you may have experienced the Babaylan spirit that inspires and sparks the creative energy that leads to a sense of Pagbabalikloob/Coming Home. Home is where our Kapwa is. Home is where we embrace our Wholeness.

These two days will offer up these gifts of Beauty, Wholeness, and Healing.  I am grateful to the artists, scholars, poets and writers, activists, and healers who have come forward to share their Babaylan-inspired work.  I am grateful to the community of volunteers whose dreams and visions moved them one day to say: “Our ancestors are calling; they want to help us; they want to heal us. Let’s do something.”  Now here we are together.

Welcome….Home.  Tuloy Po, Kayo!

Leny Mendoza Strobel, Ed.D., Project Director
Center for Babaylan Studies

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