Friday, August 27, 2010


This is actually a reprint of a post I just featured at my primary blog, but I replicate it below for convenience:


OurOwnVoice's newest issue is rather historic by focusing on the Babaylan.

I've got three poems innit, which isn't the most important detail but which I note for moi Blog-File ("Hay(na)ku with Ducktail for Leny", "The Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon," and "Sacred Time"). Again for the Blog-File, I also have the novel "Dear Cloud" innit.

Having gotten Housekeeping out of the way, I found this essay by Cynthia Arias, "An American Babaylan: Living in One's Own Truth" quite useful. It's useful because modern-day Babaylanism is controversial in some circles as people grapple with the effect of the diaspora (and the resultant separation from "land"). Anyway, here's some excerpts from Arias' essay:
The concept that the Babaylan is defined by factors that override an individual’s direct experience of the originating land, the Philippine Islands, is vital to understanding the presence of the Babaylan in the Diaspora and the ways that sacred practices of the Babaylan have, as well, bridged the seas of consciousness that Pilipinos have traversed in their journeys around the world.


If we accept that Culture is a human construct, by which a group of individuals agree basic concepts of values, morals, mores to form a worldview, then it follows that Culture evolves as humans evolve.


While many may provide their perspectives, and assist in our discoveries, through critical analysis founded in scientific methodology, it is up to us to decide who we are and where we are headed.

Modern-day Babaylanism is empowering.

The Babaylan Conference, which seeded this issue, also empowered Mom to write her first book (which I'm reviewing now). But here is also one of her narratives, a memoir from 1939 entitled "Dawac". Good for Mom!

Also useful is the essay "Ways of the Babaylan" by Katrin de Guia. It's clear from her essay that empathizing/understanding (in my opinion, if you understand Babaylanism, understanding cannot occur without empathizing) cannot occur without that thing that many folks are scared to discuss: love. I do think Ben Okri's quote relevant: "Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery."

It takes courage to love as a Babaylan would/does. For, as de Guia puts it, "The first priority of the babaylan is the community."

I appreciate Babaylanism because it requires intelligent innocence.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


As I've mentioned before, my nearly 81-year-old Mom has a first book coming out! In celebration of such, she also had her first "salon" (oh my!) reading experience this weekend, as she read from her narrative (she's calling these memoir-vignettes "narratives") "Dawac" at beautiful Leny's beautiful house (it was so colorfully and, wink, indigenous-ly decorated!). Here's a photo of Mom in her reading chair--do note in the foreground a make-shift "altar" of blessings that Leny created on the spot from vegetables that I brought from my garden (that's when I realized, btw, that you're supposed to harvest zucchinis when they're smaller, not when they become human baby-sized....duh). That's the beautiful back of the beautiful Leny's beautiful head in foreground:

Here's a shot, too, of part of the audience to whom I'm so grateful for their openness and making my Mom feel really welcome as she goes on to her own literary debut. That's Jean on the far-left side of couch! It's not a good photo, but you can see the intentness of the peeps' attention....

At one point in the evening, one lady said that writing must run in my family. And I said half-jokingly, "Yes, but I didn't know it for the longest time!"

And what I was thinking of is that when some talent runs in the family, one usually sees it first in the parent and then in the child. In my and Mom's case, it was seen visibly first -- if one uses publication as a viewsight -- in me and later in Mom. But what this really means is that what was running through our blood is not linear but circular...

...evoking for me indigenous time's mythical space of creativity: where, in the space of creation, there are no delineations between past, present and future, or between geographically-defined space; in that mythical space, unity exists in the universe across all time and space. (Got that? Good!)

Last but not least, I mentioned in my introduction for Mom that "Dawac" is the first narrative in Part One of her forthcoming book, and that Part Two will be a reprint of her Master's Thesis at Silliman University when she had written (under since-recognized Philippine National Artists Edilberto and Edith Tiempo) the first critical study of "local color" in Filipino English-language short story writing. I thought it wonderfully synchronistic that Mom's own narratives will contain much local color, even as I consider her book also a recovery project for what was actually a historic literary study. The circle turns....

Thanks again to Leny for the salon idea and hosting. Thanks for making Mom and me feel so welcome. What a beautiful community you all make!