Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Babaylan in Asian Ethnology

Letecia writes:

Dear All,

I was searching today for resources from a cousin in Tacloban, Leyte and ran across an archive I wanted to share.  Some of you may have already visited, but here is the link:


Volumes 1–67/2 (1942–2008)

There are many entries on the Philippines, you just need to search.....here are a few examples:

1978, vol. 37 / 1
Towards an Understanding of Philippine Myths

Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro (Philippines)

The Shaman as Psychologist
Xavier Uniuersity, Cagayan de Oro (Philippines)

1979, vol. 38 / 2
Filipino Myths of Death and Speciation : Content and Structure

By J. Patrick Gray
North Texas State University
For Philippine Folklife and Folklore Center, Xavier University
Cagayan de Oro, P. I.


1986, vol. 45 / 2
On Human Values in Philippine Epics

Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro (Philippines)

Wishing everyone a wonderful 2010!

Love, Letty

Submitted by Letecia Layson. Links accessed 12/29/09.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Review of Huling Balyan ng Buhi


Sunday, December 06, 2009

about the Babaylan Rising, Dec. 5 2009 Event

date Sun, Dec 6, 2009 at 4:19 AM
subject Re: Babaylan Rising event

Dear all -
It is past 1am and am still awake because of the warm and exhuberant energy of the evening. Tonight we raised [funds for CFBS] -- thanks to Felicia, Jennifer, Marisza, Holly, Baylan, Lizae, Trixie and San Jose State U students, Ingrid, Mylene, Jodie, Mel Orpilla and Sam, your partners, friends, and family. Thanks, too, to the donors of the auction items: Perla's mandala, Jennifer and her artist friends, Christine Balza, Holly, Dustin/Sloat Garden Ctr, and many more. Consul Ver also came briefly and shared the support of the Philippine Consulate for the conference - thanks to Baylan for this connection. Thanks also to the Filipino vegan caterer - No Worries -- for the delicious pancit and the other donors of our vegetarian spread.

I finally got to see the beautiful Dugso ritual. Baylan, Holly, Ingrid, and Jennifer -- Bai Liza will be proud of you! The water ritual by Lizae with the singing bowl is beautiful and the invocation of the seven elements was very moving. Together with the beautiful altar set up in the Talaandig tradition and with Bai Liza's permission -- it all came together. I felt the energy pulsing through. I love how we came back to the altar at the end to partake of the brown and white rice. And what was in that holy water -- it is aromatic and sweet!

Felicia and Jodie - thank you for your poetry. I know your Dad is happy to hear your words of gold, Felicia. Jodie -- am glad you are getting your spoken word out; the dance next time...move those hips. Felicia - we are so proud of Sebastian who relished his bird-man role. That was a brief but good and creative presentation of the creation myth and what made it really special is the participation of the youth - Sebastian, Trixie and her partner (sorry, i'm blanking on his name). Smart props!

Mel - it was good to point out that the warrior in the indigenous community worked alongside the babaylan in protecting the community. Thanks for showing off the tattoos, too, and sparring with Sam. Thank you for sharing the work that you do with youth as they seek indigenous ways of reconnecting to their roots.

Thank you to everyone who made bids on the silent auction items and those who won and came home with the goods. Perla, the beautiful mandala went to Luis, Jen's partner. The kalamansi tree went home with Lizae, the antique baskets went home with Marisza. I came home with Jen's "Peacock" line of beauty products that she made herself. Oh, there are so many other items that I would tell you more about later. (Or you could tell us your story of the evening, too. Please do!)

On this night there were so many events going on around the Bay Area and I thank all those who chose to spend the night with us. We didn't get a full list of attendees, pls help me compile the list by sending us the names of those who were present because you invited them.

Each one of you inspires me.I never thought I would live to see this day ...a beloved community of babaylan-inspired women and men, young and old, gay and straight, long-haired, short-haired -- coming together to honor our babaylan ancestors, reclaiming our indigenous spirituality, and sharing this with our community and beyond. We bear and bare the beautiful fruit of our decolonizing process as we reach out to our families and friends and tell them about the necessity of decolonization. Together we manifest our gifts of Kapwa, Pakikiramdam, Loob through our deepening connection to our inner selves and each other.

I am looking forward to the holy days/holidays with gratitude and appreciation for all of you, for all of us. We've only been together a few months and already I feel like I have been adopted into a clan of the wise and compassionate. May our tribe increase.

It's past 2am and I will write more tomorrow and I look forward to your sharing. Please post photos on facebook.

Love to you,

Reflections by Mila Coger on the Los Angeles event

For the past nights, I've been in and out of dreams, the mind barely remembering details, but the imprint on one's consciousness so finely etched that one simply knows of a different traveling, of a different realm. The Babaylan event last Sunday, Nov 22, in L.A. at Tribal Cafe has been like a dream, softly flowing, almost magical, and yet at the same time, impelling and transfixing in the images and meanings created.

There we were, sharing our various expressions of music, dance, poetry, story, visual and healing arts; artists and audience engaged in this beautiful ritual of coming together for a purpose. We were all defining and honoring the Philippine indigenous healer, not only those who were figures from the past or practicing in the present. We were most of all, honoring the healer within us, acknowledging it at first with a tentative smile, and then later, the acknowledgment fully emerging as joy filled laughter and resounding applause. In that moment, we have all realized and felt the truth of our indigenous roots, and now in celebration, were ready to embrace its full expression within ourselves, and with one another!

Danny Espiritu, the L.A. Deputy Consul General and Vice Consul Charmaine Chua, expressed their appreciation when they cited L.A.'s usual endless social events but none more deep and meaningful than the one on the babaylan. Danny reiterated that the time has come for us to rediscover ourselves and our inner essence through expressing and strengthening our indigenous culture. He also strongly encouraged the continuation of similar presentations and stated his willingness to support the babaylan cause.

It was an evening that capped weeks of preparation, an event whose structure was formed not simply by positioning people and time frames together, but more from intuitive listening of what guiding signs emerged and the subtle messages they whispered. Mostly, we listened while we helped one another and watched ourselves flow like rivers, merging, just in Lizae's closing ritual harp music, as sacred waters of the great ocean. It was an incredible flowing, individually and collectively, as thread after thread of artistic and healing expressions from different sources wove themselves together and the wondrous tapestry of a babaylan event unfolded.

As time moved towards the event, so did people. Some came in, others went out. Leny flew out to Florida to be with her family; Lizae flew in from Frisco and met a new harp friend; Virgil drove away in meditation and weeks after, drove back again in full commitment; Vedel in the meantime danced with the babaylan mandala, while Mila contemplated on it some more; Venus and Frances cheered from Hawaii, Bernie danced her way from south to north, Tita brought stunning visual amulets and son Jose; Mandala admonished his tongue, Lilibeth plunged into pandan tea, Virgie crooned while she cooked Bicol Express dishes, Ben strummed his heart strings, Rudy serenaded and read people, Charmaine came and left with Michael, Aqui waged her brave battles on stage, Ric floated with his wonderful notes and Bibiana came toothless but told the Bernardo Carpio legend anyway, and with gusto!

There were more people than usual at Joshua's Tribal Cafe that evening. First they trickled in and then during the next moments after 5 pm when the program started, they made it into a full house! So full was it that one cozily sat shoulder to shoulder with another, while I had to do the indigenous incantation "tabi, tabi po (please pardon my passing)" just to navigate from one point of the cafe to the next. Towards the end, after announcements on the babaylan website and the forthcoming April 2010 Babaylan Conference were made, and appeals for generous donations delivered, a number of books from Linda Nietes were excitedly being plucked, a number of people stated interest in registering and attending the conference, and donation funds were gathered (cash and checks) .

Already, buoyed by the waves of inspiration and encouragement from everyone, the next babaylan event in L.A. is beckoning on the horizon of early 2010. New artists who came and attended have expressed their anticipation in sharing, while the initial group of Vedel, Lizae, Mila, Tita (?) and Virgil have their wings ready to fly again. In the meantime, our inner ears and subtle senses are once more starting to glean messages that will guide us into the exact time and place of that moment and the people who will animate it with their arts and healing energies. The babaylan mandala is like the deepoceanocean that invites the strong and pure hearted to continue their journey of merging with its sacred waters. Shall we enjoy the dive once more?

Reflections by Lizae Reyes on the Los Angeles event

My Babaylan experience.

The weekend of Nov. 20-23, 2009. I left Oakland on Friday, Nov 20th via Southwest Airlines for L.A. It was very windy and rainy. I imagined the plane experiencing turbulence which is not something I cherish when traveling. It ended up that our plane was delayed due to an accident; the luggage truck that carried the luggage to the airplane crashed into the airplane we were on. Passengers were waiting for take-off. But we had to switch planes. I wonder, how could that ever happen? Finally I arrived in L.A after an hour and a half delay, so ecstatic and looking forward to meeting Sister Vedel, Mila, Vedel's parents, Virgil Apostol and others!!! As I walked into Vedel's abode, I heard the most haunting voice singing Tagalog love songs, kundiman reminiscent of Mr. Ruben Tagalog. I grew up my parents listening to Ruben Tagalog's songs. Suddenly I was easily transported back to my childhood. It was beautiful. It was nostalgic. The man singing is Manong Rudy (family friend of Vedel's parents). He is a healer; quite humble. He told us many stories of his profound healing journey that brought him the gift to becoming a healer. I realized I was listening to the stories of a man who embodies the Babaylan Spirit. Laughter, food, camaraderie, connection, deep listening, nostalgic feelings of my childhood.............all these were worth the flight to L.A., the delay, the waiting and the turbulence. I flew to L.A. to support the Babaylan fund-raising. It came to me that it was a flight to more heightened consciousness instead.

Sunday, Nov. 22. The Babaylan Fundraising event at Tribal Cafe. The space was quite cozy. The food served was superb! People started to trickle in slowly. All the participants' contributions spoke and expressed our beautiful indigenous origin at many different levels. I was very honored to be present in that event; very happy and delighted to meet more kindred spirits, with special mention of Manong Faustino, another healer. Before the program started, I was tuning my harp. It turned out that on my way to the Tribal Cafe, a string loosened immensely that no amount of tightening it could do the trick. I tried and tried. Oh dear, of all times, why now? (I told myself). That never happened to me and I could not imagine playing a harp piece with a note out of tune. Such dissonance!!!! Another realization came to me. This particular incident of the string bringing dissonance is a metaphor of my own life's journey. I announced my experience to the audience with sincerity. "We all experience dissonance in our lives. The lesson of the harp's string loosening up is but a lesson of the Spirit, of Life. It is okay to have dissonance; always embracing Life's imperfections; acknowledging it and even sharing it as I did to the audience. We constantly fine-tune our consciousness to strike a balance. Just like Life.........as in music, when I experience dissonance, I begin to appreciate the other elements. I begin to honor the dissonance in my Life as honoring my Soul".

My experience of this weekend is an unforgettable one. Everyone I met shared their world in a capsule; shared their gift. The Babaylan community is growing in number and it is quite amazing! Bringing the Babaylan consciousness to the lives of the people is healing. As I connect with that which I love, my physical body is energized, my emotional state is uplifted, my spiritual connection is strengthened, my mental capacity becomes clearer and my creative expression is released and shared. As we begin to share the Babaylan Spirit with others, we create an opportunity for others to open and connect to that Spirit within themselves where their gift resides.......the healer within. This is an act of Sacred service.

The circle continues................................

Reflections by Vedel Herbito on the Los Angeles Event

here are some reflections i said i'd e-mail that arose from our momentous gatherings last Sunday that can be shared that has been inspired by your insights.

i felt moved from reading what you wrote to share from my pov of growing up in LA in a Filipino community, living in close proximity to Historic Filipinotown as a child before, and now coming back again to LA.

i know that in Historic Filipinotown and throughout the pockets of Filipino enclaves scattered throughout the city, from personal experiences and stories from family friends that the "healers, cultural bearers, etc..." are still very alive and present as the strength of their gifts are carried over from the homeland.

i grew up with my parents sharing these stories of these "gifts" from our own family, of the "village healers" in their provinces where they were raised, those with the "gifts" of sight, of sound, of sense, of dreams...

and now in this modern day city, i remember when Ate Venus and i were ill as children, and even now, our parents hoped to find these similar "village healers" of their upbringing and they thankfully did.

by word of mouth, it's been kept "underground," as common news among the "believers," as we would have to ask around from friends, and friends of friends, to find the common network of the "healers" that can help regardless of the degree of the ailment. the stories shared a common theme: the spirit was ill or disturbed and doctors weren't helping, test results even proving everything is "ok" but the symptoms persisted. our ancestors needed prayers, a spirit was "visiting" or disturbed they would say, and they would recommend a ritual, or some herbs for healing...

and now to see a public gathering where such a "safe" and "open" space has been created for this kind of genuine sharing about healers and our indigenous ways of healing i believe is truly birthing something profound, long needed by our communities. it has its own life force, building towards something sustainable as it always has been. in essence, i feel our spirits have been longing for and calling for this reawaken.

as we all get deeper, the truth of what we are here for becomes brighter each time, with every new gathering, more energy, more light is emanated into the cosmos: that we are here to awaken the gifts within each one of us in whatever shape or form they are called to be expressed, and to support one another as a community, just as our ancestors have done, for the healing of ourselves, each other, and essentially all who are part of this wondrous creation...

let us all continue to create and share with love our gifts of love... :)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Babaylan Mandala Fine Art Series

Babaylan Mandala I-I

Beginning over 400 years ago, the coming of Western colonizers shaped the identity of Filipinos. As the gold of our ancestors and the motherland were wrested away and loaded upon Spanish galleons to be delivered to the conquerors' home across the seas, so too was the richness of Filipino identity and spirituality replaced with dysfunctional perceptions of the superiority of the conquerors' race, religion and ways and the innate inferiority of the indios'. 


Filipinos today who awaken and stand strong in their identity, history, heritage and the center of their being(Loob), find their inner light, their inner gold. The Babaylan Mandalas and all their symbols of the 4 elements and baybayin scripts represent the reclaiming of the Filipinos' Inner Gold... We know when the Babaylan Spirit rises within any one of us when She guides us to help our Kapwa find theirs. 

Fine Art Prints Available for Purchase:  
To order please visit the babaylan mandala page at Center for Babaylan Studies.

BABAYLAN RISING | Fundraiser | Saturday, December 5, 2009

Date: Saturday, December 5, 2009
Time: 6:30pm - 10:00pm
Location: Bayanihan Center 1010 Mission Street @ 6th Street San Francisco, CA 94103
More Info: Babaylan Rising Details and RSVP page

“BABAYLAN is a Filipino word that refers specifically to an individual or a group of healers, mostly women, who were acknowledged by friends and family as possessing extraordinary gifts… having a gift of vision; an ability to see through schemes or situations and later advise on future plans... or the gift for healing; a specific touch or intuited or passed-on knowledge to specific processes of ‘fixing’ and ‘putting’ people and things together. The first priority of all Babaylan [is] her community.” --Carlos Villa

Join us for an evening of ritual gathering and ceremony.

This fundraiser's intention is to Invoke the Babaylan spirit through a ritual dance the Dugso in the tradition of the Talaandig tribe, creation myth reenactment, Eskrima martial arts, poetry, and sacred drumming.

*Presale tickets $15 - $20 at the door
Discounts for students with id $10 presale - $15 at the door*

This event will also feature guest speaker Leny Strobel (Center for Babaylan Studies Director www.babaylan.net)

A silent auction of Babaylan inspired art and crafts will start at 6:30 and go on throughout the evening. Requesting that guests bring a check book or cash if participation in the silent auction is desired.

Light appetizers will be provided with an open invitation to guest would like to donate food offerings for the evening.

Come with open mind and an open heart and witness the blessing and wisdom of Babaylan Spirit.

SPONSORED BY: No Worries Catering www.filipinoveganfood.com

The Center for Babaylan Studies (CfBS) is a 501c3 tax-exempt nonprofit activity of the International Humanities Center (IHC) http://ihcenter.org/.