Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Babaylan/Catalonan knowledge in Filipino Psychology

Some excerpts from the book From Colonial to Liberation Psychology: The Philippine Experience. 
Virgilio G. Enriquez. De La Salle University Press. Manila.
Page ix

Integral to Filipino Psychology or Sikolohiyang Pilipino is Liberation Psychology or Sikolohiyang Malaya.
Page xi

At the core of the Philippine value system is the concept of kapwa.
Page 2

The fact remains that the history of psychology has to be rewritten indeed so as to reflect the different bodies of knowledge, formal or informal, found in Asia and the different cultures of the world. If this is not done, what one has is at best a history of psychology which ignores the traditional roots of psychological thought in Asia—a history of Western psychology with the word “Western” unsaid or unwritten. 
The development of psychological thought has a long history and many filiations in Asia and the rest of the world. The Philippines is no exception. To be sure, one finds psychology in the practice of the babaylan and catalonan in the Philippines but just the same, most academic departments of psychology in Philippine universities tended to ignore indigenous psychological thought and practice and instead adopted theories, methods and practices from their Western counterparts. It is only lately that more and more Filipino psychologists have come to appreciate the need to recognize the indigenous roots and contemporary social and behavioral manifestations of a “less civilized” psychology hand in hand with the awareness of the Western influence in the development of psychological thought in Asia. The value placed on modernity and development leads some to conclude that whatever is indigenous is uncivilized, making the word “indigenization” dirty. “Contextualization” as a label is thus preferred over “indigenization.”
Actually, the word “indigenization” is not as politically charged as it appears in many cases. “Contextualization” sounds neutral but it took the form of decolonization and

“indigenization” in Philippine psychology regardless of one’s dissatisfaction with the word. The Filipino word pagsasakatutubo captures the situation aptly even if pagsasakatutubo is a tongue twister for the American-trained Filipino scholar. The ultimate goal of pagsasakatutubo is a sikolohiyang malaya and mapagpalaya (i.e., a liberation psychology): malaya (literally, “free,” “independent,” and “liberated”) or unshackled by the massive American political, economic and cultural influence in Philippine life, society and psychology, and mapagpalaya (literally “liberating”) or responsive to internal Philippine social problems primarily rooted in the inequitable distribution of wealth and the Great Cultural Divide separating the Anglicized Filipinos from the masses.
Page 6

The psychological knowledge of the native Filipino traditionally held by the babaylan in the Visayas, the catalonan in Central Luzon, and the baglan in the Northern Philippines (Bailen 1967, Quiazon 1973), is an important basis of early Filipino psychology. The babaylan was the first Filipino psychologist. As a priestess she was also the guardian of Filipino sacred knowledge. In the early days she did not refer to herself as Filipino but nonetheless continued her practice as babaylan throught the centuries of identity evolution from Indio to Filipino. The dalangin (prayer) and bulong (whisper) of the catalonan and the other healers and priestesses from different ethnic groups in the Philippines are rich sources of early Filipino psychology. The use of anting-anting (amulets) and other psychological practices and beliefs of resistance movements such as the Pulajanes (Constantino 1975) are all rooted in early Filipino psychology.

Part and parcel of early Filipino psychology is the psychology found in ealy Philippine literature, be it oral or scribbled on bamboo: the salawikain (proverb) (Eugenio 1966), The bugtong (riddle), the kuwentong bayan (folk tales), the alamat (myth) and the epiko (epic).

The inherited customs of the Filipino serve as one of the funamental bases of Filipino psychology. Related to this is the rich field of ethnopsychology. Handed from generation to generation are the eliefs and practices on childcare (Absolo-Domingo 1961, Quisimbing 1964, Aldab-Lim 1966), Temporal 1968, Almendral 1969, Adea 1974, Lagmay 1974, Alonto 1975) and the intricate knowledge which governs interpersonal relationships (Gutierrez-Gonzales 1968, Almario 1972, Nuevo 1973). The Filipino psychologist cannot gain this knowledge in New York, Paris or Munich. It is best that the psychologist actually live in the barrio where he came from in order to learn and rediscover Filipino psychology.
Filipino psychology is the attachment of importance to the Filipino and his consciousness. The totality of the Filipino—both his material and spiritual aspects—are given emphasis. This perspective, labeled sikolohiyang Pilipino, motivates the social scientist to investigate the traditional beliefs of native Filipinos.

“A Palawan babaylan’s views of disease causation.” The U.P. Anbtrolophology Bulletin 3 (1), 6-9. Jerome Bailen. 1967

“Personal at pormal na konsultasyon hinggil sa perspektibo ng sikolohiya sa Pilipinas para sa kasaysayan” Serafin Quiazon, Jr. Kasama si A.V. Lagmay. Sulu Hotel, Lunso Quezon, Nobyembre 1973.

A History of the Philippines: From the Spanish Colonization to the Second World War. Renato Constantino. Monthly Review Press. New York. 1975.


  1. thanks for posting this, Perla:-))

  2. Thanks for posting. This is insightful.

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