Grow roots deep enough for generosity to sow seeds, for others you love... those you do not know... unseen generations you will never meet.
A Year-End Message from Ate Lily Mendoza, CfBS Executive Director
I woke up on Christmas morning with a voice in my head asking, “Where are your stories?”
I’ve been learning the stories of my ancestors from a young Kapampangan teacher/Elder, Mike Pangilinan, who is one of the last, if not the last, culture-bearer in my home province of Pampanga, the ancestral territory of the Ayta peoples.
That unexpected prompting from the dream world made me spend Christmas morning recalling the stories of Old Spider Woman Mangatia weaving the universe into being, the Mountain God Apung Sinukuan, the Great “Dapo” Crocodile on whose back the world rests, the great battle between Siblings Aldo (Sun) and Bulan (Moon) that gave birth to the seasons and the separation of Night from Day--all coded in the landscape of Indung Tibuan (land of my birth).
We at the Center for Babaylan Studies are learning from indigenous Elders that we only become fully human when we know our intimate interconnection with our more-than-human relatives and ancestors, not just metaphorically, but literally, in a most profound way—in the way our mythic stories tell. It is in those ancient stories that the sacredness of all of life, not just human, resides.
As we end a most devastating decade of descent into climate chaos and a world of massive devastation, suffering, and social disarray, how we face into the coming year spells the difference between continuing on to the scorched earth path or making a (re-)turn to the path of reconnection with Earth, land, water, air, microbiomes, rocks, mountains, plant and animal relatives, and all other holy beings to whom we owe our existence.
We are grateful to you all, our Kapwa Community, especially to those who attended our 2019 Fourth International Babaylan Conference in Wahta Mohawk Territory in Torrance, Ontario, Canada, whose theme was finding our roots again through “Learning Land and Unlearning Empire.” We are heartened by your generous support of this undertaking through your wonderful presence and your offering of your gifts, talents, and monetary contributions. We couldn’t have done this work without you, our Kapwa Community.
This coming year, in response to a clamor we’re hearing from some sectors of our community, we open with a webinar offering on February 29, 2:00-5:00 pm EST on the theme, “Indigenous Wisdom Re-Schooling Christian Vision: The Bible Underneath the Bible,” a continuation of the conversation we began in our 2015 Ohio Symposium on “Bridging Indigenous and Christian Traditions of Spirituality.” We hope you will save the date and join us (flyers and details coming soon)!
Together with our partners in the Philippine homeland, we also look forward to co-creating a gathering, hopefully in Summer of 2020, details of which, due to the delicacy of the situation in the homeland, will not be circulated publicly, but only through word of mouth and/or trusted networks. We trust that those of you called to participate will find their way to us in due time and through spirit guidance.
As we head into the New Year, we in the CfBS Core covet your prayers. Amidst the many learnings and lessons we’re processing post-conference, we need even greater clarity of vision enabled by a good working structure, better interpersonal communication as we continue to work diasporically and intergenerationally, and a renewed understanding of the times we live in and how to carry and nurture the seeds of Indigenous Life forward on to the next generation. We welcome volunteers—those among you who feel called to this sacred work and have gifts and energy to offer; don’t hesitate to connect with us.
And as always, we need and welcome your generous donation to CfBS to allow us to continue serving you. Please consider giving a tax-deductible contribution.
Pagpapala at pagmamahal ang mapasa-ating lahat nawa nitong Bagong Taon. May blessing and love come to us all this coming New Year.
Yours in Kapwa solidarity,
Ate Lily with the Core Team--Aimee, Christina, Jana, Jen, Jo, Nina, Olivia, Orion, and Vanessa
What People Say
Filipino Tattoos, Ancient to Modern
“Working with CFBS has brought me into contact with many like-minded individuals, people who understand the value of our indigenous practices. Here I have found community and established wonderful friendships. In return, it was within this community that I was able to more deeply share my own research about our cultural histories and further explore my calling in life as a practitioner of our tattooing arts.”
JANA LYNNE UMIPIG
“ The Center of Babaylan Studies has grown me from afar for 5 years now and has humbled my spirit by showing me who I am and calling me to rise in my fullest, truest self whenever I felt I could not, or was afraid to...CfBS is a community I will continue to give of my service and spirit to, as it has and I know will continue to fill me time and time again.”
Educator, Healer, Artist
"I attended the 2010 and 2012 Babaylan Conferences, and the 2015 PAMATI Gathering, all events which have changed my life deeply and, though it sounds dramatic, saved my life… These gatherings connected me to other peoples similar to my ancestry and spurred my solitary and extensive research into pre-colonial Bikol practices and any spiritwork techniques that do not require initiation."