Dr. Leny Mendoza Strobel
Leny Mendoza Strobel is one of the founding mothers/signatories of the Center for Babaylan Studies (as a nonprofit) together with Perla Daly, Letecia Layson, and Baylan Megino. Ate Leny stayed on as Project Director from 2009 - 2018 and was mainly responsible, along with the all-volunteer core group, in visioning and organizing the International Babaylan Conferences, workshops, retreats, symposia, and other events that seeded and tended to a flowering of practices of decolonization and re-indigenization among Filipinos in the diaspora. Her publications - Coming Full Circle: The Process of Decolonization Among Post-1965 Filipino Americans; Babaylan: Filipinos and the Call of the Indigenous; Back from the Crocodile's Belly: Philippine Babaylan Studies and the Struggle for Indigenous Memory (with Lily S. Mendoza) -- continue to circulate along with podcasts, journal articles, essays on medium.com. Ate Leny is Professor Emeritus in American Multicultural Studies at Sonoma State University (SSU). SSU was the institutional home of the Center for Babaylan Studies until her retirement in 2018. Catch up with Ate Leny at: lenystrobel
Omehra is a cultural activist and multimedia artist who has collaborated with artists, healers and activists around the world in digital collage, poetry, photography, painting, online communities & publications. She chaired the Filipino American Women’s Network FAWN2005 conference, Coming Into Our Own Spirit and Success, the underlying theme of which were five babaylan power roles of the teacher/tradition-bearer, healer, sage, warrior and priestess (www.fawn2005.com and www.babaylan.com).
Omehra founded the first online community for Filipinas newfilipina.com whose approach was radical and edgy, created for and by Filipino women to help shape Filipina identity online. She received the Filipino American Women's Network FAWN2000 Babaylan Award for that site and her global community work. Through NewFilipina, Inc. she conducted networking nights for Filipina-Americans in New York City and Women’s Wisdom events in Manila between 1998 and 2004. With Leny Strobel she helped launch international online discussion groups for Pagbabalikloob (decolonization, or translated as return to deepest inner self) and for Tagipusuon sg Babaylan (Heart of Babaylan).
In 2004, Omehra started the Bahala Na Meditations and has since began the Bahala for the 21st Century project; contributed to the Pinay Power: Theorizing the Filipina/American Experience anthology and wrote about pinay cyber-feminism and ethno-gender-activism. She publishes Pinay.com for Filipina women around the world, Baybayin Alive to help people understand baybayin as a tool for decolonization and exploring Filipino identity, and BagongPinay for blogging about shifting & transforming consciousness with new perspectives & ancient traditions. She is the artist of the Babaylan Mandala.
Letecia Layson is a Filipina, Feminist, Futurist, Priestess of Morphogenesis (Form Coming Into Being) and High Priestess of Diana ordained in the Dianic Tradition: Priestess of Isis, Priestess Hierophant in The Fellowship of Isis (FOI) and The Temple of Isis. Letecia is the recipient of the 2003 Catherine Wright Award for Equality and Justice in Alternative Spiritual Awareness by Feas2t. Her activism has brought her to the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil and 13th Commission of Sustainable Development at the UN in New York, 3rd International Women's Peace Conference.
Personal statement: Colonization and Globalization contributed to the reasons my father came to the US in 1926. He returned to the Philippines as part of the 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiment during WWII, returning with his bride at the end of the war. I am second generation Filipina, raised to speak English only. I needed to find ways to move beyond the limited and limiting expressions and experiences of traditional and convention thinking/education that would keep the innate curiosity and love for nature and the world active in me. My mentors encouraged me to study nature, reach to the stars and understand the evolutionary flow of our human experience. Without the language of my ancestors to describe the beauty and mystery of these natural things, I came to use the language of physics and systems - general systems and living systems, to find a way of communicating that was beyond the bounds of country, race, religion and academic discipline.
Leny and others have reminded me that babaylans were and are our scientists, physicists, astronomers, oracles, doctors, masters of the arts - mixed media, poetry, music. It is my hope that our conference will provide a context for other filipina/os like me to find a common language which faclitates, integrates and bridges Ancient Future Wisdom as a tool of transformation.
Baylan Megino is a business consultant who helps integrate the business owner's personal goals into the daily workings of the company. Trained in several healing modalities, Baylan addresses the multidimensionality of all beings in all her work. She is a business speaker, event organizer, marketing consultant, and community advocate. Baylan is the Principal of White Light Associates, the President of the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce, the National Assistant Secretary of the Filipino American National Historical Society, on the board of the San Francisco Filipino American Jazz Festival, and is very active in the advocacy work of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations.
I have been interested in Filipino indigenous culture since my early days with Philippine folkdancing. I was drawn to the babaylan image, concept, and spirit through these dances, especially through the Dugso.
As a Filipina American, I find myself as a bridge between two cultures. As a healer, I find myself as a bridge between worlds. While exploring my cultural heritage and its connection with my healing work, I had a clear vision in which my Filipina Grandmother passed the family's ancestral legacy of healing to me. At the same time, I was given my name. My journey since then has been an unfolding of who I am as Baylan.
Without direct access to Filipino ancestral knowledge or to babaylan tradition at the time, I looked to Native American, Hawaiian, Asian, and Western systems for guidance. I found myself learning about different healing modalities in an attempt to carry on my family legacy. At the same time, I learned the intricate dance of being in business.
At the Babaylan listserve, I finally met other women who sought to bring into the world the Filipina creative expressions for our intuitive knowing and spiritual practice. Here I found a community that understood and supported the lifework I was creating -- integrating body, mind, and spirit in our personal and professional lives.
My work has always focused on helping others shine their light in the world. I trust this conference and the Center's work will assist in revealing and sharing the true richness that is the babaylan today.
I am committed to supporting the Babaylan conference in order to grow this community as a container for the ancestral legacies of our grandparents and babaylan ancestors.