Decolonizing the Diaspora Through the Center for Babaylan Studies
(Expanded version of the Talk given at: 500 Years of Christianity and the Global Filipin@: Postcolonial Perspectives” organized by the Berkley Centre for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University, USA, the Australian Institute of Theological Education, and the Theology and Religious Education Department of the De la Salle University).
Introduction and Land Acknowledgement
My name is Elenita Fe Luna Mendoza Strobel. I am Kapampangan from the Philippines. I left my homeland in 1982 and settled on Wappo, Southern Pomo, and Coast Miwok Lands. It took almost three decades to understand what settler colonialism and native genocide have done to the Land and the Peoples of the Lands I currently live with. With this realization, I acknowledge my own entanglement with this History and affirm my commitment to build relationships with the local indigenous communities so that with their permission, I may nurture and feed an indigenous future with them.
I begin with this land acknowledgement because colonialism is all about the Land. Dispossession of the Land led to the dispossession of our mind and bodies, our languages, our indigenous wisdom, knowledge and practices, and specially our indigenous spirituality.
This is what the violence of colonization has done to us as a people. National Artist for Literature NVM Gonzalez said we developed a type of cultural alzheimer’s disease. Filipino theologian Melba Maggay said we were culturally circumcised. Other scholars said we developed a split self and as a society there is now a great cultural divide between the masses and the educated elites. Vicente Rafael writes of white love — of Filipinos falling in love with their colonizers. Not only were we dispossessed of our Lands, we were dispossessed of our innate indigenous wisdom and knowledge that sustained us for thousands of years before the colonial era.
Our neocolonial educational system didn’t teach us to understand how colonialism works; how the modern paradigms of development and progress have tricked us into submission and we bought into the beliefs that the West, represented by the holy trinity of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB) and World Trade Organization (WTO) would solve the…