Towards an Ecology of Remembering: Decolonizing the Body, Memory, and Desire

Leny Strobel
26 min readOct 30, 2022

(Keynote address at the October 21, 2022 Bantula Conference of the Philippine Culture-Based Education Program of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts: “Re-Thinking and Re-Imagining Philippine Culture-based Education: Critical Engagement, Affective Investment, Decolonial Practice”).

Photo by Rizky Ramadhan on Unsplash

Magandang araw po sa inyong lahat. Mayap a aldo pu kekayu ngan!

Aku pu i Elenita Fe Luna Mendoza Strobel, anak ng Horacio Mendoza at Esperanza Luna. Kapampangan ku pu, pero ating samut a Ilokano on my Luna side. (My name is Elenita Fe Luna Mendoza Strobel, daughter of Horacio Mendoza and Esperanza Luna. I am Kapampangan. I also have a bit of Ilocano in me).

Family stories passed down to me say that our great grandfather, Joaquin Luna, is the brother of Juan and Antonio Luna. None of their personal stories were passed on down because my grandfather refused to talk about his family as we were growing up. This Silence — which is familial, historical, and cultural — has been trying to speak to me. One day, as I was on a shamanic journey at a retreat, the brothers appeared to me; They held out their hands to me saying: Take our hearts with you. Our public lives were not perfect but we did our best for our motherland. Your mother has this heart, too. It is also yours.

I am grateful for my ancestors and your ancestors who have brought us together in this virtual space to gather and remember the stories that have been buried under the lahar of colonizations . May all that is remembered heal our memories, enliven our bodies, and embolden our desires to imagine a future that restores our indigenous and cultural Beauty and brilliance.

I left my Kapampangan homeland and the Philippines in 1983. I am currently a settler on Wappo, Coast Miwok, and Southern Pomo lands (aka as Sonoma County in California). These lands have fed and nurtured me for the last four decades. I am grateful for the ways I’ve been called to remember and learn how to dwell in a Place. To dwell…as in learning to fall in love … with the land and her hills, the redwoods, the creek, the birds that surround this home where I am raising family and community. To dwell in Place…as in honoring and remembering the indigenous history of this Place and the…

Leny Strobel

Leny is Kapampangan. Settler on Pomo and Coast Miwok lands. Founder and Elder at the Center for Babaylan Studies.