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BABAYLAN: FILIPINOS AND THE CALL OF THE INDIGENOUS, a much awaited anthology about the Babaylan tradition, will be launched at the First International Conference to be held at Sonoma State University on April 17-18, 2010. This book has been years in the making and is the first of its kind to integrate research about primary babaylans in the Philippines; research about Kapwa psychology and the babaylan tradition; and narratives of decolonization and indigenization by Filipinos in the diaspora.

Included in this book are prominent voices who have been researching and writing about the Babaylan tradition like Sister Mary John Mananzan, Katrin de Guia, Agnes Miclat Cacayan and Tess Obusan from the Philippines. Among the writers from the diaspora are Ceres Pioquinto, Tera Maxwell, Venus Herbito, Eileen Tabios, Michelle Bautista, Maiana Minahal, Karen Villanueva, Trisha Agbulos Cabeje, Marjorie Light, Girlie Villariba and Charito Basa.

This book was conceived by its editor, Leny Mendoza Strobel, who has previously published a book on the process of decolonization among post-1965 Filipino Americans (Coming Full Circle: The Process of Decolonization Among Post-1965 Filipino Americans, Giraffe Books, 2001). In 2005 a creative non-fiction book followed — A Book of Her Own: Words and Images to Honor the Babaylan (Tiboli Books). This new Babaylan book is described as an offering of insight and wisdom gleaned from the writers’ engagement with the Babaylan tradition. It is a meditation on the question of how to heal from the psychic and epistemic violence of colonial encounters through the embodiment of the spirit of the Babaylan. It celebrates the many spaces where Filipinos are creating works of Beauty inspired by their reconnection to Filipino indigenous roots. It is a container for transnational conversations that have been going on for decades between Filipinos in the homeland and in the diaspora; the common theme of the conversations have always been about our need to feel whole (Kabuuan ng Loob) and the need to strengthen and deepen our indigenous roots as Filipinos.

BABAYLAN: FILIPINOS AND THE CALL OF THE INDIGENOUS is beautifully designed by Babaylan-inspired artist, Perla Daly. The Babaylan mandala on the cover represents the artist’s vision of the Filipinos “inner gold”. Perla Daly is also co-creator of the Center for Babaylan Studies, a nonprofit 501c3 organization dedicated to the dissemination of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP). Visit the website at

Ateneo de Davao University Research and Publications Office is the publisher of the Babaylan book. To purchase the book in the Philippines, contact Melotte de Castro of ADDU/RPO at 918 765 5025 or email her at  HYPERLINK “”  In the US, contact Philippine Expressions/Linda Nietes at: telephone/fax 310-514-9139 or email her at  HYPERLINK “” For further questions, email  HYPERLINK “”

I embrace this Babaylan book with warmth and reverence deep into my loob! It gifts me with a sensuous spirituality that is drawn from struggle, scholarship, and silence. As in a meditative walk, I pick up precious nuggets. Desire is sacred. Our planet’s skin is sensitive. Even cities teem with spirits. Texts are alive; as a matter of fact, metaphors bleed. Colonization hurts. Decolonization heals. Loob is kapwa. Tenderness is global. We can cease to be angry. We can choose to come home or re-find it elsewhere. See, the land has absorbed bombs, blood, and dead bodies. Call the Babaylans! Let them chant with confidence! Let them lull us to sleep and then dream of the past possible future. Now, I am ready to preach the call of the Babaylan—The past is at hand. The future is indigenous!

Fr. Albert E. Alejo, S.J., Poet, Philosopher, Cultural Advocate

Timely, subversive and fascinating. Reclaiming the Now: The Babaylan Is Us, as a collective Filipina re-membering, returns us to story not as artifact but as an organic healer of rifts in culture, history and daily life, a restorer of Eros and community. The secret is out: decolonization is not the province of theoretical discourse, but a holistic act of the body-psyche. It is in progress and even joyful.

Merlinda Bobis, author of The Solemn Lantern Maker

Reclaiming the Now:  The Babaylan Is Us is a timely intervention in indigenous studies that deepens the process of decolonization using the feminine principle of the Babaylan.  Leny Strobel is well versed in Western traditions of thought and in her own search for a decolonized self in relation to community she has delved deeply into indigenous spiritual practices that were occulted by the violent trajectory of the colonization of the Philippines that began the diaspora of which she is a part. Strobel and the contributors in this collection explore the possibilities of the Babaylan tradition to undo the historic trauma that is a lived condition for all colonized peoples.  Almost fifty years ago, Franz Fanon vocalized the masculine pain in the wilderness of colonial reality.  In the 21st century these courageous women address the necessity of re-animating the indigenous Babaylan in order to heal the terrible destructive processes that have been unleashed by the rapid development of global capitalism.  Dauntlessly accepting the challenges of re-imagining the spatiality of indigenous apprehension of the world and cosmos, the writers venture into this renewed world with an indigenous song on their lips, language of the earth flowing from their open hearts, their feet moving across her smooth face adorned with theory of their own making.

Victoria Bomberry, Ph.D., Ethnic Studies
University of California, Riverside

Reclaiming the Now: The Babaylan Is Us synthesizes so many strands of consciousness and Filipina/o activity on the ground, in the mind, and in the heart. So much of the wisdom that is lovingly presented here has been buried or crowded out by fear, perceived and imposed hierarchies,  and arrogance of all kinds. The traces and glimpses of wholeness that all human beings know truly exist is recovered here. Even for one who is not fortunate enough to draw her roots from Filipino ancestry, I can absorb the confidence and warm reassurance with which the authors write. There is material power in their words.

Cathy Kroll, Ph.D., English Department
Sonoma State University

It’s about time that we Filipinos celebrate our true identity, our indigenous soul — and be proud of who we are. Only then will we find wholeness and fulfillment in every aspect of life. Babaylan: Filipinos and the Call of the Indigenous inspires us to take that journey.
Charmaine Clamor, Filipino American