Leny Mendoza Strobel, an eminent Filipina-American scholar, was recognized by the University of San Francisco’s School of Education as its “Most Outstanding Student” in 1996 for the research project that resulted in Coming Full Circle. Her recent writings have appeared in the anthology, Postcolonial Theory and the US: Race, Ethnicity and Literature (University of Mississippi Press, 2000); Encounters: People of Asian Descent in the Americas (Rowman and Littlefield, 1999); Amerasia Journal (1993, 1996); The Other Side (May/June, 1995, Jan/Feb 2000); and the Paterson Literary Review (Issue 27, 1998). She holds the 2001 Gamaliel Chair for Peace and Justice of the Greater Milwaukee Campus Lutheran Ministry.

How can Filipinos in America begin to consciously unlearn and undo their colonized mentality? In Coming Full Circle: The Process of Decolonization Among Post-1965 Filipino Americans, Leny Mendoza Strobel offers a framework for decolonizing the Filipino mind through the recovery and re-imagination of Filipino identity and culture. The Filipino’s emergence from the culture of silence to the development of critical consciousness enables him/her to reconceptualize the Filipino American experience in liberating and empowering ways.

Coming Full Circle highlights the importance of: naming and telling our stories; opening the doors to our memory and imagination; using Filipino language/s to express our deepest values; replacing colonial knowledge with Filipino cultural and historical knowledge; building community institutions; and integrating indigenous spirituality in our lives.

COMING FULL CIRCLE will be available at National book stores in Manila, and from Giraffe Books (tel/fax 632 928-9269 or GiraffeBooks@AOL.COM) in Quezon City

In San Francisco, it is available at ARKIPELAGO The Filipino Bookstore 953 Mission St. @The Mint Mall San Francisco, CA. 94103 Tel 415/777-0108 and FAX 415/777-0113 Hours: 10am-6pm EMAIL: miromero@arkipelagobooks.com URL: www.arkipelagobooks.com

by Leny Mendoza Strobel
by Helen C. Toribio

From the poignant to the abstract to the transformative, Coming Full Circle is an intricate and empowering discourse on Filipino decolonization.

Drawing on a host of postcolonial scholarship, Dr. Strobel narrates a psychological process that has frequently been felt and acted upon by communities with histories of colonization, but rarely given a name.

Coming Full Circle brings to bear Paulo Freire’s pedagogy of liberation and Virgilio Enriquez’ indigenous psychology on the Filipino American experience. Utilizing the methodology of “pagtanung-tanong” (participatory research), Dr. Strobel leads a cohort of participants on a dialogical journey of transformation. By talking, sharing, and journalizing, participants manifest orality as a praxis for uncovering shared experiences and sensibilities, identifying many themes that constitute the decolonizing process. The participants thus create their own narratives and come to terms with their own Filipino-ness, revealing stories that had been repressed, acknowledging feelings that had been mis-directed, and appreciating what had been taken for granted: the languages, behaviors, rituals, and myths that comprise Filipino life in America.

While the decolonization process begins as an inner dialogue it is also shared, thus the process moves on to transform every aspect of one’s life (families, communities, friends), resulting in growing collective community consciousness. While ethno-culturally centered in the Filipino experience, its spatial location is not necessarily geographic, i.e. the Philippines. Strobel recognizes that the center lies in each Filipino, wherever he/she may be in the diaspora, thus making Filipinos “bordercrossers” not only of national boundaries but also of cultures and historical narratives.

Helen C. Toribio is a lecturer in Asian American and Filipino American studies at City College of San Francisco and at San Francisco State University. She is active in Filipino American community affairs as a member of several volunteer organizations such as the East Bay Chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society.