Getting To Know: The UnColonizable Filipino
Can the Filipino be wholly understood by his history of colonization? Does he wear his Brown skin like a piece of clothing, but when ripped apart, his White-ness, or at least his attempt to be in its guise, reveal itself (Brown Skin, White Minds by David 2010)?
This article, provides an alternative viewpoint not to deny the deep and entrenched influence of colonization, but to propose that the Filipino/x is UNcolonizable. If you prefer to listen to the podcast, listen here- Episode: 36: The Uncolonizable Filipino.
THE COLONIZED MIND-SET
I’ve written to a great extent how colonization has influenced the Filipino in his worldview, his style of governance, including his methods in parenting. The religiosity of the Filipino in the motherland can easily be used as evidence of his colonized upbringing.
It’s indelible mark can’t be overlook.
History tells us that the colonizers used Christianity to forged their agenda into our native land, and more importantly, into our ancestral practice of listening to the whispers of nature. Our ancestral knowing relies in the collective, anchored in the ecosystem of collective coregulation, within ourselves, and the earth that sustains us.
From our animism and polytheistic faith of gods and goddesses, a god was deduced to one persona through the teachings of the friars, monks, and priests. Goods and products from far away were used like shining objects in exchange for sharing the word, and the kind of god, the colonizers believed should have dominion over uncivilized societies.
Verbal language became the portal of all knowledge and information. Western civilization prides itself with its linguistics invention, and philosophical categorization of all things under the sun.
What used to be keen sensing (pakiramdam), an ancestral intelligence many indigenous tribes share, slowly became out of fashion, superstitious, and even sinful. To Learn more about Pakiramdam, one of your ancestral wisdom, check out the Masterclass here.
Science,of course and its many contribution made our lives easier and safer. In fact, when women in the European medieval times were being accused as witches and burned at stake, it’s the explanation of science that a cow died because of illness and not because of a mere cursed spat out by an old widow next door, may have saved her life.
In other words, it’s not science per se but the insistence of what passes as scientific, and/or evidence-based. Many of the practices of ancestors would not pass the rigors of science and its methodology from a westernized perspective. Those who design research can’t help but abide by these standards.
One of the reasons why certain therapeutic methods are deemed evidence-based relies on these standards, that they can be replicated, broken down and will produce the same output (with acceptable margin of error). The listening to the ground or the waters in anticipation of what is to come is a domain science is yet to trek but one that indigenous cultures have genius propriety.
The measurement used to assess the colonized mind such as worshiping of whitening products, the loyalty to Western brands and the growing amnesia to the use of any Filipino dialect could very well be a sign of your adherence to the shadow of our colonial history.
But, the signs of your colonial rebellion, and what you really have kept under your brown skin despite the many years of colonization can only be sniffed deeply through sensing….sniff, sniff, sniff.
Your ancestral lineage, the Filipino,
You, are UNcolonizable.
COLONIAL REBELLION IN DISGUISE
Everyone who’s willing to show up these days can have their own platform or channel to share their thoughts, their cause, and even their angst. Disguising your discontent and rebellion against the latest twitter headline isn’t as noble as it used to be especially when you don’t have to look people in the eye.
The mere tapping of your finger to publish a content can be done between your awake stage and hitting your REM sleep cycle.
But, during the age of colonial rule, such rebellion can have the steepest cost, penalties, and punishment, that may include your last breath. Being discreet and to live a double life allowed Ancestral Filipino cultural practices, you can still reclaim today-survive.
I’ve written about the Pinoy Love Languages which is a collection of the unique ways Filipinos seek and express love. I posit that during the colonial times, our ancestors’ form of connection, that is, to collectively coregulate (community-soothing) was highly discouraged. Instead, the colonizers introduced a punitive symbolism of a god who will tend to ALL their needs, if only they can be obedient and pious.
It’s a similar strategy that the Crusaders took upon, from which Pope Urban II in 1095 orders Christians to defeat the Muslims and reclaim the Holy Land in the name of Christ. Friars and monks in charged to convert Filipinos have been conditioned to the same propaganda and the misuse of religion as a weaponry for conquest.
Pious and obedient, the Filipinos may appear to be, for his sake and for the collective survival. To be two-faced was his saving grace. To be called a hypocrite, appeasing the colonizer from face value while whispering, “tabi-tabi po” as he walks untrodden path was the thread, he gingerly interspersed in the tiniest needle hole so that our cultural tapestry may live.
And so it did.
It lived then and now.
WHAT YOU SEE IS NOT WHAT YOU GET
Living in an archipelago were the parts make a whole is embedded in the Filipino psyche. To gauge if someone belongs to your tribe, its quite plausible that our ancestors have learned a common language, not contingent on whether someone from Samar or Maguindanao speak the same dialect, but a language that spoke deeper, beyond words.
This language is the ability to sense the innermost intention of someone through intuition. This sensing is called Pakikiramdam (when activated). The word loob appears in Filipino lexicon as often as rice shows up in your dinner table. Loob is the essence of a person, his intention, his lineage,including his motivation.
The Filipino ancestral wisdom relies on sensing the innermost essence of a person.Kutob is her gut-feeling, like a bird that chirps in her ear. She smiles and nods when someone points her to the wrong direction then sprints away, following the chirping where it leads.Wherever it takes her is her destination.
Pakiramdam leans into intuition. Intuition relies on the body, nature, its timing, the collective energy. This reminded me of a documentary I watched where a herd of elephants in Africa, laboriously travel down a rocky, descending steep hill to get access to water. Elephants are not conditioned to take this odyssey because of their weight and their flat feet. It was incredible to observe the elephants sense each other collectively. An adult elephant extends a tail to the young without direct visual notion. Elephants will change positioning when they sense that one of them is in trouble, and how they use their feet (which is their second ear) to sense where to place their footing next.
The gift of intuition is meant to connect deeply with others and assess whether a situation is safe, beneficial or not. Such a gift is honed by being in the natural world, with people and with nature. When a punitive god was introduced by the colonizers, it worked against the ancestral wisdom of tapping into intuition. Instead, it begets to deny it, to rely on the WORD, the indigenous wisdom knows that the creation of the universe can’t be narrowed down into linguistics.
To wrestle between intuition, that is to believe in the forces of nature who serve as guides, to serving, one, benevolent god stirs intuition into its dark side. What used to be highly valuable, attuned mentoring and healing, led by babaylans, shamans and regular townspeople was regarded as witchery, a play in the devil’s fiery playground.
This must’ve been such a psychologically confusing times for our ancestors. The feeling that one part of you must die so that others may live. For his survival, the Filipino had to relinquish his pluralistic worship, at least in the eyes of the colonizer.
At times, she, too, seemed convinced by this religious weaponry that took her hostage. Many scholars write only about her colonized thinking, her infatuation for all things American, her reaching for whitening products, forgetting that all these are indeed influences, but that’s all.
What you see is NOT what you get.
MANIFESTATIONS OF THE UNCOLONIZED FILIPINO
In the blog post, Filipino Religiosity in America versus the Philippines, I shared how the Filipino has made Christianity his own through folk Christianity and how immigration can transform Filipino spirituality, read more here.
There are countless ways where the Uncolonized Filipino manifests herself. When the intuition channel is clear, meaning trauma and negative imprints are healed and/or processed, intuition serves its purpose. When trauma lies in the body, intuition can be misleading,one can’t feel or sense their way through when the portals for sensing have been blocked.
To ask someone to sense you without the ability to attuned back to them is not the essence of Kapwa, but a longing to be seen or heard. The use of the ancestral wisdom of pakikiramdam is to behold the ability to see because you felt seen.
The UNcolonized Filipino with a refined intuition may not have the perfect childhood or continue to be marginalized by other groups within his sphere or outside but his mindset of the world continues to be nimble. Here’s are a few manifestations that are not meant to be an exhaustible list. The Uncolonized Filipino:
- Worships the heavens and the space in between, as a child chant goes- Langit, lupa, impiyerno ( heaven, earth, and hell).
- She honors a more merciful god compared to the one prescribed by the colonizers. She doesn’t discount the gods and goddesses in the guise of patron saints and the lady of every barangay known in the motherland.
- She sees time as fluid rather than something to be blocked or plan exactly.Nature trusts its own season for pruning and blossoming.
- Appreciate the non-duality of life forms, that is, that the healer and the witch are one. She can live with both polarities. Water is life-giving and a life-taker entity.
- She understands that life does not end with the body, therefore, a sacrifice is a phase of honorable generosity like the mother tree continuing to give and receive life after its earthly demise.Every part of the tree,, withered or not is composted for the next cycle of life.
- She values interdependence, a time to seek others and a time to be sought.
- He blurts out, tabi tabi po to excuse himself when traversing paths unfamiliar to him but familiar to spirit.
- He takes risks, uttering, bahala na, not out of fatalistic belief but in trusting that something unseen is there for his success.
- He relies less on legal contract but on the inner compass on someone else to do the right thing based on the laws of nature and/or karma.
- He generously share with others because their delight becomes his. He has faith that his turn will come but he doesn’t wait. And, because, he doesn’t wait, he doesn’t wait for long.
- He has the ability to turn a noun, such as a label into a verb. He can be marginalized in a situation but is not the marginalized. He loosely wears labels, for nature knows, it can’t hold onto permanency, only to the change of times.
- He remains light hearted and find humor in small things.For today is certain and tomorrow’s not a promise.
- She uniquely express and seek love through the Pinoy Love Languages, see the ebook here, for she continues to yearn to be felt deeply in the way she attunes to others.
The quiet rebellion of the Filipino towards the colonized mindset can only be rummaged through by not believing what one sees. Like the manuscript hidden by Jose Rizal inside a burner, or the disguising of Padre Damaso in his writing as the cruel Spaniards, one must close thy eyes to see clearly.
To release the grips of colonization in your life, shine a bright light onto cultural stories shared from the place of mutual inspiration. This is where the storyteller and the story-consumers get their inspiration from each other. The question on who passed the need through the canvass first, the storyteller or story consumer is unclear.
Finally, what you amplify, expands. Find ways to heal your inner wounds, so that your gift of intuition can lead you back home to yourself. There is no greater GPS than your inner compass.
Roanne has been a Psychotherapist for more than 15 years. She has frequented at least 500 Filipino homes and counting. She is the author of the Ebook: 5 Pinoy Love Languages and the creator of the presentation entitled: Filipino Core Values & Considerations in Culturally Responsive Care. To access self-paced courses and other resources, enter the Kalamansi Juice Academy.
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