Co-director: Mary A. Hernandez

2008 MHernandezThe work of the Center for Babaylan Studies enhances our abilities to reconnect with our natural selves by shedding colonial mentality and by adopting the lessons passed to us by our indigenous ancestors.  Mary believes in this work and wants to live in a world that supports our natural and shared selves rather than our “extended” selves.

Now living in North America, Mary recalls with much fondness her time climbing mango trees in Cagayan de Oro, skirting the balete tree somewhere in Medina, and riding the cart behind the kalabaw.  She also remembers the taste of tuba and has never eaten kinilaw.  She spent part of her young childhood in Tondo, Manila, and Project 7, Quezon City.  In school, she was fortunate to attend the University of the Philippines in Los Banos, Laguna – home of famous buko pies, IRRI, and DTRI!  She spent much time visiting the botanical garden at the foot Mount Makiling.

Mary is comfortable in both Tagalog and Cebuano, having grown up in Manila and the northeastern shores of Mindanao.

As a profession, she -along with her colleagues- manages a counselling service and works behind the scenes to ensure that the service stays open for those in need. She is passionate about providing access to mental health services, especially to those who encounter obstacles in obtaining support.

When she is not at the counselling office, you can find her online as an instructor in psychology (and soon: ecopsychology!) for a global online university. Or you might catch her buying yet another book for her dream library.  Mary is hoping to add “pottery” on her list of hobbies to make a set of bowls for the family, with her hands.

Intensely interested in nature and relationships of all kinds, much of her studies are related to ecopsychology, ecotherapy, indigenous psychology, relational cultural theory, and others.  Convinced that much of our nature is connected to early development and inheritance, Mary is also drawn to neuroscience, attachment, epigenetics, the formation of values and culture and their relationship to identity, and the subsequent effects of all these on individual and generational resilience.

On a path of unhurried spiritual reflection, she is undergoing a process of decolonization and development by re-immersing in inherited nature-based indigenous traditions and philosophy. One of her most valued inheritance is the innate understanding of living nature in a nameless and corporeal way.  She wishes to integrate decolonization methods in the study and teaching of ecopsychology and in the practice of ecotherapy, and vice versa.  She is very fortunate to be guided by experienced leaders in this field through the Center for Babaylan Studies.  Next up!  Looking for a mentor.

When there’s an extra minute or two, she volunteers for the CfBS, a school of Thai massage, and sits on a couple of Filipino non-profit boards: Tahanan Non-profit Housing Corporation and the Canadian Aid Relief Project.  And when she gets more than a minute, she may dance, pick up a paintbrush, use an old typewriter, and give massage. Everyday she non-verbally communicates with plants and animals and gives thanks through the air. She also sings for no reason at all and to no one in particular.