2015 Symposium


Limited 40 Participants.


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2015 Symposium

Mabungang Panaghinabi /Fruitful Conversations:
Bridging Indigenous and Christian Traditions of Spirituality

May 22-24, 2015

Burr Oak Lodge & Conference Center – Glouster, Ohio


(“Panaghinabi” is a Visayan term meaning “conversation.” We chose it so as not to privilege only Tagalog and the sound of “hinabi” connotes “weaving” and pagtatagni-tagni [a harmonious linking together of elements])


In this symposium, we continue to grow our indigenous souls by deepening our understanding of our historical inheritance both from our ancestors as well as from others whose spiritual imprint upon most of us and our peoples remains deep and abiding. In this gathering, we seek a conversation between indigenous traditions of spirituality and Christianity (as the latter has come to us from both Spanish Catholicism and American Protestantism). As part of this conversation, we shall also delve more deeply into our Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP) by interrelating “Kapwa” and “Loob” as core concepts giving rise to our unique expressions of indigenous personhood and spirituality.


-Exploration of the core concepts of “Kapwa” and “Loob” within indigenous spirituality and as taken up in colonial Christianity;

-Testimonies/stories/experiences of Filipino and Filipino American Christians who have reclaimed or are in the process of reclaiming their indigenous spirituality;

-Testimonies/reports on experiences of Christianized Indigenous tribal members on various ways of navigating their Christianization in interrelationship with their own indigenous spiritual traditions;

-Video testimonies/stories/reports on the influence of Christian missions on indigenous peoples;

-Revisitation of Christianity’s roots as a re-indigenizing movement in the Middle East;

-Deciphering the “indigenous” in Christian and native forms.


The missionization of indigenous peoples has been known to pose a conundrum as often expressed by the question: “Can we embrace Christianity and still remain ourselves (i.e., keep our culture and our indigenous identity)?” Interestingly, such a question resonates not only for Christianized indigenous tribes in the homeland, but also for modernized Filipinos and Filipino American Christians who feel the need to unlearn colonial thinking and to re-learn other ways of being in the world through indigenization: “Isn’t going back to indigenous ways the same as going back to superstitious belief?” “Aren’t babaylan rituals trafficking in evil spirits and demonic practices?” “Isn’t Jesus the only way?” And in relation to the core concepts of Kapwa and Loob that we are also exploring, we hope to address the pertinent questions: “Who is our kapwa? How inclusive is our sense of kapwa? Does it include plants and animals as well as humans? And to whom do we owe a debt of gratitude (utang na loob)? Is it only to living members of the community? Or to ancestors? Other beings? The web of life itself?

Through these and other related topics, we hope to see the flowering of many creative expressions of the indigenous spirit.


Albert Alejo, SJ, holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. He is a poet, scholar, and author of Tao Po! Tuloy! Isang Landas ng Pag-unawa sa Loob ng Tao and Generating Energies in Mount Apo: Cultural Politics in a Contested Environment. He is also actively involved in the People’s Agenda for Peace in Mindanao. Besides his work of community organizing and academic administration at Ateneo de Davao, he is known as a key ally in the indigenization movement in the Philippines.

Carmen Manalac-Scheuerman, a Kapampangan culture-bearer from Pulungmasle, Guagua, Pampanga whose passion and lifework is learning from, and working with, an indigenous Aeta community in Capas, Tarlac. A chanter of “dururu” (Aeta chant) and a creative practitioner of indigenous liturgy, she is currently completing her doctoral dissertation on the indigenous lifeways, values, and spiritual beliefs and practices of the Aetas at the Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary. Her vocation is working among Christianized Aetas to help them recover their indigenous culture and spirituality.

Dr. James Perkinson holds a Phd in Theology from the University of Chicago and is a Professor at the Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, Michigan. A formerly evangelical white Christian whose world has been turned upside down by 30 years of participation in inner city African American culture and spirituality, he now teaches—in forums both religious and secular around the country (including occasionally in the Philippines)—about the reality of indigenous genius in keeping memory and practice alive and dancing underneath the surface of imperial takeover and colonial policing. He is the author of Messianism Against Christology: Resistance Movements, Folk Arts, and Empire, White Theology: Outing Supremacy in Modernity, and Shamanism, Racism and Hip-Hop Culture.


This event is sponsored by Tamalpais Trust and Philippine Expressions Bookshop ~ Maraming Salamat! Thank you/Salamat to Titania Buchholdt for her donation in honor of her mother, Thelma Buchholdt.
Poster art by Larry Claver Guillema ~ Maraming Salamat!