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Sikolohiyang Pilipino: 50 Years of Critical-Emancipatory Social Science in the Philippines

June 24, 2013 in Books, Talks, Papers, CDs, Websites, Cultural Studies, Historic Context by geejay langlois

by Narcisa Paredes-Canilao, University of the Philippines Baguio
and Maria Ana Babaran-Diaz, University of the Philippines Baguio


Sikolohiyang Pilipino, or efforts of Filipino psychologists and social scientists to indigenize Psychology in the Philippines started in the 1960s, further crystallized into a distinct movement from the mid-1970s and continued to flourish in the 21st century. Using the broad outlines of critical-emancipatory social science, we argue in this paper that Sikolohiyang Pilipino since its inception in the works of V.D. Enriquez, was meant and has proven to be a
liberated and liberating psychology (literally malaya at mapagpalayang sikolohiya), and may therefore be a unique type of criticl psychology in the Philippine setting. We first examine the academic and cultural circumstances that led to the movement of Sikolohiyang Pilipino, then describe its aims, methodologies, advocacies and theoretical contributions and how these resulted in the establishment of professional organizations, research programs, and curricular offerings.

The movement from the traditional academic psychology as taught in the universities was brought about by dissatisfaction with too much emphasis on Western theories particularly on the tendency for quantification to emulate the scientific method to examine human phenomena. The end of the colonization period in the Philippines brought with it the beginning of a post-colonial psychology that focused on indigenous knowledge, practices, and methods.

Key words: Critical-emancipatory social science, critical psychology, decolonization, indigenization, indigenous psychology, mainstreamed psychology, liberated and liberating psychology, mainstreamed psychology, pantayong pananaw, Philippine Psychology, pilipinolohiya, Sikolohiyang Pilipino.

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Dances of Hostility and Friendship

May 7, 2011 in Historic Context by admin

Dances of Hostility and Friendship: Embodied Histories of Group Relations in the Agusanen Manobo Spirit-Possession (Yana-an) Ritual

by Jose S. Buenconsejo

Humanities Diliman, Vol. 1, No. 2 (2010)

This paper explores the complex, aesthetic embodiment of a particular history of group relations. It investigates how the form or materiality of ritual séance—constituted by dance, music, speech, and acts—reflects changes in the political economy. The paper deals with Agusanen Manobo séance (yana-an) as a channel for embodying the Agusan Manobo’s rich cultural imagination of “others.” Agusan Manobos are indigenous people,most of whom are now Christians and who live in middle Agusan Valley. Their “imaginary others” are distant outsiders with whom the Manobos owe some kind of affinity because of a more or less shared historical experience based upon concrete social exchange practices. The paper examines two kinds of social relations: (1) Manobos vis-à-vis other indigenous peoples, and (2) Manobos vis-à-vis the Visayan speaking settlers. It demonstrates that the nature of the first social relation is symmetrical or egalitarian. This contrasts with the second, which is asymmetrical. The paper shows that Agusan Manobo yana-an makes reflexive, visceral statements about these social relations, enabling ritual participants to define their social identity and reconstrue the newer asymmetrical Manobo-Visayan relations back to its original equalizing one.

Full PDF link submitted by Letecia Layson

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Seclusion and Veiling of Women

May 4, 2011 in Historic Context by admin

Seclusion and Veiling of Women: A Historical and Cultural Approach
by Maria Bernadette L. Abrera
Philippine Social Sciences Review

A very select group of women existed in indigenous Philippine society which has hardly merited any account in history. These women were daughters of datus or rulers who were kept hidden in special rooms and were not allowed to be seen by any man. They remained secluded from society but their beauty and prestige were widespread. Their seclusion contributed immensely to their near invisibility in history, except that their presence dominates the narratives of almost all the Philippine epics. In these epics, these secluded women are described in length, from their physical beauty to their abilities in the spiritual realm. The description of these young women, desired by warrior-heroes and rulers as their wives, are an uncanny guide in a closer reading of the historical texts where we find glimpses and hints of their presence once their characteristics are discovered from the epics. Even the description of the houses as well as the architecture of the Maranao house give evidence to the presence of these secluded young maidens. This paper utilizes the initial historical evidence available to show the presence of the binukot woman in indigenous society, weaving the narrative with those found in the epics and in ethnographic accounts in order to glimpse through the veil and reveal the binukot. However, it has only served to show how much she still remains secluded and veiled in history.

Full PDF link provided by Letecia Layson.

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Babaylan in Asian Ethnology

December 30, 2009 in Historic Context by admin

Letecia writes:

Dear All,

I was searching today for resources from a cousin in Tacloban, Leyte and ran across an archive I wanted to share.  Some of you may have already visited, but here is the link:


Volumes 1–67/2 (1942–2008)

There are many entries on the Philippines, you just need to search… are a few examples:

1978, vol. 37 / 1
Towards an Understanding of Philippine Myths

Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro (Philippines)

The Shaman as Psychologist
Xavier Uniuersity, Cagayan de Oro (Philippines)

1979, vol. 38 / 2
Filipino Myths of Death and Speciation : Content and Structure

By J. Patrick Gray
North Texas State University
For Philippine Folklife and Folklore Center, Xavier University
Cagayan de Oro, P. I.

1986, vol. 45 / 2
On Human Values in Philippine Epics

Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro (Philippines)

Wishing everyone a wonderful 2010!

Love, Letty

Submitted by Letecia Layson. Links accessed 12/29/09.

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Asian Journal features CFBS—thanks!

November 1, 2009 in Historic Context by admin

The Center for Babaylan Studies was featured in the Asian Journal in October 2009.

Many thanks to Lorial Crowder for working on this and many thanks also to Malou Liwanag-Aguilar at the Asian Journal.

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Conversations – Landscape: Re-inventing the babaylan

July 23, 2009 in Babaylan and Community Healing, Conversations and Stories, Historic Context, Modern Practices by admin

Third in a series, posted in 2008 at Global Balita

by Gemma Cruz Araneta

Re-inventing the babaylan

How did the babaylan cope with the onslaught of “cross and sword”? After the bloody revolts against their sworn enemies, the early Spanish missionaries; after burning churches and disfiguring Christian icons and after the painful betrayal of community members, the babaylans had to devise effective survival methods. They either fled to the mountains or adopted Christian ways to co-exist with the colonial order.

Mr. Adelbert Batica, a Filipino expat, sent his comments to my article “Silencing the babaylan.” He wrote: “The babaylan, as well as the symbols and images associated with them may have totally disappeared except where they have reappeared as modern-day healers and “hilot” who most often use oraciones as part of their healing practice. But, I would propose
that they were actually resurrected, “reinvented” if you may, under a Christian context.”

Indeed, there are several religious communities led by women like the “Ciudad Mistica de Dios”, at the foot of the sacred Mt. Banahaw that uses the Bible and Christian prayers as the basis of their own stylized rituals. Curiously, the “Ciudad Mistica de Dios” began with the “Iglesia Mistica Filipina” founded by Suprema Maria Bernarda in 1915. Mr. Batica observed: “The old ladies who act as prayer leaders at many religious devotionals including novenas (especially for the dead) seem to be carrying on the dynamic of the “babaylan”, although in this day and age instead of being armed with amulets she wears scapulars, religious medals, and usually carries a prayer book or “novenario” and a rosary.”

Complete text available on in the Global Balita archive.

Links accessed 7/19/2009

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Conversations – Landscape: Silencing the babaylan

July 22, 2009 in Babaylan and Community Healing, Conversations and Stories, Definitions, Historic Context by admin

First in a series, posted in 2008 at Global Balita

by Gemma Cruz Araneta

Silencing the babaylan

The BABAYLAN, a native priestess or spiritual leader in the days of datus and rajahs, has always been a subject of fascination to latter day Filipina feminists. There is no self-respecting conference on the empowerment of women that does not conjure the spirit of the babaylan directly after the national anthem is sang. So beguiling is the babaylan, members of the gay population insist that they are the rightful descendants and heirs of those enchanted women , a contention belied by a variety of historical evidence ranging from ancient epics and ritualistic formulae to the travel chronicles of Pigafetta and de Loarca who came to these shores with Magellan and Legazpi, respectively.

Antonio Pigafetta did not know they were called babaylan and referred to them as “viejas”, old women, because that was what they were. By the time a woman became a full-fledged babaylan, she was already middle-aged and menopausal for it took almost a lifetime to master that gift those sacred rituals and songs and to assimilate the wealth of ancient wisdom. That being the case, self-styled modern day babaylans like dancer Myra C. Beltran and singer Grace Nono, are probably too green to
aspire for such prominence. After all, the babaylan was a pillar of native society together with the datu, the panday and
bayani ( warrior); they were not only spiritual leaders but also guardians and harbingers of culture values and tradition.

Pigafetta wrote about how the “viejas” danced on a cambay cloth, chanting and drinking wine, playing reed trumpets (flutes probably) to pay homage to the sun . One of them sacrificed a pig, which revolted Pigafetta, and dipped the tip of her reed flute in the pig’s blood and marked the forehead of her busband, companions and community members…The vieja (babaylan) did not mark the Spaniards with pig’s blood, a bold and meaningful statement that went above Pigafetta’s head.

Complete text available on in the Global Balita archive.

Links accessed 7/19/2009

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Conversations – Landscape: Betraying the babaylan

July 21, 2009 in Babaylan and Community Healing, Books, Talks, Papers, CDs, Websites, Conversations and Stories, Historic Context by admin

Second in a series, posted in 2008 at Global Balita

by Gemma Cruz Araneta

Betraying the babaylan

Thanks to archive moles like historian Dr. Zeus Salazar (Ang Babaylan sa Kasaysyan ng Pilipinas 1999) who have unearthed and analyzed data about the enigmatic babaylan, we now know that in ancient times, she was the authority on mythology and cultural heritage, had healing power, was the harbinger of rituals and knew astronomy which she related to the vital agricultural cycle.

In Fe B. Mangahas compelling essay, “The Babaylan historic-cultural context”, we learn that the babaylan traversed both spiritual and physical realms so she inevitably became the formidable rival of the Spanish missionary /friar who were the spiritual and public leaders of a new religion and political dispensation. That was why the babaylan had to be culturally and socially disempowered; she had to be destroyed.

Prof. Carolyn Brewer, a historian from New Zealand wrote insightful articles about the babaylan like the ones in Bolinao who turned over their ceremonial instruments to the friars and stopped practicing “witchcraft.” The Recollects and Dominicans, according to Brewer, used newly-converted young boys to spy on the babaylans in their families, steal their paraphernalia, impersonate them and destroy and profane the anitos. How tragic it must have been for the babaylan to see their datus together with the asog (effeminate male babaylans) join the colonial bureaucracy.

Strikingly, the babaylans crossed swords with the Spanish colonial order. They revolted violently against the ”reduccion” (hamletting) whicih brough the community “bajo de las campanas.” Faced with intense vilification campaigns led by the Spanish friars, they urged their communities to preserve their own ancient beliefs and practices. Because they were so close to the people, It was not easy to destroy the babaylan.

Historian Milagros C. Guerrero wrote that many babylans led rebellions from 1596 to 1780 , like Dapungay of Cebu, Negros and Panay (1599), Caguenga, the “vieja anitera“ of Nalfotan, Segovia in Cagayan Valley (1607) , Yga whose alias ”Santa Maria” enraged Fray Juan de Abarca so much that he ordered Gapan, Nueva Ecija burnt and reduced to ashes (1648). From Oton, Iloilo (1664) a babaylan called herself “Santissima” and was impaled on a bamboo pole and fed to the crocodiles.

Complete text available on in the Global Balita archive.

Links accessed 7/19/2009

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Conversations: Land and Women – The Matrilineal Factor

June 2, 2009 in Conversations and Stories, Feminine Divine, Historic Context by admin

Land and Women: The Matrilineal Factor
The cases of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu
by Kristina E. Stege, Ruth Maetala, Anna Naupa & Joel Simo. Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Elise Huffer, Editor (2008)


“The women here are so sure of themselves… maybe it’s that we know for sure that we have land…Even if I don’t get land from my husband, I still have it from my mother and nothing can change that…”— (Palauan woman [no name given], cited in Margold and Bellorado, 197?)

This report brings together three studies on matrilineal land tenure carried out in the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. The respective authors, Kristina Stege, Anna Naupa and Joel Simo, and Ruth Maetala, conducted their research in at least two areas in each country – including one urban and one rural – with the overall objective of providing a better understanding of the current status of women in relation to land tenure, land management and
access to land in matrilineal areas.

This work is aimed at contributing a gendered perspective to the current regional focus on land issues and reform, particularly initiatives such as the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s Land Management and Conflict Minimization for Peace, Prosperity and Sustainable Development project (LMCM) and AusAID’s Pacific Land Program. It is also designed to provide updated, accessible
and locally derived information and recommendations for national land policy and legislative changes currently taking place in the three focal countries.

Submitted by Letecia Layson
Full text accessed 5/31/2009

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October 29, 2004 in Books, Talks, Papers, CDs, Websites, Historic Context by admin

Shamanism, Catholicism and Gender Relations in Colonial Philippines, 1521-1685. By Carolyn Brewer

This book is one in a series called: Women and Gender in the Early Modern World Product Details:

* Hardcover: 240 pages

* Publisher: Ashgate Publishing (September 1, 2004)

* ISBN: 075463437X

* Product Dimensions: 1.0 x 6.2 x 9.0 inches

* Shipping Information: View shipping rates and policies

* Sales Rank in Books: #2,497,139


In this study, Carolyn Brewer explores the cultural clash that ensued when Hispanic Catholicism and Filipino Animism came into contact in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In so doing, she demonstrates the connections between religion, ideology and power, the evidence mounting with cumulative force to support her argument. Brewer highlights references to women who fleetingly appear in records of Magellan’s voyage, and sets the scene for the arrival of Legaspi and the colonial enterprise. She explores the way indigenous women were represented in various early modern sources and delves into the processes by which dichotomous notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women were introduced by successive waves of Spanish friars. The focus of the narrative then shifts from women in general to the specific role of female shamans and the manner in which these women were revalued from the prestigious and wealthy baylan to the reviled and banished bruha or witch and their roles eventually usurped by Catholic priests. Brewer also explores the ways in which asog (men who dressed as women) were converted to Catholicism. Finally, using inquisition documents, Brewer presents a case study from the town of Bolinao in Zambales Province. She reconstructs indigenous gender relationships, in the process of being fractured by inquisitorial processes, in which high class Zambal men and boys collaborated with the Spaniards to banish the shaman women and eradicate their influence. A meticulously researched book, Shamanism, Catholicism and Gender Relations constitutes a sustained examination of how contact with Christianity re-shaped gender roles in the early modern Philippines.



List of Figures

List of Tables




I Contact and Conversion: The Reconstruction of The “Good” Woman

1 Magellan’s Legacy

2 Contact and “Morals”

3 ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Women: The Virgin and the Whore

4 Confession and Flagellation: The Creation of Self-Policing Converts

II Contact and the Baylan: The Elimination of the Animist Shaman

5 Contact, Conversion and the Baylan

6 Evil (and) Old Women

7 Transvetism and the ‘Third Sex/Gender’ Space

III Contact and the Inquisition: Regenerding and Resistance

8 The Archbishop, the Priest, the Holy Inquisition and Resistance in Zambales

9 Holy Confrontation: Religion and Gender in Bolinao, 1679-85



Notes on Sources

Selected Biography