Why are the metaphorical and deeper meanings of the baybayin symbols important to Filipinos’ healing from historical imperialism, colonial mentality and to reclaiming of Filipinos’ indigenous identity, no matter where they are in the world?
“What are our rich treasure trove of epics, tales, myths, riddles, wise sayings and symbols for, if they were not to be found meaningful beyond being treated as fanciful literature or heavy scholarly stuff or museum archives or a coffee table book accessible only to an ‘esoteric’ few of substantial means?
Like herbs naturally sprouting from the soil in our gardens, our own stories and their potential for healing our psyche /our wounded concept of ourselves not only as women but as a people have long been underestimated or undermined, or perhaps just taken for granted.
If, for many spiritual feminists in other lands, story is medicine, for us and our people, the sugilanon/kwento, like rice, has always been a kind of staple sustenance food.
The impact of the symbols and metaphors contained in certain stories, as exemplified by the Mebuyan mythos—is powerful, in my case, powerful enough to want to write a long tedious thesis about her (when it could have been enough to, between kapwa women, exchange our own stories about Mebuyan’s message or meaning for us).
Indeed, as has been repeatedly theorized by scholars, symbols and metaphors speak for and to our deepest feelings, desires, and experiences–better than rational words can, because they address–as well as come from–the fertile unconscious or ‘underworld’ realm of our psyche…”
The psyche is an english term that gets very close, but still not quite the same as Loob (Pronounced with two syllables).
“Loob” is Filipino for our deep innermost self. At the center of our self, our Loob, is the Source where we are connected to something greater… Through our Loob we are connected to our loved-ones, Nature and the Cosmos. Through our Loob we are still connected to our ancestry, to our rich heritages. We are still connected to our descendents, those who are to come and whose names we will never know. Through our Loob, the past and the future are not disconnected from us. This interconnection is also called pakikipagkapwa.
Artists have a more keenly developed sense of the metaphorical. But any human being can develop their metaphorical sight or Talinghaga. Talinghaga is an ability that is part of Filipino or indigenous holistic thinking. Filipinos today, despite years of colonization and westernization can reclaim this skill. Baybayin symbols can be tools in developing talinghaga, a skill that our ancestors had and many Filipinos still have today.
Any Filipino or human being can develop Talinghaga, a process of reflection, contemplation… it is thinking and seeing in metaphors, and it entails a matter of inner sight.
As per Sikolohiyang Pilipino studies, talinghaga is one construct of Filipino values and personhood. Can you, a modern day Pilipino, develop talinghaga? I know you can! It’s already there within you. Talinghaga is part of Filipino holistic thinking. (See also other Talinghaga posts)
These are mysteries of being Filipino, being human and of Life that we should not shun or be afraid of despite the fears and anxieties that mainstream thinking, imperial thought, and both historical and contemporary society and institutions may project upon us.
- The Shaman’s Woman’s Dream: How can we Worship God without the Forest? Davao City: Hinabi Women’s Circle, 2002
- “She Dances in Wholeness.” Agnes N. Miclat-Cacayan. Babaylan: Filipinos and the Call of the Indigenous. Leny Mendoza Strobel (Editor). Ateneo de Davao University Research and Publications Office; First edition (March 15, 2010)
- From the Womb of Mebuyan. by Miclat-Cacayan and Geejay Arriola
See also various baybayin interpretations here on Baybayin Alive.