In order to understand the deeper meanings of Baybayin symbols and to accept that they are NOT just one-dimensional letters in an alphabet, we Filipinos need to rediscover in what ways our ancestors thought. The best way to start that is to examine our western thinking and to investigate indigenous thinking.
European and American colonizers of the Philippines brought the alphabet, western thought and colonial mentality. Somehow, these are all related in changing, through hundreds of years, how Filipinos perceive the world, their culture, history, ancestral inheritance and themselves.
I invite you to ask yourself the following:
- How has the adopted western writing system effected your way of perceiving the world?
- How has Western thought affected your ability to experience and perceive metaphorically and spiritually?
- How has colonial mentality or colonizers’ mentality rendered the honoring of ancestral indigenous ways?
For those of us who grew up in the developed worlds of literacy through reading and writing, we have a different way of perceiving the world. We tend to think and make sense of our world linearly and sequentially, as in the way letters are arranged in order for them to make sense. We also tend to think that things hold more weight and are in fact true if they are be found written in a book. We tend to accept more readily the beliefs, traditions, religion, facts that are recorded in books. We also tend to demean native spirituality and mysticism—relegating those experiences to quackery and superstition.
For those who have grown up in indigenous worlds of knowing through oral traditions and symbolism, they can perceive the world in a different way. They tend to think and make sense of the world wholistically, simultaneously and with tacit knowledge or katutubong kaalaman (indigenous knowledge). They do not need books to accept their realities and can rely on experience, feelings, intuition. They also use their metaphorical perceptions and do not discount archetypal sight, dreams and transcendent experiences.
A holistic, simultaneous, synthetic, and concrete view of the world are the essential characteristics of the feminine outlook; linear, sequential, reductionist and abstract thinking defines the masculine. Although these represent opposite perceptual modes, every individual is generously endowed with all the features of both. They coexist… with no feature superior to its reciprocal… together, they form a unifed whole that is stronger than either half. First writing, and then the alphabet, upset this balance. Affected cultures, especially in the West, acquired a strong yang thrust. (Source: The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image, by Leonard Shlain, 1998)
Western thinking can be said to be mostly left-brain thinking(masculine). Indigenous thinking can be said to be mostly right-brain thinking(feminine). And it is possible to balance both sides within ourselves. It just takes an openness and willingness to exercise that ability. To embark on this journey of balancing our Westernized mind and our indigenous Filipino mind is to awaken, grow, expand, decolonize—heal from the crippling effects of patriarchal programming and the systemic wounding of colonization upon our people.
must be androgynous.”
Be sure to read Intro | Shifting One’s Perception
- Other Holistic Approach articles at this site
- Institute of Spirituality in Asia
- “Katutubong Kaalaman (Indigenous Knowledge)” by Teresita B. O, in Pamamaraan: Indigenous Knowledge and Evolving Research Paradigms, ed. by Teresita B. Obusan, Angelina R. Eniquez.
- Roots of Filipino Spirituality, by Teresita B. Obusan
- Institute of Spirituality in Asia
- Babaylan Files: Conversations – Signs and Symptoms of Decolonized Filipinas in the US
- The Filipino Mind (Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Change Series III Asia)
by Leonardo N. Mercado
- Coming Full Circle: The Process of Decolonization Among Post-1965 Filipino Americans
by Leny Strobel
- Kapwa, The Self in the Other. Worldviews and Lifestyles of Filipino Culture Bearers. by Katrin De Guia, PhD.
- A History of the Philippines: From the Spanish Colonization to the Second World War
by Renato Constantino. Amazon Description: Unlike other conventional histories, the unifying thread of A History of the Philippines is the struggle of the peoples themselves against various forms of oppression, from Spanish conquest and colonization to U.S. imperialism. Constantino provides a penetrating analysis of the productive relations and class structure in the Philippines, and how these have shaped—and been shaped by—the role of the Filipino people in the making of their own history. Additionally, he challenges the dominant views of Spanish and U.S. historians by exposing the myths and prejudices propagated in their work, and, in doing so, makes a major breakthrough toward intellectual decolonization. This book is an indispensible key to the history of conquest and resistance in the Philippines.