Bakla is defined in Filipino as third-sex or gay. In Philippine society, all types of bakla, gay men have been socially and economically accepted. In some families, having a gay child is an indication of good fortune. Effeminate men who dress like women are common in villages and cities and are not the victims of prejudice the way they are in other parts of the world. Gay people are considered an important part of the community make up in the Philippines. (Also see Wikipedia on Bakla).
I was immediately struck by the fact that Diwata had written both these words using the same three symbols. I was also struck by the fact that they were in reverse order of each other.
Later on, after the retreat, I asked her online to explain what this meant for her and she answered me with this message:
I don’t know how else to explain it, but for me, the concepts of kapwa and wholeness (pagbubuo) are inextricable from each other. Lakbay is a journey you take away from your usual environment to understand yourself and your kapwa better. meeting new people opens your eyes to see yourself in other ways. Bakla is the inward journey to wholeness where you find that you are complete within yourself, and this wholeness is what you share and bring as gifts to your kapwa.
Both spellings with baybayin contain the symbols that represent male principle (LA) and female principle (BA) (See interpretations for ).
KA is two wavy lines laid parellel with a line joining the two of them at their center.
To some ka represents two rivers (wavy lines) joined by a center line.
HA is the baybayin symbol that can represent breath, spirit and even soul. So to some others, KA can represent two spirits joined by a center line.
So when you know what the syllable of KA does within Filipino words, that is, creates a relation or connection ((kapatid(sibling), kasintahan(loved-one), kapwa(fellow), kalakbay(fellow journeyer). ka-klase(classmate)), and then you see the meaning of KA with its actual baybayin symbol, it seems immensely appropriate.
Ka means “connection.”
It’s interesting to me that “journey” is the joining of both male and female symbols.
Thus the baybayin symbols of lakbay here evokes the meaning of human life being a journey of creating and maintaining a balance within oneself and also staying at one’s center (Loob). These symbols then mean to me that lakbay is not just a travelling from point A to point B as a practical thing, but lakbay, because of its baybayin symbols means a Life task to be balanced or to live a balanced Life. It may also mean how the male principle(dynamic, rationale, practical) within us is meant to join with the female principle(passive, intuitive, emotional) within us and how that male and female principles are to be balanced with one another(like the balance of yin and yang).
And I agree with Diwata, that one’s life journey is to find “wholeness” (pagbubuo) or to make one’s being whole (magbubuo) or to be a whole person(mabubuong tao) and find ones nobility (kagandahang loob or beautiful Self)
The fact that bakla is the reverse of lakbay is intensely meaningful to me now.
The lakbay symbols now in reverse within bakla are symbolic to me of how my dearest gay friends and all gay people are born with deeper meaning of having the task of living Life with a reverse take on sexuality. I also believe that they have a cosmic task of turning upside-down our traditions and mores, impressed upon us by institutions, AND at the same time living life as noble, gifted human beings who have something to contribute to their families, communities and this Earth.
The fact too that BA comes before LA, in bakla, in reverse to lakbay’s LA before BA. Is quite evocative to me. And I invite you readers to share your own interpretations here.
I thank Diwata for her insights and presence in this world. I dedicate this Baybayin Alive blogpost to my dearest gay friends and colleagues whose souls and innate nobleness I cherish close to my Loob.