Bridging Filipino Indigenous Spirituality and Christianity

The Center for Babaylan Studies (CfBS) will hold a symposium on May 22-24, 2015 in Glouster, Ohio to create a conversation space where participants will learn how Filipino indigenous spirituality and Christianity can be bridged. The line up of keynote speakers is led by Fr. Albert S. Alejo, S.J., a Filipino poet/philosopher, peacemaker and mediator in many interfaith dialogues, and an advocate for indigenous peoples’ rights. Fr. Alejo will talk about the Filipino concept of Loob (inner self) as it connects with the concept of Kapwa (the self in the other) and gives rise to our unique expressions of Filipino personhood and spirituality. Other speakers include Carmen Manalac Scheurmann, a descendant of a Aeta healer, who is also now a Methodist pastor serving the Aeta community in Pampanga and James Perkinson, a theologian whose main work, in partnership with Lily Mendoza, deals with revealing the indigenous roots of Christianity before it was co-opted by empire.

The symposium will also feature stories and testimonies of Filipino and Filipino American Christians who have reclaimed or are in the process of reclaiming their indigenous spirituality. We will hear reports on the experiences of Christianized Indigenous tribal members on various ways of navigating their Christianization in interrelationship with their own indigenous spiritual traditions. We will also hear stories about the influence of Christian missions on indigenous peoples. Furthermore, we will revisit Christianity’s roots as a re-indigenizing movement in the Middle East. Deciphering the “indigenous” in Christian and native forms.

The symposium is also the site where Ifugao Mombaki/shaman, Mamerto Tindongan, is building the Traditional Ifugao Healing Hut on his land after receiving a vision that he should build this hut as a symbol of the healing and reconciliation that needs to be done in the aftermath of the 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair where tribal Filipinos were taken to be displayed as savages and barbarians. His vision is to bring together the descendants of those who were involved in this project to heal the aftermath of colonial trauma.

The symposium is limited to 40 participants and application to attend is still open. Visit the CfBS website: Anyone interested in exploring the theme of the symposium is welcome to apply.