Was thrown a bit of a loop this last week while putting together my talk for the women’s conference next month. I was stuck trying to figure out how to compress 400+ years of Filipino colonial history into, say, three minutes, when I get an email from the organizer saying that they’d formalized the program.
It was a bit startling to see 3:50-5:30 Workshop Session 5 – Writing Workshop on the agenda. In my earlier conversations with the coordinator, I thought we were talking about me speaking on decolonization and my experience with the process. I had a very elaborate idea of how to present identity in relationship to story and symbol, and how, through the magic of semiology, a person could rewrite their future. There was going to be a slide presentation with alibata and other symbols superimposed on photographs my friend in Texas was to provide. It was going to be about an hour long. In my mind it was perfect and inspiring and all that sort of jazz that happens when I get too deep in my head. But of all things, it was going to be all talk. Me talking. Me storytelling. Me.
Ha! As we used to say back in the day – the Universe had other plans. Now, writing workshops I can do. I’ve taught the classes. I’ve got the notes and handouts. I can do the exercises and guide the meditations. But I really, really want to do the new stuff, the decolonization stuff. So...a new layer of complexity has been added and it’s made me stop and blink a bit, but I’m still really looking forward to giving this talk, ne’ workshop, ne’ Thing That Reb Does.
I think I’ll begin with a Leny’s Language Lessons, from A Book of Her Own:
Tao Po! I am a human being.
By declaring our humanity, we contextualize ourselves as having value, of being equal, as being not just worth recognition, but also honor in a spiritual sense. To be human is to recognize the layers of being – mind, heart, body, soul – both in self and in other.
Tuloy! Come into my sanctuary. Come into my space. Come into my awareness. Come into my heart.
Kumain ka na ba? Have you eaten? Do you need sustenance? How can I support you? What do you need that I can share?
Kumusta ka na? How have you been? How is your heart? What is happening in your world? Let us share our truth and experience here and now.
Halika na? Let’s go! Come with me. Come with us. Join us. Be one with us.
Writing as an act of Compassionate Activism. Honoring what we know, honoring what others share, and building respect through stories. Creating a Sustainable Culture.