Kidlat Tahimik headlines Babaylan conference on mythic storytelling and rituals

Filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik. Photo by Coicoi Nacario

The Center for Babaylan Studies (CfBS) will host the Second International Babaylan Conference in September 27-29 at Westminster Woods, in Occidental, Northern California.

This year’s conference theme is “Katutubong Binhi/Native Seeds: Myths and Stories that Feed our Indigenous Soul.” The conference aims to honor those who continue to carry the rich legacy of Filipino indigenous knowledge systems and practices. CfBS organizers believe that indigenous knowledge systems remain relevant and necessary in the age of globalization.

The Babaylan in Filipino culture represents the figure of the indigenous healer. This sacred gathering of healers, artists, scholars, activists, performers, and other culture-bearers will share Babaylan-inspired work through storytelling, ritual, ceremony, dance, poetry, film, academic panels, conversations, and workshops.

Filipinos have a very rich spiritual and cultural heritage that is embedded in mythic stories and is carried forward by epic chanters, storytellers, babaylans, culture-bearers, and artists. The Babaylan conference will present a few of these stories through the sharing of Kidlat Tahimik, best known as the Father of Filipino “Indio-genius” filmmaking, Datu Vic and Bai Liza Saway of the Talaandig School of Living Tradition. Lane Wilcken, will share his extensive research on indigenous myths of the Philippines and the Pacific with the launching of his book, “The Forgotten Children of Maui,” at the conference. Mamerto Tindongan, a mumbaki from Ifugao, now living in Ohio, as a healer/artist, will share how his reclaiming of his people’s mythic roots have led him to do the healing work he is doing now in the diaspora. There will be small group workshops and talking circles that will address the conference theme.

Leny Strobel, project director and Professor of American Multicultural Studies at Sonoma State University, states that the second Babaylan conference’s focus on mythic stories is timely and relevant.

“There is a growing realization in mainstream society,” Strobel explained, “that mythic stories carry the functional cosmology of our ancestors that enables their descendants to maintain and sustain core identities, provide a compass for navigating their connection to the Land, Sky, and Sea, and sustain their interconnectedness to all of creation, and all beings – human and non-human.”

The conference aims to renew an interest in the power of Filipino mythic stories and storytelling as a means of Wayfinding in these often difficult and confusing times.

These mythic stories are part of the Filipino Babaylan Tradition and incorporate Filipino indigenous knowledge systems and practices that continue to be followed today both in the homeland and in the diaspora. Conference information and registration can be found here.

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