Pinay Power Talk | Pinay.com
As of this Fall 2014, a call for proposals will be going out for the Pinay Power II book, an anthology of essays, edited by Melinda Luisa de Jesus.
10 years ago, almost to this date, I was invited to contribute to the first one, Pinay Power: Peminist Critical Theory.
It was exciting and an honor to be among Filipina poets, activists, feminists, scholars and professors such as Delia Aguilar, Karin Aguilar-San Juan, Margarita Alcantara-Tan (Bamboo Girl), Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, Leny Mendoza Strobel, Rachel R. Bundang and M. Evelina Galang, who became contributors. Some of these women later became panel speakers at the Filipina American Women’s Network conference of 2005 that I chaired at New York University (FAWN2005). And some of these women have since became dear friends who have supported me in my journey or who continue to inspire me with their work to this day.
Melinda sent 6 sets of questions for me to answer to prepare me for my submission. Here is what I answered to the first set of questions way back in October 2004:
Hey Melinda! …thanks for stimulating some activity from my head to my hands… i took some of the answers from something else I am writing to answer some of your questions. and than took the new answers to your questions that I wrote and added them into that thing i am writing… chuckle. got some work done with your help.
I cannot answer any questions on the academe’s’ level but rather from a personal perspective.
1. How do we define PINAY POWER? Who has it?
The basic difference between women power and that of pinay power or power of a Filipina, is the story and legacy(past, present and future) that goes with the Filipino woman. And so Pinay Power comes from a woman who consciously (not necessarily vocally) identifies being Filipina and taps into being Filipino for powers of strength, inspiration, courage that come from valuing her heritage, culture, family, ancestry, etc.
Such potential power can be used for the good—-growth, healing, harmony—- on several levels of relationships—-personal, family, mates, local community/ies, global communities.
All Filipinas, Fil-Phils, Fil-Ams, and all Fils-abroad have the potential for tapping into their stories and their inner selves, although some are not aware of it, some are still becoming aware of it. Even Filipina mestizas have it—- the genes of their ancestors are within them, and in spirit, ancestors will always watch over us and hope and wonder if me, you, are that one, will be a descendant who awakens to the totality of who they are.
But those who are actively discovering their identity and finding their inner power and also exerting it in their relationships with others and the world… they are wielding their power.
In the Philippines, there has been a rise in the consciousness of Filipino identity for decades now. I studied at University of the Philippines, Diliman(a university known for student activism) and remember how my years there awakened that consciousness for me. There, Filipino identity was set against the forces of colonialism and colonial mentality. I knew that discovering that identity was a journey towards Pinoy Power. For me, People Power of 1986 was a climactic point in finding Pinoy Power in spirit and identity and not just a political event.
Coming to the states, a Filipino-American woman or a Filipina in America, pinay identity consciousness is enhanced more for her, than let’s say, when she might be in the Philippines where a woman would simply identify herself as a “woman” or “female.” And then again, the pinay identity would come into a heightened consciousness when a Pinay is placed in any geographical or cultural setting where there are other cultures.
How is it different/same than other forms of feminist thought?
I cannot answer on the level of academes. Isolating it and compartmentalizing it, being objective and scientific(5-sensory), and is in fact a patriarchal institutional practice. We need to expand our perceptions of pinay power not just as a subset of feminist thought but also as a something more widely experienced. And so I’d like to be both objective and subjective when considering pinay power and when articulating it.
Let’s do this by first viewing feminism as a form of power and energy, that exists and manifests on both individual and collective levels of interaction.
Then objectively(5-sensory), speaking, the only true difference between American, Pinay and/or other national forms of feminism are the different stories and settings (cultural, social, political, etc). that go with the experiences of discovering, cultivating and expressing inner power and community power.
On a subjective, multi-sensory level, Pinay power as an Energy, as experienced by individuals and collectives, overlaps with both women power and Pinoy power and humanity’s power. It energizes and is energized by both.
In the bigger picture than, the feminist movement is not just a story of individuals finding themselves and coming into their own, it is not just the stories of groups of women around the globe making a difference in their communities or even their countries, it is not just a story of women reaching out to each other in order to release and wield power, it is the story of humanity and it’s development and growth over eons of civilization.
Is it important to carve out a distinct space for Filipina/American feminism rather than emphasizing its place as part of global feminism?
I think both are important and that there should be an acceptance of both even if one is focusing on articulating one or the other or not working in either. And so that is to say, that if your focus is different from another’s, that your work does not necessarily negate other peoples’ work. That competitive mentality is again a patriarchal institutional energy. One must be aware of the competitive energies within themselves—-using it for accomplishing their work, but, not annihilating and/or reducing the importance of others’ works in an attempt to establish status and rank in some invisible hierarchy of value and privilege—-again another patriarchal mindset. Pinay’s who are raising their consciousness must also include an awareness and skill of the balancing the applications of competitiveness and institutionalized processes vs compassion and subjectiveness.
I know that there are people who are working on various focuses. Their various backgrounds have put them on paths to the work that they are passionate about today.
My path has not been to articulate it in an academic way, but rather to discover and experience it working in web publishing and thus in a creative way and an activist way.
There is a point in coming to a higher consciousness, and we are all on journey’s towards that, that we find that all inner power, everyone’s lakas ng loob is the same, universal and interconnected.
The biggest thing about a Pinay’s discovering her inner power (lakas ng loob) and going out there in the world, to interact in community and society, is that they then will come to experience pakikipagkapwa and interrelatedness with others who they have things in common with. And they may very well come upon others who are coming or have come into their own inner power. Following that experience is the realization that even those who on the surface are not they same as them, are in fact on the inside and that indeed everyone is interconnected, They then discover that in fact, inner power is a Universal thing AND vice-versa.
The above is the Q&A with Melinda for the first set of questions. If you want to read the rest of the 5 Q&As go to my blog at: http://bagongpinay.org/blog/pinay-power-q-and-a/
10 years later, Melinda is inviting Filipinas from around the world to submit for Pinay Power anthology II. You may contact her if you’re interested in sending in a submission proposal.
|Melinda Luisa de Jesus
September 29·Hoy, peministas, pinayists: I am very happy to announce that **PINAY POWER II** is in the works, so be on the lookout for the CFP! — feeling excited.
If you’d like to share what you think about Pinay Power, you are welcome to comment below.
Omehra is also known as Inday Perla, Perla Daly, BagongPinay and NewFilipina.
She has been publishing websites to empower Filipinos for 20 years. More about her art, blogs, events, publishing and organizations at BagongPinay.