Prayer Rooting Ancestral Forms of Resistance with the Re-emergence of Martial Law in the Motherland
[Disclaimer: This reflection does not hold the intention of creating divisiveness with those who are working to create sociopolitical change on the legislative level or for those who are doing active work with communities for sovereignty and true liberation from totalitarianism and patriarchy. What it hopes to do (though language will always be limiting- and I do my best to be as inclusive as possible) is to invite prayer and connection to ancestral values and practice of prayer into all the ways we resist. I welcome conversation and exchange to find understanding from anyone who wishes to build in this way. I seek to speak with those in my communal circles who live and act in prayer as their call of service in this world, always with compassion, always inviting listening on my part as well as others.]
A friend of mine messaged me today, asking for my advice about how to respond to the posting of community about Prayer being “the epitome of personal inaction and performative allyship.” I invite the examination of this general thinking, as I understand how social media breeds the surfacing of hashtags and memes that incite moments of sharing and liking and that do not evoke a sense of action taking place. I understand that there is a need to rise, physically.
As an individual who lives in prayerful action, I invite this to the way in which we support our Kapatids in the Philippines. My answer to how to respond to this type of post is that all resistance, when rooted in the people, in the land, in the waters, in the sky, in the persistence and survival of all creation, is rooted in Prayer.
Our ancestors rooted their continuous rising in Prayer. To them there was no separation of any action from Prayer. All action to our ancestors - whether it was eating, labor, artistry, dance, or warriorship - was in service to and in protection of all creation. This is my belief, and thus I share it as a means to invite us to understand the necessity of Prayer.
I understand the truth of patriarchal structures, of dictatorship and totalitarianism, of capitalism - of all that is connected to ways of modernization and colonization that create trauma to our peoples. This is what began me on my spiritual path: activism, community organizing, the want to resist and to give to a just and free life for our peoples. This is what brought me to remember that our deepest method of resistance comes from keeping intact to the roots of our ancestors' existence, which was rooted in prayer, that connected all action to a higher source. Even in warriorship, our ancestors remembered to embed prayer in their attire, in their movements, in their weaponry, in their voices, in their actions, in their movements. I see us doing this even today; prayer enlivens movements, it amplifies our voices, it beautifies the art that expresses the messages in the heart of our peoples, it puts persistence in our steps, it keeps our heads raised up to the sky, it fuels the fire in us to keep moving forward, makibaka - with Prayer in our activism.
I invite us to remember this truth. There is no resistance that is rooted in our indigeneity without Prayer energizing those actions. It is the way our ancestors knew to rise. They had agreements with the God(s) and Spirits they prayed to for protection, that helped them to move with courage, strength, and clarity. I invite us to remember this.
In the midst of all the news from the Philippines, I am also inviting community to not hold these unfoldings in panic. Rather, I ask us to allow the awareness of what is happening to the motherland to direct very grounded and knowledgable/aware/mindful Prayer.
How do we keep one another updated on news, and also not surface energies that root our prayers in worry, panic, and fear? How do we center? How do we invite protection, support and upliftment to our Kapatids in the homeland?
Be conscious about what you share and how you share it. It will lift energy in others who are connected to you. Be aware of the nature of the energy that is being cultivated.
Sadness and grief are important to release, Kapatids. I believe that fear and anxiety are different. Release. Release and in that release do not only imagine the worst; imagine the rising. Our people are strong. There will be the fallen, and also many who have and will continue to rise - rise in action, rise in voice, rise in movement, rise in Prayer.
Jana Lynne "JL" Umipig is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and activist who seeks to elevate the narratives of Pilipina wom*n as a reflection of her own life's journey toward decolonizing, re-indigenizing and humanizing self. She is the creator of the acclaimed Movement Theatre production "The Journey of a Brown Girl" which has been noted as a "transformative human experience through the lens of the Pinay Narrative." She is a core member of The Center for Babaylan Studies, an Inner Dance facilitator, and founder of Butikaryo mga Babae, which creates sacred space for Pinay Womxn Healers seeking to learn and remember healing practice and knowledge connected to our ancestral traditions.