Friday, July 18, 2008

A Day of Revelations

Yesterday was something special for our friend and 'boss' Sario and for me: it was a day of revelations! It was my first time to hear about the "alims" of Ifugao. Alim, according to Sario, is a ritual sang by all-male singers/chanters to heal a sick member of the community and for 'wooing' a woman. It depicts the story of a husband (name of whom I forgot) and his wife, 'bugan'. That name sounds familiar because it was the character played by Ai-ai in 'Kapitan Kidlat' TV series. So, Bugan wanted to separate from her husband which the latter resisted so much because he love her very much. So, to his dismay he went on a head-hunting streak (popular during those times) to vent out his anger. Another version of this is he chopped the grasses in Bugan's garden. What interest me most was Bugan connived with her mother-in-law to be able to separate from her husband. and it took her eight separations or partners before she succeeded in having a child. That was sexual freedom during those times! Ifugao women can separate from their husbands and found another family or partner. The husbands do not also engage in finding other wives (in their local places because they can be traced and punished) but visited lots of places to have sex with 'kabulean' (prostituted women). Perhaps, they were freer during those times. Another interesting aspect is there were several men who were dressed up in women's clothes and danced like women (transgendered). If these rituals depict the context of their times, truly, women were a lot freer to choose their partners and men have also choices like being transgendered people. Then, i looked up the meaning of "alim" in my Arabic book. Its says, one can become an "alim" if she or he has no more secrets in his/her hearts and soul. Thus, he or she becomes a luminous being. So, those rituals perhaps if the origin of the word is Arabic may truly depict the secret yearnings of both men and women to have choices in terms of choosing their identities or sexualities. And it is a continuous process that rendered Bugan eight or nine times of separations before she was able to find a 'right' partner to bear a child. Or the man in turn shifted from being a violent man to a gentle dancer and found that transformation more humane (just speculating). Hearing those community rituals makes me think that ideologies which are embedded in oral traditions can easily be changed just by mere rendering of various versions of the story. And here media can do a lot in transforming our society's binary treatment of sexuality. As my colleague whispered, "Prescy, your idea of sexuality as expression of creativity is historically-based". If I may add, indeed the highest force/form of creativity is our expressions of sexualities.

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