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Gender Equality of Male & Female Babaylans

By sufiyatik 2017-03-23 15:35:25

Long before western imperialism imposed its own conventions, women played a prominent role in pre-colonized Philippine society. The babaylan can be a man or a woman. This is substantial because the babaylan’s role in society is very important, thus women had as much power as men in their communities.

Back in pre-colonial Philippines, the natives praised a god named Bathala. His name specifically could be broken down to highlight the importance of equal gender roles. The “ba” = babae (female in Filipino). The “la” = lalake (male in filipino). The “ha” = spirit. Therefore, the Filipino god is neither man nor woman. It is simply a spirit that encompasses and represents the characteristics of both genders.[7]

In order the match their god, the male babaylans would honor the great mother goddess and develops the feminine side to balance his manly side. On the other side, the female babaylan equalizes her feminine life with masculinity. This shows a key concept in native Filipino societies—balance.

Babaylans are a representation of their entire society and (because the babaylan can be a male or a female) puts females at the same level as males, thus neutralizing gender inequality. Essentially the most important role can be played by a man or a woman. That means that both males and females have equal roles in society and could be figureheads in their respective communities.

Source: Babaylan
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