De(scribing) Maharlikha provides an overview of pre-colonial Philippines through the lens of ancient spirituality. This work will draw attention to belief systems that inevitably influence the Filipino people’s ancient practice of healing arts, agriculture and societal norms. The question that will drive this research is, “Who are we before we became Filipinos?” 

 

The current name, Philippines is derived from its colonizer, King Philip II, a long-dead Spanish monarch who symbolizes colonialism. There’s been petitions to rename our country from Philippines to Maharlikha by the current Philippine administration, and many ask, why now?  What does Maharlikha mean to us?

 

Maharlikha is a profound spiritual word that comes from the Sanskrit prefix maha (great) and the Indo-Malayan suffix  likha, which means creation. Hence, Mahalikha, a kingdom that was said to comprise the Philippines, Brunei, South Borneo, Hawaii, Indonesia, Malaysia, Spratly Islands, and Sabah before becoming colonies of Europe, really means “the great creation”. Its existence remain a theory as evidence and documentation was not of importance before written history. For this reason, I will use Maharlikha as a symbol, an unknown number in a mathematical sequence, that represent oral stories told yet considered simply theory and/or myth. 

 

At an early age, I learned of the different gods and goddesses representing various natural elements. I was fascinated with the spiritual realms and how these affect all the affairs of every life on earth. After colonization, mythology has lost its immediate relevance to the community and has evolved away from sacred importance. Mythology became a folktale or bedtime stories. The elders in the community believed in these stories, yet my parents would say that these are simply “old wife's tales”. This makes sense considering my parents are devout Catholics, a result of Spanish colonization. My parents and many others affected by the Spanish era, even centuries later, have lost their faith in the ancient beliefs. 

 

The Filipino people have suffered 400 years of colonization, slavery, and oppression. Since then, stories have been erased, temples have been destroyed and used to rebuild Christian churches. I believe that this plays a big part in the modern day Filipino’s loss of identity, self-hate, and an internalized racial hierarchy in the form of colorism.  

 

Modern society questions the validity and accuracy of pre-colonial history. Unless inscribed, documented, cited, proved, then stories are not given the same weight of significance. This is particularly true when it comes to mythology, a word that came from the West. Before our practices completely vanish, before oral traditions are forgotten, I would like to describe and inscribe,  De(scribing) Maharlikha.

De(scribing) Maharlika is work commissioned by Swarthmore College. 

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Email:  malayaworks@gmail.com

RECENT AND UPCOMING EVENTS:

March 16, 2020
Movement Research at Judson

 

January 18

UPENN ( TBA )
Lunar New Year Celebration

 

December 6,7 2019

De(scribing) Maharlika @ Swarthmore University   4:30 pm Friday; 8 PM Saturday

 

November 14, 2019

Patawili Films: Parang Drunk History (a retelling of the historical narrative that Magellan circumnavigated the world and discovered the Philippines; honoring the chief that led the battle against Magellan, Lapu-Lapu ). De(scribing) Maharlika film, a film honoring and naming the indigenous tribes of the Philippines -- Philadelphia Asian American Festival @ Flesher Art Memorial, 8 PM

 

 

 

October 21,23 2019 @ Asian Arts Initiative, 7 PM

Patawili: a Sunday dinner and multi-disciplinary immersive dance theater experience on Filipino-American stories culminating an Asian Arts Initiative and Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists Residency project. This worked involved visual and conceptual installations and a story of an ancient Filipinx mythological character, Bighari, the goddess of the rainbow.  

 

 

Oct.5, 2019

Taga-ilog: a site specific work designed to go with Isaac Witkin’s  sculptural piece “The Bathers”, commemorating Outlet Dance Project’s 15th Annual Festival for Grounds for Sculpture


 

September 21, 2019

Sunset CypHER for Bartams’ Garden: part of Philadelphia Fringe, a site specific performance centered on ancient mythological stories ending with a dance and drum cypher for the community 

 

 

August 18, 2019

Oval + Summer season: Solo Site Specific work performed at the Philadelphia Oval as part of the Fairmont Parks and Conservancy’s Oval + Summer season