Presentation examines feminism from Western and Filipino indigenous perspectives

Presentation examines feminism from Western and Filipino indigenous perspectives

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The binukot, or kept maidens, a cultural practice still followed in indigenous parts of the Philippines that dates back to Pre-Hispanic times, will be the focus of a lecture at Cal State San Bernardino on Thursday, Nov. 17 at 4 p.m. at Jack Brown Hall room 102.

“The Philippines’ Kept Maidens (Binukot/Nabukot) and Indigenous Feminism” lecture will focus on binukot, a cultural practice to keep women from the public eye from early childhood. It is most popular among the people of Central Panay or the Panay Bukidnon.

In the binukot or binukotan practice, the tribe or the community chooses the most beautiful girl to be secluded. The binukot is isolated by her parents from the rest of the household at 3 or 4 years old. She is not exposed to the sun, not allowed to work, and is even accompanied by her parents when she takes a bath. This results in a fair, frail, fine-complexioned and long-haired woman. As she stays at home most of the time, her parents and grandparents entertain her with various oral lores and traditional dances. This makes the binukot excellent epic chanters and repositories of their history.

The guest speaker, Christine Muyco of the University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, Music Department, will discuss the myth and reality surrounding the binukot through examining the people’s expressive culture: from the sugidanon (epic chants/chanting), to the tigbabayi (solo woman’s dance) of the binanog (hawk-eagle music and dance tradition), to panubok (traditional embroidery), where the binukot is illustrated or exemplified.

Christine Muyco

Christine Muyco

Muyco is a Fulbright Scholar at UC Riverside, intersecting the fields of ethnic studies, music and dance. She has given talks at UCLA’s Southeast Asian Department and Ethnomusicology Department, and recently at UC Riverside, as well as with various Asian countries for many years. She is included in the new Cultural Center of the Philippines encyclopedia as a music composer, ethnomusicologist, Philippine scholar, and community activist.

Through various representations, the discussion will establish the kept maidens’ present life living as a nabukot, a transformed status the women gain when they marry. This will interlace ethnographic observations regarding these states as part of a reconsideration of feminism from both Western and indigenous perspectives.

The purpose of the lecture is to provide an international perspective to CSUSB’s growing knowledge base in ethnic studies and regard for feminist scholarship, said Kathleen Nadeau, a professor in the university’s anthropology department. Along with the lecture, there will be a demonstration of the female dance as well as showing video clips to reinforce points of discussion, Nadeau said.

“Our hope is that the demonstration aspect in the lecture will also provide the disciplines of social science and the humanities another angle to look at artistic cultures outside of the western front,” Nadeau said.

For more information, contact Kathleen Nadeau at (909) 537-5503, or email KNadeau@csusb.edu.

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