• Hello. I have been thinking about incorporating some Filipino religious practices into my spiritual path as a polytheist, and as part of my process of learning about my ancestry. But as I have not been raised in Filipino culture (I’m 2nd gen of Filipino immigrants to the U.S.), I wanted to ask someone if that might be considered cultural appropriation?

No, definitely not.

I mean I do know many Filipino’s who are trying to reclaim their heritage. And no I’m not talking about Filipino’s who were brought up in a general Filipino household who eat Filipino food, went to Filipino parties, etc. and are just learning about our history, dances, etc.

I’m talking about those who were adopted into white families and had absolutely no ties with other Filipino’s and raised in the general culture of Filipino’s at all until later on in life did when they met Filipino’s who helped them reclaim their heritage. Some, their Filipino parent/’s never brought them up in a Filipino household (to the point where they didn’t even introduce any foods). Some they had a grandparent who was one but family members didn’t want to associate with that side of their heritage because they found it to be inferior (in an example of one follower I’ve talked to on this blog).

There can be various reasons why one of Filipino heritage was never brought up in our culture and a Filipino household. And when they want to reclaim their heritage they have every right to.

Now when it comes to the spiritual and indigenous beliefs and practices of the Philippines that is where it may be a bit more closed off, but only to those who aren’t Filipino by blood (or in other cases if it’s someone who isn’t Filipino but was adopted into a Filipino family as through adoption you are Filipino and the ancestors of your adopted family are yours as well, which this goes back to pre-colonial times).

The indigenous beliefs and practices in the Philippines is very revolved around the ancestors and spirits. Even before the deities the ancestors and spirits were more worshiped and given offerings to because they could influence the lives of their descendents. In pre-colonial times in the homes there would be small altars dedicated to the ancestors and the Spaniards found figures of tao-tao, which are human like figures similar to how the bulul looks like, which represented an ancestor or the ancestors. There were also altars outside along rivers where offerings were given in porcelain plates. Of course majority of these figures were all burned, but still, even today, you can see this practice of figures in our own form of Folk Christianity through figures of Saints and the Santo Nino and reverence of them.

Now since the indigenous spiritual beliefs of the Philippines, besides the worship of Gods and Goddesses, have to do with the ancestors, if you are Filipino, it’s not cultural appropriation to be incorporating those beliefs and practices into your spiritual path because you are pretty much just paying your respects to your ancestors and reclaiming a part of your heritage (as the indigenous beliefs is very much as cultural as it’s spiritual).

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