Karl Gaspar’s latest book, The Masses are Messiah: Contemplating the Filipino Soul is a rare book—a significant contribution to the scholarship on babaylans, Filipino struggles for social transformation, and spirituality, long overdue but so difficult to make...
It is a rare book because it gathers together, in its massive field work, voices of men and women who lived through some of the most trying and exhilarating times of our history. Here are poignant voices agents who share their doubts and discoveries, their most intimate experiences and encounters with the Transcendent, and how they grappled with mysteries in their lives.
Karl has solidly built on previous scholarship and done for the Bisayan speaking communities what highly respected Filipino scholars Rey Ileto (Pasyon) and Vince Rafael have done for mostly Tagalog-speaking regions – disabused the audience of the persistent and colonial discourses that viewed the Filipino as subservient, passive, and fatalistic.
He has also done immense service to students of the culture of babaylans (the spiritual leaders, especially women, in pre-Hispanic times who engaged the communities in social transformation and resistance movements) by acquainting readers on past and current literature, tapping their imagination on what still needs to be done.
—Marilen Abesamis, New York / MindaNews, 5 January 2011 (http://mindanews.com/ourmindanao/2011/01/book-review
“Profoundly Pinoy! A must-read for both the actives and contemplatives of this planet. Somewhere on these pages you might recognize your own journey into your own soul, and beyond—from masa to misa to mystic to messiah. Karl has explored the amazing wilderness that is the Filipino soul and discovered gems so raw and so priceless. We are a spirituality gifted people and we should know it.”
Karl posits that this transformative orientation is not new and did not arise only in the contemporary setting. It has its roots, he dares say, in the indigenous worldview of our ancestors who fostered a reciprocal relationship with the spirits long before the era of conquest and conversion to the Christian faith. The “this world-ly” perspective in our ancestors’ cosmic religion empowered them to establish just, tender and compassionate relationships with others—human and nature beings—for most of the time.
—Ceres P. Doyo, Inquirer Opinion, 23 December 2010