by Leny Mendoza Strobel

From the poignant to the abstract to the transformative, Coming Full Circle is an intricate and empowering discourse on Filipino decolonization.

Drawing on a host of postcolonial scholarship, Dr. Strobel narrates a psychological process that has frequently been felt and acted upon by communities with histories of colonization, but rarely given a name.

Coming Full Circle brings to bear Paulo Freire's pedagogy of liberation and Virgilio Enriquez' indigenous psychology on the Filipino American experience. Utilizing the methodology of "pagtanung-tanong" (participatory research), Dr. Strobel leads a cohort of participants on a dialogical journey of transformation. By talking, sharing, and journalizing, participants manifest orality as a praxis for uncovering shared experiences and sensibilities, identifying many themes that constitute the decolonizing process. The participants thus create their own narratives and come to terms with their own Filipino-ness, revealing stories that had been repressed, acknowledging feelings that had been mis-directed, and appreciating what had been taken for granted: the languages, behaviors, rituals, and myths that comprise Filipino life in America.

While the decolonization process begins as an inner dialogue it is also shared, thus the process moves on to transform every aspect of one's life (families, communities, friends), resulting in growing collective community consciousness. While ethno-culturally centered in the Filipino experience, its spatial location is not necessarily geographic, i.e. the Philippines. Strobel recognizes that the center lies in each Filipino, wherever he/she may be in the diaspora, thus making Filipinos "bordercrossers" not only of national boundaries but also of cultures and historical narratives.

Helen C. Toribio is a lecturer in Asian American and Filipino American studies at City College of San Francisco and at San Francisco State University. She is active in Filipino American community affairs as a member of several volunteer organizations such as the East Bay Chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society.

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