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14

E

UR

A

MERICA

was to dress like Virgin Mary by “[borrowing] odds and ends of

clothing and jewels from the life-size Virgin Mary,” while she

drives through the city of Malolos, drawing “in her wake men,

women, and children who stared at, ran after, and hailed her

passing, calling her witch, whore, saint, patroness, insane” (156).

This corporeal transformation, this becoming the Virgin Mary, I

will argue, is a response to the colonizer as well as the

contradictory demands of the colonized local community, which

wavers between disciplinary governance and patriarchal morality.

Maya’s becoming the Virgin Mary is positioned as a response to

her feeling of shame for being judged by the public, as well as the

pleasure she should not have felt. Judgment by the public (public

shame) and by herself (private shame) are forces she must respond

to in order to exist. In responding to the violence of social

judgment and the intensity of her shame, she becomes violent so as

to harness her shame and grow powerful. Performing and usurping

the position of the Virgin Mary whenever she cruises around the

city, she receives the petitions from peasants and whips the statues

of proper saints to coerce the divine power to grant their wishes.

Her shame, therefore, moves her to rebel against the saints while

mimicking Mary.

Assuming the role of Virgin Mary entails a forfeiting of a

linkage with Philippine women prior to Spanish colonization, who

“walked with wisdom, dressed simply in an ankle-length piece of

cloth wrapped and knotted about the hips, breasts left bare . . .”

(Rosca, 1988: 192). Here Rosca invokes the holistic existence of a

precolonial matriarchal society, when women were “in communion

with the gods and praying to the river, the forest spirits, the

ancient stones, pouring out blood libations in evening rituals,

healing the sick, foretelling the results of wars, quarrels, couplings,

and the seasons” (192). The revelation of a powerful community of

women healers, fortune-tellers, and priestesses associates Maya’s

predicament with the pre-Spanish women spiritual leaders known

as the Babaylan. According to Alicia Magos, a Babaylan in Filipino